Thursday, July 31, 2008

Donate a bus? Blog request for help

[update 7/31 - I believe we have transportation! Look for an article soon]

I need help, actually, I would like some help. I need to have someone, or several people commit enough to the Fredericksburg Boy's and Girl's Club to cover transportation to the Newseum in DC. (and lunch too would be nice)


Last week I visited this incredible Museum detailing media through the ages, and the struggles gone through for freedom of speech and press. It is state of the art. It also emphasizes how we are living history as we speak. I am so impressed, that immediately I got in touch with the Boy's and Girl's club and committed to tickets for to take a bus on a field trip. However, they also need to get there.

I didn't have transport in the budget, so I'm soliciting other area bloggers and blog readers. Does anyone know someone at a bus company that might want a write off? How about the editors at the FLS - want to take part in creating our next generation of journalists? We are trying to make this trip happen before the end of summer.

Contact me by clicking here

Or even better, let me know and then Call Boy's and Girls Club at (540) 368-9531


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sunset Canoe Float 8/16/08

Just saw a new sunset float down the river posted on the Friends of the Rappahannock website:

August 16  - Sunset Canoe Float 
Join guides Michelle Meyer and Bob Sargeant on this dusk float.  Hopefully, we will see plenty of wildlife as the nocturnal river habitat awakens! Meet at the City Dock.  Minimum age 6 years. Previous canoe experience recommended. 6:30-9pm. $15 indiv./$30 family. Backup:  August 23.

Also, don't forget in September they are also having RiverFest (hopefully there will be enough crabs)
September 20 - Rappahannock RiverFest
Wine and dine on steamed crabs and BBQ at FOR’s annual gala.  Live music, fine food and drinks, and auction.  Tickets sell out early and are sold ADVANCE ONLY!  Call (540) 373-3448 to order tickets or for more information.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Will The Stars Go Out

Several people have asked me about my Dark Skies comments either here on the blog or at City Council meetings. This is what I'm talking about. The picture below is a light pollution map. The center X is Stafford. That RED blob just south of the center mark is Fredericksburg, VA.

From, the definition of Red is "Milkyway at best very faint at zenith. [The Adromedia Galaxy is] difficult and indistinct. Sky is grey up to 35 degrees."

At this point, we're only being outdone by Richmond and DC/Baltimore.

So what can we do? First understand that there are things we can do to lessen light impact both in existing installations and on new installations. Second, educate yourself on practical solutions, and encourage businesses to do the same. has tip sheets and suggestions to get you started. If you want to jump to a good/bad example, click here for a comparison of various lights. The City of Fredericksburg has at least started considering the impact of lighting, they have one ordinance specifically dealing with glare from lights. Lets hope that this chart doesn't get much worse, I will miss seeing the milky way at night.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Grant $ Gets Green

This article, Grants Awarded to Help Protect Chesapeake Bay, in today's Washington Post is about school kids converting parking lots to rain gardens, grants for green roofs, and 32 other project grants intended to improve the Chesapeake bay.

Here in the city I heard just the slightest mention of the court house roof in the green gov't workshop, but nothing has been committed.

During discussions with Kalahari, I was the only one to bring up the acres of parking lots, or the lighting required to park all those cars.

Some leaders have privately expressed their concern, but so far all the work has been behind the scenes. What good is it to improve the watershed in one locality only to have the next runoff king being built somewhere nearby. I will concede that Kalahari is planning a water runoff containment design as required by ordinance, however, what these grants are doing is going above and beyond. The Kalahari resorts, for all of their good green designs inside, will still create quite a footprint of non-porous surfaces.

As the court house design and bonds come up, I hope that fellow citizens speak up for green development so that we can be leaders, not followers on this topic.

And FYI, the last major green development in the city of Fredericksburg has saved 100s of thousands over the last 10 yrs. So don't rely on 'it costs too much'. Let's at least discuss the options. I for one would like to see a proposal for a living roof on the 60M courts complex. Unfortunately I don't see a parking garage design coming for Kalahari.

Must See 'Burg Events (starting 7/24)

As part of my irregular series on trying to get more people out to Fredericksburg events, we bring you the latest installment for this weekend.

Starting Thursday, catch BeachWop at the Volvo Mercedes Park (Doug Clark & The Hot Nuts)

The Pat McGee band is playing at Finally Fridays at the Sophia Street city lot. This week begins the switch to the last Friday of the month, hence the name change.

The Fredericksburg Fair starts this weekend. Check out the Ferris Wheel and goodies. Various music and events from Friday into August.

Saturday brings us FredStock08 at Cannon Ridge Golf course, benefit concert for H.O.M.E.

