Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sam Adams Utopias - Extreem Brewing Hit

[Photo Courtesy Zengrrl via Flickr]
[Update 12/31] Today realized a few ounces still in the bottle. It's been closed since Friday the 26th. The extra few days exposed to air has aged the flavors just a bit. I now get a nose of honey after pouring a taste. The taste has become a bit bolder, with a strong smokey maple syrup flavor. Interesting.
Last night we hosted a beer tasting party, entry requirements were to bring a unique beer that you wouldn't have expected others to have tried before. In total, there were nine friends that showed up for a delightful evening. It was so good we didn't even mind skipping the obligatory football viewing in this bowl season.

One of the beers I had been anxious to try, and the inspiration of the party, was a 2007 bottle of Sam Adams Utopias (Bottle #2950 for anyone interested). This had been a bit of a splurge last fall when the release reached limited stores in the area. I had called around and found that Total Wine in Central Park had a few bottles, one of which had not been reserved beforehand.
To be fare, this is no ordinary beer. Some of this wonderful elixir started it's fermenting process thirteen years before being bottled. It's only sold every other year, and it's very limited production. The brewing requires a special yeast that can withstand the high alcohol content. The 2007 is a 27% alcohol brew, that could be classified as a barley wine. It's aged in bourbon, sherry, brandy and cognac casks, resulting in a variety of smells and tastes. It arrives in this unique bottle that looks like a brewing kettle. This is not a beer that you use pint glass.

The pour looked liked a cognac. The initial sniff revealed the scent of a sweet chocolate liquor. We asked around on what people were smelling. I said fermenting peaches, a friend said toffee, another said caramel. All of these were there at the same time. The first sip brought the often quoted statement "this is beer?" It seems to be closer in taste to a liqueur. The malted toffee flavors meld with the bitterness of the malts. A hint of a sweet fruit is there, along with various flavors from the casks. The tongue tingles both on the sweet receptors at the end, and at the back from the bitterness. Unlike liqueurs, this is a very smooth drink. It is hard to pick out that this started out with typical beer makings. There is a medium finish, not too long, not too short. Even my wife, who is not one to venture too far into the unknown, asked for a second sample.

You might be tempted to ask what to pair with a beer like this - nothing - this beer stands on it's own. We had it as a before dinner drink, an aperitif. It might make an equally good after dinner drink, but I wouldn't suggest having a lot to drink, as you want to have very active taste buds.

First Night Fredericksburg Events

Please accept my sincere appology for not publishing this post earlier. For those late revelers, looking for something to do tonight to ring in the new years, here are some of the bigger events around town.

For $8 a person, pick up your button at the visitors center (also WaWa and the libraries), and enjoy a variety of family friendly indoor activities at First Night Fredericksburg. 21 different locations from 6:30pm until Midnight host all types of events. Children under 3 are free.

For FREE (with drink and/or food), visit Kybecca for live Jazz 9:30 until Midnight.
For FREE, visit Capital Ale of Fredericksburg for live music.

For live music with a cover, The Loft (cover includes champagne toast), Yak-A-Doos , Brocks, & Fredericksburg Hospitality House are sure to have something fun.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

So Long Bella Boutique Silver

Today I was picking up some fixings for a little get together Friday night, and decided to stop in Bella Boutique, Silver & Accessories to see if there was a good pickup for a last minute stocking stuffer. While there, another customer asked the owner why one item was $39, when a heavier silver piece was about half that price. The more expensive piece didn't have a price tag, that was the price the owner gave the customer off the top of her head. When the customer started asking why it was so expensive, the owner had the audacity to state "well that's just the price".

A couple of pointers for this businesswoman
a) You're CLOSING, sayonara, adios, You can either let the customer bargain and sell the piece, or you can piss off the customer and get $0. In down times, haggling is part of the sale (see news story here).
b) You don't laugh about the customer after they leave, especially if there is another customer in the store.
c) One unhappy customer equals ten missed sales. Well, obviously we see why you're closing.

For years, a prosperous economy has made it relatively easy on certain owners. Regardless of how they treated customers, there was always someone to take their place. Gouging prices was common place, and service was all but forgotten.

Welp, guess what, it's crunch time. Cya. I feel really bad for businesses that are hurting and do understand the way to keep customers. But for those businesses like Bella Boutique, I suggest taking a few business and marketing classes, and working on customer service. See you in the next bubble.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Robo Cop Taking Christmas & New Years Off

Autochalk aka "Robo Cop" is taking a few days vacation this year at Christmas and New Years, so feel free to violate the 2 hour parking rules on the following days:
December 24, 25, 26 (2008) and January 1 & 2nd 2009.

Quote from the website:
"Note: the two-hour parking restrictions downtown will be suspended on December 24, 25, and 26 as well as January 1 and 2. "

Friday, December 19, 2008

Win the Credit APR War

I just got off of the phone with Citibank, the issuer of my Citi Dividend MasterCard. For years this has been my go to (non American Express) card. Most of the benefit comes from the 1-5% cash back. It was nice getting a check with every $50 in savings. Last week I received a letter stating that my 8.99% APR was about to go to 15.99%. Now a little background, credit card companies don't like me because I always pay off balances. However, in the event that something happens, I want to have the best rate possible. Note that nothing much in my credit has changed in recent years, which was validated when I spoke to the cust. service rep who said the card in general was going to a 1 yr only intro rate of 8.99. This new policy is almost DOUBLE the earlier rate.

Everyone, and I mean everyone should choose to OPT-OUT. Why is this? Because EVERYONE who doesn't is going to almost IMMEDIATELY get the increased rate. But by opting out, they have locked in my 8.99% rate for the remaining time on my card. At this point, my card doesn't expire until 01/2010. I have a WHOLE YEAR to go find a better rewards card. Hell, by that point Citi might have a new option available to me.

Lets see, I could have done even better. If this happened to you, you have until Jan 31, 2009 to opt-out of the citi rate increase. FIRST, call customer service and tell them you accidentally mutilated your card (maybe thinking of how much you hate credit card companies). Usually, credit card companies issue cards for 3 years. This should move out your expiration date. When you get your card, call in and then opt out. You'll be locked in until your card expires.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Day Trip to Williamsburg

I thought it worthy of a post to mention how nice it was to visit old town Williamsburg on Sunday. It seemed that the 2 person 15 minute version of A Christmas Carol was the hit of the day. Often we forget how quick is to take day trips around the state. A quick 1.5 hours and we were there.

A note to urban planners, if you have a unique draw, people will put up with bad parking. W'burg has a mix of paid, free 1 hour and free 2 hour parking. Non was overly convenient, but we all managed!

I apologize for the low quality cell photo.

[ original post at ]

Wegmans Progress

Unfortunately no news on an early opening for those of us wanting a better selection of foods. According to the Wegmans website, our store is slated to open June 21st 2009. Progress at the site has made leaps and bounds. Even the new stoplight in Celebrate VA is working with auto sensors. The grass is lush, the parking lot is paved minus the top 2inches. The clock tower is almost complete, and the building now has siding. A definite upgrade from the yellow styrofoam that had dominated the past few months. I snapped the pic below so that you can get an idea of what it will all look like.

According to city council minutes from november, the building is ahead of schedule. We will have to see what that means for opening if anything. Originally the project had an expected opening of Feb 2009 as reported in the fls.

