Saturday, January 22, 2022

Still Life with Robin: Call It Zero When It's Freezing!

by Peggy Robin

If you had checked your outdoor thermometer this afternoon, you would have found it right around the freezing mark.  

Right now it's -2.2 degrees out. Do you doubt me when I claim it's that cold? That's probably because you are thinking in degrees Fahrenheit, when I'm speaking in Celsius. During this recent cold snap, I've been focused on the temperature more than usual. And I've been thinking it's about time the US joined the rest of the world*, where 0 is the temperature at which water freezes, and 100 is the boiling point. It's simple, efficient, eminently logical -- and once you get used to the scale, you wonder why anyone would argue to keep that ungainly 32 freezing point, and the even more awkward 212 boiling point. 

But where Fahrenheit really gets crazy is when it measures human temperature. 98.6? It's not even a whole number! What's that point-six worth, anyway? If your temperature is between 98 and 99 you're perfectly normal. Those tenths of a degree in Fahrenheit shouldn't count. On the Celsius scale, there's almost double the space between degrees. You're know you're normal around 37 - and so if you are a full degree higher, 38, yes, you've definitely got a fever (it's 100.4 for all who are stuck in a Fahrenheit world).

Of course, I don't expect that my three cheers for Celsius will make the slightest dent in the American preference for Fahrenheit. Unless you've spent time abroad, you are probably quite comfortable with the Fahrenheit scale and see no reason to change. All past movements to switch us over have met with stiff resistance -- from the business community, from consumers, and from many members of Congress who consider it a point of national pride NOT to adopt a "foreign" system. I'm well aware that it's a quixotic quest. 

Still, on a night like this, with the temperature dipping into the teens on the Fahrenheit scale, I just want to point out how much more satisfying it would be to say, "It's MINUS TWO" out there! Now THAT'S COLD!
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* Except for two other countries, Myanmar and Liberia, keeping us company in our non-metric way of life! For more on US resistance to metric measurements, see  https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2015/07/us/metric-road-american-story/ 

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Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Get Out! And Rock Out with Cleveland Park's Own School of Rock on Sun, Jan 23

School of Rock / Cleveland Park 
School of Rock (DC / Cleveland Park) Artist Showcase
 

VENUE: Pearl Street Warehouse33 Pearl Street SW, Washington, DC 20024
TICKETS: https://www.ticketmaster.com/pearl-street-warehouse-tickets-washington/venue/172672
STANDARD ADMISSION: $10.00 ea + Fees

Sale Dates and Times: Public On sale : Fri, 22 Oct 2021 at 12:00 PM
Event ticket limit: 8
*As official local health guidelines evolve regarding COVID-19 safety protocols, select venues may shift seating configurations and/or increase capacity.

School of Rock Washington, D.C./Cleveland Park serves the Washington, D.C. area with exceptional music lessons taught by real, practicing musicians. Students here can learn piano, drums, bass, and more (with keys, vocals, and guitar lessons being especially popular), as well as how to play a diverse set of musical genres including modern, classic, grunge, and alternative rock.

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The "Get Out!" event of the week is posted on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Still Life with Robin: Winter Storm IZZY - Is he coming? (plus 25 other mostly silly storm names)

The Weather Channel

by Peggy Robin

By now you've no doubt heard the prediction that a big winter storm is on the way. It should be here sometime tomorrow. Maybe you've also heard it's named IZZY....leading to the almost immediate reaction, as you wait for the storm to appear, "IZZY coming or not?!"

Who names a storm IZZY, without considering that punchline?

The Weather Channel, that's who! And this is the TENTH straight year TWC has taken upon itself the task of naming the winter storms. It's also the tenth straight year I've posted a critique of the list of names they come up with. Year after year, I've been pretty harsh on them. But then, year after year, the names have been pretty stupid. Here's the link to my column in the very first year, 2012: "A Storm Named....Boo-Boo

As I did in 2012 and every winter since, I will list TWC's 26 chosen names of the season, then will give a brief origin for each name taken from a standard naming dictionary, followed by my own judgment of its suitability to personify a winter storm. At the end of each entry, I award a letter grade on an A to F scale. Once I've graded all 26 choices, I will calculate the grade point average to assess how well The Weather Channel did at the storm-naming task this year. (They've never done better than a C!)

We'll start with the coming storm, which I've already said is named Izzy, and then continue through the alphabet from there, returning to the top of the alphabet for the A-H winter storms that have already come and gone. Here we go:

Izzy. A nickname for Isabel (female) or Isadore (male). But when it comes to a storm on the way, the name instantly calls up an obvious pun, "Izzy here yet?!" Groan! Grade: D-

Jasper. Means "bringer of treasure (Persian origin). Treasure? Is that what we get from winter storms? You've got to be a glutton for punishment to want such "treasure"... unless you are being sarcastic ... and sarcasm is never a good naming strategy. Grade: C-

Kenan. In Genesis, one of Adam's great-grandson's was named Kenan (meaning, "to acquire" in Hebrew) -- but these days the one and only Kenan is Kenan Thompson, the longest-serving cast member on Saturday Night Live. A likeable, easygoing, light-hearted funny-man, and absolutely the opposite of a raging winter storm. Grade: F

