Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Wine, Art & Beutiful Scenery

This weekend brings one of the more interesting Art & Wine festivals in the area because of the location. Caledon Natural Area is hosting their annual festival on Saturday Nov 7th from 10am-6pm.


Sample wines while tasting local foods, listening to some music. They even are planning a hay ride through parts of Caledon.

Follow directions on their website, or google them here.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Children's Playtime

What to do on a rainy weekend? Or any weekend for that matter? This Saturday we took our child to Toddlin Time in Fredericksburg. It's on Princess Anne st, across from the Texaco, just down the street from Carl's. It's upstairs, with plenty of room for the kids to run around and play. On this Saturday, it was much brighter inside with the rain coming down outside. Just when we though Bennett had played with everything in the room, they got out the 'parachute', a huge colorful thing that the children rode on, then ran under. The laughter wasn't contained to the children playing. Public session is from 9:45 - 10:30 on Saturdays.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

No Bees In The Burg

UPDATE: In a comment, I added a few good links. I'm also putting them here in the main story.
Virginia Beekeepers Association http://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/
VA Discovery Museum in Charlottesville keeps a colony http://www.vadm.org/
And for reference I went out and checked Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Winchester, Norfolk and VA Beach. None of these cities prevent beekeeping.

A little known, and unfortunate city code was brought to my attention tonight. In the City of Fredericksburg, Bee Keeping is a no-no. According to the city code/charter Chapter 14, Article VII, section 14-184 - It shall be unlawful to keep or permit to run at large any domestic fowl, pigeons, or bees or any like animal within the city limits.

Unlike many folks, I've had a swarm show up outside my front door (not in Fredericksburg). I thought I was lucky enough knowing a beekeeper. Unfortunately we couldn't get his equipment back to our townhouse before the neighbor called the city and the swarm was sprayed with a toxic substance. The loss of an entire swarm was terrible. It was a surreal experience to work with 10,000+ bees as if they were grains of sand. Sure there was one sting, but being able to easily more thousands of bees into boxes was an amazing sensation.

Many may not realize, but honeybees are crucial to everything from our food supply to the flowers that decorate our tables. And unfortunately, many honeybee hives have been devastated in recent years by a mite in a catastrophic event called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Long gone are the days like my grandfather would tell of, when he and friends would go out and collect natural honeycomb from hollow trees. One of the best tales of my young life was Pop telling of his brothers warning him against eating the honey too quickly, and him coming home with a swollen tongue after biting a honeybee.

Alas, our poor city is still keeping a law on the books akin to legally preventing someone from having a bald eagle nest.

PS, for anyone thinking - oh but what about a bee sting to an allergic person, would you be equally as alarmed by your neighbor raising peanuts? This is now a matter of looking at what is becoming endangered in our generation.

Child Friendly Dinner

This afternoon we were able to swing by Fredericksburg Pub (behind the mall) with our one year old. Here is a facility that isn't exactly child friendly, but it isn't in their business plan either. They did however have steamed veggies, which worked well with a few bits and pieces from our main entrees.

Compare this to our experience last weekend at Glory Days (http://www.glorydaysgrill.com). Here is an enterprise that understands that they will garner a larger portion of the dining crowd by subtlety offering a great children's option. Not only to they offer a child's menu, they have two different sizes available. Our one year old was able to finish the small portion, and we didn't feel like we paid for a meal fit for a 10 yr old. We say, enjoying a college game on one of the many tvs, while our child was well fed (with healthy alternatives), and we all went home happy.

If you get the opportunity, I strongly suggest you visit Glory Days in Massaponax (Cosner Corner).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Where are the bike racks?

This picture was taken at Oktoberfest last weekend. An impromptu bike rack. As I walked down the hill to the event I passed a number of residents and students with their bicycles. We've heard George Solley and Brad Ellis on city council talk about the need for a more bicycle friendly city. Where have those promises gone? Has the economy made us decide between fancy street signs vs. bike racks? Or how about demolition costs of Wings? Would it kill the city to install a few places to lock up safely? And if it really is too much for the city, how about downtown merchants stepping up to the plate?

Old Towne Butcher ready for customers

Had the chance to get by our new butcher today. Olde Towne Butcher is located on William Street next to University Cafe and across from Kybecca. Tonight there will be two beautiful rib-eye's sitting on the grill getting the heat treatment. I like a place where you get to pick and choose the best cuts available. I was eyeing a couple of Delmonicos, but went with a little less fatty steak. While I was there waiting, several people stopped in and just looked around. Mr. Russell was working hard in the back, slicing garlic for their sausage specialty.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

DRMI & Fredericksburg need to close Caroline St.

You've heard the speculation, the predictions, some have said it would fail. Well, anyone who was downtown today saw that yet again, closing Caroline St brings many times the number of people. Imagine if every weekend there were outdoor dining, places to walk, events or music. For years I've heard residents and business owners complain about the city needing to get more people downtown. Well, I was there, and Oktoberfest was able to pack the block. Under Caroline St are original cobblestones. From what I've heard from witnesses, is that they go well with the granite slabs lining the road on select blocks.
So to all the naysayers, every time the city has chosen to close Caroline St. on Saturdays, the reaction has been overwhelming. It's time to get with it and proactively go after the Saturday foot traffic.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Foti's Scores Again

The Chef at Foti's in Culpeper deserves a ton of praise for the Shaps Wine Dinner the other weekend. Our group couldn't even pick out which of the items we liked the most, and of course the selection of wine was impeccable.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bill Howell's Spin

It was reported today in the FLS that Bill Howell continues to harp on an anti-gas tax platform, yet he refuses to answer to reasonable workable solutions to come up with a revenue stream to fund transportation. Now before my hard core republican friends stop reading, at least get through the math and discussion below. On two separate occasions I have engaged Mr. Howell in a personal discussion of the gas tax and both times he has avoided proposing a specific solution or alternative.

In 1986, the gas tax was set at the current rate of 17.5 cents per gallon. This is not inflation adjusted, so today that 17.5 cents is worth the equivalent of 9.2 cents (calc). That means road users are paying just about half the tax to use the same roads that they used in 1986.

Howell's most reasonable explanation for stalling a change to the gas tax is that as users transition to more efficient vehicles, the revenue stream is reduced, as it is based on the number of gallons sold. He seems to forget that every year that goes by also reduces the equivalent buying power of this revenue. He also leaves out that his own republican party is regularly voting against increasing fuel mileage standards. When prodded about how to relate transportation costs to impacts and use, his conversation wanders to the only fair solution being one that taxes on per-mileage. These technologies are years away from being affordable, cheap and hack-proof. Any manager would point out that you can only work with what is available today, and the best (cheapest, easiest, and closest to scaling to impact or use) is to look at the gas tax.

Instead Howell and others are proposing a one time fix of privatizing Virginia's ABC store. Isn't this much like selling the family cow? Now, for other reasons I fully support this plan, but not as a long term fix for Virginia transportation. How does this go for paying years of maintenance and road improvements?

I hate spin. If we're really going to find solutions, and I mean fully implemented systems approaches, it's going to take a combination of actions and compromises.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Pub rocks starting in Dec

A local favorite is The Pub. Its the original, not to be confused with Fredericksburg Pub. David over at Musings Over a Pint has written about this place starting a true brewpub. http://www.musingsoverapint.com/2008/06/brewpub-for-fredericksburg.html

We ate a great dinner here on Friday. Gail enjoyed a tasty hot ham and cheese, and my french dip was delic. They even had a good selection on the child's menu. Our one year old likes pickles - who would have guessed that one?

