November 2013 Archives

Small and Functional at Reformation Fitness

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Reformation4.JPGSmaller classes are better. A few weeks ago I was invited to try out Reformation Fitness and overheard a woman lauding the greatness of Reformation's small classes. Experiencing it myself, it is almost like having one on one, except it was one on five. My instructor was able to guide me and make minor corrections with every new move. I'm a bit out of shape, and despite that, I was shown what I could do at my level. Mike Huling, owner of Reformation Fitness, says that the classes are purposefully small in order to provide more personal attention so instructors are actively working with each client.
Maybe in the beginning, the smaller classes went with the small building at 1302 9th St NW where Reformer began earlier this year in January. The studio expanded later into the neighboring building, yet the classes remained small. Huling claims it was not anything planned, it just happened that the space became available. In the original studio there are hooks for TRX straps and 6 movable Reformer Pilates machines. The second building allows for a full TRX and bootcamp studio on the ground floor and space for mat classes and ballet barre classes upstairs.
Reformation Fitness offers several classes at different levels. My class was a Studio Mat Pilates 1.5. I should have found something in the 1.0 range considering I hadn't been inside a gym for about a year. Despite my limitations I got a really good core workout, and I felt it two days later in the right areas. Overhearing the conversation of one of my classmates, the Reformer workouts are challenging and maybe you might not want to take classes too close together.
Mat Reformer
I also got a really great vibe from the instructors I encountered. Not only was my teacher friendly and helpful, but also the the instructor whose class I was accidentally waiting around in because I was in the wrong building. Huling gives plenty of credit to the instructors for making Reformation what it is. When he was getting into the fitness profession about 5 years ago, current Reformation Fitness instructor Misook Issa gave him "one of the best workouts" he had experienced at that time. It's the instructors who help clients challenge themselves and provide a welcoming atmosphere, even to such as one as I. 
Functional training, is the focus of Reformation Fitness where the goal is to help clients build strength from the inside out, learning techniques to help with one's goal.
Classes are available by going to their home page at and signing up for classes. At this time there are specials for group reformer (the classes with the reformer machine), studio classes (power yoga, mat pilates, TRX/kettleballs, pointe/barre) or personal training. There was some mention of a 55+ program for 2014, as well as other planned programs for the coming year.
I am very interested in returning to Reformation Fitness, with the Help (my spouse) because of the experience I had and the instruction. The Help has some minor issues (he was a preemie) and I could see where he would greatly benefit from the small classes and personal attention.

Before you leave for Turkeyday or Xmas or whenever

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1. Stop the mail at

2. Stop the newspaper (if you get it)

3. Mention to a trusted neighbor that you'll be gone and ask them to check on your place. Ask them to remove mail or papers if efforts 1 & 2 fail.

4. Don't leave your trash bin out and expect to pick it up when you get back.

5. See if someone with keys to your place will be around in the area, just in case your alarm goes off.

I live in Shaw. Am I wealthy?

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4 bills and change

Considering that most of the Earth's residents live on less than $2 a day, I and almost every American in this country are living the life. We don't have to carry water for cooking and we could eat meat every week, maybe every day.

On the topic of gentrification there seemingly are only two groups of people to talk about, the wealthy and the poor. The focus is on how much the new rents are or how much it would cost to buy a newly renovated granite countertopped, glass tiled house or condo and how families in crisis or on the edge cannot afford those things. Nevermind, families in crisis couldn't afford those things when they were west of the park, or west of 16th St, now west of 9th St.

This Summer, the niece came for a short visit and in some effort to impress her, to prove how great our 1000 sq ft was, I mentioned that houses in the area were selling for about half a million dollars. I'm not sure how her little 13 year old brain processed that information but she exclaimed, "You paid 1/2 million for this house?!" No. I did not pay 1/2 a million for my house, not even a quarter of a million. I stop being able to afford the houses being sold around here about 3-4 years after moving in. I do wonder when people talk about houses (and maybe rents) are they thinking like the niece, thinking that all the current residents bought at the current prices and thus deem us rich?

The problem I find that the label wealthy does not fit, not for the story I tell about myself. By general American standards I am doing pretty well, by DC metro AMI, we're ok, a little under but not terrible. If we lived in my native central Florida, this same income would make us upper middle class, but not wealthy. I have co-workers who live out in MARCtrain, MD or VRE, VA who are higher levels and steps and consider themselves middling middle class or even 'struggling'.

I understand why the middling classes who wander into changing neighborhoods as ours get slapped with the label "wealthy", when they're not. Compared to the person or family in crisis, broken and floundering, the secure stand with feet planted on solid ground luxuriating in the wealth of stability. What wealth is the strong support system of family and friends which creates functional adults who have the audacity to bring their world view to the streets?

The label 'wealthy' seems to get slapped on too quickly, too readily, without much thought. Yes, comparing the new residents with older residents, the income and education differences are greater. Yet comparing the new residents with the income and abilities of older residents in other neighborhoods where the newbies maintain the status quo isn't done. The new comers of both places are the same, but where they resemble the people already there, there is no story, no cries of gentrification.

