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December 29, 1999

Wind Down the Year Long-Windedly

Dear Psychic Network:

I don't know everything that the next year will bring but, judging by this issue's submissions, it will bring longer E-mails. Oh, well, it's the last themail of the year; I'll let it go. In the next thousand years, I'll be a stricter moderator. One question raised in this issue intrigues me. Is the citywide call center working well or not? People have written before praising it as a valuable innovation. But Mark Eckenwiler gives his experience, which is closer to mine, that it is a citywide call diversion center, fully equipped with at least a fifteen minute wait on hold and an inability or reluctance to give out the telephone numbers people are calling to get. What have your encounters been like?

Gary Imhoff


Ten Predictions for the New Year
Ed T. Barron (gadfly),

1. The Mayor will have a simultaneous appointment with a dentist and a chiropodist in a delicate operation to remove his foot from his mouth
2. One of the new “minibuses,” driven by Rod Strickland, will win the Canal Road 500
3. After a severe cold snap this winter all the hastily patched streets, torn up for fiber optic cable installation, will erupt with devastating impact on traffic flow
4. Bob Cratchit will be appointed President of D.C. Cable and all the ghosts of Christmas Past will disappear from the TV screens
5. Arlene Ackerman will smile
6. On the 29th of February the LY Computer Bug will kick in and all the DCPS school teachers will get their checks with the correct amount, on time
7. A UDC graduate will be employed by a major corporation
8. An entrepreneur will buy up, remove and refurbish all the fire alarm post boxes in D.C., install a clock in them and sell them in VA as garden adornments
9. Ed Barron's driveway will be nominated for historical preservation by the frontier Justice Society
10. Things will continue to improve in the District as long as Tony Williams is Mayor


Bryce Suderow,

You asked for some one to predict the future of Washington, D.C., so here goes. Worst Case Scenario: Tony Williams does such a lousy job as mayor, he fails to seek a second term. Meanwhile, Marion Barry runs for the at-large seat next year and defeats Harold Brazil or Carol Schwartz. This victory gives him a city-wide machine and in 2002 he runs for mayor and wins. Chief Charles Ramsey serves his five year term as police chief and the city discovers the MPD has declined in quality instead of improving. To replace Ramsey, they appoint a corrupt insider. By 2002 the hopes that citizens held in 1998 of reforming the city are a distant memory.

Best Case Scenario: Tony Williams does a lousy job as mayor, but he gets re-elected anyway. His second term is just as barren of reforms as his first. Marion Barry does not run for the at-large city council seat or for the office of mayor. Instead, the usual candidates run -- Kevin Chavous, Harold Brazil, or Jack Evans. One of these three wins and all hope of reform goes out the window. Chief Charles Ramsey resigns after three years and the city discovers the MPD has declined in quality instead of improving. To replace Ramsey, the city appoints a corrupt insider. By 2002 the hopes that citizens held in 1998 of reforming the city are a distant memory.

What will probably happen: Tony Williams does a lousy job as mayor that he cannot run for a second term. Marion Barry runs for the at-large city council seat or for the office of mayor and wins, but he does not run for mayor. Instead, the usual candidates run — Kevin Chavous, Harold Brazil, or Jack Evans. One of these three wins and all hope of reform goes out the window. Chief Charles Ramsey continues his job for five years and the city discovers the MPD has declined in quality instead of improving. To replace Ramsey, the city appoints a corrupt insider. By 2002 the hopes that citizens held in 1998 of reforming the city are a distant memory. I do not see any hope for turning this city around.


The Shape of Things to Come
T. Jr. Hardman,

I predict that Y2K won't be too bad for us in the US, nor in DC. The rest of the world may have some difficulties that will be straightened out by the end of the year. In the District, there will be sustained rebuilding with very visible results by the end of 2002. I see problems ahead, starting about 2003. Welfare will be officially ending and in many places, DC especially, there will be a very bumpy transition from welfare to work. I expect a steep rise in crimes of desperation around this time. By about 2004 there will be a massive reduction of work done in offices as the new Media Layer 2.4GHz wireless promiscuous packet forwarding, ubiquitous computing, JINI and Beltcom all combine with grass-roots and governmental optic-fiber localnets and backbones. By 2005, everyone who is qualified will suddenly be working at home. As salaries rise for the few, more people will be out of work, and this is likely to combine with an “adjustment” as stocks are driven down to near their true value and inflated "pseudo-assets" used as hedges against debt overextension cause record defaults and bankruptcies.