I am happy to report that brewing is set to begin the week of September 28th. They are planning three batches to start with, an ale, red and a hefferveisen. Expect the first to appear on tap in 3-4 weeks. Once the first batch is ready, The Pub is planning some type of brewpub opening party.

Come December, when the smoking restrictions kick in, this may become one of our top recommendations. Until then we won't attempt bringing our child back which is a shame since he enjoyed the food. December can't get here quick enough.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Curacao Vacation

Friends have known where I disappeared to the other week, vacation, glorious quiet, cell phone free vacation. I was so impressed by the place we stayed, that I wanted to share the experience so that other folks on the internet can get to know about this place. If you love clear blue water, warm temperatures, the beach, shopping and friendly people, then I highly recommend Curacao. Specifically, if you're looking to take a few people, I will give a resounding recommendation for Flamingo Villa (http://www.flamingo-villa.com/) , a family owned rental on the country side of the island. We found them through home-away (http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p182407) but they are also on VRBO (vacation rentals by owner). Let me start off with there are lots of internet scams out there. I was initially concerned, but several well known news shows have covered VRBO and HomeAway, so those fears were somewhat calmed, but I really wasn't sure exactly what we were going to show up to. Let me tell you, it far exceeded expectations. The house was exactly as shown in the pictures. Even as a rental, it showed no wear an tear. The family that owns this property really takes care of the home. Emails exchanged indicate that they are as much regular users as their renters.

Following are a few photos, and notes on our trip. If you ever go on a trip like this, hopefully you will find the property manager as friendly as Don - Don called us on Sunday giving us the inside story on places to go such as a Landhuis where local artists display there goods once a month, along with a steel drum band and local foods.

Curacao has a flamingo sanctuary at the salt ponds.

This was the view that greeted us on all the beaches. Clear blue water, unspoiled reef systems, dramatic coastline.

The Punda area of Willemstad was a beutiful Netherlands inspired city. The streets offered a variety of shops and food, along with friendly locals that would help you in any way needed.

This is the pontoon bridge, which is open to foot traffic when it's not moving out of the way of shipping traffic. Here it was being moved out of the way for a large containership.

This alley led to the Nena Sanchez gallery. No fear of street art here!

By Thursday, there were a few spots that needed relief from the sun. (Curacao is only 12 degrees off the equator and results in sunburns just about anywhere you don't regularly reapply sunblock.) So it was off to the other side of the island to visit the Aloe Vera farm. We didn't make it to the Ostrich farm or the herb farm nearby, but I hear they are also popular places.

On the way back into town, we searched out the practially hidden Curacao factory. We weren't looking for a place this small. It's amazing that a facility this small can produce all of the Curacao liquer. They were happy to let us taste several varieties, as well as mix a few samples to come up with combination flavors. And here is a tidbit of trivia - the Curacao factory has NO orange groves, they get all of the product from locals that bring in the indiginous fruits.

And of course this type of vacation wouldn't have been complete without being able to get below the surface. We went with friends, one of which is a dive master, so the two of us snuck out for a few days of compressed air intake. The shore diving was incredible. We were able to explore Cas Abou near our rental, then went with friends-of-friends that were local to The Tugboat near the southernmost point of the island. On Friday we hooked up with Neils at http://www.divechartercuracao.com for boat dives at Watamula and Mushroom forest off the northernmost point of the island. As you can see in the slideshow below, the coral around Curacao was pristine. I've never been on a reef where you stop to look around and don't see sand somewhere. Macro fans will love these reefs.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

8 Things I Will Miss From the DC Commute

After beating up on VRE yesterday, I was getting coffee this morning thinking about the things I will miss about going to Crystal City every day.

1. Having Mocha Mo's on speed dial for the best Vanilla Skim Latte for the train ride
2. Catching the sunrise over the Potomac
3. The Tue afternoon street market with real farms in Crystal City
4. For that matter, I will miss Crystal City and the active BID, arts, music, parks and vibrant life
5. My afternoon nap on the long "heat restrictions" ride home (VRE reference for the non commuter)
6. The beauty in a designed city: skyscrapers, 2500 car underground lots, the ability to stroll inside from one end to the other.
7. Buses that run every 10 min
8. Having time to blog and twitter every morning and afternoon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Symbolism and VRE

I shot this picture in the Fredericksburg city VRE parking lot wondering if it is symbolic of where VRE has been or where it is headed. The tagger probably doesn't even ride VRE, yet I find it interesting anyway. For three years I have hopped on the big grey train to dc. This is my last regular week (hooray!).

This picture pretty accurately describes my opinion of where VRE is headed. I won't miss the nanny PA announcements about queuing in the isles, or the conductors saying the are requires to write x summons in a day. I surely won't miss the broken down engines pulling brand new cars nowhere. VRE's excuses and sorry's will be a thing of the past.

Over the years I have witnessed the reality of little viable competition allow VRE to use their monopoly position to their favor. It really is a case study in a captive customer base. Management doesn't use the service, at least not like commuters do every day, and the government board is substantially made up of representatives that don't use the service. Using the service is just different than listening to our complaints. It would give each decision maker an appreciation for the issues. The biggest of which is communication. Communication between VRE and customers, CSX, NS, elected officials and even their own employees!

I say all of this because VA rail has the potential to be a great service! New locomotives are on the way, several stations are getting makeovers and new platforms. Fredericksburg is even supposed to get a station fix, with concrete repairs to the underpasses. VRE has yet to make a statement on the impacts from the fredericksburg station repairs. This reflects the perceived history of keeping the customer in the dark as long as possible (much like the dark status boards at all the stations).

I wish I could say 'wake up' to VRE management, but it doesn't matter because people keep riding no matter what changes they make. So I guess I should just say thank you VRE for the 75% good job! Way to go.

OK, after writing this, I envision at least one person asking - well what would you do? So here it is:
Monthly what's coming next statements on the web, in the seat letters, on the station screens
When things start going wrong, an immediate continuous comm link with CSX
A backbone in negotiating the next Amtrak and CSX agreements
An renewed emphasis on cutting costs across the network
Accountability of paid management to the city/county governments and customers, perhaps its time for a management change.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Parthenon Restaurant is a Must Eat Here Location

I have failed you, loyal readers of the blog.  Life has been very busy lately, and what free time I have has been spent doing things other than writing.  Oddly, I miss it, and a few ideas for posts have been kicking around just waiting for time to get down on paper.  Even Gail asked yesterday if a post was coming.  A great dinner with Gail actually sparked this post, as you will read in a bit.  As most know, having a 9 month old does take away some time, so we have been trying to have a babysitter keep him one night a week so that we can get out for date night. 

Last night we had the most wonderful, quiet, relaxed, delicious dinner at Parthenon Restaurant in the Park & Shop (or should this now say Eagle Village) shopping center.  2024 Augustine Ave., Fredericksburg, VA 22401

Based on a suggestion, we both had the Greek Salad with Grilled Gyro meat.  We were both trying to stay on the light side of things, but who can resist Tiramisu.  I've also read several reviews complimenting their souvlaki. The Greek wine was just incredible.  But the food is only part of the reason to visit, it's also the hospitality of the Psaras family.  We chatted away with Mrs. Psaras about the 26 years they have been in the same location, and how this summer things seemed to be just a little more quiet than usual.  She expressed her interest in seeing Eagle Village develop, and what that might do to benefit their small restaurant.  Gail told her about visiting Parthenon for pizza in her college days across the street.