So am I wealthy? Depends who you're comparing me to. If you compare me to the person in Chevy Chase, no. To my contemporary in PG County, nope. To the neighbor on public assistance, yeah, maybe. To the refugee on the other side of the world scrambling for grains of rice, oh most definitely yes.


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Radiators at Community Forklift
A neighbor had a problem. I helped with the problem and maybe the solution we found could help you if you happen to have radiators.
First of all, I have to say, radiator heat is wonderful. I love, love, love radiators. Heaven is leaving your bathrobe on the radiator when you go to bed and then putting it on in the morning. It has that just out of the drier feel. I'm leaving my gloves on the radiator near the door, so when I leave, the gloves are pre-warmed for my hands. Lastly, if I want to humidify the room I just have to put a wet towel or some sweaters that need to be dried on the radiator.
The problem was some rooms in the house were warm and toasty and other rooms were downright frigid. The radiator I looked at was cold to the touch. I guessed that the radiators had not been bled.
Radiator Key

So I took my trusty radiator key, and bled the vent. What that does is release a lot of air. Rushing air, then followed by some friggin hot dirty water. The hot water is why you will need a cup to set under the vent, preferably one that won't transfer the heat to your hands. Try to bleed your radiators at least once a year.
If you have radiators in your apartment or home and one or more are nothing but cold metal bricks, you may want to try to bleed them. Please remember the scalding hot water that will come shooting out, if you happen to have the air vent open all the way. You can get radiator keys on Amazon or Ebay and possibly local hardware stores like ACE.

UPDATE:- If you go the DIY bleeding the radiators yourself, bleed them slowly. Turn the key only to allow a little stream of air to escape. Do not for the love of whatever you hold dear turn it all the way to full force. Yeah, we had a 'learning experience'. A very wet learning experience.

What wave of gentrification are we on now?

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Image from

I read a Washington Post Blog post that got some commentary on the Shaw Neighborhood Yahoo list. Commenters on the list said it was another gentrifcation article that touched on race without mentioning black or white. Well it is a gentrification post and the WP has been writing about gentrification in Shaw (and its various parts) since Feburary 1979.*

I am going to guess that Shaw is on its third wave of gentrification. The first, I'll say came in the 1980s. I'm aware of middle class African Americans and earnest whites, who bought homes in Logan Circle, on Bates Street, or other parts of Shaw. They were to be the start of a revival of the neighborhood. Too bad it took thirty years to get all the amenities their future promised.

The next wave was during the turn of the century, late 90s to early aughts. That's my wave. Though I'll have to cringe as I write this, this was the urban pioneer stage. The residents who came in the 80s were the true pioneers, but there was a little something extra going on in the late 90s. I think of the 90s-00s batch as the DIYers. We bought dilapidated houses, we knocked down walls, we put up drywall, we own a lot of power tools. This was the time when young single guys bought town houses and worked on them with their buddies on the weekend. These same guys also didn't have any heat on in winter and their pipes almost froze. Good times. Before Jimbo was complaining about men who were too busy looking at Grindr on their phones, he was complaining about couples who went on and on about their latest renovation project. This was a time when some people were doing creative things with old townhomes, and bringing new life into the neighborhood. We were the first few customers of Thai X-ing when it was a carry out, Big Bear when all they served was coffee and pastries, and  Vegetate when it existed. But ignore me, I'm biased.

The millennials are part of this lastest wave marked by stainless steel granite everything in condos or apartments. If they own it, they spent way too much money to knock down or tear out anything. I am befuddled by their lack of tools. If anyone is knocking down walls and changing layouts it's the contractors who flip the houses.

Thoughout these waves have been poor black people. Poor blacks who survived the '68 riots. Poor blacks who survived the crack years. They have been there to write about and worry about as the waves come in. Each wave washes away their housing, the type of stores they frequent and the services they use. However, some people and places that have managed to survive the last two waves appear to be stronger than others give them credit for and will probably outlast us all.

*Citation = Wolf, Von Eckardt. 1979. Going 'round in (logan) circles. The Washington Post (1974-Current file), Feb 03, 1979.

From vacant and falling to a possible new home

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This little photo is from the DCRA's PIVS, which I think get's it's photo from another system, but it's all DCRA, so it is all good. In 2010, 1607 New Jersey Avenue NW was a mess. I posted about the rear of the house and how it looked like the back of the house was due to collapse into the alley at any moment. The owner of the house had died but was still getting the Senior Citizen Homestead Deduction.

The city, I assume, came and removed the offending rear wall. Unfortunately, the house still had stuff in it. I remember calling the city to complain that the property was not secure. I also remember asking some neighbors doing reno work on their own homes to help board up or secure the boards on the rear.

Recently, work has been done. I gather the estate of the former Mr. Arvid W Broadus either sold to or became the new developer fixing the place up. I haven't paying close attention to the rehab and renovations but it is looking good. Who knows it might come on the market around early spring 2014 or sooner.

1607NJ Ave NW

This is historically significant?

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This is old news but this sign bugged me. These townhouses were once owned by Dr. E. L. Haynes, as part of her investment portflio.

1509-1511 4th St NW, Washington DC Sign

In 1946 she sold it to Baker's Dozen, Inc. And apparently it was some youth center. Was it a youth center worthy of a little plaque or any mention?

