Saturday, November 28, 2015

Still Life With Robin: Bright Start to the Holiday Shopping Season

National Airport (photo by Thomas S Mann)
by Peggy Robin

On this Thanksgiving weekend, with eleven family members in town (three having come in from France), I will make this the briefest column I have ever posted, by simply passing along the link to this photo collection from titled “The 100 Best Photographs Without Photoshop”:

My intent in directing people to this link was to kick off the holiday season with these images of peace and beauty….though perhaps leavened with a teensy bit of cynicism, as I just can’t help but question the idea that nothing in any of these images was altered in any way, shape or form to improve the shot (and just take a good look at “Flamingoes gathered in the shape of a flamingo” and tell me if you disagree). But that really doesn’t matter to me. They accomplish their purpose, which is to provide an occasion to sit back, relax, and enjoy the slideshow of people and places, color and light, before going out on a first foray into the holiday shopping crowds on this "Small Business Saturday." Now out I go....


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

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Get Out! The Events Column

Mark Twain (DC Public Library)
We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 15,500+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv
Thursday, November 26 at 1 PM, Tofurkey Sculpture Unveiling. Every Thanksgiving the President “pardons” a turkey, allowing millions of carnivores nationwide to feel good about that symbolic gesture while sitting down to a feast of a bird that was not so lucky! Now vegetarians and vegans will have their own grand symbol of Thanksgiving, as the President (of PETA) goes to Lafayette Square to unveil a larger-than-life-size statue of a “Tofurkey” -- a 6 ft. tall mass of tofu that has been hand-carved by a team of highly skilled vegan food sculptors into the shape of a gigantic turkey, wire-brushed to create the effect of feathers, and then hardened with acrylic paints in the appropriate shades of brown, red, orange and yellow. The public display of this magnificent creation of 100% meat-free goodness will finally bring the concept of the non-turkey-centric Thanksgiving entree into the mainstream….or would, if this were not the Weekly Fake Event.

Friday, November 27, Opening Day of Tenleytown Winter Fest. Enjoy a craft and food market, Yeti scavenger hunt, live music, the Janney 5K race, special deals from Tenleytown merchants and restaurants, a neighborhood walking tour, special holiday film screenings, live music, and more. Events will take place at Janney Elementary School (4130 Albermarle Street, NW) and the Tenley-Friendship Library (Wisconsin and Albermarle Streets). For the complete schedule of events and locations, please visit Continues through December 5.

Saturday, November 28 from 5 - 7:30 PM, First Annual Holiday Tree Lighting event at Cathedral Commons. Enjoy festive live entertainment, free photos with Santa (pets are welcome too; dogs and cats only, please) giveaways for the kids, and food & drink.More info: Free. At the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Newark Street NW.

Sunday, November 29 at 1 PM, 90-minute walking tour of Tenleytown. Join us for a special tour of Washington's second oldest village and learn about the rich history of Tenleytown through the lens of its “first ladies.” Firsts in their professions, firsts in their families, firsts in the hearts of their neighbors – learn about the women pioneers of education, architecture, and business who influenced the development of Tenleytown. (Don’t worry, we’ll talk about men, too.) Led by Tenleytown Historical Society board member Farleigh Earhart. Meet at the Tenley Friendship Library, 4450 Wisconsin Avenue NW. Free but please register at:

Monday, November 30 at 7 PM, “Mark Twain: The American Citizen” - a special performance by local actor Dwane Starlin as he embodies the life and spirit of the great American author and humorist Mark Twain, a/k/a Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), drawing from Twain's body of personal papers, letters, and biographies ... and in celebration of his birthday, November 30, 1835. Free. At the West End Library, 2522 Virginia Avenue NW,