It's nice to see unique family run businesses in today's fast pace cookie cutter world, and Parthenon is just the place to step away to enjoy a nice home cooked meal.  You've probably driven right past this wonderful gem a number of times and not even noticed it's there.  If you get a chance, stop in and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Business Lessons From Bloggers on USS Nimitz

When I first read this article (http://www.damniwish.com/uss-nimitz/), several things came to mind.  First, holy crap - they let 16 bloggers loose on the Nimitz and let them blog their experience? The US Navy is more open that I thought.  I wonder what they had to do for clearances!  Wow I'd love to get in on this!  But all of these reactions are small potatoes when you read the content.  This first blogger details four best practices that would work in just about any business. 

    1 - Keep it simple; it's not about the technology.
    2 - Helping people be good at their jobs.
    3 - The power of complete openness.
    4 - What appreciating our troops really means.

If you're more into pictures and video, head over to Guy Kawasaki's blog about the same visit (http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2009/06/24-hours-at-sea-on-the-uss-nimitz.html).

Let me give you a few quotes from Sernovitz:

    What would happen at your company if you let 16 bloggers talk to anyone they wanted, including the CEO? (Besides needing to send an EMT to resuscitate the panicked PR team?)

    Do you have a culture of openness and trust?
    Do you have something to hide?
    Do you trust your people to know what topics aren't appropriate to talk about publicly?
    Most important: Do your employees have the pride in their work necessary to happily represent you to the world?
    1. Details matter.
    2. Everyone knows their jobs.
    3. Special places matter.
    4. Proven is better than newer.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fredstock '09

Yet again this year an event almost slipped past without any major advertising. Fredstock happens this weekend. See the Weekender story for more info.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Who is really the Consumer

At tonight's Fredericksburg City Council meeting, there was a discussion about taxi surcharges. Last year they revisited overall rates with taxi drivers and owners where the industry said they liked rates where they were. Consider, the discussion was actually about whether to go to meters. So of course they are going to choose to keep the existing fares and formats. Plus using a 'fuel surcharge' further obscures the true taxi costs for riders.

So as is common lately, in the rush to complete the meeting, a council member was cutoff and a statement was made about how the 'consumer is happy the way it is'. Whoa, wait a minute, since when is a taxi owner or the driver the consumer? I always thought that would have been the rider/user/payer. But I guess in this new form of government, consumer is up for redefinition.

City Taxes Going UP-UP-UP

For those of you that vote in Fredericksburg VA, here's who you can thank for higher real estate taxes.

Councilwoman Greenlaw made the final motion to raise the rate to $0.705 of every $100. That's almost 26% percent. It was seconded by Vice-Mayor Devine.

Councilman Kelly put forward an alternative $.68 of every $100. It was seconded by Councilman Ellis. The caveat is that the meals tax would have to go up a penny. Solley changed his mind from the first vote and supports the meals tax. This lessens the commercial real estate tax, and someone moves that to the restaurant business. However, in my case it also frees up significant money to actually go out and eat.

Just for reference - 1 penny on real estate = $340k
Meals tax increase 1% = 800k, offset somewhat by having to delay implementation August (100k). Yet another issue with council waiting until the last minute to approve budget.

Mr Kelly mentioned cuts to consider to make up the 100k - continuation of hiring freeze, limiting city manager salary (not filled at the moment).

But in the end, Solley, Greenlaw think this is a bare bones budget. So I ask it in public, why does the city maintain TWO parking decal authorities? Why do we continue to fund a money loosing VDOT express? What was the priority for outside agencies when you blanketly levy a 15% cut? Greenlaw justified this somewhat by saying that by 'making the list' they are priority - OK, I'll accept that. What do we save by going to 1 day trash? What did the extra $300k get in the schools?

Devine gave a speech about all the calls she gets about people wanting extra things in the city. That's fine, good managers have to know how to say NO. Yet in the end the city only took a 5.2% hit. FIVE-POINT-TWO PERCENT, with no clear vision about where we're headed. Devine 'we're wringing our hands'.

Kelly responded with 'we cannot be a burden on those people that depend on us' and 'we're beginning to hurt people we serve'. Mr. Kelly finally got my point, some savings might be only a few dollars, but all that funding adds up!!!

In the end, it was tabled, but I BEG you to think about who is running your city and how they are voting. It does matter. Renters residential or commercial, consider that every dollar your landlord has to pay in taxes is going to come out of your pocket in higher rents.

ps, they also are considering a 14% increase in the car tax, on top of water, sewer and utility taxes approved last month.

Special "Find a Patriot" day 6/12

Just received this email that I thought was particularly interesting.

The Mine Run Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution is having a "Find A Patriot" meeting, open to the public on June 12th, Friday evening from 5:30 to 7 pm at the Chancellor Ruritan Building 5994 Plank Rd, Fredericksburg, VA.

Please bring the names of your grandparents, dates and places and we will look for a Patriot ancestor. We also sponsor a Children's chapter. For more information or alternate dates; call 540-854-6700, Debbie DeHart

It's particularly interesting to me, having found that I am related to Charles Lee, brother to the more famous local Robert E. Lee. My father took up some geneology searches in retirement resulting in some interesting adventures. One was to find my great-grandfather's name on the National Law Enforcement's memorial in DC.

Smith Point Rescue Fishing Tournament

Local columnist Rob Hedelt writes in today's paper about a great organization, smith point sea rescue. http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2009/062009/06092009/471878

We sometimes spend the weekend in Fairport, just across Cockrells Creek from their main rescue boat. This fishing tournament this weekend is always a huge hit with locals and visitors alike. The activities are nonstop, but if you can break away I suggest eating at The Cull Ring at Fairport Marina for a taste of good local cooking.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Eating For A Cause

Just received this from Paul Lewis of The Fredericksburg Athenaeum

Every Thursday in June, Capital Ale House is giving 25% of your food tab to the film festival. All you have to do is print and present this coupon and eat a good meal. Thank you for supporting your community by supporting RIFF and our efforts to sustain an active, vibrant downtown. Hope to see you there!

Celebrate VA Live rain out Alternatives

If you don't know yet, Dark Star Orchestra has been postponed due to wet fields at Celebrate VA Live this week. The good news is that First Fridays is happening downtown and there should be good food and art all over! We are calling the baby sitter and headed out for the evening. You might find us at the museum courtyard listening to the local band playing for free.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Quarter Hail vid at Golds

Didn't catch the start, but eventually the pounding on the roof made me go check it out.

Storm over Fredericksburg vid

Is this what they mean by rotation, not too long of a video, decided it might be time to get on home.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fredericksburg News & Info on your Kindle

Now get the area's hottest news delivered direct to your Amazon Kindle! FburgNews.com tries to bring together a diverse set of blogging content, and it is now available in more formats than ever.


Hopefully they will drop the price to make getting the local inside story more affordable.

Check out the Weekend Events 5/14/09

Whoever is editing the Free Lance-Star Weekender section today nailed it on content. Its almost all local for once, and gives important details like location, price and a bit of opinion on the events.

Check it out at http://www.fredericksburg.com

Let me give you the rundown of just the top name things.
Gin Blossoms at Celebrate VA Live (behind central park)
Big art show at Hurkamp park
Marine Corps Historic Half (although they didn't publish road closures. Look at my post yesterday for more details)
Hike along the river w/FOR
Performances by the Spotsylvanians (chorus)

And next weekend at Patriot Park in Spotsy you can catch a popular Charlottesville band Sweetbriar. Hedelt even had a great article in the region section about this band. We have always enjoyed getting to listed to them perform.

With the exception of these last two events, readers of this blog already were aware of these if you clicked the events tab. Check back ever week to see what has been added to 'Bryans Picks'.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Marine Corps Historic Half 2009

Runners visiting from out of town should search this website for the "Marine Corps Historic Half" tag. Read up tips on using 301 instead of I-95. Visitors should also utilize visitfred.com and fburgnews.com to find other interesting things happening in our town. For critical DAY-OF information, keep reading.