Landon. Old English for "long hill". Of course, if you grew up in the vicinity of DC and its suburbs, you will think of Landon as a super-expensive school for a lot of rich, golf- or lacrosse-playing preppies. If you didn't grow up in this area, then the first thing that comes to mind is Michael Landon, the actor who played Pa Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie. In either case, the last thing that comes to mind is a ferocious snowstorm. Grade: D

Miles. Latin for "soldier." But if you had to think of a "Miles" you would probably come up with Miles Davis, one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. He was cool all right - but not in a fearsome, stormy way. HIs music is smooth and lush, more like a tropical breeze than the ravages of winter's worst. Grade: C-

Nancy. A nickname derived from Anne or Annis, a medieval form of Agnes, which means "lamb." These days, the name most likely calls to mind Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is not at all a stormy personality; quite the contrary, she's known for staying cool and collected, no matter how outrageous the provocation. So not a stormy name at all. Grade: C-.

Oaklee. OK, this one's barely recognized as a name. The few naming dictionaries that had it indicated that's it's a recent, gender-neutral creation, which, if used for for a girl, could suggest Annie Oakley, the sharpshooter, and if used for a boy, could suggest....maybe an oak tree? Or could it have been borrowed from the Oakley brand of sunglasses? Nothing about it would suggest a winter storm, that's for sure. Grade: F

Phyllis. From the Greek myth of Phyllis, whose lover has gone away and failed to return as promised. Phyllis kills herself and comes back in the form of an almond tree. The name means "green foliage" Anything there to suggest a white-out in January or February? I thought not. Grade: D.

Quinlan. It's the English spelling of the Irish Caoindealbhain, meaning "son of the comely one." Really, they're not even trying to come up with winter-worthy names. Grade: D-.

Rachel. From the Hebrew, meaning "ewe." There are so many famous Rachels, from the Biblical matriarch to TV pundit Rachel Maddow, to environmentalist Rachel Carson to the fictional Friend Rachel Green. Rachels can be anything - so why not a winter storm? Grade: B

Silas. From the Latin, Sylvanus, meaning "of the woods". If they made you read "Silas Marner" in high school English classes, you may think of Silas as the wronged young man who turns into a bitter recluse, and then has his spirit restored by raising a child, ultimately finding both happiness and justice. OK, lots of drama & harsh vicissitudes, enough to justify Silas as a personification of harsh conditions. A-

Tad. A nickname for Thaddeus, one of the twelve apostles. While Thaddeus would have been a fine name for a winter storm (think of the glowering abolitionist crusader, Thaddeus Stevens), the childish diminutive version just doesn't cut it. Grade: C-

Usher. Meaning door-keeper, the word is also used in the sense of a forerunner or harbinger (as in the phrase, "to usher something in". Of course, the Usher that springs to mind these days is the mega-popstar Usher Raymond -- and I will bet you didn't know he even had a last name! But there's still nothing about the name Usher that suggests ushering in an arctic blast. Grade: D+

Vega. Shows up in the naming dictionaries with two different origin theories. It might simply be the Spanish word for meadow.. But some say it's from the Arabic "waqi" for "swooping eagle." We'll accept the second theory, which makes a fitting thing to call a swiftly moving and possibly dangerous entity. Grade: B+

Willow. A gently swaying tree that grows by riverbanks. Willows appear in art as symbols of grace, tranquility, and spiritual solace. You really couldn't get any further away from storminess than Willow. This is definitely the worst of the bunch. Grade: F-

Xandy. A unisex nickname of Alexandra or Alexander. The name Alexander is one of the great classical names, calling to mind the world-conquering Alexander the Great. But of the 30+ nicknames that come from Alexander, "Xandy" is only ranked at number eighteen, possibly because names that start with an X tend to be mispronounced with an initial "Ex", and that would turn the correct pronunciation, "Zandy" into "Ex-Andy." Sounds more like the former name of a male Raggedy-Ann doll than a fearsome storm. Grade: C

Yeager. A variant spelling of Jaeger, German for "hunter." The most famous Yeager, of course, was the test pilot with "The Right Stuff" -- Chuck Yeager. He broke so many speed records, he was called the greatest pilot of all time. He flew like the wind! So by all means, call a winter storm, "Yaeger"! Grade: A.

Zion. Hebrew for "citadel" Zion is often used as a synonym for Israel. The imagery in the Bible is of "a land flowing with milk and honey" -- the place you long for and dream about while in exile -- hardly a place of storm and strife. Grade: D

And now we go back to the beginning of the alphabetical name list of 2021-2022 winter storms:

Atticus. From the Greek, meaning a person from the region around Athens, but for anyone ever assigned to read "To Kill a Mockingbird" in middle school, or for anyone who's seen Gregory Peck playing the role in the movie, Atticus will be familiar to you as a paragon of principle, steady as a rock, the one you count on to stand up for what's right when others are easily blown by the winds of prejudice and fear. Atticus stands for all that is calm, measured, and fair. Grade: F.