[ original post at ]

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not your ordinary Christmas Music

The FLS weekender ran an article today about the upcoming Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert coming to DC this weekend. We went with friends last year and had the best time. I'm not one for all the normal Christmas tunes, but this isn't your ordinary Christmas concert either. Please read the article here, and if you're free on Sunday, I highly recommend the show. Go dressed as you please, even though the name is Orchestra, this is a modern rock band, and jeans are perfectly ok.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fredericksburg's Commonwealths Attorney Race

I received this letter from Eric Olsen this morning, and thought I would pass it along. He has been working as a prosecutor for 19 years, much longer than anyone else running in the race. He also points to an interesting stat about successful prosecutions in his letter below. Read for yourself, and don't forget to vote in the special election Dec 16th.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As most of you know, I am a candidate for Fredericksburg Commonwealth ’s Attorney at the Special Election on December 16th to fill the vacancy created by Charlie Sharp’s judicial appointment.

The issue in this election is who has the experience and the skills to handle all of the challenges of this job. The answer is contained in the accomplishments of my 19 years as a prosecutor.

Distinguished Commonwealth Attorney of the Year – Awarded annually to the one prosecutor selected by his or her fellow prosecutors from across the state, the Von Schuch Distinguished Assistant Award is the highest award that any assistant Commonwealth Attorney can receive. I received the award in 2008.

Child Abuse Prosecutions – The easiest thing for a prosecutor to do is not prosecute the most difficult cases we face as commonwealth’s attorneys, the physical and sexual abuse of children. Many times the abuser is a family or household member, the child has no voice, and these challenging cases are quietly not pursued. Most people do not realize that for many child abuse cases the mother of the child is on the side of the abuser and does not want the case prosecuted. I have spoken for these children for two decades. I am a tenacious advocate for holding those who would hurt a child accountable and have developed the skills to prosecute these cases and bring justice to the victims.

Domestic Violence – I have found that the way cases are handled by the prosecutor has a profound effect on deterring future violence. I developed Stafford ’s Domestic Violence Response Policy in 1990 and the results are remarkable. In 2001 the Free Lance Star did a comprehensive review of Domestic Violence prosecutions in Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg and Stafford . That review showed that among these localities the conviction rate was:

Spotsylvania 26 %
Fredericksburg 24%
Stafford 57% (Not only is the highest in the area, it is the highest in the state of Virginia )

Drunk Driving – I have handled too many manslaughter cases where someone was killed at the hands of a drunk driver. In some cases the victim was killed as a passenger in a car driven by a family member or friend. In some, a complete stranger destroyed lives. As you can imagine, the type of justice sought by the surviving friends and family varies depending on the relationship of the offender to the victim. However, they all want the same thing, the one thing that no one can give them. They all want it never to have happened. Deterrence is the key to drunk driving prosecutions. I am on the permanent faculty of Virginia ’s Advanced DWI Investigation and Prosecution training program. I have been training other prosecutors to successfully prosecute these cases for years and I will bring these skills to Fredericksburg . A Drunk Driving case will not be dropped because of who defendant is or who his lawyer is. A case will not be lost because the prosecutor is not up for the job. This happens too often across the state and it will not happen when I am Fredericksburg ’s Commonwealth Attorney.

Murder Cases – As distressing as it seems, we cannot ignore the fact that Fredericksburg ’s prosecutor will face the same challenges in the future that have been faced in the past, about one or two murders a year. Whether it is a crime of gun violence or a child who has been shaken to death, your prosecutor needs to have the skills to try a murder case rather than make a plea bargain. From 2002 to 2005 I tried four murder cases. Erin George shot her husband to death, Cynthia Welch starved her baby to death, Alphonso Bennett killed a college student in a home-invasion robbery and Charles Reed used a sawed-off shotgun in a drug related killing. The only thing that these murderers had in common was that they all pleaded not guilty, they were all tried in front of a jury and they were all prosecuted by me. There are times when it is appropriate to make a plea agreement in a case. That will never happen because I am outmatched, overwhelmed or inexperienced.

Public Servant – I proudly call myself a career prosecutor. For 19 years I have served the public by giving voice to those victims whose voice is never heard and by improving the quality of life for countless citizens. I do this because of the passion I have for this job and the respect I have for the rule of law. With the experience of over 200 jury trials, I have been tested where it matters most, in the courtroom, and can say, without hesitation, that Fredericksburg will benefit from my expertise and my experience. As a lifelong resident of Fredericksburg I know this city as well as most, and I know this job better than anybody. I ask for your vote on December 16.

Eric L. Olsen

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Blackberry Storm update 1.1

On Friday 12/5, RIM and Verizon released software version for the Blackberry Storm. I consider this release 1.1 (maybe closer to 1.0 with the unit shipping with a late beta). Already, I can tell you this:

  • The screen rotation is MUCH faster. It doesn't get locked into portrait or landscape like it did before.
  • Clicking on links in the browser is MUCH more accurate. Before when I would try to click, about 50% of the time it zoomed in (which is normally done when you double tap the screen)
  • The GPS registered 5 satellites sitting INSIDE my house much faster than before. Next week I'll try it out on the train which it seems to give the unit more trouble. The train windows must be thicker than the house.
  • The upgrade was faster than I expected. I had upgraded the software on my 7130e once, and it took hours. This took about 45 minutes start to finish, maybe an hour if you count the time it took for me to download the update to my PC. (It's 102MB download.)
  • Rumor is that battery life is better after the update. I'll come back and update this post in a few days. Before the update, commuting an hour each way on the train, using the browser and media functions, plus use during the day, would result in about 2 bars left on the battery. Pretty poor performance compared to the iPhone (however, the battery is replaceable on the Storm). Hopefully this update will improve that.

A few notes. I had to log onto the Verizon website and actually download the update. Some people that only use BIS (blackberry internet service) are able to get this over the air. For those that don't know, you can go into Options -> Advanced Options -> Wireless Update and select check for updates.

My berry was originally BIS, but when we were bought out by another company, I had them activate me on their BES server. So I have both BIS checking emails, and Enterprise access to my work email, calendar, etc. I had to wait for them to post a download file, and use the Blackberry desktop software to perform the update. It took about an hour after the update completed to finish the enterprise activation.

I will also note that not ALL application settings are saved and restored. My favorite RSS reader Viigo didn't save my account login info. The update DID preserve all of my 3rd party apps though, so that saved me hours of time.

Because of my enterprise activation, and the combination of service books and calendars, it seems that I now have duplicates of many meetings. In the past, this has either cleared up, or I sync and delete the duplicates. This same problem occurred on my 7130e last year.

And finally they haven't fixed the shutter lag on the camera...

One last note. In a week, other berry users have played with the device, and a number of iPhone users have too. The iPhone users like to point out that the interface is much like the old blackberries, rather than migrating everything to the touchscreen. For those of us upgrading from a blackberry, this is a huge benefit actually. The familiarity with the interface is a benefit, plus the addition of a full screen keyboard makes it a winner. I expect to see more improvements though that add touchscreen shortcuts for menu items. The bb Storm has by my count, 11 buttons (4 bottom, two configurable side buttons, lock, mute, vol up, vol down, and the screen press). That gives developers an awful lot to work with.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I'm voting for experience Dec 16th

On the night of Dec 3rd, several area hone owner associations held a forum for the three candidates for Fredericksburg commonwealth attorney. The discussion became interesting toward the end, when it became clear there were different levels of experience.

LaBravia Jenkins wanted to point out the inexperience of Joseph Hicks, who has never prosecuted a case. Yet she inadvertently left the door open for Eric Olsen to emphasize his 19 years in Stafford to her limited 8 here in the city. Promotion from within has some benefits, but having outside experience is invaluable to building better processes! And look at the differences in experience.