Parking: always a concern in cities. So this year a press release says it all - there are more options.

Organizers of the Marine Corps Historic Half marathon announced today transportation procedures for the May 17 event. Runners and spectators can benefit from free parking and complimentary shuttle service.

Ample parking spaces are within walking distance of the start line in the Central Park shopping center. Additionally, a free shuttle will transport runners from the commuter lot located off I-95 at exit 133B (at US-17 North towards Warrenton) to a drop-off point near the start line.

On race morning, spectators may also take advantage of a free shuttle between the Central Park shopping center and downtown Fredericksburg (at approximately miles 7-8 of the Historic Half course). The shuttle will run from Gordon Shelton Parkway to Hanover Street downtown.

On-course parking is available in the University of Mary Washington parking garage located off Jefferson Davis Highway (US-1), one block north of College Avenue. This parking area is located near mile 10 of the course.

From the Healthy Lifestyle Expo on Saturday, May 16, free shuttle service will offer runners and their guests easy access to downtown Fredericksburg. The shuttles run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. along much of the race course making stops at the Art Festival on the corner of William and Prince Edward Streets, in front of the Fredericksburg Visitor Center, on the corner of Caroline and Charlotte Streets and at Caroline and William Streets.

Traffic: A year of experience should help organizers do better this year than last.
Road Closures by time:
5:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Carl D Silver Parkway (CDSP) (all lanes) from Fall Hill Ave. to Expo & Conference Center
5:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Traffic control point at Fall Hill Avenue and CDSP.
6:50 a.m. - 7:30 a.m. Carl D Silver Parkway southbound from Expo & Conference Center to Cowan Boulevard.
6:50 a.m. - 8:00 a.m. Cowan Boulevard (eastbound) from CDSP to Keeneland Road.
7:00 a.m. - 8:05 a.m. Woodland, Keeneland and Westwood Roads from Cowan Blvd to Route 3.
7:05 a.m. - 8:10 a.m. Route 3 (westbound lanes) from Westwood Rd to William Street.
7:10 a.m. - 8:55 a.m. William Street (westbound) from Blue/Gray Parkway to Sunken Road.
7:10 a.m. - 8:35 a.m. Sunken Road northbound from William Street to Fitzhugh Street.
7:15 a.m. - 8:35 a.m. Fitzhugh Street between Sunken Road and Franklin Street.
7:15 a.m. - 8:35 a.m. Franklin Street between Fitzhugh and Madison Streets.
7:15 a.m. - 8:35 a.m. Madison Street between Franklin Street and Littlepage Street.
7:15 a.m. - 8:40 a.m. Littlepage Street between Madison and Grove Avenue.
7:15 a.m. - 8:40 a.m. Grove between Littlepage and Kenmore Avenue.
7:20 a.m. - 8:50 a.m. Kenmore Avenue between Grove and William Street.
7:20 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. William Street between Kenmore Avenue and Washington Avenue.
7:20 a.m. - 9:05 a.m. Washington Avenue between William Street and Pelham Street.
7:20 a.m. - 9:10 a.m. Maury Street from Washington Avenue to Fall Hill Road.
7:20 a.m. - 9:10 a.m. Stuart Street from Washington Avenue to Fall Hill Road.
7:20 a.m. - 9:10 a.m. Pelham Street from Washington Avenue to Fall Hill Road.
7:25 a.m. - 9:10 a.m. Fall Hill Road/Canal Street from Pelham Street to Prince Edward Street.
7:25 a.m. - 9:20 a.m. Prince Edward Street from Canal Road to William Street.
7:25 a.m. - 9:20 a.m. William Street between Prince Edward Street to Princess Anne Street.
7:25 a.m. - 9:20 a.m. Princess Anne Street between William Street and Charlotte Street.
7:25 a.m. - 9:20 a.m. Charlotte Street between Princess Anne and Caroline Streets.
7:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m. Caroline Street between Charlotte and Van Buren Streets.
7:35 a.m. - 9:50 a.m. Amelia Street between Caroline Street and Sophia Street.
7:35 a.m. - 9:55 a.m. Sophia Street between Amelia Street and Pitt Street.
7:35 a.m. - 9:55 a.m. Riverside Drive from Woodford Street to Fall Hill Avenue.
7:35 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Fall Hill from Riverside Drive to US Route 1.
7:40 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. US Route 1 (southbound) from Fall Hill to Mary Washington Boulevard.
7:40 a.m. - 10:20 a.m. Mary Washington Boulevard from Route 1 to Hospital Drive.
7:45 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Hospital Drive from Mary Washington Boulevard to Cowan Boulevard
7:20 a.m. - 10:50 a.m. Cowan Boulevard (westbound) from Hospital Drive to CDSP.
7:20 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. CDSP northbound from Cowan Boulevard to Fall Hill Avenue.

And just for completeness, here are a few links of importance:
Marine Corps Historic Half website
Course Map
Course Description

Friday, May 1, 2009

CV Live kicks off TONIGHT!

Celebrate Virginia Live gets going tonight behind Central Park in Fredericksburg VA. This open air concert series is going to bring some well known talent to the area.

5/1- The Wailers
5/8- Keller Williams
5/15- Gin Blossoms and TONIC
5/22- Toad The Wet Sprocket/Eddie From Ohio
5/29- Little Feat
6/5- Dark Star Orchestra
6/12- TBA
6/19- ZOSO


Are you even thinking about a garden this year? How about a few potted plants. May 2nd is Mayfest at racsb. Please consider dropping by to buy a plant or two at great prices to help this worthy community organization and their adult activities center.


750 Kings Highway is about 3 miles East of town on Route 3.

Get out more 5/1/09

This morning I was standing in Mocha Mo's (the best latte in town) and overheard a great bit of news. University Cafe (William ST) is opening up tonight. The coffee bar and lounge is billed as an all day location. I expect them to have a great variety of music and become yet another great stop in downtown.

William Street is becoming Fredericksburg's restaurant row. If you go to the cafe and aren't fitting in with the college crowd, just walk across the street to Kybecca for a change of pace. If you want an exotic beer experience, turn the corner on Caroline for Capital Ale. Want to do dinner beforehand, hit up one of the many eateries (Bistro and Poppy Hill come to mind).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Great Day For A Ride

Several of you know that my daily (it's not raining) commuter is of the 2-wheel type. Last year I decided that with the hybrid being allocated to child duties, I'd hop on the low fuel, low expense option with a Suzuki V-Strom 650 (DL650).

The nice part about this, when it's a nice day out, it also doubles as my errand runner, my grocery wagon (unless the fridge is completely empty) and pretty much anything else I need to run out for.

Today was Morton's BMW open house, so as soon as we could get the child dressed and the family out the house for some other appointments, I hopped on and rode south on US1 to see what all the fuss was about. The weather was great. I wish I had been able to stay the day since Fredericksburg area Habitat for Humanity was organizing a poker run. Instead I took a shorter demo ride on a new BMW F650GS, a fun bike with little weight, and a sporty engine that purred along the whole way. My ears are grateful. Unfortunately by the time I returned, the line for bbq was long and I needed to get back to the house to hang out with our son for the afternoon.