Bankston. Not a real first name by any stretch of the imagination -- probably the invention of some would-be comic-strip artist, thinking up something ridiculous to call the richy-rich kid he's created in his cartoon-y high school world. It's a "Thurston Howell III" made-up sort of name -- so why someone at The Weather Channel chose it as one of this year's storm names? We may never know, but we give it Grade: F

Carrie. Finally, a good one! Like the central character of the Stephen King horror novel of that title, "Carrie" is a name that calls up scenes or horrific retribution. You'd better watch out, for we've seen what havoc Carrie may wreak! Grade: A.

Delphine. From the Greek, meaning from Delphi -- but if you know a "Delphine," we'll guess she's a stylish French girl, artsy and sophisticated. She may smoke Gauloises and blow a ring of wispy smoke at you -- not blow a winter's gale your way! Grade C-.

Elmer. Although the name comes from two German elements meaning "noble" and "famous," the image instantly called to mind is of just one character --last name of Fudd-- whose mission in life is to "kill the wabbit". You just have to laugh -- and that's not supposed to be your reaction when you hear that a winter storm is on the way. Grade: F.

Frida. From the German "frid" meaning "peace." The most famous Frida is of course, the Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. When you think of her, you may also think of her long and tempestuous relationship with her husband and fellow artist, Diego Rivera. For the two of them, it was stormy all the time. Grade: A.

Garrett. From the Norman French and German, a variant of Gerard or Gerhard, in which "gar" means "spear" and "hard" means "hard" or "strong". Not a bad way to describe the hard, stabbing winds of a winter storm. Grade: A.

Hatcher. It's an English surname, meaning someone who lives near a hatch, which was originally a word for a gate in a forest. However, that meaning seems to have faded, and nowadays if you think about hatching, you think about somebody sitting on an an egg. Like Horton the Elephant, perhaps? It has its drawbacks as a human name, that's for sure, and it's even less suitable to be the name of a winter storm. Grade: D.

And now for the grade point average of all 26 names together: 1.66, rounding up to 1.7 to earn a C-. It's been ten years of TWC naming, and they're not getting any better at it! Maybe I should start grading on a curve.....

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Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Get Out! And March in the 16th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Peace Walk on Mon, Jan 17 at 10am

MLK Day Annual Peace Walk

Date and time: Mon, January 17, 2022 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM EST
Location: MLK Jr Ave & Howard Rd SE, 2500 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE View Map

We look forward to the 16th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Walk.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the recent surge in those who have contracted the virus, we will not be hosting a parade in 2022. We will celebrate our 41st Annual MLK Holiday DC with a peace walk and look forward to the return of the parade in 2023.

Participants are committed to continuing this strong tradition started more than 40 years ago by radio talk show host and community activist Ralph Waldo “Petey” Greene, Washington Informer publisher and philanthropist Dr. Calvin W. Rolark and former Ward 8 Councilmember Wilhelmina J. Rolark when they organized the annual Martin Luther King Day Parade (on one of the nation’s first streets named in honor of the civil rights leader, following his death in 1968). The parade began in 1979, six years before Kings’s birthday became a federal holiday. We continue the tradition and celebration that the Rolarks and Petey Greene started, as we honor Dr. King and keep his message alive.

The Peace Walk will commence at 10:00 am on Monday, January 17th 

Schedule of Events
  • Community Clean Up - 9am | at Shepherd Park, Washington, DC
  • Peace Walk - 10am | start at Fredeerick Douglass Memorial Bridge; and end at Ambassor Christian Church, 1412 Minnesota Ave SE
  • Wellness Fair - 11am | at Minnesota Ave & Good Hope Road, SE.

Across the nation and the world, Dr. King’s life and legacy is commemorated by a day of service and promoted as A Day On and Not a Day Off.  The Martin Luther King Jr. Parade symbolizes the need to continue Dr. King’s work and reinforces the idea reflected in his words, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Those who believe in Dr. King’s message are considered members of the Coalition for Peace and are invited to join the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Parade every year. 

FAQs

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?
* Ride Sharing
* Anacostia Metro Station - Exit right onto Howard Rd toward MLK Ave.

What can I bring into the event?
Portable chairs, dress warmly, and wear comfortable footwear.  

The event is outdoors, rain or shine. 

Masks and Social Distancing required.

What is the Peace Walk route?
View a live map and directions on our website at mlkholidaydc.org The route is a little over 2 miles.  

MLK Holiday DC 16th Annual Peace Walk image
Links with more information: 

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Still Life with Robin: The Year Is Too Too Much

Image by Arghamallick via Creative Commons

by Peggy Robin

 

I like to kick off the new year with a look at what 2022 holds for us – including the palindrome dates, the Friday the 13ths, the blue moons and other celestial phenomena of note, and a few historic anniversaries. If I miss some biggies, please feel free to add to this list!

 

Palindrome dates:

 

According to the website https://www.whatalife.ph/look-palindrome-dates-in-2021-2022/ 2022 has just one palindrome date (reading the same forward and backward) in M/DD/YYYY format: February 20, 2022 (2-20-2022)

 

And there's one palindrome date in the DD/M/YYYY date format: 22 February 2022 (22-02-2022)

 

However, when you are using just the 2-digit year format, there’s this wonderful occurrence on February 22, 2022: It’s called “Twos Day” - 2-22-22 and yes, it's on a Tuesday.