Giant opening

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Giant 1
I don't know if you're planning on going to the grand opening ceremony tonight between 5pm and 8pm. The City Market at O blog suggests entering in on 8th Street on foot or if by car, enter the garage on 9th & park on B1. It sounds like an event that will bring out the crowds. I am not a fan of crowds, so I won't be joining the rest of y'all for samples and grand opening goodies. I'm going to wait until I actually need something from the store.

In the past two years I've been getting my groceries and other essentials from the Bloomingdale Farmer's Market, Costco, Field to City, Yes!, Rite-Aid and CVS. The opening will probably cut the need to go to CVS and Rite-Aid, maybe a tiny bit of Yes!

I am very happy Roadside Development is done with this part of the City Market. I've be even happier when the apartments are done, all the contruction up and down 7th and 9th Streets are done, and when I can get a better sense of what the new normal is going to look like.

The End of Work

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A few of my co-workers and I have concluded that if current trends persist, we will be replaced by robots, or an app. Where the Help works, what used to be his area was paired down and consolidated and there are fewer employees dedicated to their specialized subject. Slowly I have seen rungs below me on my not-too-linear career ladder disappear due to changes in laws, rules, operations and technology.

In the Truxton Circle history project, there are plenty of now non-existent jobs residents held. Where are the laundresses and day laborers? Dead, mostly. Their jobs replaced by washing machines, laundromats and construction equipment. Lucky C. Young, the former chauffeur, turned driver for the Army, turned taxi driver, would his job be replaced by driverless cars? Doesn't matter, Mr. Young died in the 60s. In the 1920s New Jersey Avenue was the home of many clerks. No one clerks, we have office jobs with cryptic titles. The grocers are gone, they moved and their shops stayed in the area. Ray M would tell you later those shops were turned into burning shells in the '68 riots.

Jobs disappear. Needs change, techonology and methods shake things up. But not immediately. The invention of the washing machine did not make the laundresses go away the next day, or the next year. In grad school I compared the agricultural US South to South Africa. Greater use of the tractor and other farming equipment removed the need for people like my grandfather, a sharecropper, as well as the labor of his children. Like the rural sharecropper, the 20th Century city laborer has been replaced by equipment. It seems there are fewer people needed to throw up a building. Not only do I see jobs in the past slowly fading away in the past, it's happening in the present. Let's hope that our skills are transferrable to the new careers that come. 

This morning, like many mornings when the Help decides to drive me to work, we passed by KIPP along P St.

When we go by I mention which cars stopped along the road  dropping kids off. It tends to go along the lines of, "DC, DC, DC, Maryland, DC, Maryland, Maryland. Maryland, Virginia, DC, DC, Maryland..."

I don't know if KIPP has a waiting list or you must play the school lotto to get your kid in any of the Shaw KIPPs, but if I were a DC parent I would be pissed at all these Marylanders taking up slots in DC schools.

I have heard that Marylanders have been benefiting from DC tax dollars for years. Unless there is some special thing where KIPP takes MD students and no DC education dollars go to them, this is a litte too flagrant. When the Help's parents lied about where they lived to get him into a better school, they at least kept up appearances. Dropping your kid off in front of the DC school with your MD license plate, not subtle.

According to the KIPP DC site a parent must prove DC residency. I am curious of what proves residency. Depending on what's needed to prove residency, I could prove myself as a resident of Florida.

Slum Housing No Mo', maybe

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Loose roofing material
on red house

Just for fun in ProQuest I looked up three words for the Historical Washington Post, "Shaw" "Rat" and "Baby". I remembered there was an article about our historic neighborhood where a rat bit a baby's face. But that might have been pre-urban renewal and I should have used the terms "2d Precinct" or "second precinct" for the baby biting rat.
From "Shaw: The City's Worst Slum"* Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973), March 24, 1968, p A25.:

Ceilings sag ominously. Loose wall plaster is held up only by brittle wallpaper. Where the wallpaper has given way, powdery plaster falls intermittently from holes in walls and ceilings.
Rats climb up through holes in the floors. Water drips from rusted pipes and leaks in the roofs. Some basements are filled with months-old stagnant water.

Later a woman says her daughter had been bitten by rats several times. The rest of the article is paints a dreary landscape of litter and dirt patched yards, poorly maintained buildings regardless if they are occupied or not. I found a toddler eating rat in "No. 2 Leads City in: Washington's Wickedest, The Second Precinct... Vice and Violence Outlined on an Aerial View of the Entire City," by S.L. Fishbein, Washington Post (1923-1954), March 14, 1954, p. M10:

The family tried to combat the rats by wedging pop bottles in the corner rat holes but the rats kept checking new holes around the bottles. Flat irons on the holes in the middle of the floor were more effective. One recent Saturday night, a rat bit one of the 19-month old children on both feet while she was asleep upstairs. Since then the landlord has had the rat holes covered with sheet metal.