Tuesday, December 1 from 11 AM - 2 PM, Iona Art Show & Sale. Iona's Artists-in-Residence will exhibit their work in person at this lunchtime show: Barrie Ripin, painter and sculptor; Maureen Moore, jewelry; Cynthia Farrell Johnson, painter and graphic arts; Pauline Jakobsberg, printmaker; Gwen Aqui and Bernard Brooks, painters; Jill Tanenbaum, glass; Dot Proctor, painter and collage; Nancy Feve, quilter; and Phil Brown wood sculptor. Free. At Iona Senior Services, 4125 Albemarle Street. More info:

Tuesday, December 1 at 5 PM, “Tenley Gets Lit.” Organizers of Janney Elementary School’s winter garden and the merchants supporting the 4th Annual Tenley WinterFest will turn on their holiday lights in unison. Free. At Janney ES, 4130 Albemarle Street NW and at participating shops along Wisconsin Avenue. As part of the event, the Tenley-Friendship Library (4450 Wisconsin Avenue) will give out prizes (while supplies last) to anyone who checks out a library item between 5 - 9 PM.  More info:

Wednesday, December 2 at 7 PM, “1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History.” Historian and New York Times bestselling author Jay Winik will discuss his book, which brings to life in gripping detail the year 1944, and the people and politics leading to FDR’s belated decision to help rescue Jews in Europe. Free. At Tenley-Friendship Library,  4450 Wisconsin Ave NW,  

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Still Life With Robin: Package Theft Season Has Begun

by Peggy Robin

As we are entering Package Theft Season, I thought I would pass along this link to the list of “how to prevent package theft” tips recently posted on the MPD 2D listserv:

However, the list omits to mention one suggestion I have found helpful: Sign up for “UPS My Choice” to receive email or text notifications of UPS deliveries. That way you will know when a package is expected, and if that date and time window are not convenient for you, it’s easy to reschedule or leave detailed instructions about how or where to leave the package (for example, “Please deliver to my next door neighbor” or “Hide it behind the planter.”

You will receive another email when the package had been delivered – and if it’s not there at the time and date noted in the email, you can start an inquiry about what happened to it, which will help to document any later claim filed with the sender to void the charge for the item never received.  

However, on occasion the steps taken to defeat package thieves can inadvertently work against you. A cautionary tale: A while back I got a “UPS My Choice” email about an expected package delivery. It was a nifty little electronic gizmo – smaller than a deck of cards but valuable enough to be of interest to a thief. I did not leave any specific instructions about hiding the package, as I knew I would be home during the delivery window, and thought I would just go out and get it soon as soon as it arrived. Then came the email telling me the delivery was now complete. I went out to the front porch and looked around but there was no package that I could see. I looked in all the usual hiding places: behind the porch furniture and under the cushions. Nothing. I even moved the furniture around in case I’d missed seeing it when I glanced underneath the wicker settee and chair. Nothing there. I even checked some unlikely hiding places – around the side of the house, and behind the porch pillars. Nothing and more nothing.

So I went back to my computer, opened the delivery notification email and clicked on the “package delivered” number, and then on “report a claim.” That brought me to the Q&A: “What can I do if UPS Tracking says that my package is delivered, but I don’t have my package?” The first thing to do, UPS insisted, was to go back outside look around some more: “Check around the entrances of your residence for the package, particularly on back porches, bushes, garages, grills, or other places that might protect your package from theft or weather. Well, I checked quite thoroughly the first time, but just to be sure I was doing my bit, I did go back and make a second sweep. When I picked up the same chair cushion I had moved before, this time I discovered a small, soft-sided package standing upright against the back of the chair, about the same shade of tan as the wicker. It had been there all along, in perfect camouflage. Case closed.

Still, I would like to see UPS offer its customers more protection than a hard-to-find hiding place. How about this idea: Put a video camera on the back of each truck, to record the license plates of cars that follow truck for more than a few blocks. If any customers along the route report missing packages, review the tape and see if someone’s been caught making the same rounds. UPS, you can have this idea for free, and you don’t even need to credit it to me. Just keep those packages coming!