 

Three weeks before, there’s also 2-2-22 … but it falls on a Wednesday.

 

Friday the 13th:

 

Now for the news that affects anyone suffering from friggatriskaidekaphobia: There’s just one date this year that could make you want to stay in bed all day, and that’s Friday, May 13.

 

Sky News:

 

Just two days later, on May 15, 2022, get out and look at the night sky. That’s the date of the only total eclipse of the moon in 2022. https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/lunar/2022-may-16

 

That May 15-16 lunar eclipse is what's called a “super moon” – a moon that is within 90% of its closest point to earth in its orbit. It is the first of FOUR supermoons in 2022:

 

May 16 225,015 miles (362,127 km)

June 14 222,238 miles (357,658 km)

July 13 222,089 miles (357,418 km)

August 12 224,569 miles (361,409 km)

 

https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/what-is-a-supermoon/

 

There is no “blue moon” at all in 2022. A “blue moon” can be either of two lunar phenomena: 1. It’s the fourth full moon to occur within a season, or 2. It’s second full moon to fall within a calendar month. The next blue moon to fit the monthly definition will take place on August 30-31, 2023. The next seasonal blue will take place on August 19-20, 2024 . With that long a gap, you can really say something happens “once in a blue moon”!

 

From the heavens above and in the future to the earth in the past – let’s look at some historic anniversaries:

 

500 years ago on September 6, 1522 – The Vittoria returned to Spain, making it the first ship to complete the circumnavigation of the globe. Magellan, the captain of the original three ships that set out, did not make it back; his successor, Juan Sebastián Elcano, is hardly known to schoolchildren, but perhaps on the 500th anniversary of his voyage, he will receive the recognition he deserves, so long overdue.

 

1500 years ago, in 522, Amalaric, age 20, is proclaimed king of the Visigoths. There’s no month and day, so we can’t be sure when to celebrate King Amalric’s Day – and there’s actually not a lot to celebrate, as Amalric’s reign was less than a decade. In 531, after the defeat of his Visigothic army by Childebert, on behalf of Clovis, King of the Franks, Amalric escaped to Barcelona, where he was assassinated by his own men.  

 

1900 years ago, in September, 122, the Roman Emperor Hadrian visited Britannia and ordered the building of a wall to keep out the CaledoniansPicts, and other unruly Scottish tribes. The start of construction was thought to have begun on September 13, and would use the labor of 5,000 men. Parts of Hadrian’s Wall are still standing. If you would like to celebrate the 1900th anniversary of the Wall on-site, the Housesteads Roman Fort and Museum in Northumberland is considered one of the best preserved ruins to visit: https://hadrianswallcountry.co.uk/visit/housesteads-roman-fort-museum

 

If you would like to mark an anniversary of something that happened closer to your own backyard and closer to our own time, you can celebrate the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial sometime this spring: https://www.lincolnmemorial100.org/ The date for the centennial celebration has yet to be announced.

 

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Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays. 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Still Life with Robin: We Now Present the Winners of the 2021 Cleveland Park Listies!

The Cleveland Park Listy Award

by Peggy Robin
 
If we were having an in-person awards show for the Cleveland Park Listies, this is the part where, in each category, a begowned or tuxedoed winner would be called up onstage, would stride across to the microphone, accept a golden statuette, and tearfully thank parents, partners, teachers, kids, agents, God, and anyone else who might have offered a bit of advice or encouragement along the path to glory. But seeing as how we've never had a real-life awards show, no one has ever had to compose an acceptance speech, tearful or otherwise. And that's something to be grateful for!
 
And now, without further ado (unless you'd like to go back a week  and review the categories and the nominees), the envelopes, please....
 
In the category of Best Animal Story, the Listy goes to: Bunny Needs Rehoming (Message  #177009  ). Heartwarming or hare-raising? Sue R.'s brief but intriguing post left a lot of people guessing, and the twist to the tale made it hop right over the rest of the field.
 
In the category of Best Query or ISO, the winner is: ISO Old Mascara Wands (Message  #168161  ). Who knew animal fur and feathers could be cleaned with old mascara wands? Danielle D. did! And she let the listserv audience know that these seemingly useless, old cosmetic implements could be repurposed to do some good in the world. So don't throw your old mascara wands away; there could well be a repeat call for them in 2022 (although there won't be a repeat Listy, if there is!).
 