Probabilities of a revolution in Mexico, and/or a US war against a transnational criminal enterprise in ungoverned northern Mexico approach 100 percent by 2010. In such a case, the US will suffer significant casualties on US soil. Mexico will be soundly defeated and occupied by US and Canadian peace keepers under US aegis, but fighting will continue against marxist Latin American insurgents funded by the cocaine trade. New synthetic drugs will emerge as one means for denial of funding for the insurgents, destabilizing the nation further as synthetics cartels escape government control and a three-way struggle begins.

Around 2007-2020 we'll see significant advances in organotech and nanotech combining to replace substantial elements of the industrial sector. Non-degreed jobs will essentially vanish but the cost of production and delivery for many essentials will approach zero. Military uses of organotech or nanotech will hasten the decline of the old order. In 2030, the central aquifer is depleted, forcing the abandonment of most of the Great Plains until a Feed can be grown from the oceans to provide raw materials for matter compilation (as well as aquifer recharge). By 2040 society as we know it will not exist, having fragmented into thousands of globe-trotting subcultures. 2050 and later dates are out of bounds for any possible predictions. See also for another scenario.


President Clinton Declares Y1.9K
Jeffrey Itell,

Washington, DC (Reuters). Acknowledging that the nation would not solve its Year 2000 (Y2K) computer problem in time, a clearly disappointed President Clinton Friday signed a presidential directive changing the Year 2000 to 1900. The move is expected to give computer scientists an extra year to inoculate against the millennium bug.

“We must do everything we can to build a bridge to the beginning of the 20th century,”' Clinton said. Local authorities will be trained and equipped “to deal with all contingencies, including the absence of film and television, the use of horseless carriages, and the return of the dead ball era in baseball.”

Turning the calendar back to 1900 is expected to cause consternation among some of the President's important constituency groups. Women will lose their voting rights, African-American their civil rights, and all Americans their rights to Viagra, birth control pills, and Prozac. Although Americans would not have to worry about computer viruses, health officials warn that the AIDS virus would not be Y1.9K compliant.

Americans will not have to file tax returns for the first time since the personal income tax was established in 1913. This may be a mixed blessing, however — few Americans would earn enough income in Y1.9K to file a return. Internal Revenue Service employees would therefore be champing at the bit to audit more returns.

Due to the absence of presidential term limits in 1900, President Clinton would be able to run for reelection. Republican house leader Newt Gingrich called Clinton’s directive “a transparent attempt to overturn the American constitution,” while Senator Strom Thurmond called the directive “a new lease on life.”

Historians rejoiced at the news that “The American Century” would be repeated. “Maybe America will get it right this time,” said Harvard professor Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Students at Berkeley and Columbia began preemptive protests about American involvement in the Vietnam War.

Reaction overseas was swift. Emperor Franz Joseph’s descendants started reassembling the Austro-Hungarian Empire; Russia crowned a new Czar, Nicholas III (Clinton spinmeister Mike McCurry took Rasputin’s position); Krups began turning coffee makers into armaments; and the Congo was renamed . . . the Congo. The Swiss took a neutral position . . . or so it seemed.

In a preventive measure, conservative Republicans began calling for the bombing of Czarist Russia back to the Stone Age. Advisors reminded former representative B-1 Bob Dornan that he could not bomb Russia until the Wright Brothers invented the airplane.


Fearless Predictions
Phil Blair,

Within 5 years everybody will be able to define the word “albedo” -- and within 10 years billion-dollar global albedo control projects will be under way.


Prediction: Language in the 21st Century
E. James Lieberman,

I think it likely that Esperanto will gradually find a place in international communication, supplementing English as a “greener” world language, one that will protect rather than displace the smaller ethnic languages that are disappearing at a rapid rate.


Lea Adams,

Major meltdown, but nothing a little multinationally pitched p.r. can't take care of. For years, I hoped the world would end with the Huntley-Brinkley report: “Goodnight Chet. Chet ... Chet?” [FADE TO BLACK before tv implodes.]


Mark Eckenwiler,

I note with a profound sense of weariness that the Dance of the DC Government Phone Numbers continues apace. The main # for DPW administration — 939-8000 — was once upon a time (say, two months ago) a useful means of drilling down into the bureaucracy from the top. I've used it in the past to identify middle managers who actually care about solving problems, and even (once) to get Director Burns's special assistant to light a fire under an unresponsive office. Today, however, 939-8000 is defunct; callers are directed to call 727-1000, the number for the citywide call center, which is good at complaint intake for one-time issues and terrible at solving endemic problems. (They treat symptoms, not causes.) Even better, when I called and asked for the DPW administrative office number, I was grilled like an Algerian terrorist trying to cross the border. In the end, they refused to give me a better number.

