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March 13, 2005

Bad to Verse

Dear Versifiers:

You remember the old joke. A couple have a son who in normal in every respect, except that he does not talk. They assume he is just a slow developer, but to be safe they subject him to an extensive series of medical and psychological tests. The physicians assure them that he is perfectly normal, and that there is no physical reason that he would be unable to speak. The psychologists conclude that his intelligence is normal, his understanding of language is normal, and that he has no obvious psychological disorder. But he doesn’t speak by age two, or three, or four, no matter what they do to encourage him. Finally, the parents resign themselves to the fact that their son will not speak. But one day at the breakfast table, when he is five, he complains, “This oatmeal is cold.” “Son,” his parents exclaim, “you can speak.” “Of course,” the son says. “But everything was all right until now.”

So I’m in a good mood, and don’t have much to say. Luckily, that isn’t true of several of themail’s correspondents, as you’ll see below.

Gary Imhoff


One Needn’t Be a Truant
Larry Wissleberry, wissleberry@hotmail or yahoo

One needn’t be a truant
in Washington

Just predict it might
be snowing
or bring a vial
of mercury

Sprinkle some spores
of mold
upon the water pipes

Adding to the grievances
and administrators’

But someday they’ll fix
no more gangs, No winter,
or rats

Only to find
they’re "CLOSED TODAY"
"We’re vaccinating cats!"


The Serious Implications of the City’s Snow Paranoia
Ted Knutson,

Does anyone know if youth crime goes up on days when the schools are closed for snow (or the prediction of snow)? The question borders on the rhetorical: “How can crime not increase when kids have no supervision?”


It Works
Ed T. Barron,

Yes folks, it really works. You can buy your Nats baseball tickets online as of Saturday, 12 March. Reserved seats (upper deck baseline) are only ten bucks, but you pay for ticket delivery (via E-mail immediately after you sign off) and Ticketmaster fees. So, the total cost is about $15 per ticket. Took me three tries to get it working but, yes, it does work. Wanted to see the Cardinals again but will be away the few times they play the Nats. Settled for a Sunday afternoon game in late September against the Mets.


Kevlar Flyers
Bryce A. Suderow,

A large number of flyers of various colors sprang up on Capitol Hill early this week advertising Kevlar vests for those attending the baseball games at RFK Stadium. Does anyone know who is behind this or what the purpose is?


FIRST Robotics Team at Banneker Academic High School
Phil Shapiro,

The FIRST robotics competition is an annual competition that involves high school teams from around the country designing robots to compete against each other ( DC schools fielded two teams for this year’s competition. I participated in the team at Banneker Academic High School and was very impressed with students, faculty and adult volunteers who showed up. In the spirit of citizen journalism, we documented our work on a web site that includes a multimedia slideshow made with the free version of a Windows program named PowerBullet Presenter. You can see the web site at and the narrated multimedia slideshow at The slideshow is less than two minutes in duration and contains thirteen slides. Use the arrow keys at the bottom of each screen to navigate forwards and backwards through the presentation. Kudos to the extraordinary faculty members at Banneker who spent so many evening and weekend hours working on this two month project. A big thank-you to the volunteers at the Capital PC User Group who came through in a big way to support the Banneker robotics team ( The biggest thanks goes to the participating students, who made our whole community proud the way they worked together as a team to brainstorm solutions in this contest. Benjamin Banneker would be proud to see his legacy honored in this way.

We need to be doing much more project-based learning in this city. It’s the kind of learning that’s the most meaningful. Whether such learning is organized in-school or out-of-school, it needs to happen one way or the other.


Delivery of The Examiner: A Growing Problem?
Steven E. Levy,

In my neighborhood, Kalorama Triangle, free, unsolicited home delivery of the Examiner has resulted in pink plastic-wrapped newspapers littering the sidewalks and street. Is there anything we can do to moderate this widespread distribution which must violate some unheralded DC regulation? In addition, for those of us who are careful to discontinue home delivery of the Post and Times during vacations, has anyone discovered a mechanism for achieving the same result with the Examiner?


The Future Lies Ahead
David Sobelsohn, dsobelso -at- capaccess -dot- org

“Building the Future . . . Beyond the Ballpark,” said the glossy invite from “Turner Gilford Community Partners.” “Join us for our team Kick Off Mixer and Community Meet & Greet” in the neighborhood closest to & most affected by the proposed stadium. Make sure to “Bring Your Ideas.” Deadline to RSVP: March 8. Date invite postmarked: also March 8. Oops. Date of event: March 10. Date invite received by local ANC Commissioner: also March 10. Oops. No doubt Turner Gilford gathered, at the mixer, just as many innovative ideas as they wanted from local leaders. So much for partnering with the community. Who are these clowns, does anyone know?