I was amazed at the variety of bikes present. I wasn't even the only V-Strom. As I was leaving another pulled in. I was parked in a row of Hondas. Something for everyone. What I loved seeing was several 'antiques' that were still being ridden around like they were new. A 64 BMW caught my attention for how smoothly it still ran. There were also several side cars there, with spouses or children riding along. Inside the deals were enticing. I wish I had arrived a little earlier so that I could have found a pair of riding pants in my size. The $299 pants were on sale for just $99. I settled for a $10 pair of riding gloves, and a new safety vest. What a difference several years of road grime can make on neon.
We're priviledged to have Morton's here, the next closest BMW dealer is Lynchburg, VA. There are only 3 in the State. Even if you want a Harley Davidson, you have to go all the way to Orange county. I'm pretty luck in that Extreme Powersports is a Suzuki dealership.
So I'll tell everyone here exactly what my friends ask me about riding. Sign up for a safety course. Even if you're experienced, guaranteed this will improve something in your skillset. If you're new, it will give you tons of pointers. Then find something you can enjoy riding for your situation. A sport bike, as much as I may want one, doesn't fit in my insurance budget. My V-Strom insurance is $100 a year (safety discount included). Lastly, think about all the savings. Gas is one thing and any bike after 2006 has added EPA limits, so the air quality will be better (getting more stringent for this year's model). Think about the other savings, 2 wheels instead of 4, much fewer raw materials, reduced parking requirements. And if that doesn't sway you, how about using the HOV lanes without having to stop at the park & ride lots. Some days this would cut off 1/2 an hour or more. Even for me, why drive an almost 2 ton vehicle to the train station when I can take a 450lb bike there instead. OK, I COULD take my 20lb mountain bike there, but I'm not daring enough to bike up RT3 from the Blue & Grey parkway to Burlington in the evenings.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Did the Republicans Not Learn Anything

"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
-Benjamin Franklin

Do you sometimes feel like deja vu? Well, I hate to see it happen because a little good healthy competition is beneficial to everyone. Yep, I'm talking politics again. Yeah, yeah, I don't live in the 99th district, but I own real estate there, and I hate to see the GOP go down the same right wing hard nose path again. Of course I'm talking about Catherine Crabill who is taking on Albert Pollard for VA delegate. (If you want to see lots of area blog posts on the 99th race, go to http://www.fburgnews.com and search 99th.)

I'm definitely a social liberal, and strongly believe in that part of the constitution that add "liberty and the pursuit of happiness." I also believe in the power of the amendments added over time. I'll admit that early on I liked McCain, he had voted middle of the road, and was rather socially liberal for a Republican. Then to get the nomination he sold out those of us in the middle, and we were courted by the Democrats. The Democratic party should be applauded for their efforts to be a more encompassing party, that understands compromises to get things accomplished that move the world along to better times.

My issue is this, I don't see how Crabill can honestly quote the constitution followed by limiting certain categories of people to not do certain things in the same web page. It's upsetting that splattered all over her website for delegate you can find references to why you should vote for her because of her Christian upbringing and beliefs. But where does it say what she stands for on solutions to the economy? Solutions for crumbling infrastructure? Solutions for security? Solutions for teen pregnancy? Shall I go on?

Ugh, I give up - if the Republican party doesn't get it, I'll go get my political candidates from somewhere else! I use to like the Republican party, what happened?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mayfest '09 - Free Ice Cream!

What's better than FREE in this economy? Getting free ice cream while hopefully spending a few $ on spring plants that will go to benefit a very worthy organization. I'm talking about this years MAYFEST, which happens on Sat May 2nd.

From the RACSB website:

Every year on the first Saturday in May, Rappahannock Adult Activities (RAAI) holds an annual fundraiser called Mayfest. Mayfest is a day of celebration for
our participants and their families, as well as members of the community who would like to support our endeavors. Mayfest is a day of family fun with entertainment, bake sale, food, horse rides, raffle prizes, Silent Auction, and plant sales. Participants begin working in early January of each year growing a wide variety of annuals, perennials, and herbs for the sale.

Please mark your calendar for Mayfest XXIII to be held Saturday, May 2, 2009 from 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. The event is held at our 750 Kings Highway location which is located three miles east of the Chatham Bridge.

Turkey Hill Ice Cream to be provided by 93.3 WFLS

Last year I was lucky enough to win a great set of bbq marinades, but also bought plants that resulted in a pepper garden that far exceeded expectations. This year we're going to work on our second attempt at container gardening on our deck.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Facelift For City Website

This weekend a new look is being debuted for the City of Fredericksburg website. You can still find all of the same information, but things have been reorganized slightly. Look for more improvements to come as they receive feedback on this design. Drop downs along the top consolidate topics for local government, residents and people looking for information. At each page, a context menu is available on the right to help guide you to lower level details. This has been a work in progress for a number of months (possibly years), and is finally seeing the light of day.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hard times for truckers

I saw this truck the other day. Look closely and you can see where someone has spray painted over both of the call in numbers for jobs. Guess this guy doesn't want the competition. This morning there was this article on the surplus of drivers http://mobile.reuters.com/mobile/m/FullArticle/CUSN/ndomesticNews_uUSTRE52U01L20090331?src=RSS-USN

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Ultimate Arts Directory

Is that what the city hopes to come up with as a result of the 2009 Arts survey? Check out the details here: http://www.fburgnews.com/2009/03/fredericksburg-cultural-inventory/

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Get Ready for the F'burg Soapbox Derby

Every year it seems to get bigger. Today's Weekender announced that registration for the June soapbox derby is now underway. I don't think our 6mo old will be ready to compete this year, but we will probably be out to watch the other contestants.


Turn It Off This Weekend

Earth Hour 2009 is just around the corner. Over 2000 cities and many individuals will be participating in Earth Hour on Sat the 28th from 8:30 to 9:30 pm. See what it's like at http://www.earthhour.org/home/

If the weather is nice, maybe we can all go outside and see a few extra stars.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bryan's Picks

2009 brings new events list to InTheBurg. I will be cross posting to fburgnews.com items by tagging posts with an events tag. This list is not everything going on in town, but it's my picks and highlights, things I think are going to be fun.

6/12 Molly Hatchet w/HOMEGROWN opening @ Celebrate VA Live
6/12 "Find A Patriot" w/Daughters of the American Revolution 5:30 to 7 pm at the Chancellor Ruritan Building 5994 Plank Rd, Fredericksburg, VA.
6/13 FOR Civil War Canoe Float - $30 individual/ $75 family
6/19 ZOSO (Led Zeppelin Tribute) @ Celebrate VA Live
6/20 FOR Family River Safety and Tubing Trip - $15 individual/ $45 family
6/26 Jo Dee Messina @ Celebrate VA Live
6/27 Black Sheep @ Bluemont located at Maury Stadium
6/27 FOR River Easement Hike and Float - $15 individual/ $45 family
7/4 Scott Ainslie @ Bluemont located at Maury Stadium
8/1 Notorious @ Bluemont located at Maury Stadium
7/7 Dark Star Orchestra (rescheduled) @ Celebrate VA Live
7/11 Junkyard Saints @ Bluemont located at Maury Stadium
7/11 FOR Nighttime Canoe Float - $15 individual/ $45 family
7/18 Martinsburg Jazz Orchestra @ Bluemont located at Maury Stadium
7/18 FOR Lightning Bug Canoe Float - $15 individual/ $45 family
7/17 Travis Tritt @ Celebrate VA Live
7/24 Blues Traveler @ Celebrate VA Live
7/25 John McCutcheon @ Bluemont located at Maury Stadium
7/25 FOR Crow’s Nest Float - $30 individual/ $75 family
8/1 Keller Williams @ Celebrate VA Live
8/8 The Lindsay Family @ Bluemont located at Maury Stadium
8/15 Knicely Jazz Combo @ Bluemont located at Maury Stadium
8/15 FOR Sunset Canoe Float - $15 individual/ $45 family
8/22 The Daryl Davis Band @ Bluemont located at Maury Stadium
9/19 Rappahannock RiverFest
10/9 FOR Volunteer Appreciation Cookout - Free
10/17 FOR Rappahannock Fall Colors Float - $15 individual/ $45 family
10/24 FOR Fall River Cleanup - Free
11/7 FOR - Fall Birding Hike - $5 individual/ $15 family
12/11 FOR Holiday Open House - Free

Reoccuring Events:
- First Fridays is a variety of art events that take place around downtown every first friday of the month.
- Open Mic Night happens every Second Thursday of the month @ the Wounded Bookshop
- Lunch concerts @ Hurkamp Park on Tuesdays in May, June & Sept.