I was also greatly impressed by Mr. Olsen's plan to assign a prosecutor to each of the city's wards. As small a city as we are, there are differences in the diverse areas of the city. I spoke to Eric after and he stated there is already staff to do this without additional cost.

The forum was very well attended, with about 80 people filling council chambers.

Don't forget to vote in the special election for the City of Fredericksburg Commonwealth's Attorney on Dec 16th.

Brad Ellis's Comments Against the Courts Complex

The City of Fredericksburg is embarking on a potential upgrade to our courts. Brad Ellis made the statement in his run for the Ward 1 seat, that he was creating a website instead of a blog so that he could interact with the public. I hate to break it to him, but with out an RSS feed, and no comments section, he's severely limiting his 'interaction'.

So to help him out, I'm going to quote his website right here on this blog. He can come here and comment along with the rest of the public. His comments are definitely against starting this project now (which I agree with to some degree). He also brings up an interesting analysis of the cost per sq foot. He fails to mention that if they do start, he supports the $7M parking garage. I have not had the chance to ask him if this garage would be revenue supported, or if it's yet another addition to our tax payer supported bond package.

From (Brad Ellis, Ward 1 Council Member), spelling errors included:

Court House Complex - A copy of the Court Facility Feasibility Study is available here. Simply put, the City cannot afford to undergo this project during the next fiscal year. We are entering the next budget cycle with a $4M shortfall. The funding required to build this complex depends upon the chosen alternative and ranges, in cost, from $45M to $65M. This translates to a tax rate increase of $0.080 to $0.115, which, in my opinion, cannot be justified during these difficult economic times.

  • Indeed, the City is facing a potential Judicial directive to build a new court house facility, HOWEVER, we are not being told to build this facility next year. It is also important to note that this project will consume all the marginal revenue growth in the General Fund starting in Fiscal Year 2011. For these reasons, I cannot support moving forward with constructing the court house complex at this time.
  • What I am willing to support is an in-depth review of a the costs and benefits of constructing a joint-use facility located near the Regional jail complex. I understand the potential economic impact of having our courts downtown and feel it is possible to still use our historic court house (with modifications to improve security and technology) for all civil case trials. A Regional Courts Facility would therefore be used for all trials involving criminal cases; located where the criminals are actually incarcerated. This approach would have the added benefit of freeing-up City police from needing to transport criminals back and forth to their holding cells.
  • I realize there has been a lot of preliminary work performed by the City and to change course at this point seems counterintuitive. However, the fact is, the City cannot afford this courts complex at this point in time and it is unfair to put other projects on hold and / or raise taxes to fund this project. A more attractive course of action would be to use the next year to serisouly consider the costs and benefits of a joint-use facility while still maintaining our historic courthouse for civial trials. As responsible stewards of our City's resources we owe the residents a true analysis of this approach.
  • Further notes on the cost of this project: The Operations & Maintenance costs for this complex are estimated to be $200,000 per year. The cost, per square foot of this complex will range from $619 (for a$47M facility) to $769 (for a $60M facility). This price tag is UNACCEPTABLE in my book. I work in the IT field and the cost per square foot to build a data center completely equipped with inside/outside cabling plant, robust security features, and very substantial heating and air conditioning capabilities, and raised floor space costs, on average, $600 per square foot. Furthermore, Quantico Corporate Center was recently constructed in Stafford to be compliant with Homeland Security requirements (much more stringent than those for our proposed court house complex) for around $150 per square foot. We should not move forward with this project under the terms laid out in the Feasibility Study at any time...we are going to get ripped-off if we pay these prices.

  • Sustainability of the Proposed New Courts Complex: I find it very interesting that if we were to embark upon this project and finance it over 30 years that we will have outgrown it 20 years into our occupancy based off of the City's projected growth rate. Our current court house has been operational since 1852; shouldn't we at least embark upon a project that will prove useful for at least the next 100 years?

  • I encourage everyone to ponder the details I've put forth and speak-out publicly and in writing to ALL of your elected officials. THIS IS NOT A GOOD DEAL FOR THE CITY.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Romance Under The Lights

So, stuck on what to get your special someone for Christmas?
Other good lead off sentences:
- Want to impress your wife (girlfriend, special someone, partner)?
- Want to take it to the next level?
- Want to check out the city as a slower pace?
- Want to show off your carriage riding skills to 11 of your closest friends?
(there are more that just keep coming)
Of course I'm talking about the Holiday Lights tours downtown by Olde Towne Carriages.

From the city events page:

Enjoy the Holidays with an old fashioned horse-drawn carriage ride through
Historic Fredericksburg during the Christmas lights season. The carriages can
accommodate 2-12 people, or multiple carriages for larger groups. Carriages
depart from the Fredericksburg Visitor's Center each evening Sun-Fri (6pm &
7pm) and Sat (6pm, 7pm & 9pm). Call for Reservations. (540) 371-0094

You can check out Olde Towne Carriages and see all the specials they have for not only the Christmas lights in December, but also for a New Years night package.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Park and Shop Update

Mike, over at the new college terrace blog, posted some interesting new facts on park and shop. If you subscribe to you have already seen thw article. If not, check it out here.

Looks like construction starts in Feb.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Verizon Blackberry Storm Review

Since Friday I have been using my new Verizon Blackberry Storm (Verizon 9530). A little background first. For the past 28 months I've been using a Verizon Blackberry 7130e. Not the most modern blackberry, but a suretype device that is a good prep for the portrait version of the keyboard on the storm.

First impressions:

+Velvet touch. I don't know how else to describe it, but that's it. Nice reaction to presses.

+Speedy! Wow, lots better even on the old network (not 3G). Probably more due to the new OS and browser.

+Nice landscape keyboard. I've got to learn to use my left hand though when trying to type a T. Apparently the screen compensates for whether it expects you to be a little left or right of the characters based on the side of the keyboard.

+Beautiful screen. That picture in the photo is pretty close on the vividness. Again, it could be because of my 'old' phone's poor color.

-Need to be able to fully configure the side buttons. I really want a TAB key for navigating web pages.

-Doesn't ship with a holster or pouch.

-Doesn't use the same USB charger as older berrys. Instead of the more universal mini-usb, it uses the micro usb format.

-Many apps aren't fully supporting the touch interface - OK, this is way ahead of the game, but I said first impressions didn't I?

Biggest Gripe - Verizon is starting to upsell other services through the storm. Right on the main screen is an icon for Visual Voice Mail and VCast Music by Rhapsody. Both very interesting services, but VVM is $2.99 a month, and VCast is $14.99 a month, this on top of already having to pay for a $45 a month data plan.

If you are currently a Verizon customer, and eligible for an upgrade, be sure to order through your Verizon online account. It will knock another $50 off the price. Not to mention, you can keep your current plan, which in my case saved an additional $5 a month. This is because Verizon has recently upped the unlimited data plans.

If you're thinking of an alternative to the iPhone, you should definitely pick up a Storm and play around. It isn't as slick an interface (I still consider this rev 1.0), but it's fully supported by BES and many enterprises.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's Not The Depression

Faithful readers will note that this isn't the first post to rail on traditional media's fear tactics in comparing the current economy to the Great Depression. I must commend the Free Lance-Star for the article in today's paper about how the city of Fredericksburg made it through the Great Depression.

On November 14th, one of the wisest men that I knew passed away, my grandfather. This is the man that spend numerous hours taking my brother and me fishing, hunting, or just spending time telling stories about his childhood. One of the things he didn't talk much about was the Great Depression. However, when he did, you knew to listen closely. It's the story about why he owned the family farm, since he was the oldest son, and when the depression hit, he returned from college to help make ends meet. There was no extra money for college. The family raised what they could, and saved wherever possible. He spent time as an organizer for the CCC, which resulted in many public works projects in their rural area. It wasn't a time when they thought much about what they wanted to be, but rather took what work was available.