These were the bad old days when Shaw was affordable. In "Slum Landlords Buy up Shaw Houses: Slum Landlords Quietly Buying Up Shaw Area Properties" by Leonard Downie, Jr. Washington Post, Times Herald, Mar 24, 1968 p. A1, the reporter noted that 3 of every 4 houses in Shaw were owned by absentee landlords. The article names names, one being a familiar last name of a family who in the present day has contributed to neighborhood. The problem with the landlords is that they didn't maintain their properties. Heat wouldn't work, buildings were bad at keeping out the elements and if the tenants threatened to call the city inspector, the landlord would tell them to move.

Now Shaw is less of a slum. There are still rats, as I saw one near the new Giant the other day, but they no longer bite children in their sleep. Most deteriorating housing has been bought by people who renovate the properties. There is less affordable housing, and there is less slum housing. But then again there are the odd holdouts who let parts of their roof flap in the breeze.

Gemma you need to fix your roof

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You need to use real roof people and not a bunch of guys you picked up at Home Depot. I have no idea if you picked up random laborers but for the past few weeks I've been noticing a half assed treatment that is so typically your style when dealing with your property. There is roofing material flapping over your rental and from the sidewalk I can see the plywood laid over your roof. If it were anyone else I would figure this is just a temporary thing until a roofing company was able to get to it. But it isn't anyone else, it's you.

Over the years I've lived here, which is the same amount of time you have had this investment property I have seen the feign attempts of maintenance. I remembered when you tried to bully the neighbors on either side of you who renovated their properties. They said you were hard to work with. I'm gathering your property got a leak and it wasn't close enough to party wall for either neighboring owners to fix the problem without any help from you, like they did last time.

As time passed I had hoped that you'd become a better landlady. Early on you were renting to crackheads, with names like Velveeta and bad people who would leave their friends for dead bleeding all over the sidewalk. You were the landlord who when your tenant asked you to change the flooring in the house because the mold was sending their child to the hospital, you did nothing. Well nothing until the family moved out, and only then did you tear up the floor and 'fix' the problem. Later you seemed to stop renting to Section 8s and started renting to the type of young person who is moving into the neighborhood. I thought, maybe, just maybe you'd start taking better care of your house now that you're going market rate. Apparently not.

A few weeks ago there was roofing material strewn in various neighbors' yards. We thought it was from one house because they had some work done on the roof. I'm now wondering if it was whomever you hired leaving at least 3 rolls of roofing stuff on the roof that blew off. Whatever was partially nailed down is flapping around in the wind and sometimes flops over to the front (see the top right in the above photo). If uncovered that plywood is only going to last so long, so you really should get that fixed... for real this time.

I don't like drug conspiracies. For one, they are dealing with drugs. Secondly, in the hands of the wrong Asst. US Attorney (AUSA) the presentation is a long, painful, confusing activity that stretches out many, many days. There are 2 wonderful AUSAs who should give classes to other AUSAs on how to do it.
Anyway, the other thing I dislike about drug conspiracies, is that a whole lot of people get tangled in the dragnet, some people who I think might just be innocents. Say an AUSA presented a case with 5 targets. Targets A through D were shown to be horrible people, but Target E seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong friends. The problem with indictments, is that it's all or nothing. Great thing about grand juries, it doesn't have to be unanimous and out of 20 some people only 12 have to vote for the indictment, so I am free to vote my conscience.
I am concerned about Target E and I would like to help make sure you do not become Target E. So here are my suggestions:
1. Don't keep stuff for drug dealers.
2. Don't let drug dealers have access to your house.
3. Don't have financial relations with drug dealers.
4. Don't have sexual relations with drug dealers.

1. Don't keep stuff for drug dealers. Even if it isn't drugs. If you keep cutting agents or ingredients such as the good cold meds (Meth) or bottles of nail polish (PCP) for a drug dealer, you too can be part of a conspiracy. Don't accept packages for drug dealers who aren't your neighbors. I don't think anyone would hold you liable if you pick up your next door neighbor's package to prevent it from getting stolen. If a drug dealer asks you to keep a mystery package, just say no.

2. Don't let drug dealers have access to your house
. This is related to the first point about keeping stuff for drug dealers. By letting them have access to your house, apartment, tree-house, whatever it allows them to keep stuff (drugs, guns, etc), unknown to you, in your house. Unfortunately, John Law don't care that you didn't know what it was, and ta-ta you're part of the conspiracy.

3. Don't have financial relations with drug dealers. To entertain myself I would engage in Monday Morning Money Laundering, where I would try to figure out how dealers could have better laundered their money without getting caught. I have to keep myself from falling asleep some how. Some ideas were fine as long as no one knew there was a dealer involved. Once the Feds get wind or start figuring out where the drug money goes, anyone involved is going to part of the conspiracy. One idea I had was have people write checks (less suspicious) in exchange for cash, but it links them to the dealer. Also it doesn't matter if you know what drugs are involved, if you launder money,  you're part of the conspiracy.

4. Don't have sexual relations with drug dealers. Unless you're married to them, because then you're probably not going to get subpenaed. Long-time girlfriends, baby mommas, and acquaintances with benefits are fair game. The nature of this point leads women (mostly) to violate points 1 & 2, maybe even 3. Unless you can prove that you were completely in the dark about the drug dealing (ie he had a normal job), get a lawyer. Ladies, the arrest of your man, or you being part of the wiretap, or him keeping contraband in your home along with his clothes and other stuff can seriously screw up your career or get you fired or have your kids taken away, depending on how it all goes down. Really, you can do better.