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

If anyone has events they believe belong on this list, contact me and I'll gladly add them.

Lawn Music is Best

See my post at fburgnews.com on the Celebrate Virginia Live concert series this spring/summer. I'll be adding these concerts to the list of my picks for events.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Every Friday concerts

If you read this blog often, you know I've been advocating for concerts downtown every Friday. Well, close. Looks like a Central Park is going to pick up an event. Check www.fredericksburg.com/blogs/citybeat for all the details.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St Patty's day In The Burg

I'm falling behind, but thankfully other bloggers are picking up the slack.  Be sure to check out Sarah's perfectly condensed post of places to get Irish tonight.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Students Can Win $1000

Icon Talent Extravaganza
By: Fredericksburg Boys & Girls Club
When: May 14, 2009 6-9pm (Time Subject to Change)
Where: Original Walker-Grant
200 Gunnery Rd, Fredericksburg VA 22401
Win an Educational Scholarship of $1000
This talent show is open to all young people ages 5-17
(Must join b&g club to participate)
Sign up now
For information, contact Forest Parker 540-368-9531 (please leave message if necessary)

Peanut allergies

We've all said it (all may be a little strong), when we were younger there weren't this many children with peanut allergies. Think about how many pb&j sandwiches were pulled out of lunch bags when we could barely reach a table! Does recent research point to the answer:http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29707036/ ?

Too early to tell, but I'm definitely interested in what this leads to in the next few years.

Pick up today's FLS

That title will surely bring flogging from some of my blogging friends, to recommend paying for a print edition of a newspaper. Have I totally lost it?

What a difference a week makes. Last week we were commenting on the Girl Scouts strong arm reaction to one scouts creativity using youtube. Today you can find not one, but two stories about the great work of the Boy Scouts. Front page is one of the most impressive eagle scout projects I have seen in a while, partnering with various agencies to upgrade the child safe harbor center. Then on the front of the region section is the scouts' rocketry weekend.

Go read the entire details at http://www.fredericksburg.com

It will start your week off right.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Lenses for the Nikon

This week I took the leap to expand my camera bag (read about my choice of the D90 here). We're looking at doing some travel this summer, and I wanted to add some perspective changes. I've also found that the factory 18-200mm just doesn't get up close enough for many event type pictures. So off to Adorama to pick out a few reasonably priced additions.

I don't have the budget for a several thousand dollar high powered lens, so when reading Pop Photography this past trip, I found the ProOptic 500mm mirror lens. This is basically like strapping a 5in telescope to the front of your camera. The lens is compatible with just about any DSLR out there, because it uses T-adaptors to attach. This means you'll be putting the camera in manual mode, and focusing it yourself. But this shouldn't be much of a stretch if you've had a camera for a little while. I also now see in post editing that the window I was shooting through also added haziness and some added distortion on the other super fisheye lens.

Caveats, this fixed aperture lens requires a lot of light, and a very steady hand. It was very overcast, and using a simple tripod, it was still difficult to get a clear photo. I obviously need to play with this one a little more. A more thorough review can be found at Popular Photography.

The other item purchased was a Phoenix Super Fisheye lens. The field of view of this lens is claimed to be up around 180 degrees. In reality, things are so distorted at the edges, you're always going to have something less, however, it still gets a lot more in the picture. I took a photo of Gail feeding Bennett along with the entire scene of the kitchen. This perspective is much closer to what you see with your eye, and seems to be a more realistic photo. So often, I find that the bounds of a photo can't tell the whole story, because you can't pull in the surrounding environment.

The photo below is taken from the same photo as the squirrel picture above. I then used PTLens and Gimp to stretch it out to full frame. I'm still playing with the best way to do this, and have had mixed results.

Lastly, I now needed a bigger case to put all of this stuff in, so off the Internet again for an answer. I've long admired Pelican Cases for the indestructibility, and now they offer an option with a fitted bag. There is one flaw in this bag, in order to provide an internal net pocket at the top of the bag, they didn't include any Velcro along 75% of this edge. This considerably limits your configuration options. So the first thing I did was to rip out the Velcro sections and put two of these together to span the top edge (edge closest to the photographer in the picture below). I then reconfigured the remaining dividers to match my camera and accessories. Hey, if I don't like it, I can always get foam and custom fit the Pelican case to my setup. So here is my Pelican 1526 (1520 case with a 1527 carry bag), purchased from Cases4Less.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Riverfront Fridays Idea

Below is a writeup I did showing the benefits of having a live music event every Friday downtown. The feedback has been positive, but I'm not sure if that's a positive I'll take this up and push it forward, or that sounds nice type positive. Read away, and please pass it to your local council member, and even if you live outside the city and think you'd be interested in coming downtown more often, please write to the Mayor and let them know.

Riverfront Fridays, Live Music Fridays in Fredericksburg VA

A proposal to host live music every summer Friday night in downtown Fredericksburg, highlighting the Sophia street and downtown areas.

One Friday a month, the City of Fredericksburg hosts a live music event in the Sophia St parking lot. This event is open to the public and a popular draw of people downtown. This proposal is to extend this effort to every Friday night, making several changes to improve revenue, lessen some expenses, and provide additional residual benefits to the City.

1.1 Why change anything?

The current Fridays event is widely popular, and could easily be expanded to provide economic benefit to the City in several ways. When you are financially constrained, rather than trying anything radical, it is best to use tried and true methods. Here is a program that has already been started, that we can copy to provide an even bigger benefit.

Non-Profit Support

This budget year and the next are particularly challenging to the City of Fredericksburg. One casualty of this economic recession is the funding for outside agencies. These are typically small area non-profits, that aid in various City duties. Often times these groups have access to ample volunteer labor, but limited financial resources. Some of these groups had previously been funded with less than one thousand dollars. This proposal addresses this by providing a enhanced revenue stream for agencies that provide the volunteer labor for Fridays. They currently work the events one night a month, we could now provide them with four or five nights a month, quadrupling the number of volunteer hours available, providing four to five times the amount of revenue to these agencies.

Downtown Business Benefit

The downtown businesses have repeated on several occasions the need for more foot traffic before committing to staying open later hours. Here is the one way to provide that foot traffic, at minimal cost. Advertising for Finally Fridays is already developed. Simply changing the copy to document it is every Friday, and a larger list of bands, or even link to a website for dynamic content. Higher foot traffic on Caroline and Sophia St will benefit many of the surrounding businesses, from either after Fridays dinner sales, browsing/shopping, or business recognition for future sales.

Regional Recognition

Competition is increasing for our retail areas. Stafford and Spotsylvania are quickly catching up with the City in this arena. What we have is a developed Riverfront area (downtown), that in a few years will be a developed riverfront park. It's unique compared to the surrounding areas. If we make it easy on people, we should be able to draw a higher number of people from outside the City.

1.2 Observations

Several personal observations with the way Fridays is current run.


Being only one Friday a month, planning to "go to Fridays" takes a bit more planning and effort. It's not possible to just spontaneously decide, it's Friday night, lets head to Downtown Fredericksburg and see who's playing.


