Radiator humindifiers and misc

I have no cool end of the year reflections. I’m not in the mood to look back at 2007, but rather plow forward into 2008. No this is a post about something dear to my heart this Winter, my beloved radiators.
I saw on the New York Times website an article about radiator humidifers. There are these things you can hang on your radiator, that you fill with water, or some scented mix. Neat.
I had been drying my sweaters on my radiators, but after everything has been moved around and spiffed up, I haven’t carried on the practice and the air in the house got a tad dry. Moreso on the top floor. On the 1st floor, there are some small trees I brought in from outside that are up on or really close to a heat source and I’m guessing the water from the soil is keeping the house decently moisturized. That and the dryer, that I can vent inside, when I need the heat. Then there are other plants, that are probably aiding in the effort. Upstairs, I’ve just been keeping a glass of water near the radiator in a spot I’m less likely to knock it over. Before, I used to wake up horribly dry, my throat, skin, horribly, disgustingly, dry.

Filing under misc, there is a whole load of things I did not comment on or post that were passed on to me, and I’m just going to clean them out of my in-box now. I’m getting terribly lazy about posting announcements, and when there are other bloggers on the other side of NJ Ave, I don’t feel compelled. Of course, I’ve probably dropped the ball on TC stuff as well.
On the plus side and reflecting the changes I want to make, the ‘thing’ that I was waiting for has come to pass and now I can talk about certain items that are available to the public. And hear tell 2008 may see the National Archives bringing back its pre-2006 research room hours, so I can actually do some decent research, giving me some other choices besides Library of Congress and the Washingtonia collection at the MLK. Now if some other places could just have good weekend hours, that would be lovely.

Parking for out of state bfs, gfs, and frequent visitors

As spotted on the Eckington listserv:
If you are seeing a MD or VA resident who stays over frequently there is relief from getting a ticket for not being registered with DC, and it is ROSA. All the love of your life has to do is prove that you live here and they live there, and stand in line at the DMV.

Death & Taxes

Everyso often, but not that often, someone mentions how property taxes are moving long term families out of gentrified areas. And then I counter with the fact there are oldtimers who aren’t paying that much in property tax, so that can’t be the reason. And to prove it I have about 5 or so properties I know of where the longterm owners pay a very small amount (between $180-$400 a year) in property taxes for houses assessed at over $300K.
I was looking at the Dc.gov site at the property of one such house (to prove the above point) and noticed (or more like remembered) something. The owner of the house, paying at a reduced rate, was sorta dead. This person kinda died a few years ago, but even in death, the owner gets the Real Estate taxes paid. In this case the dead pay less than $300 pa, a fair price for someone who can no longer make a living.
I checked to make sure the deceased was actually dead, and not just a figment of my sketchy memory, piled together by fragments of idle small talk. So I took the name listed as the owner, wandered over to the Social Security Death Master Index (a very useful genealogical resource) and plugged in the name, and came up with one DC deceased match. Also checked the Washington Post obit archives to confirm the date, they want $2.50 or something like that for the whole obit, so I passed.
Now you might be wondering if I might be passing this on to the DC tax office, and the answer is no, not right now. Let me explain why. I have a strong feeling that the deceased failed to leave a will, and there more than likely is no obvious single heir to the estate (no surviving spouse, but several children & siblings). Which then probably means the family might be fighting amongst themselves about who gets what, and if the house is paid for with no mortgage, this fight can drag out for years.
As a homeowner, I do have a will, and in the event I should die before I get around to changing it, the house goes to a dear friend of mine….. I need to change my will, anyone care to recommend a good lawyer?

Looking for vacant lot to seed

For Christmas I got a big honking stack, seriously, a bigger than what I can carry in one hand stack of wildflower seeds. Unfortunately, the seeds won’t be going into my garden as they don’t fit my “can I eat it?” theme. So I figure I’ll take them to the nearest overgrown lot and set them free there.
Which got me to thinking about vacant lots, to go with the vacant house theme. I know of a lot, and I’m going to leave out the specifics as though I am not sure what was done was legal, it was good. There is a vacant lot that was taken over by a group of neighbors and turned into a mini-micro-park. The vacant lot was your run of the mill weedy patch o’ dirt, then someone decided to do some landscaping and others supported and kept it up.
And now that the RE market has gone into a downturn, and properties aren’t turning over as fast, I wonder if Spring 2008 would be a good time to do some guerrilla gardening? Find a lot, which I can think of two near me, and weed and seed a small patch of it. These two lots rarely, from what I’ve observed get cleaned up until they’ve turned into rat havens. Which make them better candidates than other vacant yards that are mowed more often.

When Historic Districts Attack- The 4th Amendment

File under WTF?
Thanks Ray for pointing out an article in the Washington Times (as I hardly ever read that paper) of a couple who won a lawsuit against the DC government for a raid on their home, unlawful seizure of papers from said home, regarding perceived Historic Preservation violations.
A little Google search regarding the saga reveals differing opinions on if the couple actually did the HPRB dance correctly, which is not the matter that makes me fearful, it was the police raid of their home that concerns my little libertarian heart. The portion of the 4th amendment the violation in this is “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
According to the lawsuit [pdf] a March 26, 2003 warrant was issued to search the home of Ms. Elkins and Mr. Robbins, but the warrant didn’t say anything about seizing papers or the like. The next day DC’s finest and DCRA “officials went throughout the home (including the
bedrooms of sick children home from school), opening drawers, observing, and taking photos.”
Seriously, this is just supposed to be about exterior crap, not worthy of a f*ing raid. One of the few things I agree with the pro-Historic District people on is that HDs are about the outside aesthetics of house, and what can be observed from the street, etc, etc. However, this, is something else. Investigate the case for yourself, decide if DC went too far a violated a family’s privacy and order.
On the bright side, Ms. Elkins, an artist, has turned her experience into art.