Mary's Concert at Market Square (free)

Liberty town has live music Saturday, as well as an interesting art show from teens in our sister city.

Bluemont also happens Sat at the old Maury School.

And don't forget Music on the Steps at the library on Monday!

All Fredericksburg,VA, all fun.

FredStock '08

This event didn't get enough (any?) press this week, so I'm going to give them this short post. At Cannon Ridge Golf Club this weekend is FredStock '08 to benefit H.O.M.E. (Home of Miracles and Embraces).

Music features:
Anthony Campbell
Brandishing Steel
Jonathan Sorrow
Caz Flame
Tilt Finger
The Mythmakers

Doors open Saturday at 1pm, music from 4-9pm.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 Arrival is branching out to touch other realms of life other than city news and politics. It is with great pleasure that today I'm announcing the grand opening of Visit to see a newly expecting father's journey (your's truly) through all the gadgets, websites, advice and non-advice of being a new father. (Funny, somehow with the site being live for a month, but only listed in my blogroll, that it's already received 50 hits).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Road Trip DC

On Sunday we took off for DC for a few days. Gail had to attend a conference, which left me free to embark on my own tour around the city. It's been a while since I could go around without an agenda. We were able to stay at the Mandarin Oriental

Stop #1: National Law Enforcement Memorial. Hopped off the metro on the wrong side of Judiciary Square, so I had to walk around some of the court house buildings. See, Fredericksburg isn't the only one building new court houses. Although this massive building is simply one of the DC courts.

Found my great grandfather on the memorial wall. They even had free tracing papers and pencils available right there at the park.

Stop #2: The National Building Museum. This stop was completely unexpected. While standing across the road at the Law Enforcement Memorial, I noticed this huge building that appeared to have an open interior and classical architecture. Further inspection lead to the Building Museum. Right now there are only only exhibits on the first floor, while the 2nd floor is being remodelled. The 3rd and 4th floors are for staff. The building has been used for social functions since it's construction in the 1880's.

Stop #3: By far the longest visit was to this unique building just off of the DC Mall. This is the Newseum. Any good blogger's stop off while in DC. This new museum just opened in April 2009. What drew me closer was the facade that contains the 45 words of the first amendment on a huge marble tablet. The view off of the top floor balcony is incredible. Just below is where they tape This Week with George Stephanopoulos. The museum is also rented out for special events, and the 90ft tall hydraulically operated glass enclosed elevators are transformed into bars. The foyers have digitally controlled lighting that illuminates the museum like a bar's dance floor. The museum tour takes you through the history of news reporting, some of the sacrifices reporters have made, and the contributions of both professional and amateurs to the news world.

Stop #4: After cooling off in the Newseum for several hours, I had seen enough and decided to walk back to the hotel. Of course I couldn't make a straight line, so I wandered through the National Gallery's Sculpture Garden. Unfortunately most of the sculptures were put in place many years ago (70's & 80's). Two were missing, presumably out on loan or repair. The fountain was a nice break from the high temps and higher humidity.

Stop #5: Across the mall (which is currently housing several tractor trailers putting away materials from the NASA's 50 yrs), is the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Here several of the outdoor displays are a bit newer. Check out the Needle Tower (1968, but still amazing). I passed two curators that appeared to be painting one of the statues. Did you know that they put wax on the sculptures to preserve them? That's the way they appear to stay shiny all these years.

Stop #6: Ok, this wasn't a stop, it was more of a detour on the way back. This first picture is of the Earth Day Park, where about a quarter of the grasses are dieing. It lacked upkeep, and there wasn't even a recycle bin. Compare the picture of the Earth Day Park next to the Department of Energy manicured sod next door.

Last stop: Later that evening we went out for dinner on the SW Waterfront. On the walk back, we passed the fish market which was abuzz with activity. At this late hour, the only stand that was relatively empty was this fresh fish stand. I thought it made for an interesting picture. Not your typical DC view.

All in all, not a bad hike.

View Larger Map

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Picking Up Slugs

On today's FLS front page is an article on slugging. For those unfamiliar with this practice, I highly recommend reading the authority on the subject . I'm posting this short bit to relay my first experience picking up slugs, but if you're anxious for the result - it was awesome.

Last week I had a three day training class on the opposite side of Arlington from my normal Crystal City VRE stop. Rather than take VRE to the Metro, then having to transfer to another Metro line to get to my final stop, I decided to drive to the training.