Fortunately, I was able to look up the number for the Office of the Mayor on his web site. That number, 727-2980, now connects you to — surprise! — the citywide call center. God, I love having a new administration so open and accountable.


A New Years Wish for DC
John Whiteside,

Here's a wish for the New Year — that more people in DC and its suburbs will realize that the city is part of a vibrant metro area, and the city and the surrounding area will succeed or stagnate together. The inspiration for this wish: a complaint in themail that the problem with driving through Dupont Circle is people with “out of state and suburban tags.” No, the problem is that the traffic lights aren't timed properly. Drive south on Connecticut and try to enter the circle. First you sit at a red light with a no turn on red sign, and there's no traffic coming through the circle. Then you get a blinking yellow — as the traffic in the circle gets a green and you can't enter the circle. Then back to red and no traffic. The only way to get through the light is to run the red light, or cut someone off. And it's the DC government that has responsibility for this one.

And as for complaining that people from out of town shouldn't drive in the nation's capital -- well, let's hope this kind of petulance is something we'll see less of in 2000.


Favorite DC Movies
David Meadows,

I can't believe no one has mentioned a good comedy called “Protocol” starring Goldie Hawn from the mid 80's; it has lots of scenes shot in DC. The movie is based on a Midwest girl who accidentally saves some Middle Eastern Royal, who in turn is so impressed that he wants to make her one of his many wives. The movie shows to what lengths our US government will go to protect our valuable allies in the MidEast (i.e., OIL and Location) by taking a clueless Goldie Hawn to the powers of our State Department, hiring her as Chief of Protocol and, lying and manipulating her into marriage. In the end the lovable girl, after testifying to a Congressional Committee, runs for Congress and wins! This is supposed to be fiction? My favorite part is that her roommates are two gay male lovers!


Is It DC in the Movies?
Lenora R. Fuller,

I took exception to the Clint Eastwood movie “Absolute Power” that used Fells Point in Baltimore as the background but pretended it was Washington. How could I tell? The lack of potholes and scarring on city streets.


Please Give Your Consent to This Substantive Advice
Charlie Wellander,

Which is: Nouns here, but verbs there. After seeing the 1962 movie referred to (three times) as “Advice and Consent,” I simply had to pick up my mouse and write. Both Otto Preminger’s film and Allen Drury’s novel were titled “Advise and Consent.” This is a difficult to explain fact, since Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution twice refers to certain presidential powers exercised “…by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” Perhaps the shift was made because popular culture values action over more substantive forms of relation.


No Right on Red
Agate J. Tilmanis,

Right on red can be hazardous to dedicated pedestrians who know an area and dangerous for pedestrians who are just walking through. In particular such an area is 22nd St., NW. The street is one way going north and if one walks south on it on the left side, the crossings at Massachusetts and at N Street are very dangerous. Drivers look only to their left and keep looking left while turning right. I must confess I have kicked some cars to let them know I intend to exercise my right to cross the street on the “walk” sign. On the other hand, some people are truly apologetic when they realize they are about to run over a pedestrian.


Georgetown Metro
Jim Graham, Ward One Councilmember,

I would like to respond to the very thoughtful comments received this past issue on the subject of the absence of a Georgetown Metro stop. I found both comments to be helpful. As a DC member of the Metro Board, I think it is high time we moved forward with a Georgetown station. Such action is contemplated by the long term plan. Of course we are also committed strongly to the new New York Avenue station (something that can be accomplished at a much smaller cost). But Georgetown should be a high priority as well.


Gabe Goldberg,

Virginia governor Gilmore was quoted in Friday's Post, discussing the need to clean up VA rest stops and tourist attractions. He said, “We need to stop looking so bad, compared to even our southern neighbors.” I guess he's not running for head of the Southern Governors Association. Or maybe he figures the rest of them don't (or can't) read the Post.

Article in Friday's Post about New Year's bash says: “...public viewing areas for America's Millennium Gala will start well beyond the drive that encircles the memorial, behind a huge VIP section for such faces as Robert De Niro, Elizabeth Taylor, and Muhammed Ali.” And whose idea was a show biz VIP section? That's a crummy touch for “America's Millennium Gala,” eh? None of those people are important to me. A better touch would have been inviting hero cops/firemen, medal of honor winners, anything but what they're doing.