When you arrive, you are likely to end up waiting in a line that stretches across Sophia St and down the sidewalk. Good that there is this much interest, bad that the time is wasted in line vs visiting the vendors.

Size (Cost) of Acts

The bands are small national or large regional acts. This is great exposure to get people downtown. I suggest making the other three nights more local bands, even a few unknowns. Perhaps it would even work to have an opening and main act some nights. Cover costs for these bands should be significantly less than those in previous years. To maintain the draw, and keep a high level of interest, it may be beneficial to maintain one Friday a month of these larger, popular acts.

Local Support

Although the arts council asked for Fridays to be moved off of the First Fridays, in conversations with other Arts participants and studios such as Libertytown, if it was every Friday, the foot traffic would benefit the studios too. The spillover from the Charlottesville "Fridays after Five" events drove a lot of arts purchases in their downtown.

1.3 Proposal

Switch to every Friday

+ Benefits as proposed above
+ A way to promote to a group of people downtown every week (sponsorships, tourism promotion)
- Need to monitor event sizes to see how much attendance changes
- Need to contact non-profits to get additional volunteers

Add Smaller Bands to supplement the large acts

+ on average, this should reduce the weekly costs
+ provides a great platform for local area bands to get out to a larger audience
- won't get the draw because people know the bands.
- Need to create a mentality of Fridays being a think to go do every week after work, or with friends.

Switch revenues from ticket sales to beverage sales

+ Many adults use the 2-drink special, negating the ticket sale anyway
+ This will reduce the line to get in
+ Can re-allocate those people at the entry ticket tent to ID checkers, moving the lines "inside the gate"
+ Will allow people to try out the experience who normally might not go to Fridays
- Will need to monitor overall revenue to ensure similar profits. May have to modify beverage costs
- Will need different color tickets to keep revenue up each week. The last Fridays might use any color.

Move Barriers

+ By moving away from ticket sales to ID checks, the barriers can be extended to include the block
+ Using Sophia St adds to the block party atmosphere, and moves more inside.
+ Could add a second or third entrance
- May require additional equipment.
- Need to design to provide limited IN/OUT for security, only unopened water bottles should be permitted

Added Costs: These will have to be accepted in order to be successful

+ Net revenue should increase, alleviating any city concerns with the items below
- Need to provide security support for each event
- Need to provide setup, take down and cleanup resources for each event
- Will need to provide the overhead to setup the additional bands and coordinate with the volunteer groups

1.4 Conclusion

By providing additional volunteer hours, those outside agencies are part of their own solution. Those able to get out volunteers, are able to take the excess revenues from the event and supplement their operations. Even small organizations will have an opportunity with all the extra hours available. Even if going to multiple Fridays doesn't equate to four times the revenue, the emphasis on lower cost bands should provide three to four times the revenue available to the volunteer groups. In addition, we provide a popular event to draw revenue dollars from nearby localities, as well as providing a regular outdoor event for citizens. Businesses should back this plan, as we are providing foot traffic downtown free of charge to those businesses.

The citizens of Fredericksburg, and surrounding counties, will enjoy having a place to meet friends every week. I used to enjoy meeting friends at Fridays after Five (Charlottesville), and as the band started winding down, we would walk to one of several favorite restaurants and the whole group would get dinner. I'd say we averaged about $10-15 per person at Fridays, and most of us went 2-3 weeks out of the month. Those with children probably spent a little more due to pizza and hot dog sales. It was a nice family atmosphere, where many of us forged friendships with people we would never have met otherwise.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Industrial Brewpub

I was in Tucson Arizona this past week, and one night on the way back to the hotel I was getting a little hungry. I don't know exactly why I tried this, but it definitely worked in my favor. I flipped out my Blackberry Storm, brought up Google Maps. It quickly located where I was, and I typed "Interesting Stuff" into the map search. Boy was I surprised when a number of things came back. There were lots of balloons marking things in downtown, but near my location I clicked the one balloon and saw "Nimbus Brewing". I about fell over (good thing I was buckled in). A green light delayed me a bit until the next intersection with a red stop, which let me take time to see exactly where it was located. A few u-turns, down a road that lead through a refinery, and into an industrial park and there it was. Nimbus. (Leaving I went out to a more traveled roadway.)

Now for a little Fredericksburg history. About a year ago, there was a brief moment when some of us thought that Blue&Gray Brewing might move into a Fredericksburg industrial park. I distinctly remember someone on council questioning the brewery's business plan, and expected revenue. If they had been with me on this particular night, there would have been no questioning revenue. I walked in at 5pm, and the place was packed. I took one of two remaining spots at the bar.

I started the visit with a Nimbus Pale Ale. A bit more bitter than I like for a Pale Ale, but good to start off with. I finished with a Nimbus Old Monkeyshine, an Old English Ale. It was dark and mysterious. This was the more interesting of the two beers. It had hints of the typical cocoa and coffee, but finished with a bark and honey type aftertaste. I know - weird.

I'd been craving a good burger all week, and theirs was a perfect match. It also came with the freshest crispy pickles I've ever had in a restaurant. Unfortunately when I went to get a picture leaving, it had cleared out, but I overheard a waiter talking about grabbing a smoke outside before the rush hit later in the evening. The wait staff was quick and friendly, making this a must visit place on future travel.

Does GM Get It?

Just finished a week of business travel, with one of the worst rental cars I've ever gotten. No big surprise here, it's a GM vehicle. Now it's not all GM's fault, but then in this world of blame it never is right? I chose to take the cheapest compact available from Hertz. I know that Hertz doesn't have the best cars (I like Avis's much better fleet), but I do love Hertz gold service. I've rented compacts at Avis, and never gotten anything as basic as this one.

I was given a GM Cobalt. A nice little car. I'd say this competes with the Ford Focus. Peppy too - GM definitely knows how to build a car that drives.

But what a surprise when I go to start the car and realize there is no fob. Manual door locks, and of course Hertz had to leave all the doors unlocked, so here I am climbing in the back to secure the vehicle. And then there are the manual windows. WHAT? I haven't had manual windows in fifteen years. Wait, it gets even better, the side mirrors are manual TOO! Now I am fully aware that Hertz paid the least amount possible for this car, but the impression it leaves me with the Chevy Cobalt is there is no way in h*ll I'd ever even think of buying one of these.

But lets get back to the price of the vehicle. GM probably thinks they are saving money by offering Hertz this stripped down vehicle. I beg to differ, they would have been better off cutting the price of the standard consumer version of the cobalt, and here is my reasoning. This is the low end of their offering, which means they should be optimizing price across the entire Cobalt line. Instead, they are ordering 4x special door panels, 4x special armrests, 4x manual window parts, 4x different locks, 2x manual mirror parts, 2x different plastic trim pieces for the mirrors.

Just my quick observations, that's 20 extra parts to carry. Now add on top of that the 20 different times they had to enter that into their inventory system, or the guy on the docks doing part inspection, or the warehouse team that has to track and manage those parts. How about the training of the line workers to install those pieces. Lets add on top of that the effort it took to quote and manage the Hertz order for these stripped cars. Even further, what about extra parts and labor for maintenance?

I don't know if this is a GM thing or not, but I can say that Avis' smallest Toyota or Hyundai still had power door locks and mirrors. So much for GM being able to make a first impression in their Cobalt.

(In full disclosure, I've owned GM vehicles, and they were great. I really wish GM could break this latest lack of foresight and dig themselves out of this hole they are in.)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fredericksburg Area Primed for Entrepreneurs

For those of you that know me, my morning ritual is to grab the paper on the way out to catch the train to DC. Last week, an article in the business section caught my attention after having some conversation with other business owners the week before.