I should have a point 5. Okay, 5. Keep a safe friendly distance from drug dealers. It would be horrible luck if the day you felt pity for the dealer and started doing a favor for him/her, the same day the locals or the Feds started their wiretap or other investigative action. Oh and point #2 should include your car, RV, or self-storage pod.

Not moving

December 31st I will shut down this blog. The reason being this blog has had a good run, it is time to move on. However, I am not physically moving. Thankfully, not yet. Earlier I did have a scare that might have made us move, but luckily that didn't come through.

My main job is working for the United States government at the Bureau of Fight Club (BFC). It's not really called that but the agency is, oh how do I put this nicely, funny about employees saying where we work for not work related activities. Anyway, the BFC has another duty location in suburban Maryland and had desired to move a section of employees from DC to MD. Moving employees was one of several ideas to deal with a problem thrown around. We did not know if I was going to have to start commuting to MD and if so, how long.

I currently have a wonderful commute. On a super-duper great day it is 15 minutes door to door. I also have several options to get to work and should I need to get home quickly, I can. I have worked out in a couple of BFC's suburban duty stations and the commute is not so hot. On a good day it is 45 minutes.

The Help and I decided that if I wound up working at a certain duty station, we'd move to be closer to that place, because he works in the same city. So we waited and talked about where we would move to so both of us, not just me, could be closer to our jobs. For me, where I lived in the DC metro area has been all about the commute.

After the end of the fiscal year and the shutdown we haven't heard anyone say anything about moving anybody. So I'm going to assume I'm safe.

I told anyone who'd listen that I'm not ready to leave the city. Not yet. We've got another renovation project planned for next year. I'm not done with this house. I have done so much research regarding this neighborhood, I'm not ready to abandon that.

Though I'll be shutting down the blog, if I can help it, I'm not moving.

Happy Friday- I got nothin' but history, 2005-2008

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This my friends was taken way, way, way back in 2005. This is the corner of Q and 9th St NW. To the right and in the background is Shiloh Baptist Church. Currently there sits a modern building with big glass windows, like a fishbowl.

I am trying to search my memory for what exactly happened between this and the present. I do remember a huge hole that Ray M. constantly complained about for years.

Library Protest Banner

This photo was taken back in 2006 of the old Shaw library. The sign says "Free Our Library". The trees hide the little slits of windows. But I do see that the escalators for the Shaw metro has the glass covering.

Outside  the Big Bear Cafe

This is from 2007. Big Bear was on the verge of opening. There is no farmer's market, yet. There is no outdoor seating, yet.


 This is 2008. The place is formerly Dan's carryout. Walking home I'd smell greasy fried fish. Now I smell really good Thai food.

 I'm going to stop at 2008. If you just moved here you don't know, or probably don't know what this neighborhood has gone through to get to its current state of hipness. If you live here now, you know what these places look like. I hope you appreciate the efforts previous residents to make it an attractive and vibrant place.

Oh I found something else in the 2008 file.

Ray's Art

The other side of 9th and Q St NW.

Grand Jury Duty pt. 3- How to get out of serving

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We lost a few people because they moved out of the District of Columbia.

Commit a crime.
Get arrested for a fight where assault charges come into the mix. I do not recommend this.

Your boss.
Have an employer who will bug the court about getting you back.

Have some serious health problems where you can't sit for any length of time. This is another thing I really don't recommend.

Being a jerk or a crazy person does not necessarily get you removed from the jury, it just makes everyone else very uncomfortable or miserable. I seriously do not recommend this.

Maybe this depends on the foreman, but we did take vacation days, visits to the doctor, and other days off so very few of us sat for every single day the jury sat. The foreman had a calendar several months out to track who was going to be out and to insure that there would be 16 or more people scheduled to come in to hear testimony. So we weren't completely stuck, but I think that depends on the foreman and how many people want to take month long vacations.

see also:

Federal Grand Jury Duty pt. 1- a great group 

Grand Jury Duty pt. 2- Justice is a slowass B.  

The Gift of Singleness

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Disclaimer:Yes, being single can suck. I am happy to be part of a couple and I'm not really complaining about it.

Not too long ago I was heading out to a nearby exercise class and it was dark outside and the Help offered to drive me to the class. No, I insisted I was going to walk*. It wasn't that far but I did say I it was fine to pick me up after the class because it concluded at a time I wasn't too keen on walking back alone. He pushed, insisting on driving me saying he didn't want me walking by myself at night.

I don't know if the following words actually left my mouth, but I know something similar did:
"Seriously? Seer-rhee-us-lee? I lived in this neighborhood for 10 friggin years. By myself without any man and I managed to not get shot, robbed or molested. I think I can manage walking during what is still rush hour quite fine by myself."

The Help responded with something that wouldn't mean much and would take too long to explain to strangers but communicated, 'I love you,' 'I care deeply about your safety and you,' 'I understand.'

The comment that I may or may not have uttered reminded me and made me appreciate the roughly10 years I lived unattached to any man, being a very independent woman. Within my first year of home ownership I broke up with my last boyfriend before my current spouse. There was one date in that time span to someone who became a lovely platonic friend.