I've been thinking about how to write this post for a while. My first thought was how disgusted my grandfather must be that our generation is even thinking about comparing the current economic stumbles to that of the Great Depression. Even compared to the Gas rationing in the 70's, this doesn't come close. Maybe there are a few comparisons the real estate crash in the 80's, but I haven't seen much in the papers. In general, a large proportion of American (and world) society is more impacted by the negativity in the papers than anything else. Many of us have seen losses in the market, and are experiencing reduced values in our homes, but there is still food on the table, we still have our cell phones, and cable TV.

Lets look at how the blow has been softened. The good 'ol gov't has upped the saving deposit insurance to $250k, so that your bank account (and your business's) are safe. They have stepped in to bail out a number of reinsurers and certain large financial institutions to ensure continuing coverages and services. They have extended certain unemployment benefits, so that if you get let go at work you can draw unemployment for a longer time. At the same time, the market has finally started showing that bad business plans don't need funding, as evidence by the tightening credit market. Real estate mortgage rates are still at historic lows, and all those foreclosures are bringing back 'affordable housing'. Softening the blow even more is the return of $1.50 a gallon gas prices. Break out the Hummer!

Jeremy Siegal at Kiplinger has a great column in the Dec '08 issue, "It's Not a Depression:
We are better off today as we confront the current credit crisis".

Is this our spring cleaning for the economy? Having been employed through the 'dot com' bubble and bust, lets just say that back then we pointed out how stupid it was to finance invest in companies that had no plan for profitability.

So in a tilt of the had to my grandfather (who would also tell me we had it easy compared to taking the 'cart' to school in the snow), I completely agree that we have it easy compared to the Great Depression.

Monday, November 24, 2008

2008 Candlelight Tour

Join HFFI for the 2008 Candlelight tour
38th Annual Candlelight Tour (View Info Summary Page)

Saturday, December 13, 2008
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.( for general admission)
6 p.m. to 9 p.m.(for Private Tour Ticket holders)

Sunday, December 14, 2008
12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Featured Homes this year:
99 Caroline Street – “Steamboat Landing”
101 Caroline Street
129 Caroline Street
133 Caroline Street – “Sentry Box”
134 Caroline Street
201 Caroline Street – “Pink Lady”
205 Caroline Street – “Victoriana”

Monday Rant: Is it that bad? Really now?

On a Monday when I open the paper, and read about yet another bailout, I think back to the weekend and wonder if we aren't getting just a bit of fear 'vertising. That's my new word for how the government pitches anything now that they want the entire country to back. First it was weapons of mass destruction, now its the economy.

Let me give you a few concrete Fredericksburg shopping examples. In the current bad economy, I could not for the life of me locate a $250 blackberry Storm. This is admittedly a splurge. Yet I must not be the only one willing to throw away some hard earned cash. Neither could I locate a Wii Fit, another non-necessity.

What the hell? Aren't people supposed to be saving up, skipping the fun stuff in exchange for doom and gloom?

So let's say it like it is! Retail has been spoiled by opulence and over abundance. Will the lesson be learned this year? For some reason I doubt it, but quit your whining and get on with it. I see smart businesses making much needed improvements now. I also see worthless businesses going under. A steak house in central park closed. Why? People like us never ate there because there were better places to go.

Consider 2008 a spring cleaning of the economy. And if anyone sees a Wii Fit in stock, email me.

(ps, before anyone slaughters me for being out of touch, we do have close family that has been affected by layoffs and/or closings. Everybody needs a rainy day fund.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Events this Weekend - the Holiday Season Is Upon Us

A bevy of plays are floating and twirling around town this weekend. We have it good authority that it's well worth the trip to go see Christian Youth Theater perform "Willie Wonka Junior" at Spotsylvania High (I'm branching out of city events for this one). Friends attended this performance last weekend and offered to baby-sit Bennett for the night so that we could see this weekend's edition. Looking forward to the experience.

Reading the paper this morning, the FLS has a great article about the various versions of 'The Nutcracker' around town. The one by the Academy of Ballet at James Monroe High looks like a winner. I was surprised that there are four other regional choices, fitting for a variety of ages and wallets.

Ok, so I don't leave out the adventurous types, it looks like KC's downtown (central station) is having a variety of bands on Thursday night, and are also doing their Friday Night Rocks. Along with the normal open mic nights and free bands at your favorite hangouts.

Anyone else notice that on several event calendars there is Salsa dancing almost every night of the week? Friday night there are Salsa lessons at no less than three places.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mixed Use May Finally Be Coming to Fredericksburg

I just received notice of the Dec 10th planning commission meeting, and item number 4 on the agenda is particularly interesting:

4. Zoning Ordinance Text Amendment- Amendment to the City Code Chapter 78,
Zoning, Planning and Development, Article III, Zoning, by adding a new division,
Division 34, Planned Development Mixed Use. This new mixed use district is being
proposed to assist in implementing the goals and policies of the 2007
Comprehensive Plan.

Finally, like many of us that have been discussing zoning issues with the city have been arguing, the city needs to allow mixed use zoning. This is a classification that is popular in many localities both urban and rural. I've heard it was discussed once for Central Park, walkable communities. We've heard words like this from several council members. Yet the discussions seemed to be dominated by oversized housing and parking. Here is a zoning change that makes sense.

FYI - Mixed use zoning just allows for what used to be common sense building, putting markets in residential areas, so that people could walk down the store and pick up what they needed. Why we ever got away from this, and instead went for cookie cutter neighborhoods is beyond me.

Dine At Chili's for Charity

The Fredericksburg Boy's And Girl's club and Chili's are combining forces on November 26th for Spirit Night. If you print out this flyer (link) (it's 3.5Mb, so it may take a little while to load). 10% of your check will be donated to the Boy's and Girl's Club. This is good at all three Fredericksburg, VA locations:

3104 Plank Road

10010 Southpoint Parkway

1030 Stafford Market Place

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Medicorp ID Theft

WOW, what a huge mistake by our local hospital. They need to have a serious talk with their PR person. This quote was in today's FLS about an lapse allowing personal info out onto the web for all to see. Jina Kaikey is the privacy officer for Medicorp. (from the FLS, see the entire letter here):

"We have been assured by this individual that he did not download, copy,
distribute, save or otherwise utilize the information he accessed," Haikey

Oh yes, we can trust this one individual because he said we can trust him. Ok, but what about all the people that aren't telling you the truth. You've got to be kidding me. I'm appalled. I'm so, so, so very glad that when we went to pre-register for the birth of our son, there was a confusion and we registered by phone.

Maybe I'm paranoid, but in my line of work, that's what keeps you safe.

VDOT politics as usual

That's how I read this article about porous friction course, a porous asphalt alternative that is being tested out by VDOT. This came to my attention through this FLS article, but was actually reported last month in the Washington Post. In the article, VDOT spokesman was quoted

"Noise barriers are expensive, not to mention some people don't like the look of
them," said McGhee, referring to the walls that line highways near residential
areas. Such barriers can cost $2 million to $3 million per mile.

Now I'm angry, VDOT care's more about some snot complaining about noise after they CHOSE to build their house next to a roadway, than the benefits of using porous surfaces to prevent environmental disaster. If VDOT incurs expenses of 2-3M per mile of noise barrier, they should turn around and bill the developers. One caveat, if a new road is constructed next to existing houses, then I'm all for those barriers being part of the deal (look at what might be happening here with the Rappahannock Parkway, and a link here for a picture).