The next category, Most Helpful Advice, was the toughest to award. There were three outstanding nominees: 1. How to Help Afghan Refugees; 2. Give Blood or Plasma and Save a Life; and 3. Living in Pandemic Times, Including How to Get Vaxxed and How to Find the Test You Need Before You Travel -- that went way beyond "helpful": People gave advice that unquestionably saved lives. How to choose? Is it more Listy-worthy to guide people toward the vaccinations protecting them from a life-threatening, contagious infection than it is to reach out to the newly-arrived refugees, fleeing persecution and death, welcoming them, reassuring them of human kindness, and providing them with the makings of a new home? Or should the top honor go to number 3: Give Blood or Plasma and Save a Life - recognizing those who helped spread the word about the critical shortage of blood and platelets, and then personally stepped up to donate? The initial message (  #181989  ) about the critical shortage came from T. F., a long-time list member then in the hospital, hoping the urgently needed platelets would soon become available. The thread ended with her grateful update (Message  #182207  ), letting us all know that she had been able to receive transfusions and would soon be going home. Sending her the well wishes of 12,400+ list members, we also award her the Listy!
 
From the best to the worst -- that is, the category of Worst Lost Mail Story -- there was a clear winner, which is to say, loser (of mail). It was Carol R., whose mail-order prescription medication never made it to her, leaving her to plead with her pharmacist to intervene with her insurance and allow her to pick up the needed medication locally and with coverage of the cost It's enough to make your blood pressure rise -- just what the missing meds were supposed to prevent! (Message #168110  )
 
Now we come to Best Long Discussion Thread. To be considered in this category, a discussion had to engage at least 4 different list members, go on for at least six messages, and the topic had to be fresh, meaning it could not be something discussed year after year (so: no service-lane debate, no dog-poop complaints, no dueling economic analyses of the cause of empty storefronts on Connecticut Ave). This year the Listy goes to.....the Cicadas! It's a thread that began on April 19 (Message  #173050  ) and ended seven months later on November 24 with Message  #181278   -- and in between included a bit of everything: helpful advice about protecting plants, some entymological education, not one but TWO songs, some trivia, some photography, and a number of interesting personal experiences. Practical, entertaining, educational....what more could you want from a listserv discussion? Oh yes, and if you save some of the tips posted on the Listserv, you can put them to good use in another 17 years!
 
In the category of Best Photo, the Listy goes to the cutest little mouse that ever graced CP cyberspace. Stephanie posted the photo seen in Message #180250   on October 26, 2021.
 
And now the Listy everyone has been waiting for -- Post of the Year 2021. It's actually a pair of posts, the first one (Message  #181982  ) from Susan R., with a wild, long-shot request for a Spanish-speaking good Samaritan to give a ride to an immigrant family of three from Beltsville to Philadelphia in time for the one-and-only, crucial immigration interview. Listserv to the rescue! The travel was arranged in time, and people stepped up to help the family with health insurance, and other red tape. You could get choked up reading the follow-up message  #182061  . And so cue the exit music, and we end the 2021 Listies on an emotional high. (But sincerely hoping for less danger and less drama in 2022!)

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Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Stay In! Enjoy a Quiet At-Home New Year's Eve/New Year's Day

New Year's Fireworks (Wikimedia Commons)
by Peggy Robin

On the Thursday before New Year's Eve/New Year's Day, the "Get Out!" column is supposed to tell you where you can partake of New Year's festivities for free or at low cost -- and the closer to Cleveland Park, the better.

This year, with Omicron spreading fast and Delta not going away, here's what we recommend: Stay home! Watch CNN to see the ball drop in Times Square with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. The crowd in NYC will be limited to 15,000 -about a quarter of what the space can accommodate- and everyone must be fully vaxxed and keeps their masks on. 

I've looked for a similar celebration in DC but haven't found it. Please post, if you know of a nice, safe, outdoor New Year's event that is not already fully booked up -- or cancelled.

The "Noon Year's Eve" festivities at The Yards Park, a free, family-friendly outdoor celebration taking place at noon on Friday, December 31, is completely sold out.  

"First Night Alexandria" -- which was to have taken place for the 27th straight year -- has been cancelled. However, there will still be a fireworks show over the Potomac, starting at midnight and lasting 10 minutes. So, those of you who own boats, enjoy the view. Or you could drive to Alexandria's Waterfront Park, which has 1.37 acres for spectators to spread out and socially distance themselves.  

However you welcome the new year 2023, may it be a better one than the one on the way out!
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Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Thursdays. 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Still Life with Robin: It's the Cleveland Park Listies, 2021! And the Nominees are....

by Peggy Robin


It's that time of year! Time to name the best Cleveland Park Listserv posts in our 7th Annual Cleveland Park Listies. At this award show you won't have to sit through a long, cheesy opening monologue by the host. There are no over-long and draggy production numbers, no time wasted introducing the presenters. Let's get right to it!

Sorry, we don't have any pf these
blue ribbons for the nominees....
The categories are:

Best Animal Story
Best Query or ISO
Most Helpful Advice
Worst Lost Mail Saga (New Category This Year!)
Best Long Discussion Thread on a Topic of Substance
Photo of the Year
and as always, our Grand Finale:,
Post of the Year
~~~~~

In the category of Best Animal Story, the nominees are:

1. Carmelita Bolts from the Vet. Starting on Friday, November 26, a little brown doggie, Carmelita, managed to evade the gatekeepers at the animal hospital and was on the loose until Monday, November 29, when she was safely returned to her family. Photo of the little Houdini hound here:   

2. Come to the Bat Party! On a Saturday in the fall, Sean K. invited everyone to spend a day on Kingman Island enjoying the company of BATS. Are you thinking vampire bats? Well, it was that time of year! (October 28, Message ) You can see a poster of one of the furry little flying mammals here: Bat Festival 2021 flyer.pdf ()

3. Merlin the Vizsla Puppy, Part 1 and Part 11. On July 31 Merlin did a disappearing act (Part 1 is Message   -- with photo). Be sure to jump to the happy ending, Part 2: Merlin's Return, Message   on August 1.

4. Follow That Dog! A Car/Bicycle/Foot Chase. Here's the trailer: "A group of us chased down a dog that was running down Wisconsin Ave at Cathedral Heights at about 10.15AM today. The dog is small - probably about 20 pounds and gray and white short curly fur. (see attached pics). The dog has a collar but no tags. Getting this fast little dog took a valiant effort by many people in cars, on foot and bicycle. (September 20, Message  ) And here's a scene from the heartwarming conclusion: "....able to locate the dog's persons and they are now reunited! An amazing effort by so many people to help this dog get back home (far away on MacArthur Blvd) " (Message  )

5. Bunny Needs Rehoming. This was a story with a twist. The bunny in question was left out on the front porch for the first available taker. Is this any way to find a responsible caregiver for an unwanted animal? It is, if you examined the accompanying photo closely! It wasn't a live animal, it was a lonely little stuffie, all dressed up in a lavender outfit, waiting for a child to take her home. (Message  , July 30)
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In the category of Best Query or ISO, the nominees are:

1. How Do I Make This #@&$! Computer Speak English? That was E.A..'s question to the techno-geeks on the Listserv. She had done something (wasn't sure what) that switched the default language of her computer from English to French. And no matter how many times she went into settings to select English, it reverted to French. Pouvez-vous réparer ceci? (Message  on December 9). Listserv readers did not fail, et voila, all was well, and back in its original English later that same day (Message  )

2. Odd Question: What Is a "Walker" in Other Languages?  - posed by S.B. on August 20 (Message   ). She began by saying her father told her in Polish the word for walker translates to "balcony" and in German, the word is Zimmer, which translates to "room". Here are the ways to say "walker" in the languages our list members speak: French: un ambulateur; another French word: cadre de marche; another German word: gehgestell; Spanish: andador; Portuguese: andador; Italian: deambulatore; Hungarian: jarogep ("moving machine"); Mandarin: 助行架 zhu xing jia or 助行器 zhu xing qi; Lithuanian: vaikštynė

3. ISO Mascara Wands. D.D. offered to pick up these old makeup implements and deliver them to a wildlife refuge where they would be repurposed to clean the feathers or fur of injured wildlife - Message   on Jan 3.

4. ISO a Typewriter. J.W. didn't say why she wanted a typewriter (manual or electric -- she said it didn't matter) but her wish was granted the same day, February 23 (Message #170395), as she reported in a postback (Message ), "Thanks to all who responded to my request, I found a little beauty!" Always gratifying to know that the CP Listserv can fulfill all kinds of odd requests.  

5. ISO Crutches.  Even more gratifying to hear that a listserv member with an injury and an emergency need for crutches was able to get what was needed: "fulfilled, with multiple offers" on the same day..( Original message    on May 1, and follow-up Message  )
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In the category of Most Helpful Advice, the nominees are:

1. Need Air? Here's Where to Find It.  In his original post on September 26, J.D. wanted to know why you had to pay in quarters to use the air pump at most gas stations. That set off a seven-message thread of replies from posters who said, "Why pay anything for air? It's free at [insert name and location of gas station]." One of the messages provided the link to a website that mapped all the free air pumps at gas stations in North America: https://www.freeairpump.com/map/. The thread runs from September 26 to September 30 - search for "free air" (the messages are not threaded together by subject line.) 

2. Living in Pandemic Times, Including How to Get Vaxxed and How to Find the Test You Need Before You Travel. From January 1, 2021 until yesterday, December 24, 2021, there have been 416 messages asking/answering questions about vaccination appointments, finding a covid test, getting the results in time for travel, geting a booster shot, replacing a lost vaccination card, navigating the health portals, getting answers about insurance coverage for tests or reimbursement of money paid out of pocket -- and so much more! Just yesterday a list member urgently needed a rapid test for an elderly relative and was touched at the number of offers immediately received. The Listserv hasn't made living with the pandemic easy, by any means, but it has certainly helped! (Too many message threads to post the message numbers!)