During those ten years of living alone (not counting roommates), I had the opportunity to develop me, as an independent woman, not shaping myself to please any guy. I pursued my tom boy desires by amassing a decent collection of power tools and hand tools for home repairs. I didn't do the damsel in distress thing, because no Superman or Prince Charming was coming to rescue me, I would have to rescue myself. Having to depend on me, I developed a strength and resilience that I didn't have when I was younger. On my own I made big decisions regarding this home, my finances, my career without seeking anyone else's approval. I now appreciate what I was able to do then, because I now can't do that anymore, not since there is an US and WE have to make these decisions TOGETHER.

I don't know if it was age or being single or both, but I swear I got a lot more accomplished by myself. At the end of this year we'll celebrate our third anniversary and the Help is constantly in my thoughts, still. Before we were married that real estate in my brain and heart was dedicated to something more useful than goofy thoughts about an odd white guy. Before marriage, I attended more community meetings and was more involved in neighborhood efforts.

A few weeks ago we, along with about 670 other people attended a 100 year birthday celebration for Mabel Sawhill, who attends the Help's church. One of the themes touched on about Mabel's long life and energy was the gift of singleness. Because she had never been married she was able to serve so many people in her catering business and get a lot done on her own. She's very short, loving, very spunky and she catered the event. In an interview she claimed not to know the secret to her longevity but supposed not having a husband helped.

The Help approved of this posting, after some minor editing.

*I would have biked but I don't have a front light for the bike yet and I'm not comfortable riding without one.

Grand Jury Duty pt. 2- Justice is a slowass B.

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 As I mentioned previously, service on the grand jury has been educational. Since my neighborhood still has a drug problem I'd been trying to apply the lessons. I have learned that justice is friggin slow.

As a citizen I would love it if the cops would do more buy & busts: arrest guys on the corner selling drugs, and prosecute the drug dealers, and the dealers to go to jail. Part of my fantasy, as I sat, was that one day the old guys who sold heroin would come up in one of the cases. Alas the Feds are only interested in those small time dealers when they are part of a bigger drug conspiracy or in relation to felon in possession of a firearm charges.

Nope Feds build cases, and maybe even supersede cases, which drag out a while. One of our least favorite things was having testimony, sometimes from a previous grand jury, read to us. The larger the case the longer it seemed to take. There were moments when the jury felt we'd heard enough, when having to listen to one more recorded phone call was a horrid form of torture.

I get that in order to take the old guys who sell heroin off the streets, the system that supplies them with the drugs needs to be targeted, and that takes time. I get that a strong case linking the street sellers, the scores of middlemen, the money launderers, and others in the conspiracy needs to be made, with lots of evidence that has to get collected and presented before heading to trial. As a resident I want the drugs gone, now. I get what the justice system is doing and why, but it is still taking too long.


Grand Jury Duty pt 1- A great group

Grand Jury Duty pt. 2- Justice is a slowass B.

Next, Grand Jury Duty pt 3- TBD (either How to get out of serving on a grand jury or Staying out of a drug conspiracy)

Federal Grand Jury Duty pt. 1- a great group

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I am very happy to say that I am done with Federal Grand Jury duty, hopefully neither Superior or the Federal government with bother me for another 2 years. To clarify, it wasn't petit jury, where you sit for a trial and it wasn't Superior court, where they deal with local laws. No, our purpose was to sit there, listen to testimony for hundreds of cases regarding federal laws being broken and every so often indict people. This for a couple days a week, for 18 months, even through a government shutdown.

It was a good learning experience, mainly because of my fellow jurors. I believe it helped greatly that the person acting as jury foreman had management experience, and could manage a diverse group of people. Secondly there was another juror who catered our service. The juror provided daily snacks, mints, facial tissues, coffee, and occasionally lunch with potato salad, soup, gigantic hunks of fried chicken, and a slew of other hot & cold foods I can not recall. Our "caterer" had a warm and giving spirit with a true heart of serving their fellow citizen. Many other jurors enjoyed assisting the "caterer" with clean up or other tasks. It was the efforts of the foreman and the "caterer" who made the jury room a great congenial environment.

The room needed to be friendly because of grand jury secrecy. There are things that come up, testimony that is given that you feel compelled to talk about, but the only people you can talk about it with are on the jury, so it helps if you feel comfortable with each other. At home I spoke of what happened at court in the vaguest of terms. Some, myself included, became less vague when what we heard made its way to the pages of the Washington Post or some internet news page. In my head I'd note what wasn't mentioned by the press.

If you ever have to sit on a Federal grand jury in DC, you will deeply interact with one of the most diverse groups in the city. Jurors came from every quadrant of the city, NE, NW, SE and SW. We had a good mix of book smarts and street smarts, education and experience. Because the service is so long, there is time to better know people, hear their life stories between cases, during lunch, before a quorum is reached, at the end of the day, over a drink at the Capitol Grill, wherever. Anyway, I'm still glad its over.

Next: Federal Grand Jury pt.2- Justice is a slow a$$ b!tch.