Kudos to DC Police/Towing
Kristen Barden (Former Ward 4 ANC Commissioner),

Never thought I’d ever hear these words coming out of my mouth/fingers, but kudos to DC towing and police. On Tuesday evening, I discovered that I had forgotten to move my car from the Connecticut Avenue rush hour lane (I parked there Sunday night, mind you, and this was Tuesday evening. I called 311 and they immediately transferred me to towing. The woman who answered the phone was very polite and very helpful. (I was in a little bit of a panic that I had lost my car or that it was in the God forsaken impound lot). She immediately told me my car was moved and parked in the XXXX block of Fessenden Street, NW. Whew. I even know where Fessenden Street is! I was so happy to hear that. Now there was the requisite $100 ticket on it when I got to it, but at least it wasn’t impounded, I didn’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to get it back, and they knew exactly where it had been moved. Yay! So while I might be forgetful, at least DC government isn’t, at least this time.


Colonoscopy Advice
Phil Shapiro,

Are you due to have a colonoscopy sometime soon and have questions about the procedure? I’m scheduled for my sixteenth colonoscopy on March 24 and am happy to privately answer questions subscribers to themail might have. I totally love colonoscopies. I need to have one every year because I’m in a higher risk group for colon cancer. Both my dad and grandfather died of colon cancer. I laugh at colon cancer. It has no chance of getting me. I actually look forward to my annual colonoscopy. A chance to laugh at colon cancer one more time.

A dear mentor of mine, Corliss Grimes, died of colon cancer five years ago. I never talked to her about colonoscopies and should have. She taught me much about caring about the youth of our city. She was too busy caring for others to care for herself. A deadly mistake. (I contributed to this mistake.) The procedure is much easier to undergo than anyone might have told you. Just don’t do the Go-Lightly preparation method. Use the Fleet phospho preparation method. It yields the same results and is much less difficult a preparation. Don’t let your doctor convince you that Go-Lightly is the method he or she prefers. He or she is not undergoing the preparation, right? Tell them you know your stuff, and if they don’t listen to you, find another doctor. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve consulted with national leaders in the gastro field about this.


Diesel Fuel Tax
Paul Wilson,

In the March 10 edition of themail, Ed Barron asks: “The price of diesel fuel in DC is well over $2.20 per gallon. That’s a bit baffling, since diesel fuel is a minimally refined product that is exactly the same as number 2 home heating oil. Yet home heating oil is only about $1.70 per gallon. Who’s making all that extra profit?”

Answer: the government, in the form of motor fuel taxes. The feds levy a 24.4 cents per gallon tax on diesel. (As opposed to 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline, for those keeping score at home). The District government collects a 20 cents per gallon tax on all motor fuels:,,a,1324,q,612636.asp. There are no comparable taxes on home heating oil.


Wasted DC Kids, Underused Federal Properties, Major American Monument
Len Sullivan,

NARPAC’s March web site update treats three different aspects of life in DC. First we return in depth to one of our long-standing themes: why on earth are there federal statutes requiring the recall of defective household and automotive products that put Americans’ safety at risk, but no statutes requiring the recall and repair of the thousands of high-school dropouts that present far greater, longer term risks to themselves, their neighborhoods, and their kids? We dream up an imaginary class action suit against the DC government and its Congressional overseers to require suitable federal statutes to redress educational deficits and their impact. Then, as the first step in a recall process, we draft an educational deficit report to an imaginary remediation agency in the US Department of Education describing the consequences of years of inaction to this major threat to Americans’ safety. Finally, we draw up a preliminary proposal for a set of school-related residential facilities to recycle teen moms, their kids, as well as other adult and homeless poverty victims, along with practical sources of capital and operating funding. Take a look at and give us some constructive suggestions.

Our March editorial responds to OMB’s new proposal to consider transferring under-used federal properties for DC’s economic development (which NARPAC has been suggesting for years!). We fully endorse the concept, but caution against the risk of either the federal or DC governments using this as an excuse not to pursue even more important (and costly) long-range capital investment projects in DC’s physical and human infrastructures. It is available here:

Finally, two major updates are made to NARPAC’s often-ignored “Art Gallery.” The first expands on Raymond Kaskey’s sculptural contributions to the WWII Memorial, and the second adds sample works of a major DC photographer: Stephen R. Brown’s remarkable photographs of that memorial, shortly to be published in book form. Both can be reached at Take your pick, it’s all about DC’s future.



Surplus for Schools, March 15
Beth Allaben,

DCPS parents will march on the DC council to advocate for “surplus for schools” facilities. An ad hoc group of parents and DCPS supporters from across the District will converge on the John A. Wilson building on Tuesday, March 15, at 10:00 a.m. for a march on the council to request that $100 million of DC’s FY 2005 surplus be given to DCPS for physical improvements to DC public schools. DCPS has a long list of unfunded capital improvements, including heating, air conditioning, roofs, and windows. The Mayor, Council, and residents all agree that public schools are critical to the growth of the District of Columbia.

School facility improvements will benefit many more than the students in District of Columbia Public Schools. Community members use the school facilities for meetings and use school playgrounds and walking tracks for recreation. Dedicating part of the District’s surplus would be a tangible use of excess funds that would help encourage residents to remain in the District, and remain involved in District of Columbia Public Schools.