I know some readers like to see data to ensure benefits are real, so here is a link to a study on particulate conentrations in stormwater before and after the use of P.F.C. It sure would be nice if there were some incentives to using this stuff for parking lots in the area. It will also be interesting to see what VDOT's five year studies show for the improved bonding compounds and whether they can withstand wear and tear as expected.

[10pm update] A commenter also suggested this link for the Potomac River watershed stormwater runoff analysis:

I'm getting more and more concerned that actions today to 'wait and see' are risking huge future borrowing in order to fund corrections to major environmental impacts for either my generation, or my son's generation.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

UMW, many love you

I was disturbed by the front page story in the FLS today about a UMW commissioned study about the amount of financial benefit the college brings to the area. Why? A number of us live here, partly due to the vibrance that the university provides to the community. The article indicated the study was commisioned in response to comments about the recent real estate purchases by UMW. There was a comment from city council about the recent request for a special use permit to use a house next to the university as business offices. The house is nothing special, and I thought I remember that when it was purchased it was for future access to additional parking for the fields. Who exactly is complaining about UMW?

Really, does UMW feel that there are that many people that don't like it in the community that they had to hire a consultant to perform this analysis? Well let me state it here, in this house hold the university has two huge fans. I'd love to see the city partner with UMW on an arena (example 1 and 2) where national artists could come for performances. We have recent proof of the capability of the city to handle rapid influxes of people from the area.

According to the study, the conservative impact is $115 over all of the regional localities. I doubt if Spotsy or Stafford have complained at all about the university. Even looking at the conservative estimate of several million here in the city, shows what a huge impact, not to mention the ability to draw President Elect Obama. The Obama rally cost the city even less than the Palin rally at the city's own park.

So whoever is taking issue with UMW, consider what the pitiful value of your home would be without the draw of students nationwide. Without the regular influx of new faces, families, and friends that keep interest in this city high.

Meet the New City Commonwealth's Attorney

Technically, you will be meeting the three candidates, but after the election in December, one of the three candidates will be the one. According to City Beat, Dec 3rd at 7pm, there will be a forum at city hall where you can meet all three candidates.

Want a city Grant?

Have a business? Run a non-profit? Ever wonder how some businesses got their grants in the City of Fredericksburg? The city has posted an official document on the EDA grants, which cover four areas:
• Non-Profit Grant Program
• Event Grant Program
• For-Profit Corporation Grant Program
• JumpstART! Grant Program

EDA grants will be done on a cycle three times a year, the applications must be received by either March 1, June 1, or October 1.

These are not the large multiyear incentives packages, there are limits on total funding costs.

1st Annual Tree Planting Weekend

Still looking for something to do today? The city is trying to create an annual tree planting day. The first one is this weekend.
First Annual Fall Tree Planting Event
Saturday, November 15, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Rain date: Sunday, November 16, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Volunteers are needed to plant 100 trees (3 gallon containers) throughout the City of Fredericksburg. Meet at Maury Park (corner of William Street and Kenmore Avenue) at 12:45 p.m. Please bring gloves and a shovel. This event is sponsored by the Fredericksburg Department of Public Works, the Fredericksburg Beautification Commission, and Tree Fredericksburg.

We will be planting trees in the utility strips (grassy areas between the sidewalk and the street) throughout the City. We are looking for locations where neighbors will agree to water the trees for a year. We are also looking for individuals who are interested in planting a tree in their front yard (in the City) that will be watered and thrive and become a canopy tree. This event is open to all individuals free of charge. If interested in more information, call Anne Little 373-4594.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Google Street View has Arrived in Fredericksburg

Check it out! You can now view street level images from google maps in and around Fredericksburg. Some residential areas are not mapped, but most all other areas are.


I particularly like this picture downtown. How many lanes are there, five? Doesn't matter that the previous images show plenty of parking, some people just have to be right up front. And before you say that person is backing into a spot, the next image doesn't show back-up lights.

image courtesy google maps

View Larger Map

Freebies This Weekend

Looking for some excitement this weekend. I was updating the events listing for this website and pulled out a few freebies that I thought folks might be interested in.

First, start off with First Fridays. Even though the weather has turned a bit colder, the art galleries and businesses downtown that support artists are still putting on this great series of shows this Friday. Come out and check out your favorite artist, or find something new that you haven't seen before.

Then head out for a little post First Fridays camaraderie and listen to these NO COVER bands:
The Griffin Bookshop - Laura Shepherd, 7:30pm
Colonial Tavern - Ashland Miller Band , 9pm
Bistro Bethem - Bucky & The Blues Buckets, 10pm

Saturday, if you have children, or are a big kid yourself, you might want to head over to Spotsylvania Towne Center for the arrival of SANTA at 10am. If you're the artsy type, there is a craft show at the armory. Finally, if you missed the good music on Friday night, Shoredigger's Cats is playing at The Griffin Bookshop for no cover at 7:30pm.

While you're out spending a little dough, don't forget to get your Boys & Girls club raffle ticket. Drawing is November 12th.

City Tree Planting Volunteers Needed 11/15

First Annual Fall Tree Planting Event

Tree Planting Event - Saturday, November 15, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Rain date Sunday, November 16th 1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m.
Volunteers needed to plant 100 trees (3 gallon containers) throughout the City of Fredericksburg. Meet at Maury Park (corner of William Street and Kenmore Avenue) at 12:45 p.m. Please bring gloves and a shovel. This event is sponsored by the Fredericksburg Department of Public Works, The Fredericksburg Beautification Commission and Tree Fredericksburg.
We will be planting trees in the utility strips (grassy areas between the sidewalk and the street) throughout the City. We are looking for locations where neighbors will agree to water the trees for a year. We are also looking for individuals who are interested in planting a tree in their front yard (in the City) that will be watered and thrive and become a canopy tree. This event is open to all individuals free of charge. If interested in more information call Anne Little 373-4594.

Events In The 'Burg

2009 Events Posted HERE.

I'm adding a link right under the title banner on the website so that visitors can immediately find this posting at

Nov 28 - Children's Christmas Tree Lighting @ Hurkamp Park
Dec 4-5 - Holiday POPS @ 7:30pm Dodd Auditorium UMW
Dec 6 - 23rd Annual Fredericksburg Christmas Parade
Dec 13-15 - 38th Annual Candlelight Tour
Dec 31 - First Night Fredericksburg

Open Mic Night happens every Second Thursday of the month @ the Wounded Bookshop

(Shows listed on this page are gathered from other websites, and are subject to change. Check the original links to verify.)

If anyone events, contact me and I'll gladly add them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Proud Election Day Dad

Proud of getting the chance to take my little guy to vote on Tuesday. What a historic day!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Obama Wins Fredericksburg

Future Voter, and comments on polling places

Wow, it's been over a week since I could get away from family business to write a post. Had to get back to town in time to cast a vote. Very good experience this year. Check post here.

"At 2:30pm, the city’s ward 1 polling station was operating well.
There was no line, the multiple stations to check ID was working much better
than the last election, and people were friendly. There was a full parking
lot. There were more than 2100 ballots cast by the time I finished,
considering that in 2004 there were only 3284 registered voters in Ward 1,
that’s a nice turnout.

Hopefully the city registrar will keep up the good work, and we don’t end
up with any issues like Richmond

Way to go Fredericksburg!"