Truxton Homes of E.L. Haynes

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1509-1515 4th St NW
This weekend I saw that 1710 4th St NW was up for sale. It is notable in my head because it was one of several homes in Euphemia Lofton Haynes' real estate portfolio.
Who is Euphemia L. Haynes you may ask. She was the first African American woman to earn a PhD in mathematics in 1943. She's also known as an educator and has a DC charter school, E.L. Haynes in  named after her. However her income did not appear to come from those things for which she is known.
She received her doctorate from Catholic University and was active in Catholic causes, so her papers are in CUA's university archives. In the archives are several boxes of her and her husband's financial records, including files about various rental properties. The files contain correspondence between tradesmen and "Mrs. Haynes" as well as real estate  details mentioning such things as the rate of rent. In 1947 the rent at 1513 4th St NW was $45, and on October 12, 1946 she sold 1509 4th St NW Baker's Dozen, Inc for one thousand dollars. Though by themselves items like the plumbing bill for pipes put in my house in 1938 may be uninteresting to anyone else, I find it fascinating because I ripped out those very pipes last year.
Below is a list of rental housing owned by Dr. Haynes:
27 Hanover Pl NW
218 N St NW
305 R St NW
1509 4th St NW
1511 4th St NW
1513 4th St NW
1515 4th St NW
1618 4th St NW
1706 4th St NW
1708 4th St NW
1710 4th St NW
1712 4th St NW
1714 4th St NW

Why yes I did hear WAMU's piece on Shaw history

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When listening to WAMU's piece on Shaw, I was glad to hear someone acknowledge the name comes from the area's urban renewal and not directly from the name of Col. Shaw. Not so happy with the assertion that the boundaries stopped at New Jersey Ave. With Home Rule, which brought forth the Wards, Truxton Circle got politically cut off from the rest of Shaw. Culturally, we have Dunbar so as far as I'm concern we are still in Shaw.


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Giant 2

After November 22 you can run in for your big-city grocery needs, whatever it may be.

It's all about the Washingtons

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4 bills and change
You can always ride the city bus
Gotta a stack of tokens just for us
Yo my wallet's fat and full of ones
Yeah it's all about the Washingtons.
-- "Whatever You Like" by "Weird Al" Yankovic

This is a post that I thought about but couldn't go anywhere with. Weird Al's song is just bouncing around in my head and I couldn't bear to delete this.

Foster the City

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Foster the City

Last week the Help and I briefly attended Foster the City at the Convention Center, an event sponsored by the National Council for Adoption and DC127, an organization working to reverse DC's foster care waitlist. We are interested in raising children and decided to check it out.

One of the exibitors at the event was LAYC. You remember LAYC, the community in Truxton Circle fought to keep them out of the Cook school because the organization wanted to put a housing compent that did not sit well with residents. I believe Mundo Verdi will be a far better fit. Anyway, at the event the organization was focused on various placement efforts for minors. One of the things that it appears LAYC does that the other foster/adoption groups at the event does not is provide a transitional living program (TLP). A TLP serves English and Spanish speaking homeless and runaway youth between the ages of 16-22 with host families.

Several social service organizations like LAYC, Lutheran Social Services and Bethany Christian Services have an unaccompanied minor program for refugee youth who get into America without an adult guardian. They may come from refugee camps or get dumped in the country by a coyote. These kids may need a host family to foster them and help deal with immigration and citizenship challenges.

Besides offering opportunities to learn about foster to adopt programs there were other programs for advocacy, mentoring and support. Advocacy could be this right here, getting the word out that there are children with varying needs in the foster care system who need stable adults to mentor, host or adopt them. It is also working with social service agencies and organizations who seek to support the approximately 1,300 kids in DC foster care.  Mentoring could be providing short-term housing or being a stable adult who is there for a child. We weren't there long enough to get a proper jist of what support means so I'll just quote what the program says:

Support- We all know it takes a village to raise a child. No parent could do what they do without the help of babysitters, family and friends, and this doesn't change for families in foster care - it just might look a little different. This track is for those who want to be involved in supporting foster families and organizations.

Bright Colored Miscellaneous

Bright Orange
Bright Orange on 1500 Blk 3rd St

There all sorts of interesting things happening in the hood.

1500 Block of 7th St- (via Kevin Chapple on the Shaw neighborhood list) 1547 - 7th St will be transformed into a world renowned restaurant. A lease has been signed with chef Richard Sandoval' s restaurant group. The restaurant at 1547 - 7th Street will be one of his El Centro brand. Visit for more information about Richard Sandoval and his restaurants.

In a few weeks Ivy & Coney, a sports pub will open its doors for business at 1537 - 7th Street.

The laundromat at 1535 - 7th Street will be closing and a coffee shop will take its place.

The Variety Market at 1510 - 7th Street will be closing and Valor Development will be occupying that location.

Criminal Justice Coordinating Council- (also from the Shaw list) Will be meeting at Dunbar Nov 14th 6pm in the auditorium at 101 N Street NW. Think of it as another opportunity to go inside the new building. Though I'm still waiting to hear more about when residents can use the pool. 


New Bike Share Station- At Nth and New Jersey see the BACA Blog for pictures.