3. How to Help Afghan Refugees. This topic was on the Listserv 53 times this year, starting with message  ,  "ISO donations of furniture/household goods for Afghan allies resettling in our area" Groups have used the listserv to organize volunteers to help move families into new homes, requesting and receiving furnishings and household items to stock several apartments. List members have used the CP Listserv to organize coat drives, book collections, baby items for a new mother, and several of our business sponsors have hosted benefit events. The most recent post on this subject was just yesterday, December 24, from D.G., looking to organize a group of volunteers to furnish an apartment for a refugee family. We are so proud of the role that the listserv had played and will continue to play in this effort.

4. Weird Bug Bites? Those Are Oak Mites. There were nine messages in this thread in August, kicked off by G.W. on August 3rd, letting people know that if they had weird red welts on their body, they'd probably been bitten by oak mites -- an aftermath of the cicada invasion (Message  ). Here's a typical, grateful response: "Thanks so much for sharing this. I literally have welts all over and was worried that my camper son had brought home ticks or bed bugs. Good to know I am not alone." (from S.M.G. Message  )

5. Give Blood or Plasma and Save a Life. On December 7 long-time list member and leukemia patient T.S. was in the hospital awaiting treatment with blood platelets - but there was a shortage and treatment had to be delayed. From the hospital T.S. wrote a plea to list members to donate to any upcoming blood drive they could find. Over the next 11 days there were 18 messages from list members asking and answering questions about places to donate blood and platelets, and urging others to spread the news about the acute shortage, and help to recruit more donors. On December 18 we were relieved to post this follow-up from T.S.: "Thank you, I truly appreciate all your help....I was able to receive a number of transfusions. Many people have saved my life which was hanging by a thread. I am getting stronger every day. Thank you!!!" (Message  )
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Next, we introduce a brand new category: Worst Lost Mail Story. The topic "Bad Mail Delivery" has been a perennial nominee in the category of Best Long Discussion Thread on a Topic of Substance -- but it's never won (see last year's Listies for more on that subject) - scroll down to "Bad Mail Delivery.") This year, to make sure it gets attention commensurate with the volume of messages posted over this year, we've broken it out into its own category. Now we will see who has the saddest tale of mail that wandered aimlessly around the country, or was sat for weeks neglected in a heap at a holding facility, or left people wondering if a gift would ever arrive to the delight of the child/giftee. Posts about "Bad Mail Delivery" messages are found in long threads interspersed through the entire year.

1. Lost in transit. We start out on January 1, 2021 (Message  ) with this brief put powerful post from M.N.: "My packages to VIRGINIA (I live in DC), NJ and Louisiana never arrived. Value: $1,700."

2. The check is in the mail. Yes, really, but now what? "More distressing, on Dec 10 we mailed payment on a bill due Dec 20 that has yet to reach its destination!" (From B.K., Message  )

3. To the San Francisco Bay by way of Anchorage, AK: G.R. wrote: "I sent a package on November 30 to my brother in the San Francisco Bay area. It sat in Anchorage for several weeks. It was delivered on December 26." (Message   )

4. Meds delayed, blood pressure rising. C.R. wrote: "I'm still waiting for medication shipped from Wellcare mail order on Dec.10 and also stalled in Hyattsville, MD since 12/15. Now marked as "in transit."  Fortunately, my Walgreen's pharmacist was able to get my insurance to override the refill (since it had just been refilled) and I was able to pick up my blood pressure medication at the pharmacy on Xmas eve.  It never occurred to me that mail order medication delivery might somehow become unreliable." (Message  )

5. And to top it all off, they lie about where the mail is now. M.C. wrote: "Recently I ordered an item of clothing from a merchant I have used for years. They notified me that it had been shipped via DHS, using USPS delivery and would arrive 8/29. it didn’t arrive so I checked the delivery status and got a message that it had been returned to the post office and picked up by the addressee. That is, of course, untrue. The post office is not open on Sunday so I could not possibly have picked it up, even assuming that an attempt to deliver had been made. A few days ago I got a similar notification about another package, again totally untrue. In each case I have contacted the vendors to tell them how hopeless USPS has become. It’s sad to see a great American institution willfully destroyed." (Message  )

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Best Long Discussion Thread on a Topic of Substance. The rules for this category are: 1. There must be at least six messages in the thread involving at least four different posters; and 2. This year we are not considering any topics that have been nominated in past years (which excludes the service lane discussion and any threads on the need to retain or reduce parking on major urban thoroughfares). Been there, done that. 
 
1. Grammar! It all started with my "Still Life with Robin" Column, "On the Overuse of Ellipses..." on December 18, Message . Six days and 47 messages later, we had heard grammar pet peeves from A (apostrophes, misplaced -Message ) to W (wreak, wreaked/wrought - Messages   and  ). When we got to the point at which people were getting too worked up over a simple past tense -- wreaking a certain amount of havoc -- it was time to say "Good grammar to all and to all a good night!" and so the thread ended by fiat of moderator on December 24, Message  

2. Cicadas! The cicada discussion gave us far more than the entymological facts about the Brood X invasion -- also giving us photos, songs (two of them! Messages    and  ) and practical tips to prevent damage to young plants, plus follow-up advice about the aftermath (those small mystery holes left in the ground were cicada-related - discussed in 5 messages from June 6-10) - and those horrible oak-mites were not long behind! We even got advice from a German pen-pal (Message  ). The thread began on April 19 with M.A.'s simple question of when they will be here (Message  ), answered by a few cicada enthusiasts who welcome of the red-eyed winged critters, and went on for about 120 more messages, ending on November 24 with K.K.'s giveaway of the protective netting she used to shield her young plants from the invaders, quickly snapped up by someone who will save it to use for the Brood X re-emergence 17 years on (Message  ).