Hungarian Researcher on Freemasonry
E. James Lieberman,

I am hosting (til January 8) Susan Berenyi, PhD., from Budapest, who is doing research on freemasonry and, especially, Lajos Kossuth (1802-1894) at the Library of Congress and the Scottish Rite Temple. She would be happy to meet with individuals or groups interested in these topics and can be reached evenings at 363-6899.


Gary Galloway,

I'm through. Your white supremacy is too much to bear. The Plan is in full effect. Out.



Hilton Expansion
Ann Loikow,

A town meeting has been called by ANC 1C regarding the Hilton request to expand. The Hilton will first present, then time for audience comment. There may also be a “vote” to get a sense of the community. The meeting is January 6, 7 pm, at the Reed School auditorium, 18th and Wyoming.


Trash Force 2000
Paul Nahay,

Trash Force's next outing will be on Saturday, January 8, 1999, meeting at 10:45 am at the bulletin board next to Pierce Mill in Rock Creek Park, across Tilden St. from Picnic Area #1. At about 1 pm, we'll go to lunch on Connecticut Avenue. Directions and info are at Please let me know if you're planning to attend, and don't forget to bring lots of plastic bags (and gloves, if you want them)!


Tasting Society International January 2000 Calendar of Wine Events
Charlie Adler,

1) January 12th, Wednesday, “Wine Basics 101,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 2121 P St., NW, valet parking, Metro Dupont Circle (Red Line), 7-9 PM, $39 per person. Our most attended event! 2) January 18th, Tuesday, “Wine 102: Tasting Like A Pro,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $39 per person. This event is lots of fun! 3) January 19th, Wednesday, “Great Wines of the West Coast: California, Oregon and Washington,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $40 per person. Great wines from California, Oregon and Washington State. 4) January 25th, Tuesday, “Wines of France,” Radisson Barcelo Hotel, 7-9 PM, $40 per person. A tasting and tour of France's fabulous wines and regions. 5) January 26th, Wednesday, “Caribbean Food, Wine and Live Jazz,” at BET on Jazz Restaurant, 730 11th St., NW, valet parking, Metro: Metro Center, 7-9 PM, $45, in advance, tax and tip inclusive. Chef “T”'s delicacies, great wine and Hot Live Jazz! Reservations:, call 202-333-5588, or secure web form at



Auto for Sale
Michael Buckley,

Well maintained 1993 Plymouth Sundance, Auto trans., air cond., dark green two-door with hatchback, 121,000 miles. One owner. $3300. 202/879-6705



Got Plumbers, How About an Electrician?
Sara Cormeny,

Many thanks to all the great responses from themail regarding plumbers! If it's appropriate I'd like to send along the full boat of responses (overview of my request: seeking a plumber who works in the Dupont Circle/Adams Morgan area for minor work on a 1905 townhouse). First, let me thank those of you who corrected my spelling and unlocked the key to getting the phone number of Spadaro Plumbing: 301-779-4455. Laurie Collins highly recommended Kabir; mobile phone 703-216-7513. Leila Afzal weighed in with Thomas E. Clark Plumbing, particularly pointing out that as a large organization they did a great job on an excavation project. Caroline Polk, who also has a nearly 100 year old house, recommended Seidel Plumbing, 202-397-7000.

LA Phares recommended Chuck the Plumber, 301-774-1452 or 301-251-0952. Phares said that Spadaro's one visit proved to be a disappointment, for what that's worth. Phil Shapiro said that Art Grosman, 202-462-1285 (best to call mornings), is a great plumber, a great person, and a VW van driver — worthy recommendations! Susan Ousley roots for Frankey Grayton, 202-544-4366, a Capitol Hill resident and lifelong Washingtonian.

Now, my next question, if it's not too much: how about an electrician? Again, household stuff, primarily complicated by the fact that the walls are good old plaster, not drywall. Maybe I should be seeking a good plasterer as well, so I'm happy to take any recommendations on that front too.


Roofer Response
Cheryl Campbell,

About your request for a roofer for a metal roof: my husband and I were delighted with Wagner Roofing. They just put on a copper standing seam roof on our home. Tore off 3 old roofs and rebuilt areas that were rotted, repaired slate, and other fun work. They do a lot of historic roofs in the area. Their work was good. We're not quite done with the job (the gutter arrangement is going to change — we have 3 levels of roofs and the best way to get the water to flow in heavy rains has taken one revision to get right), but the workmanship on the metal work was outstanding. The metal worker is a fellow with a mohawk. Don't be put off by that (no offense to those with wild hair) — he's outstanding!


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