Bennett snagged a Future Voter sticker as soon as he went in. I know he won't remember this historic election, but hopefully he will read about it in the history books.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

GOP rally at local gun show

Saturday's visit to the gun show at the expo center was an exercise in dodging McCain/Palin stickers, or people that just knew this was the last gun show of all time. You would have though it was a mini convention for the Republican Party. Two dealers proceeded to announce how you better buy now before it's too late. One went as far as to say VA "better go red this year". Needless to say, I didn't buy from that guy. Mixing salesmanship with politics just felt sleazy. Luckily I found what I was looking for from a guy who beat everyone else's prices, and stuck to details of the item, and why their price was better.

Fear Mongering - the Republicans must be giving out free classes. I've lived in VA for 30+ years, gun shows have been around for a long time, though Dem and Rep presidents, congresses, you name it. That "better go red this year" guy above - when I pointed out the Republican vote on DC gun control, his answer was "well McCain is an idiot too, I'm a Ron Paul fan". Isn't Ron Paul a Republican?

As for those thinking this has anything to do with the gun show loophole, I will attest to them running the same background check on a purchase at the gun show that you would have had in any store.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Transportation Thru 2035 On Display TONIGHT

Fredericksburg - October 23, 2008
5 - 8 p.m.FAMPO - Robert C. Gibbons Conference Room
406 Princess Anne Street, Fredericksburg

Tonigth FAMPO (Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) is laying out their long term plan for the public to comment on. So if you're at all interested in what the area's around your locality are going to look like, which projects are getting priority, and why, you might want to try to drop by the meeting tonight.

If you can't make the meeting (or didn't make it to one of the previous sessions), you can still comments:
Can’t make a meeting? Share your input in three other ways – just make sure we receive it by November 28, 2008. Comment form available online.Mail: FAMPO, 406 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Dial 711: Voice Relay System for Hearing Assistance

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fall is Here: City Leaf Collection begins Nov 3rd

Fall is here:
Notice was given in the newspaper this morning that the City of Fredericksburg will begin it's fall leaf collection on November 3rd. I guess that means it's time to start thinking about what to do with the pile of leaves that has begun collecting on my back patio. Not to mention the gutters around the house.

I don't see the notice on the city website yet, but for those interested, according to the 2007 flier, you just need to rake them to the edge of the street (termed the "utility strip"), but not into the street. No need to bag them, they will come by and suck them up in the truck. The notice from last year even indicated that if you bag leaves, you need to call the public works department to have them pick up your bags.

VRE to battle 700 Phone Calls

Heard on the train yesterday "If you believe you are due an FRC [free ride] because of Thursday [night's events].... call VRE".

Apparently Thursday train 305 southbound, the one that gets into town about 5:35, had an engine fail. The conductor indicated that he didn't get home until almost midnight, which due to rail regulations, meant the crew couldn't work Friday.

According to the VRE Daily Download, train 305 was "Terminated at Franconia/Springfield due to mechanical problems." Those mechanical problems were the failure of a traction motor in the locomotive. A long standing issue for VRE passengers has been the reliability of the engines that push/pull the train sets, yet in recent years there seems to have been more emphasis on acquiring new cars. Recently Mark Roeber, VRE spokesman, attributed the 61 new cars to having "kept people on the trains" (FLS link here). A few years back, VRE did spend some money to refurbish some of the oldest engines, and had been counting on VA transportation funds to purchase new ones (the $25M that was ruled against in the courts). Plans currently have them using some of the replacement funds from the state.

Perhaps riders would have been ok with older cars if they could have gotten to and from work quicker or more consistently with newer locomotives. Oh, and don't complain to riders and taxpayers about funding a new call center for VRE phone usage, the old policy of giving FRCs to conductors seemed to work just fine.

City Absentee Voting (New Location)

The next two Saturdays, the voter registration office is open in the city of Fredericksburg to take absentee votes. Technically, this is known as the "central absentee voter election precinct". Normally this is located in City Hall, but for this year, a temporary move has been approved, which should put it on the first floor of Executive Plaza, Suite 100, 601 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg, VA (map).

[Update 10/21 2:42pm] I received this email from the registrar "Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention. The correction will be made today. Due to the magnitude of the November 4 Election, I decided not to move the Central Absentee Precinct until January and I neglected to put the information on the website."

This move was estimated to have cost the city $5200, but didwill put the office in an ADA compliant building. It also provides more space for the General Registrar's office.

Note that at 7am 10/21 the city website still listed the location for the registrar's office and absentee voting as 715 Princess Anne (City Hall). An email has been sent to the registrar requesting clarification.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Boys & Girls Club $10k Reverse Raffle

One of our favorite City Charities is kicking off their fall fundraising with a potential $10000 raffle. With a bit of a twist, all tickets will be drawn, with the last ticket (or maybe the last 10)winning the prize. See details below.
to benefit
the Fredericksburg Regional Boys & Girls Club

Grand Prize $10,000

Wednesday, November 12, 2008
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
University of Mary Washington’s Seacobeck Hall
Fredericksburg,VA 22401

Free hors d’oeuvres/Two complimentary beverages/Cash Bar
plus a Silent Auction

Cost - $100 per ticket (need not be present to win) - ticket admits 2

Contact the Fredericksburg Regional Boys & Girls Club at
540-220-3943 or 540-368-9531

Only 249 tickets will be sold. The 50th, 100th, 150th and 200th ticket drawn wins $100.
The last 10 ticket holders will decide to either split the $10,000 or continue eliminating 1 ticket holder at a time.

10/18 - SPCA Yard Sale

Saturday, October 18, 2008
8:00 am—2:30 pm
1380 Central Park Blvd, Ste. 109
Look for us at left of Ice Park
Directions: Take road that runs between Border’s &
Target (Trade St.) . Proceed straight past Chuck E
Cheese towards the Ice Park.
We are next door on the left.

City Police Going Online

The city police department has a new online system where you can request a copy of an incident report. You can also report certain incidents online. This sounds allot like applications recently released for other northern va localities.

Check out the Police to Citizen application here:

This release does bring up a few questions. It appears the department is looking for ways to be more efficient. The questions I have, does this allow them to reduce staffing for this type of request? How much was the NRE (non reoccuring expense)? How much are we paying Verizon Business to host this application? The P2C app has been around for a little while, I would be curious to see how much use it actually gets.

Regardless of those questions, I am very happy to see the city services doing more to be online. Now I wonder when they are going to link to the city website?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

City May Lift Anti-Business Restrictions

For those that don't get the FLS, you might want to check the City Beat Blog and this article about the city's parking ordinances.

Background: If a new business wants to open up, or if an existing business expands, it quickly runs up against a rule that says the business has to provide parking, and gives a formula to calculate the number of spots. Anyone can see how this limits any sizeable business from locating downtown, and recently became a point of contention for a local bank. The formula does not account for the often vacant parking garage, or people's use of the public parking lots around the city. Add in that churches can't by-right use their parking lots as paid parking, they must go through the special use permit process, and things are 'tight' for parking.

So this month the city takes up discussions of changing the laws to be more business friendly. They ease the formula downtown, are talking about allowing businesses to pay a fee instead of providing spaces, and other edits to make downtown more enticing to entrepreneurs.

Can't wait to see what happens. I wonder if they would consider waiving the first paid-in-lieu parking spot if they provided a dozen bike rack spaces? I have only found a single bike rack downtown, and that's set back off the street for the apartments in the building.

Did McCain Forget Independents

Just finished watching the last '08 debate.