All three days I stopped by the Rt 17 park & ride lot, and picked up either 2 or 3 'slugs' and off we went to the Pentagon. Most slugs are a quiet bunch, as that's part of the slugging rules. Only on Thursday did I have a bit more talkative group, which was actually fine with me. The only other issue was the one rider with standard IPod earbuds which let more music out than they put in your ears. The addition of riders meant my commute from 17 to the Pentagon took only 45 minutes each day. After training was over, I would swing by the Pentagon and pick up a few riders for the ride home. With the merge at Dumfries, the trip back took a little longer, but generally much quicker than riding by myself.

It's almost a game to see how much we can save. Consider that I drive a 2008 hybrid, which emits many fewer pollutants than the average 5-10 yr old vehicle (even when the engine is kicking). Add to that the three other vehicles I was taking off the road by picking up slugs. So my one trip was the equivalent of taking say 5-6 vehicles off the road (in pollution) and 3 off the road in actual vehicles.

Next week I'll be back to taking the VRE, but I'm thankful to having the slug lines for those times when going to other work areas.

Calling All Fredericksburg Bloggers

As reported at O'DonnellWeb, a few of us Fredericksburg bloggers are planning on getting together for a drink at J'Brian's on 7/31 (6-8pm). This will be the second meetup. Last month I went and had the opportunity to meet 5 other bloggers from O'DonnelWeb, The Story Behind the Pictures, Fredericksblog, and Musings Over A Pint.

So come on out and meet some of your favorite bloggers, or come introduce yourself and what you're blogging about. Commiserate with us over our latest hosting problems, or just chill and shoot the breeze with us.

PS. Will blog for beer....

Children's Art Expo 7/26

In my weekly perusal around area websites, I noticed this unique event coming up this Saturday. On Sat at Hurkamp Park, from 10am-2pm, children can participate in a variety of art activities ranging from Free to only $1 per station.

Fredericksburg Fair 2008

Looks like everyone is getting ready for the 2008 Fair at the Fairgrounds on Rt 2. Visit for more information. Events run from Friday July 25th through Sunday Aug 3rd. This year they will have a full ferris wheel. Event highlights include the pageant, dance party, tractor pull, demo derby, and many more. I have to admit that I'm pretty curious about the lawnmower pull, might have to see if I can get there and snag some pictures.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Travel observation for 7/13

There is a longer security line and an increased number of passengers on tonight's (7/13) Sunday flight. I would attribute it to increased costs driving people to the cheaper less used flights. Normally Sunday night security lines are a blast because the # of scanners far outweighs the number of travelers. Tonight I'm sitting on the floor in the terminal so that I can get a seat near a power plug.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Green Gov't Challenge

Fredericksburg, VA is laying down a challenge along with other VA governments. The Virginia Municipal League is putting together the Green Government Challenge, which gives localities points for having good green practices, and more points for putting plans in place for more green activities. Read the whole challenge here.

The report at the working session indicated that the city should fall somewhere between 120 and 145 out of a possible 200 (the PowerPoint had 230, but re-reading the info in the work session packet it adds to only 200).

The City made a major push for Green buildings in 1996, the city saved over $391k. They are now expanding on an environment management system for an additional 12 buildings. Of course the next major new construction will be the courts building, and how many technologies and processes will be utilized.

Much of the discussion on upcoming plans revolved around several draft regulations and ordinances. My highlight was hearing that the city is considering dark skies initiatives and have actually successfully used dark skies compliant lighting on Cowan Blvd.

2nd Place Interview

Well, my second attempt to get on the planning commission was about as successful as the first time. I would like to thank Council Members Marv Dixon and Matt Kelly that gave me their vote of support. Unfortunately I wasn't able to win over the votes of Council Members Rev Turner, M.K. Greenlaw, G. Solley, Vice Mayor Devine or Mayor Tomzak. Susan Spears got the other 5 votes. Glancing over her resume, it's hard to compete with someone who has lived here since childhood, who works for the chamber of commerce, and has had a history of working on various boards and commissions.
I was hoping to bring in a new, fresh, non-biased (no conflict of interest) mind to the discussion of planning within the city. I will hold out hope that I'm able to serve as future vacancies become available. I've had the opportunity to meet and work with Ms. Spears thought recent campaigns and discussed many of the actions of city government. She will be a good member that brings her own strengths to the position. Congrats to long time resident Ms. Spears.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Heritage Festival Report

Thanks to G from for sending in this report from the Heritage Festival and all of the events around town July 4th 2008 (see more text over at her own blog):

Here's a few pictures from the Fredericksburg festivities. We didn't have
a great vantage point for the raft race (Chatham Bridge, but the wrong side I
came to find out - downstream) but it was certainly a lot of fun! The
crowd was good and cheered for every raft that made its way under the
bridge. The trolleys to Ferry Farm kept coming over the bridge ringing
their bells and it made for a festive morning. The street fair was very
crowded and quite hot - the misting tent was extremely popular for kids, adults,
and dogs alike. The bands were great and the tents all had good
crowds. We were a little scared that the rain would make them cancel the
fireworks that night, but the storm blew over and the fireworks were pretty

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Service? PetSafe Delivers

Wow! In a day and age when I thought customer service and standing behind your product had gone out the window - one company comes through and has restored my faith in society.