1227 First Street NW

Originally uploaded by In Shaw

Okay, once again because all the cool kids are doing it, another vacant house. This also has been bought this year, so the pitiful state that it is in *might* not the new owner, Ms. M. B. Jackson’s fault. Ms. Jackson of McClean, VA acquired the house in May 2007 for an unknown amount. The unknown makes me wonder if it was a transfer, tax sale foreclosure, or something else. According to the DC.Gov tax assessment site, the place is assessed at $248,570, for 2007, and will go up to $296,570. The $570.00 at the end of both prices make me wonder if the assessor just decided, “OK, add $48K, viola!” Anywho, there is an interesting “Special Assessment” dated 7/30/2004 and 12/13/2007 for $62,213.03. I wonder what that’s all about.
It was built sometime during the turn of the century, as the DC government lists it as being built in 1900, which means they have no clue. My census of 1900 notes aren’t revealing any residents of the 1200 block of 1st, and my maps (which I admit neglects the Hanover/MVSQ crossover area of the TC) don’t show anything, so I have no clue either.

My 1st letter to the editor and it isn’t about Shaw

Strangely, you never know what will set you off to put ink on dead tree to write to the publishers of another dead tree.
I’m annoyed with the Washington Post and I wrote an actual letter to the editor and it isn’t about my usual pet peeves with the Post, such as the damned thing not showing up on my doorstep. And it isn’t the Post using the same stupid gentrification template. Nor is it having to do anything with the neighborhood, or the city for that matter. It’s about money.
In their graphic for their Sunday December 16th article in the Business section “State of the Household”. Their graphic pissed me off. Why? Because they counted Employer contributions for pensions, insurance, Social Security & Medicare as part of the average household’s disposable income.
I consider disposable income any money that can be spent on booze and male strippers. Or in my sister’s case, donuts and Disney World. I can’t spend my employer’s contribution to my retirement or their part of my health insurance on a 50 year old port. Thus, it is not disposable income to me. Unless there is some technicality in the definition of disposable income that I’m not aware of.
Another thing that pissed me off enough to write a letter to the editor, no explanation of the Government social benefits that are a part of my disposable income. According to their graphic the average household gets $14,774 in government benefits, which is a part of their or my disposable income. Outside of my salary and a single bonus, I haven’t received this extra government funding to stock my personal bar or my trophy husband hunt fund. This may once again be related to a different definition of ‘disposable income’. I don’t deny that I benefit from a government funded police that may or may not show up when I call 911 depending on if the dispatcher is in a foul mood, or a school system that at least keeps kids off the streets for a few hours in the day. However, those benefits, I can’t spend on liquor and thus, once again fails my personal definition of ‘disposable income’.

Vacant house

Well, because all the other cool blogs are doing it, I present to you a vacant house. It is 219 P St NW, built in 1906, currently owned by a Mr. Crespo of Dunn Loring, VA, who bought the place February 2007 for $265K. All this is on the DC.Gov website, and since the current owner has had it for less than a year, I’m going to go easy and not post the other public information.
I debated about blogging about specific vacant houses in the TC. There are a number of vacant houses in the TC, like the rest of Shaw, but not all of them are obviously vacant, and I didn’t want to attract any great amount of attention to those. So I’m going with the obviously vacant, and 219 P is with it’s busted windows and ratty looking yard.
As far as taxes go, it’s had its woes. Currently it is assessed at $270,600, but will jump to $354,020 in 2008. looking at it’s past tax bills and payments, whoever owned it previously let the tax bill get up to $8K in 2005 and 2006. There is a Clean City bill for $70.00 and a 1998 trash bill of $613.87. Hopefully the old obligations were cleared up when the property changed hands.

Radiator bits and etc

Radiator bits
There’s a discussion on one of the listservs regarding radiators regarding a part. The radiator supply valve I gather… anyway, the beautiful internets can come to the rescue. I was looking for radiator keys and an air vent thing and got them from a hardware store on-line. Also when the plumbers hooked my radiators back up, they seemed to have had an ample supply of radiator bits, completely replacing the caked with 10 layers of paint parts. So though the radiator system is not widely used in the US, they aren’t rare, so there is information out there about parts and maintenance.
Also, things have been getting busy and as I’m waiting for certain things to fall into place to allow me to start yacking about bits of Shaw & DC history I haven’t been and probably won’t be posting much. Also I’m thinking of switching over to Moveable Type, which may or may not mean shutting down the Blogger version.
The census project chugs slowly along as I do the tedious task of data clean up.

Arugula the winter salad

Last night I had a salad from fresh greens still growing in the yard, arugula. I planted it sometime in the summer, and the plants are still going strong. They were covered with snow last week, but now the snow has melted, they are accessible again. They are harder and not as nice as the soft springtime bounty. But it’s cold and I’m not going to the store and I want a salad. I have to chop them up finely. Of course, I could wilt them as well and it would be fine.
Also in the yard, not going as strong is the chard. It’s okay, not looking as perky as it did before the snow.