Tower of Doom

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Be gone towering brutalist structure of failure and doom. Obscure our landscape no more.

1300 block 3rd/New Jersey Ave NW. Old Dunbar High School being torn down.

So close

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I want my sidewalk back.

I'm thinking of the sidewalk outside of the O Street Market. It is looking really nice, and I know they are getting close to done.

I also want the sidewalk back on 9th Street NW between H and New York Ave.  I see the bus shelter. I miss that bus stop. I want it back, soon. That and a decently paved road and don't forget the bike lanes!

I have no feelings about the sidewalk in front of the Wally World on H St but that is looking close. From a distance, travelling on the 96 bus I could see interior store signage for aisles.

The amount of investment in the general area is amazing. I imagine a urban planner from post riot 1968 being swooped up and taken to 2014 (when most of this work will be done). Shaw would not be the same neighborhood. Downtown/ Gallery Place (fake Chinatown) would be a different place, but nothing Mr. 1968 could think of would ever conceive of what is here now and what will be next year.

DiR: Dead Living

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Though the Washington Post has a great investigative article on the ShotSpotter, what really caught my attention was today's "Why the dead get government checks" also titled "pix of aunt and uncleSometimes it pays to be dead."

The reason being the DC Office of Tax and Revenue's Senior Citizen Homestead Deduction, which one of the photographed here is paying. Both people in the photograph are dead, dead, dead, deady-dead-dead. When they were alive they lived in SE DC. I've written about dead people paying the reduced price property taxes before, but then auntie was still alive, in a nursing home in Maryland somewhere, but alive. And last year she died. In 3 months she will have been dead 2 years. However, she has not shown up in the Social Security Death Index (via and so I haven't felt any major need to contact the Tax Office since the only proof I have of her death is a voice mail from another relative telling me so and possibly her funeral program (I've misplaced it). I don't know her birth date as she was very secretive about her age when she was alive and so the story is that she was well over 100 when she died. As far as proving this tax payer is dead, I don't have much. Though she did have a will and there is someone* managing the estate as a living relative inherited a mink and someone is paying the property taxes for the SE home.

Uncle R was a postal worker, then he retired, and then he died. Aunt G was a homemaker, then a widow, then she died. I don't know if their estate is receiving any USPS pension, Social Security, or anything from the federal government. The Washington Post article stated that some states' vital statistics offices don't alow their records to become public. Aunt G died in Maryland so it isn't clear that DC would have a record of her death. However, I have found other DC property owning Maryland dead before. I don't understand why Aunt G isn't showing up. I do not suspect fraud, bureaucractic screw up, yes, fraud, no.

The problem with dead people paying property tax is that I find them paying the Senior Citizen Homestead Deduction on vacant and blighted houses. Such a house in neighborhoods like Shaw could hold down a block. It attracts squatters, trash, vermin and crime. Then there are dead discounted seniors with houses their relatives are occupying and if that is a problem, it really depends on the relatives.

*Aunt G is my aunt by marriage so a whole 'nother branch of family is handling the estate.

Post-Halloween Miscellany

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Well I said I'd get back to regular posting in November, and now look what month it is.

Halloween recap- Well the trick or treaters did not come until 7 something, and there were so few coming at a time we gave a lot of candy to the early kids and adults. Around 8 something we were starting to run out of candy. At 9pm we decided to call it a night because I figured it was too late for the youngest people to be out.

The costumes were okay this year. There were a bunch, I mean a bunch of Spidermen and spidergirls. No these weren't all the same kids. I had two Spidermen show up at the same time. There were those who made an effort and those who did not. We had special candy for those who just showed up in their regular clothes, caramels and tootie rolls. We did some minimal dressing up ourselves. I threw on an apron and called myself a chef. The Help failed to get rid of his graduation gown after getting his MLS so he wore almost all his regalia (we couldn't find the mortarboard)  and was mistaken for Harry Potter by our nighttime visitors. Harry Potter. The Help wasn't wearing glasses, I don't see how you could miss the University of Maryland patch on the red satin whatchamacallit.

Facetime- I try to practice being aware of my surroundings, even on the bus, because you gotta know how close you want to sit/stand near the crazy. I'm kind of observant. Well I spied with my little eye, someone engaging in Facetime, that function on the iPhone where there is a camera on you and the speaker so you both can see each other talk. Anyway, boyfriend on the other end was getting dressed. What I saw was rated PG-13 not NC-17, but still. I know there are a bunch of you out there who don't care that NSA is reading your email, or TSA is looking at your naked body scans, and have a different sense of privacy than I, but please don't Facetime 1/2 neekid people.

Judging the Post's "Getting to Know Shaw"- In todays print edition the Washington Post's  weekend section has an article by a variety of the Going Out Gurus. It is a collection of short blurbs about a few Shaw restaurants and bars, the library, the Howard Theatre, and the dog/skate park at 11th and Rhode Island. It is not a comprehensive list of all the good stuff that has come in the last three to five years. There is no mention of the Bundy dog run on the 400 block of P St., or Bistro Boheme, nor the brand spanking new Dunbar High School (please open the pool to residents, pretty please!), but that's ok. The on-line version neighborhood guide has more regarding commercial establishments.