The Free Lance-Star ran this article "Helping business owners SCORE" by Emily Battle on the SCORE organization wanting to have a Fredericksburg office. SCORE is a national organization that connects experienced retired business executives to new entrepreneurs, or anyone wanting some business advice. The idea is that these executives have fought many of the battles before, and can bring experience and invaluable advice to new business ventures.

Combine that with a new co-working concept based near Ukrops off of RT 3 called Business Playce, and you may have a way of getting started on that dream business you've always wanted to pursue. Co-working is the idea that a group of people can pay a little, yet combined provide a large professional office space. Email Paul and ask about his 'pink slip' special. The idea has been so popular, the owner is already looking to expand the amount of space. Several people share the area on a first come first serve basis, but with people needing desk space at different times, they are getting more for their money. There is even a conference space area for meeting with clients or investors. Try renting space anywhere in the Fredericksburg area for what you get with the co-working environment.

What we're getting are the beginnings of a business incubator environment. In some localities, there is an incubator group associated with the chamber of commerce. Such is the case in the Charlottesville area with the CBIC (C'ville Business Innovation Council). Fairfax has four incubators, including INC.Spire, part of the Reston area chamber of commerce. They provide resources such as active coaching, help acquiring small business loans or assistance in working with the SBA. Here in the Fredericksburg area, we have REDCO (Rappahannock Economic Development Corporation) which is a non-profit that helps get business financing using SBA 504 loans.

So is it time to branch out on your own? Or how about going into business yourself after getting that unfortunate layoff notice? Perhaps the time is now. Dust up on that business plan first, and see if you've really thought through the challenges. At least now locals entrepreneurs will have more options available.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Year in Review

I was doing an update to the blogs last night and noticed that my first article was just over a year ago. Has it really been a year already? Since then, there have been more than 290 articles. Wow, I'm even surprised that there was an average of more than five a week! Sure some of them might have been a short blurb or opinion, but largely I have tried to write detailed informative pieces.

Sometimes I get the question: why do you do this? Its at this time of year that i'm reminded. Some months it seems that there is little going on here in Fredericksburg. True, things do die down here in Feb, but usually there is much more going on. Through a connection of friends, and good old fashioned research, I want to share with readers these events.

The last year has brought me many new friends, a number of which are readers and commented either here, twitter, facebook or best of all in person. It has also personally been a fun and exciting year. The birth of our son, a close challenge for a city council seat, a company buyout (my real job), and the inclusion of fburgnews.com and now fburgblogs.com in our suit of websites.

So thank YOU most of all for reading. The stats are steadily climbing. And head over to fburgnews.com and subscribe to the feed to see many area writers.

And watch out for next month's feature - Bryan's Picks. It is my way of not having to do the work of a survey, and like always readers can just comment if they have a better pick.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Friends of the Rappahannock 2009 Calendar

The Fredericksburg area Friends Of the Rappahannock has posted their 2009 calendar of events. Please visit their website for full details. Their descriptions have backup dates and more information on contacts.

Here are the highlights of activities:

March 14 Lauck’s Island Tour & Picnic - $20 individual/ $60 family
March 28 Operation Spruce-Up 2009 - Free
April 4 Spring Wildflower Hike - $5 individual/ $15 family
April 11 Weed Warriors - Free
April 25 Spring River Cleanup - Free
May 14 Annual Meeting - Free
May 16 Embrey Dam-Fredericksburg Canal Tour - $10 individual/ $30 family
June 6-7 Celebrating the Rappahannock River - VA Outdoor Center
June 13 Civil War Canoe Float - $30 individual/ $75 family
June 20 Family River Safety and Tubing Trip - $15 individual/ $45 family
June 27 River Easement Hike and Float -$15 individual/ $45 family
July 11 Nighttime Canoe Float - $15 individual/ $45 family
July 18 Lightning Bug Canoe Float - $15 individual/ $45 family
July 25 Crow’s Nest Float - $30 individual/ $75 family
August 15 Sunset Canoe Float -$15 individual/ $45 family
September 19 Rappahannock RiverFest
October 9 Volunteer Appreciation Cookout - Free
October 17 Rappahannock Fall Colors Float - $15 individual/ $45 family
October 24 Fall River Cleanup - Free
November 7 Fall Birding Hike - $5 individual/ $15 family
December 11 Holiday Open House - Free

Business Management Fail

Sources that wish to remain confidential pointed out a major "business fail" this past week. During an all-hands meeting for Access Eye Centers here in Fredericksburg, the top manager (the one who is now lives with the boss after the boss got a divorce) was speaking about what I can only hope was supposed to be the topic of "professional appearance". She proceeded to tell the employees that they shouldn't come to work with a "skank bun".

What!?!?! Ok, so I googled "skank bun". The only good result I found was this myspace photo, with a description. Wikipedia doesn't even have an entry for that.

First FAIL: Thinking some of your employees are skanks for any reason (or for putting their hair up a particular way). And using slang to define acceptable.

This was apparently followed by a statement that people shouldn't be trashy.

Second FAIL: Not giving measurable, quantitative, requirements for what is acceptable, and what is not. By trashy, do you mean skirts above the knee, or do you mean V-tops? What about slacks?

Lastly, in a supposedly frank discussion with all of the employees, this manager proceeded to state that women should wear make-up.

Third FAIL: Make-up should not be a measure of employee performance (unless it's a modeling agency). Being a guy, I would have been very tempted at this moment to stand up and ask if this was required for men as well, since otherwise it could be perceived as sexual discrimination.

In management, always keep this one statement in mind "Perception is Reality" for your audience. If the perception is one thing, you're likely to be held accountable, whether that was the intent or not. Repeated acts are often reviewed by courts, to see if a particular type of work environment exists. Regardless of courts, think about who you're alienating. Employees? Customers? Future business?

In full disclosure, a family member at one time worked for this business. When it was apparent that things weren't right, that the boss was dating a manager, and that management was run amok, a very timely move was made to another job. It's been years, and I've never mentioned this business by name, but this latest failure was too much. I couldn't hold back any longer.

Great Ski Vacation - Winter Park, CO

If you have a family, and like skiing (or someone in your family likes skiing), let me recommend Winter Park, Colorado. Why? Because there is something for everyone.

Unlike some great ski locations, Winter Park has a descent small downtown where you can find a variety of spas, rentals, snowmobiling, and best of all: a full grocery store. Winter Park resort has a HUGE kids building, so that when they get tired of skiing the parents can go back out and hit the slopes. Of course if you have teenagers, the parents are likely to call it quites while the teens explore the variety of slopes. In that case, might I recommend Doc's to get a nice adult beverage and unwind.

From the Fredericksburg area, you have several options for how to get to Winter Park. We chose to cash in some airline miles and take American out of Richmond. I love flying out of Richmond because of the security lines. The other recommendation is to go to Dulles and take one of the direct to Denver flight.
If you go:
- Drop by the visitors center/chamber of commerce in downtown Winter Park and get 2-for-1 lift ticket coupons.
- While there, pick up 2-for-1 rentals at Beavers Sports Shop.
- Rent a 4WD or AWD, because snow can pop up at any time
- Have a camera nearby at all times, while out in the hot tub, the local fox decided to cruise by several times.
- A couple of family radios will help with keeping track of people, but they may not work if you're completely around the mountain. We used them to figure out who was stuck in the woods.
- Call ahead and make reservations for the child care. (Ours got to spend a few days at the grandparents, thanks Mom&Dad!)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mocha Mo's Coffee Tasting

Looking for a way to excite the taste buds this weekend? Mocha Mo's next to the train station is bringing in their grinder and doing a coffee tasting from 10 to 12. This is by far my favorite morning stop.

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