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

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Get Out! - The Events Column

Photo by Linda Tanner (via Wikimedia Commons)
We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 15,500+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Thursday, November 19 from 4 - 5:30 PM, “Free to Rock: Rock Music and the End of Communism,” Moderated by Richard Robin, GWU Professor of Russian, with panelists Valery Saifudinov, Founder of first Soviet Rock Band, The Revengers, and co-inventor of the first Soviet electric guitar; Joanna Stingray, Soviet and Russian rock recording artist, producer, TV personality, and first American record producer of Soviet Rock bands; Mark Yoffe, Curator of the International Counterculture Archive and the Soviet Samizdat Archive in Gelman's Global Resources Center; William Levins, Student view; Nick Binkley and Doug Yeager, Producers and researchers for the film “Free to Rock.” At the Gelman Library at George Washington University, 2130 H St NW, Room 702. Free and open to the public. Register at:

Thursday, November 19 at 6 PM, Lincoln and Shakespeare: Cottage Conversation with Michael Anderegg and Michele Osherow. "I think that nothing equals Macbeth. It is wonderful."
--Abraham Lincoln, August 17, 1863. Join us for a Cottage Conversation with Michael Anderegg and Michele Osherow, who will discuss Abraham Lincoln's fascination with William Shakespeare and what that reveals about the 16th president. Dr. Anderegg is the author of the new book Lincoln and Shakespeare, and Dr. Osherow is associate professor of English and Director of the Judaic Studies Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Reception: 6 PM at the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center; Lecture: 6:30  PM at President Lincoln's Cottage, Upshur St at Rock Creek Church Rd. Admission: $10 for the lecture and $10 for the reception. Free for Cottage members at the $250 level or above. To purchase tickets and RSVP, email Michelle Martz at MMartz @ savingplaces dot org or call 202-688-3735. More info:  

Friday, November 20 at 7:30 PM and Saturday November 21 at 2:30 PM and 7:30 PM, HAIR! - the first rock musical, depicts the birth of a cultural movement in the `60s that changed America forever. The story follows a group of hopeful and free-spirited young people who advocate a lifestyle of pacifism and free-love in a society riddled with intolerance and brutality during the Vietnam War as they explore sexual identity, challenge racism, and burn draft cards. Performed by Woodrow Wilson High School Theater. Tickets: Student/child/Wilson teachers and staff - $5 all performances; Adult - $15 for evening performances, $10 for the Saturday matinee. Cash or check only. Tickets may be purchased before each performance or by email to wilsondramatickets @ gmail dot com. More info:

Friday, November 20 from 7 - 9 PM and Saturday November 21 from 10 AM - 3 PM. The Washington Waldorf School’s Annual Fall Bazaar. Lots of beautiful handcrafts—knitted and handmade clothing and dolls, jewelry, pottery, wooden toys—made by local artisans and school parents; lots of live music; craft-making and other activities for all ages; an organic lunch; and a fabulous dessert bake sale. Friday evening from 7 to 9 pm is a ticketed preview event ($11.54 - go to but on Saturday entry is free. Get there early because the puppet show tickets go quickly! 4800 Sangamore Road, Bethesda, MD. For a detailed list of activities, see  

Friday, November 20 at 8 PM and Saturday, November 21 at 3 PM: The world premiere of the original play “The Ghost of Strasburg.” Circa 1929 in Central Virginia, where the ladies of the Strasburg Hotel offer more than a good night’s rest -- they provide sanctuary to lost souls. But when the wife of a policeman seeks refuge from her husband, the hotel proves anything but idyllic. From critically acclaimed playwright Carol Lee Campbell (“The Goddess Diaries”) comes a new story that blends history with a touch of magic in a genre-defying drama about our dalliances with eternity. Tickets $15: At Joe's Movement Emporium, 3309 Bunker Hill Road, Mount Rainier, MD. More info:

Saturday, November 21 at 10 AM, Make a Bird Feeder in Rock Creek Park. Learn how to make a simple bird feeder from things you can find around the house or in nature. Seed included. Ages 6 and older. Free. At Rock Creek Nature Center, 5200 Glover Road NW. More info:

Saturday, November 21 from 11 AM - 1:30 PM, “International Games Day: Come and Play!” Try out the library's bevy of board games, some of which are new ones received just for this day. Starting at noon, the main event for the day will be a Mario Kart video game racing tournament. Prizes will be awarded to the top racers. Preliminary races will be from 12 PM -1 PM, with the final grand prix starting at 1:10 PM. Free. The Tenley Friendship Library is at 4450 Wisconsin Avenue NW.

Saturday, November 21 at 12 PM, Gallery tour of two Washington, DC oriented exhibitions: “For the Record: The Art of Lily Spandorf” and “A Collector’s Vision: Creating the Albert H. Small Washingtoniana Collection,” led by consulting curator Jane Freundel and assistant curator Anne Dobberteen. Free - no reservations required. At the George Washington University Museum and Textile Museum, 701 21st St NW,

Sunday, November 22 from 9 AM - 3 PM, Temple Sinai’s Holiday Mart and Wine Tasting. Fun, food, shopping, schmoozing, and craft making for kids. The wine tasting is from 11 AM - 2 PM. See flyer with more info: - and you can also print the flyer and bring in the coupon to get a child’s free hot dog (must be accompanied by parent). Temple Sinai is at 3100 Military Road NW.

Sunday, November 22 at 2 PM, History Hike through Rock Creek Park. Discover a Civil War fortress that saw action during the Battle of Fort Stevens, an eccentric poet's cabin, and historic creek ford during this two-mile hike, led by a park ranger. Starts at Rock Creek Nature Center, 5200 Glover Road. Free - no reservations needed.

Tuesday, November 24 at 4 PM, Turkey Stories. This Thanksgiving program for kids of all ages features turkey stories and crafts. Free. At the Georgetown Library, 3260 R Street NW.

Wednesday, November 25 at 5 PM, “Cranksgiving.” This special celebration is in honor (?) of all the disgruntled guests who will be coming to town this Thanksgiving, only to complain, as they do every year, that they don’t like the way the Thanksgiving food is prepared, and they think the dinner starts too early (or too late), and their hosts’ dogs jump up on them and/or their hosts’ cat makes them sneeze, and they end up arguing with everyone over politics and/or religion. Participating neighborhood bars will be happy to give your “Cranksgiving” guests half-price drinks to lighten their mood the evening before the big dinner, if presented with this special Cranksgiving coupon, which you can print out at:

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Still Life With Robin: Facebook Check-in with Paris Friends

Photo via Creative Commons
by Peggy Robin

I have both friends and family members who live in Paris, and I know that many neighbors do as well, so I thought I would pass along a quick tip about Facebook’s “Safety Check” feature, which, as reported in Slate, has proven to be a godsend in helping people here connect quickly and unobtrusively with people there. The article describing it is here: Facebook Is the Best Place to Say You're OK During a Crisis. Is It the Right Place? (If that link doesn’t work, try this:

You do need to be on Facebook to use the system, but if you have been one of the few holdouts (don’t like to waste time scrolling through your friends’ vacation photos?), there is now a legitimate reason to make it worth your while to sign on – even if you never use it except in circumstances such as these.

A couple of caveats: As noted in the Slate article, not everyone you know in Paris will a) be on Facebook; and b) answer the “Are you safe?” question. But enough have done so that it has been proven a useful way to speed communication, especially among far-flung friends and acquaintances, saving time for those near the center of the crisis, who may be too preoccupied with weightier things to make time to let all their contacts know they're OK.

I did individually email my close relatives. I will close with a note from one of them, who said: “We are all fine. The daughter of my good American friend was in one of the restaurants attacked. She hid under the table and was OK. She’s a med student and then has been helping the wounded.”