We urge all residents of the District of Columbia to attend the council’s Committee of the Whole meeting at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 15, to urge the council and Mayor Anthony A. Williams to support additional funding to capital improvement projects for all of our children. We will also bring signed letters of support from residents who are unable to attend, and encourage a letter and e-mail campaign to all councilmembers and the mayor.


DC Public Library Events, March 15, 17
Debra Truhart,

Tuesday, March 15, noon. West End Neighborhood Library, 1101 24th Street, NW. West End Book Club, book discussion group. Call for title. Public contact 724-8707.

Tuesday, March 15, Southeast Neighborhood Library, 403 7th Street, SE. Lively book discussions with local authors and writers held by the Capitol Hill Book Club. Book club members select the book to be discussed. Public contact 698-3377.

Thursday, March 17, 1:30 p.m. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, Room 221. Something Novel Book Club. Read and discuss The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. Public contact 727-1295.


DC Environmental Network to Honor Advocacy Efforts in Our Nation’s Capital, March 17
Chris Weiss,

On March 17, the DC Environmental Network will host an awards ceremony to honor the advocacy efforts of two individuals that are making our nations capital an example of good environmental stewardship. DC Councilmember Phil Mendelson and Charles J. Clinton, director of the DC Energy Office, will both receive recognition for work to bring clean energy, such as wind and solar, to our nation’s capital. The event will be held at Friends of the Earth’s national headquarters, 1717 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, #600. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. The DC Environmental Network, a coalition of hundreds of environmental organizations and activists, works with the District of Columbia’s neighborhoods and communities to achieve economic stability by protecting and restoring the city’s urban environment.

For more information about the reception and awards ceremony, go to or call 222-0746.


From Pitch to Screen: A Producer’s Master Class, March 19
Dorinda White,

Women in Film and Video, Washington, DC, is hosting a one-day seminar called, “From Pitch to Screen: A Producer’s Master Class,” on Saturday, March 19, from 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at the Jack Morton Auditorium of George Washington University, 805 21st Street, NW. If you’ve ever wanted to know how to take your television or film concept and get it on screen, then this is the seminar for you. Come and meet the industry players and professionals who can show you the ropes and explain the mysteries of getting your show seen and on the air. Executive producers from the Travel Channel, National Geographic, Discovery, and other major cable and film entities will be there to share info on how it’s done. Learn about: demystifying the process (or packaging the treatment); how to get the first break; anatomy of a production and more! A definite industry networking event you don’t want to miss. Registration and additional information can be found at or by calling 429-9438. You can also E-mail Dorinda White, VP Communications/Board Member, Women in Film and Video-DC, at for more info.


Public Roundtable on Child Care Services, March 19
Susie Cambria,

The Committee on Human Services is holding a public roundtable on March 19 at 1:00 p.m. in the Council Chamber, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The purpose of the roundtable is to hear from parents and providers about the state of early care and education in the city. People can talk about the waiting list, services for infants and toddlers with disabilities, reimbursement rates in the Child Care Subsidy Program — whatever the issue is, Councilmember Fenty (chair of the committee) wants to hear it. All users of early childhood development services (rich, poor and in between) are encouraged to testify. To register to testify at the roundtable (and to sign up for child care at the roundtable), call the Committee on Human Services, 727-8204.

Those who need assistance preparing testimony should contact Parisa Nourisi at Empower DC — 234-9119 or


Marking the Modern, March 20
Brie Hensold,

Making the Modern: this film documents the design and construction of Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s new Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, which opened in late 2002 to great critical acclaim. It sits directly opposite the Kimbell Art Museum designed by Louis I. Kahn and near the Amon Carter Museum designed by Philip Johnson. Following this Washington premiere screening, architect Peter Arendt, director of design and construction at the Modern Art Museum, will join the audience in a discussion of the different aspects of the project, from its architecture to the filmmaking process. Sunday, March 20, 1:00-2:30 p.m., at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square stop, Metro Red Line. $5 Museum members and students; $7 nonmembers. Registration required. For festival information, visit



Free DC: A New Awareness Campaign
Tony Wagner,

Free DC is a new awareness campaign designed to bring style to the fight for DC voting rights. It is not intended to become another activist organization, merely to help spread the word about our plight. The organizations that already exist are doing a fine job - we’re just trying to complement their efforts. Since only 18 percent of people in the country even know we lack full voting rights, we feel a good way to increase awareness is to get people to notice and engage. We’ve put a new logo on a bunch of items and are selling them through a web site:

We receive absolutely no profit from the sale of the items -- they’re listed at cost. We’re just happy to help spread the word. We hope people around the country will buy a shirt, wear it, and tell anyone who asks why we need to Free DC!



Part-Time Typists and Editors
Tolu Tolu,

Tolu2Books needs part time typists and editors. If interested, please respond to or, or to PO Box 48331, 20002-0331, or call 331-4418.


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