I've often responded that I'm fiercely independent when asked for my political affiliation. Tonight I'm appalled at McCain/Palin's references to "Joe Sixpack", "Joe Plumber" and "Pro-Abortion". I'm none of the above, and if McCain thinks that referring to Pro-Choice as Pro-Abortion is going to get me to vote for him, he is very mistaken.

In his closing argument, it was apparent to me, that he is going after that conservative republican base, whereas Obama was aiming for undecided voters in the middle. This election, I'm ditching long history of experience, and going Democratic. I just hope the Dem. plan for healthcare gets major edits before passing.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Blogging Mini-Vacation

I'm taking a few days off from blogging to take care of the most hansom little boy I know, and his wonderful mother who was amazing through it all. Will be back in a few days with updates.

Monday, October 6, 2008 Grand ReOpening

Calling all bloggers, readers, and interested parties. InTheBurg has finished an acquisition of (boy that sounds official), now all I need to do is some touch-up on the updated website. Part of the issue was jumping between providers.

As part of this transition, I hope to add some new local bloggers to the syndication. I will also probably be writing the pure news stories at instead of intheburg, or maybe combining the two in some way.

Be sure that you're watching the syndicated feed if you want to get all the blog stories from Fredericksburg locals:

If you see things you would like added, or if you have news needing to be reported, or just a comment, let me know through the contact page:

Thanks to Nathan for starting this idea, and for letting me take it over as they look for places closer to Richmond.

Porous surface used at Pentagon Memorial

While looking around the Internet for where to buy porous pavers, I stumbled across Invisible Structures, Inc, with this interesting article on one of their systems in use at the new Pentagon 9/11 memorial. They used a product called GravelPave2.

"The height of the Gravelpave2 and the Height of the pavers were matched. "
"The gravel surface is unique compared to many of the granite, marble, and concrete walking surfaces at memorials and monuments in Washington, D. C."
"To facilitate the use of gravel in the design, Kaseman and Beckman used Gravelpave2 to stabilize the loose aggregate and to allow for pedestrian, wheelchair, and stroller access."

The product description states:
"Gravelpave2 porous paving allows you to park, drive, walk, or ride on a beautiful decorative gravel surface."

This isn't what I'm looking for in my application, I'm probably going to go with open cell concrete block. Luckily I'm not a commercial business, because the current zoning and building codes in the City of Fredericksburg require parking lots to be paved. Anything else requires owners to submit for a special exception, or special use. In the most recent case, at least one council member voiced an opinion that perhaps the code needs to be updated to allow these new systems.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Kybecca Soft Open

Tonight on a walk downtown we saw light coming from inside the new Kybecca restaurant. Upon further investigation, we found Rebecca Snyder inside explaining how to use the Enomatic machines. $2.50 later and I had my card ready to go, now just to pick one of the sixteen different selections by the glass (oh, and what size fill to get). This picture shows the smart card just to the right of the blackberry. It is sitting on the long bar in the center of the room. A perfect area to meet some new friends over a glass of wine.

Here's the quick lesson -
Talk to someone about getting a card
Load it up with some $$.
Snag glass from the bar
Pick Wine
Insert Card
Press and hold the button until you hear a click
Watch the wonderful pour fill the glass
Find seat

We found the polished concrete bar very inviting. The metal bar stool/chairs are very comfortable. The restaurant has much of the original features of the building, from the wood floor, to the tin ceiling. Mixed in between is a great decor of modern lights, clear glass panels, and comfortable seats.

The menu is now a little more rounded, with a selection of appetizers and deserts, but expect this to expand again once the kitchen is up and running.

Bailout benefit to Bicycle Commuters

Found in the 'noise' of the bailout package: A tax break for businesses who provide incentives to employees who commute by bicycle (read link here).

So let relate that back to Fredericksburg, VA. Walk around downtown, or the courts complex today, and tell me how many bike racks you can find? In the upcoming parking ordinance changes, lets hope SOMEWHERE they put in some bike stands. What about deleting a parking space or two, replacing them with parking for 2 wheel vehicles? Since businesses have received perks for allowing other environmentally friendly commuting, it's only fair to also extend perks to bicyclists, some of the most enviro friendly. This was originally considered as an independent bill years ago. Of course, on the flip side, businesses deduct any benefit expense from their income so that they reduce their tax burden anyway.

Next week the planning commission starts looking at changes to the City's comprehensive plan, the roadmap for the city, to change the requirements on the number of parking spaces required for types of business. They may consider a fee in lieu, removing certain requirements, and changing the calculations.

Brock's Breast Cancer Fundraiser

Brock's Riverside Grill is hosting a Breast Cancer Awareness night on 10/16 from six until eleven. An art auction is accompanied by wine and cheese hors d'oeuvres, followed by a band & dj with appetizers and a raffle. See the times below:

6:00-7:00 Wine and Cheese Hour with Art Auction
7:00-11:00 Raffle, Appetizers, Band and DJ

Thursday, October 2, 2008

GOP expo center event 10/2

It didn't make the expo center calendar, but it sounds like tonight for the VP debate, there is going to be a large event at the Expo center to watch the VP debate.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Events You Might Be Interested In

As summer winds down, I took a look around the area websites and updated October on the events page. Looks like there are plenty of things happenin' In The 'Burg!

Lets start off with the wine festival - note they have moved to Old Mill Park this year. Get your tickets ahead of time and save $5.

If wine isn't your thing, head over to Hurkamp park the weekend of 4th/5th for the market in the park, and 20th annual dog festival.

Following weekends include arts and craft festivals, as well as a variety of concerts for everyone.

Check out EVENTS HERE.

Oktoberfest Happenings

In the rush to upload pictures from the rally, I almost forgot to post about visiting the 6th Annual Fredericksburg Oktoberfest by Blue & Grey Brewing. The oompha band was very good, even providing sing along sheets with the words to the many songs. When I was there, the tables were pretty full, but you could still find a seat. There were many options for food, and of course the beer was wonderful. I stuck to the Oktoberfest brew, but heard good comments about the others.

Local brewer Lyle Brown was there with samples of his award winning Bamburg Style Smoked Maibock. Lyle recently won the Smoke and Wood Aged category in Sam Adams Longshot homebrew competition. Working with Star Hill brewing out of Crozet VA, he has now brewed 12 1/2 barrels for the Great American Beer Festival. This brew has a wonderful smoked bacon finish, and who doesn't love bacon. It's lighter than expected, giving it a great balance. If you're interested in trying this one, you might be able to get it in a week or two at The Pub (4187 Plank Rd. Fredericksburg, VA - in the shopping center with Tractor Supply). Lyle and his son are going to start working as brewmasters for The Pub as they get more into the microbrew market.

US Elections Excite The World

More InTheBurg rally posts:

During the Obama rally, I noticed that there was a TV station 1 in the press area. Recognizing that this was not an area station, and then overhearing a few conversations in German, I went over to talk to the crew. They are based in DC, and drove down for the day to get shots of the rally. I asked them why they thought Germans were so interested in our elections. They were surprised that I would ask a question. Their answer was something that living here, I think we tend to forget. They answered that they view the US as the last remaining super power, that whatever happens here, will have worldwide impacts. They also talked about the impacts of the Bush administration alienating countries, which they saw as disrespecting the position of President. Then in turn asked me what I thought of the election, they seemed intrigued that a blogger would be in the press area, but not surprised with the way the Obama campaign has embraced internet media.

So thank you to Channel 1 in Germany for reminding this blogger of yet one more reason this election is critically important.

John & Kathy Peques were interviewed by Fox 5. I saw them later and asked what question they would ask Obama. They were interested in Obama's views on the Bailout.

Martin Samuels (on the right) wanted to know what Obama would do in his first on hundred days.