We send our love to the people of France.

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Get Out! - The Events Column

Photo by Dwight Sipler via Wikimedia Commons
We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 15,500+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv

Thursday, November 12 at 6:30 - 8:30 PM, Round Table discussion: “11th Street Bridge Park: Connecting Communities.” Built on an aged out freeway over the Anacostia River,the 11th Street Bridge Park will be DC's first elevated park supporting the community's environmental, physical, cultural and economic health. Founding Director Scott Kratz will describe the larger vision for this iconic new civic space, the intensive community engagement that has included over 550 stakeholder meetings to date, and further plans to create what Washingtonian Magazine called one of "four projects that will change Washington." Other panelists include: Edmund Fleet - Executive Director, THEARC and Dayvie Paschall - DesignBuild Diversity Manager for DBE & EEO, Skanska USA Civil, Inc., moderated by Philip Kennicott - Art and Architecture Critic, The Washington Post. Tickets: $12 - $15 at the Kreeger Museum, 2401 Foxhall Road, NW  

Thursday, November 12 at 6:30 PM, Coping with Death. This is the third in a series on death and dying and end-of-life issues, with the following questions to be addressed by the three panelists/presenters: How can people cope with death? Can medical treatment reduce the pain of grief? Or is grief something that cannot be managed? Should grief be shared publicly? Or not? Should funerals celebrate the life of the deceased? Or should they help survivors to confront death?Must the dying make spiritual peace with death? Or do the dying have the right to die angry? Free. At the Georgetown Neighborhood Library, 3260 R St NW,  

Friday, November 13 at 12 noon, Lunch and a Movie: “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard. Burton. Lunch starts at noon (the deadline for lunch reservations was November 11); the movie starts at 1 PM. At Guy Mason Recreation Center 3600 Calvert Street, NW. Free. 

Friday, November 13 and Saturday, November 14, both days at 7:30 PM, HAIR! the first rock musical, depicts the birth of a cultural movement in the `60s that changed America forever. The story follows a group of hopeful and free-spirited young people who advocate a lifestyle of pacifism and free-love in a society riddled with intolerance and brutality during the Vietnam War as they explore sexual identity, challenge racism, and burn draft cards. Featuring an exhilarating rock score, including favorites Aquarius, Hair, Easy to Be Hard, and Good Morning Starshine, the Tribe in Hair creates an irresistible message of hope, peace and change that continues to resonate with audiences of all ages over 40 years later. Performed by Woodrow Wilson High School Theater. Tickets: Student/child/Wilson teachers and staff - $5 all performances; Adult - $15. Cash or check only. Note: The show continues next weekend, Friday, November 20 and Saturday, November 21 at 7:30 with a special matinee performance on Saturday, November 21 at 2:30. Complete details, including how to order tickets by email, at  

Saturday, November 14 at 10 AM - 12 PM, Cleveland Park's own Mac users group, National Capital Apple Mac Users Group (NCA-MUG) is pleased to announce that for the last meeting of the year, Apple's Aaron Davis will speak about Apple's latest products and updates. Free. In the Cleveland Park Library, 1st floor meeting room, 3310 Connecticut Avenue NW. NCA-MUG's meetings are open to all Mac users.  

Saturday, November 14 at 8 PM, 4 x 4: Celebrating Contemporary Chamber Music. The last twenty years have seen the proliferation of many successful contemporary chamber ensembles. These groups have forged a new identity for this genre of music through commissioning and championing new works. Led by director Noah Getz, this concert will focus on these contributions by featuring chamber ensemble configurations within the American University Workshop to bring you exciting and dynamic pieces. $10 regular admission tickets; $5 AU community and seniors - may be purchased by calling 202-885-ARTS or visiting At Katzen Arts Center, Abramson Family Recital Hall, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW.  