PetSafe - maker of radio fences for pet containment (along with many other products) has a lifetime hardware replacement plan. Granted they charge $35 service fee, but that is peanuts compared to what a new system would cost me.

Let me explain. I've had a petsafe radio fence for 'Gus' for 9 years. The transmitter and collars have moved between 3 houses. Granted each time I had to bury a new wire around whatever yard, but basically the expensive parts I've always kept. In one of the electrical storms two weeks ago, lightning struck a tree in our neighbors yard. Wow - that's another story - I was looking out the upstairs window from the middle of the room, all the hair stood up on my neck, the light show was quick but amazing. The only thing damaged was the PetSafe transmitter, probably because the radio fence loop runs only a few feet from the base of the tree.

1 phone call
2 automated menu items
0 wait time
1 friendly operator from Knoxville, TN
3 minutes to give them my shipping information for them to send me a new box ($35), and they take my broken one back AFTER I get the new one.

WOW! Who knew! If you are considering a system, please go buy their product to show you too like good customer service.

VDOT Littering Our Highways

VDOT is working to finish up the road sensors on RT3 East of I-95. Look at the mess they are leaving behind. Tape is rolling all over the road, and I guess they are hoping for rain this weekend to wash the asphault laden sand away from the roadway.

VDOT's contractor's managerial capability (note the order)
1. Grind and Pave Road
2. Spend money and effort to nicely stripe and line the roadway
3. Screw up lines and striping to install signal sensors.
4. Leave mess for someone else to deal with.

This is our tax money at work people! At least pick up the tape put down to cut in the sensor channels! Every intersection is like this.

Drivers Resort to Graffiti as Gas Soars

Seen at a local Sheetz Station:

Museum's 1st Friday moves to Sat this month

For all of us that like the relaxed atmosphere hanging out in the square behind the museum, will have to wait until Saturday this month. The Museum decided to move the concert due to all of the other 4th activities. This should make for a nice alternative to Bluemont if you want something a bit closer to downtown.
Here was one of the acoustic sets from the First Friday in June. There music rotated through several bands and artists.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Donate Locally - These Nonprofits Loose Out To Keep Taxes Low

Donations keep many organizations running around the area. The FLS reported earlier this week that the United Way had distributed 1.5M of 3M they have raised through local events. But many of these agencies also rely on city funding for some portion of their activities. Back in April, several agencies came to the public hearing on the budget requesting the city to restore funding for their FY2009 (beginning 7/1) requests. Unfortunately, the city faced a budget cut while keeping the tax rate increase as low as council could agree upon. The following groups did not receive their requested funding, and some groups face reductions from their 2008 funding levels.

If you plan on donating this year, and want to make sure 100% of your donation goes to the organization you want, take a look at the list below and consider making a direct donation. Where possible, I have provided contact information. You can also view the difference in city funding between the organizations 2009 request and their previous year funding.

List of organizations appearing before City Council:

vs. Request

vs. 2008



ARC of the Rappahannock Area




disAbility Rescource Center




Fredericksburg Boys and Girls Club




Rapp. Council Against Sexual Assault




Rapp Council Children & Parents




Rapp Council on Domestic Violence




Rappahannock Legal Services, Inc.




Rappahannock Mediation Center




Rappahannock Area Agency on Aging




Fredericksburg Area Museum




Germanna Community College



Head Start




Volunteer fire




Other organizations that had their requests cut

vs. Request

vs. 2008



Bluemont Concert Series



Bragg Hill Family Life Center




Court Appointed Special Advocates




DRMI, Inc.



Fredericksburg Area Food Bank




Fredericksburg Festival of Arts




Healthy Families Rappahannock Area




Heritage Festival Committee




Hope House/Rapp. Refuge, Inc.




Hospice Support Care g




Senior Visitor Program




Moss Free Clinic




Northwest Virginia Health Systems




RUW Volunteer & Info. Services



united way

S.E.R.V.E., Inc.




Sister City Association, Fredericksburg




Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter




VA Ext.Office/Master Gardeners



Stories From Other Blogs