3. "Cashless Extravaganza." This lengthy discussion (50 messages!) began on September 23 under the title, "Cracked Eggery  does not accept cash" but quickly morphed into a discussion of the pros and cons (mainly cons, according to our posters) of the trend toward acceptance only of non-cash forms of payment at restaurants and other businesses. "Cashless Extravaganza" was the most frequently used subject line in the thread, which went on until September 28. Was there a winner in this debate? You be the judge.

4. Taxi vs. Ride-Sharing. There were 13 messages in this thread, and many of them like little short-stories of rides gone awry, beginning with M.H.'s account of a wild Lyft to nowhere near her intended destination (Message   on Oct 1. Many of the posts on this thread are under the subject line: Taxis are better than ride-sharing services -- but a few of the messages under that rubric contradict the premise.  

5. Cleveland Parkers Remember Walter and Joan Mondale. Not a long thread, but a sweet one. The Mondales, Fritz and Joan, were much loved and are still missed. The thread began on April 20 with Message  and included eight messages, ending on April 21 with Message  .

Photo of the Year. And the nominees are:

1. "Thanks for the Mouse Suggestions" Theby Steph Girard, October 26  

2. Cicadas (making more cicadas) posted by Marjorie Dick Stuart on May 23 (Before you click on it, warning, this picture is rated FMBO (For Mature Bugs Only)!   

3. Wild Turkey on Soapstone Trail Photo by Diane Krauthamer (I posted it for her on Nov 6    - for more of her photography, see https://flickr.com/photos/diane_krauthamer/

4. Found: Fluffly Little Dog - Message  on September 20 - a double nominee! See the "Follow That Dog!" nomination in the "Best Animal Story" category, above.

5. Barred Owl, November 17  . OK, OK, this photo was actually from the Popville blog https://www.popville.com/2021/11/today-in-hawks-around-town-owl-6/, taken by "T" from Lanier Heights. I reposted it on the CP Listserv. But it's so good, we just had to have it on this list.
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And saving the best for last, presenting the nominees for CP Listserv Post of the Year:

1.  ISO Red Autumn Leaves. R.P. in message   on November 8th was looking for some nice red autumn leaves to press into a leaf book. Her query led to four good answers, each with a particular tree worth viewing in person. The best of the responses was from J.R. on November 9th: "There’s an incredible tree at 38th and Yuma. Attached is a photo from yesterday. Well worth a visit!" (See the photo at Message )

2. The Term "Brood X" Explained. This post (Message   , May 24) from the months-long "Cicada" thread was one of the most valuable of the year, as it cleared up a widespread misconception about the term "Brood X." C.W. explained that the "X" after "Brood" was a regional location marker, and not the Roman numeral for ten, indicating the 10th generation, as many (including me) had assumed. Thus, there will be no Brood XI; when the cicadas return in 17 years, they will still be Brood X, the designation for cicadas in the mid-Atlantic region.

3. Cicada Song by Marsha and the Positrons (, May 26). Because we don't have a "Best Song" category, we decided to bump this post up to the "Post of the Year" group. It's got a lot to recommend it: It manages to rhyme "cicadas" with "hiatus"'; it teaches a new vocab word, "exuviae," the word for all those exoskeletons left lying on the sidewalks after the cicada invasion was over: and it's catchy!

4. "The Hijack." On May 30, J.B. posted on the thread about international travel, which gave him the occasion to talk about the podcast series 'The Hijack,'(Amazon/Audible), a 10-episode investigation of the 1981 hijacking of Flight PK326 from Karachi and the 13 day hostage drama that followed. . J.B. writes: "I was one of those passengers/hostages and I was on a work trip to Pakistan at the time. In Google browser see the Washington Post story of September 23,1994 by Frank Van Riper titled: 'Amateur Chronicles Crisis.'.: Not your everyday CP Listserv post! See Message #174731 

5. ISO Ride to Pennsylvania for Immigrant Family. On December 9th, S.R. was seeking a "Spanish speaking Samaritan in Search of Good Deed." Here's the main part of the message: "I am putting a long shot request to see if there are any Spanish speakers who would be willing to drive a family of three from Beltsville to Philadelphia to meet with immigration on Wednesday. This family cannot go on pubic transportation due to the unvaccinated status of their two year old son who has contracted Covid and now suffers from asthma and has lung issues. Without going into too much detail, I can say that they are political refugees from their country of origin." The amazing -- and gratifying -- update came on December 15, Message  : Dear Cleveland Park Community, Thank you so much for all those who reached out to offer support and direction in helping me get a new immigrant family the support and help they need to find safe harbor and healthcare for their child. Your efforts have gotten this family in touch with people they need who will be able to guide them through the morass of forms and procedures we are all so familiar and overwhelmed by. They made it to Philadelphia! And are on their way to get health insurance coverage for their child, who needs ongoing care for his lungs and asthma.....Thank you all. I am so appreciative to be surrounded by so many generous, caring, service-minded folks. You give me hope!"

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Tune in next week (next year, January 1, 2022!) when we present the winners!

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Still Life with Robin is published on the Cleveland Park Listserv and on All Life Is Local on Saturdays.