It was great to talk to people and see the variety of things that are important to them. People attended from all over the area. I met folks from King George, Caroline, Northern Virginia, even some volunteers from William and Mary.

Mike, on the left of the picture below, was interested in what Obama might do to keep tuition costs down, as he was headed to college in 2009.

Obama Rally Slideshow

I took the better photos and uploaded them to Picasaweb, click this link to visit the blog story where you can see a full slideshow with captions.

More InTheBurg rally posts:

Picasa SlideshowPicasa Web AlbumsFullscreen

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obama Rally at UMW

Other InTheBurg Rally Posts:
US Elections Excite The World
Obama Rally Slideshow

Check the local DC news tonight, you might see video of the Obama rally at UMW here in Fredericksburg, VA. The show started out a little later than expected, but even a few rain showers couldn't stop the festivities. Reports had the line wrapping around from college ave, to william st, all the way down sunken rd to the back gate. Fox5 reported that there were 26,000 people at the rally. I'm working to go through the 3GB of images and video. I'll upload these now.

Video of Obama and Biden taking the stage.

The skies cleared for most of the afternoon. But after an earlier downpour, Ball Circle had a few mud pits. These ladies were enjoying some barefoot fun waiting for the speeches to start.

A few select invitees were able to sit on the stage just behind Obama and Biden.

Biden wore a hat from someone most of the speech. Obama gave up his suit jacket as soon as the rain started again. The crowd went wild with the more unpolished look.

Obama spoke about his plans to make sure the bailout doesn't include bonuses for executives of companies that the government is bailing out. He also talked about his tax breaks for the 95% of the population earning less than $250k a year. He spoke of ending capital gains taxes for small businesses, and rebuilding main street.

Vide from part of the speech on making sure that tax breaks go to the right segment of the economy, and building main street. (I missed the very first quote, which was 'you know what to do, I know what to do, [Joe] Biden knows what to do'.)

The FLS was there with video cameras, photographers, and a bunch of reporters. Check out their webpage for more.

FLS not exempt from economy

You've all heard the reports of major cut backs at large companies, particularly major newspapers like the Washington Post. Our very own Free Lance-Star isn't exempt from these pressures either. Unconfirmed reports peg them at having reduced their workforce by five percent. I know some of my fellow bloggers are probably ready to blast them, but I tend to try to consider the FLS a valuable resource in the area. After all, they have funding to PAY people to go do things that us bloggers can't or won't go report on. Sure, they occasionally have a story that we don't agree with, but then I've written articles that have sparked disagreement in the online community.

Lets give credit to the owners of the Free Lance-Star for maintaining the local ownership, rather than selling out to a regional or national consortium. Keeping ownership local, should maintain their focus on local events/products/services/news. All successful businesses have to take a step back at times and evaluate if they have the right mix of skills and employees. Hopefully this is not a sign of things to come, and simply an effect of this temporary downturn in the economy.

Commonwealth's Attorney Race to December

Friday night we attended Eric Olsen's meet and great at Libertytown Arts Workshop. Mr. Olsen made the rounds speaking with everyone there, and at 6pm he was introduced by Dan Finnegan and his current boss, Dan Chichester, Stafford's Commonwealth's Attorney for 35 years. Of those 35, Eric has worked for him the last 19. That is an amazing feat in today's world where people tend to change jobs regularly.

Mr. Chichester remarked about the great loss it would be to his office, but that he couldn't think of anyone more qualified for the position. Eric is currently the Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney for Stafford County. He also pointed out Eric's outstanding work in the realm of children's cases, which he pointed out is particularly trying on everyone in the office. Mr. Chichester reminded everyone of Eric's recent Warren Von Schuch award from fellow state attorneys, and praised Mr. Olsen for the teaching he has done at the National College of District Attorneys. Mr. Olsen then got up and spoke about why he wanted to run for Fredericksburg Commonwealths Attorney, more about his experience, his dedication to the position, and the need to get out the vote in this December's election.

I would estimate the crowd to have been about eighty people. In an election where the turnout is critically important, this will be a good starting point. The field seems to be set, with Olsen running, along with Fredericksburg assistant C.A. LaBravia Jenkins, and local attorney Jeh Hicks.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New 'Burg Blog

Local potter and founder of LibertyTown has started blogging Be sure to check out his blog at Tons of info about pottery, and some of the works that you might see at LibertyTown. Expect this one to get a wide readership, so be sure to check out our very own local pottery expert.

Fill The Food Bank 9/27 (THIS WEEKEND!)

FREDERICKSBURG AREA FOOD BANK Participates in Inaugural Hunger Action Month
Local food bank joins forces with Feeding America network to fight hunger in THE FREDERICKSBURG REGION

September 8, 2008 – FREDERICKSBURG, VA – This September, FREDERICKSBURG AREA FOOD BANK will participate in the inaugural nationwide Hunger Action Month. Local events, volunteer opportunities, and fundraisers will raise support for the thousands of individuals living on the brink of hunger in THE FREDERICKSBURG REGION. In doing so, FREDERICKSBURG AREA FOOD BANK joins the other food banks of the Feeding America network that are conducting similar events across the country.

Highlights of the local programs include a food drive and volunteer opportunity on Saturday, September 27. Bring donations of non-perishable food to the food bank on that day between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and we will be sure to "Fill the Food Bank"! Volunteers are needed to help receive donations. Contact the food bank at 371-7666 for more information.

"You'll be hard pressed to find a community in the United States that is immune from hunger," says OYA OLIVER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR. "One in ten Americans is unsure from where their next meal will come. Our participation in Hunger Action Month, along with nearly 200 Feeding America food banks, is a call to all Americans to get involved locally to bring an end to hunger right in your hometown."

Hunger Action Month is organized on a national level by Feeding America, and includes events across the United States that directly benefits the network's hunger-relief efforts. From food drives to concerts, volunteer outings to advocacy work, there's something everyone can do in every state in the country.


Fredericksburg Area Food Bank – serving Planning District 16 that includes the counties of Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George, and Caroline and the city of Fredericksburg. The food bank secures and distributes more than 2.4 million pounds of donated food and grocery products annually; and supports approximately 90 local charitable agencies, operating more than 200 programs including emergency shelters, food pantries, Kids CafĂ© children feeding programs, , Food for Life senior feeding programs, and soup kitchens. Last year, the food bank provided food assistance to more than 27,000 individuals in Planning District 16, including more than 5,000 children and 900 seniors. For more information on the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank, please visit

About Feeding America (Formerly America's Second Harvest—The Nation's Food Bank Network)
Feeding America is the largest charitable domestic hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through its network of more than 200 member food banks, Feeding America annually provides assistance to more than 25 million people in need, including more than 9 million children and nearly 3 million seniors in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Each year, Feeding America secures and distributes more than 2 billion pounds of food and grocery products to support feeding programs at approximately 63,000 local charitable agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs, and Kids Cafes. To learn more, please visit

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Obama & Biden in Fredericksburg

Obama and Biden coming to the 'Burg on Saturday:

This Saturday, September 27th, please join Barack Obama and Joe Biden in Fredericksburg, where they will talk about their vision for creating the kind of change we need.
Change We Need Rally with Barack Obama and Joe Biden
Ball Circle
University of Mary Washington
1301 College Ave.
Fredericksburg, VA
Saturday, September 27th
Gates Open: 3:00 p.m.
Program Begins: 5:15 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required, but an RSVP is strongly encouraged.
Space is limited and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
For security reasons, do not bring bags and please limit personal items.
Signs and banners are not permitted.

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