Sunday, November 15 at 9:30 AM, “Civil Rights, Race, and the Church," with Congressman John Lewis. The Georgetown Presbyterian Church will host renowned civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis for a conversation about race in America and the role of the church in addressing these deep-rooted issues. Congressman Lewis is also recently the author of a graphic novel trilogy, “March”, recounting his journey with the Civil Rights movement. His co-author in the “March” series, Andrew Aydin, will join Congressman Lewis for this event, which will be moderated by Elder Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief, USA Today. The event is free and open to anyone. A question and answer session will follow the discussion. Coffee and pastries will be provided.
At The Georgetown Presbyterian Church, 3115 P Street NW. More info:

Sunday, November 15 from 11 AM - 3 PM, Celebrating the 70th anniversary of Pippi Longstocking. This year Pippi Longstocking, the strongest and kindest girl in the world, turns 70 years old! Come celebrate her birthday in Pippi style with: Pippi film screenings; arts and craft station; book store, in partnership with Politics & Prose; Villa Villekulla Café in Pippi's garden with Swedish birthday cake; scavenger hunt; fish pond with prizes for all; raffle with great prizes such as tickets to Astrid Lindgren World in Sweden! Free admission. At the House of Sweden
2900 K Street, NW (Georgetown waterfront). More info:  

Sunday, November 15 from 12 - 5 PM, Open Studios Day at the Jackson Art Center. Visit the studios of 40+ local artists. Shop from a table of original oils, watercolors, ceramics, photography. Plus: Children's mural project from 3-4 pm: Children will create fall murals with brightly colored paints outside in the side courtyard. All painting supplies will be provided. Children of all ages are welcome, and Jackson artists will be on hand to offer instruction. Free admission for all, no registration required. Live music and refreshments. Jackson Art Center is at 3050 R St. NW. More info:  

Sunday, November 15 at 3 PM, American University Symphonic Band Fall Concert, led by director Ben Sonderman. The American University Symphonic Band presents classic gems and current favorites from the symphonic band repertoire. $10 regular admission tickets; $5 AU community and seniors - may be purchased by calling 202-885-ARTS or visiting At Katzen Arts Center, Abramson Family Recital Hall, 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW.  

Sunday, November 15 at 4 PM, Dr. Libby O’Connell, Chief Historian for the History Channel and author of The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites, will share colorful stories of how economics, technology and social movements have shaped our culinary tastes. Vintage cookbooks from the Chevy Chase Historical Society archive will be on display, and O’Connell’s book will be available for sale and signing. This program, the fall lecture of the Chevy Chase Historical Society, is free and open to the community. The program will be held at the Chevy Chase Village Hall, 5906 Connecticut Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD.  

Tuesday, November 17 from 10 - 10:45 AM, Tudor Tots: Fall Frolic. At this family-friendly event children enjoy interactive read-alouds, songs, and themed movements related to the week’s topic, sharing a shady green and tranquil setting with the grown-ups who care for them. (Indoors when weather requires.) Ages 2- 4. Tickets for children: $5, adults: free. Please register at Tudor Place Historic House and Garden is at 1644 31st Street NW.  

Tuesday, November 17 from 11:30 - 1:30 PM, Experts Forecast the 2016 Election - Panel Discussion. Lunch at 11:30 AM, discussion begins at 12 PM. Panel to include: Glen Bolger, Partner and co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies and CCPS Research Fellow; Anna Greenberg,  Senior Vice President of Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner and CCPS Research Fellow; Jennifer L. Lawless, Professor of Government and Director of the Women & Politics Institute; Allan Lichtman, Distinguished Professor of History and author of the forthcoming book The Keys to the White House; David N. Wasserman, US House Editor, Cook Political Report. Moderated by James A. Thurber, Director, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies and Distinguished University Professor at American University. In the Founders Room of the School of International Service Bldg. at American University, Nebraska and New Mexico Avenues NW. Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to wpi @ or call 202-885-2903. More info:  

Wednesday, November 18 from 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM, The 2012 Election - A Backwards Look. Pundits who made confident predictions about the winner of the Republican Primary in the election cycle of 2011-2012 will return to the forum to admit just how completely wrong they were and describe how and why they miscalculated the race, at various times declaring Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, or even Ron Paul to have a better chance to secure the nomination than Mitt Romney. Just kidding! This never happens -- it’s the weekly fake event.  

Wednesday, November 18 from 7:30 - 9:30 PM, Lecture: “Art + Design: Vienna 1900.” Few cities ca. 1900 were as decisive in the shaping of 20th century Europe as Vienna, the capital of the Austrian Hungarian Empire, where influential minds seemed to flourish (e.g., Wittgenstein in philosophy, Freud in psychology, Arnold Schoenberg in music theory, and Alois Riegl  in art history. In the visual arts, dissatisfied painters established the Secession in 1897, while young designers and craftsmen formed the Wiener Werkstätte in 1903, contributing to this general climate of change and articulating a new sensibility in the ways of seeing and living. This lecture will examine these bold overtures in the fields of art and design. In particular it will look at the Gustav Klimt’s innovative style of painting and designers’ parallel efforts in modernizing the art of the poster. This lecture will be held by renown Russian born artist Luba Sterlikova and Erich Keel, former curator at the Kreeger Museum. Free but please register at At the Embassy of Austria, 3524 International Court NW. More info:

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Still Life With Robin: There's an App to Fix a Flat

by Peggy Robin

The last time I had a flat tire (before today) was about ten years ago. We were AAA members then and I called for emergency roadside assistance, a guy came out, surveyed the damage, said he could plug the hole safely, did so, and we drove merrily away, and continued to drive that car with the plugged tire until the end of its mostly trouble-free life – which was at least another two years (the car was 13 years old when we sold it).

We bought a new car, which came with a roadside assistance plan as part of the deal, and in addition, our car insurance company, Geico, began including roadside assistance in its policies, so we dropped the AAA membership.

Yesterday, for the first time since we bought the car, I had to use the roadside assistance. I must have run over something sharp in the road. It was late at night but fortunately, I was very close to home when it happened. I didn’t see what I’d run over, and wasn’t even sure that the tire was flat –the car just started to have an uneven feel as I drove along, so I continued to drive slowly, a few more blocks until I reached my driveway, and then when I got out, saw that the tire was indeed in the shape of a sideways capital D. Since it was so late, I waited until this morning to do something about it.

And when I did, I discovered that it’s a whole new world of tire repair since the old call-and-wait days of AAA. First, I called the emergency roadside assistance number on the back of my Geico insurance card. I got into the voicemail system, and it suggested I get off the phone and report the problem through the Geico mobile app. OK, but first I had to download the app to my smartphone. While it was loading I could not help but wonder, what do people do who have old-fashioned dumb phones?

Next I had to log in on the app. Again, I had to wonder, what do people do who don’t remember their Geico password? Or have not even created a Geico log-on? Fortunately for me, I can always recall a company’s password, because I create a unique password for each company following a formula that sprinkles different numbers and characters into the company’s name. Each password is different and not something that a hacker could easily guess, but as long as I remember the formula, I can reconstruct the password without a hint. Of course, it does take me a minute or two to remember what character or symbol goes into the name in what order, and I may get it wrong once or twice before I get it right!

OK, now I’m in. I find the icon for roadside assistance, hit continue, and the first question that comes up is: “flat tire?” It must be the most common problem, since it’s the first on the list. I hit it, and am asked, “one or two?” After that, “Is there a spare tire?” Done with the questions, the screen shows me that my request for help has been received, and I see an approximate arrival time – within 30 minutes! – on my phone screen.

(Quick aside: Yes, I do know how to change a spare tire myself. I even did it once, a long, long time ago. If I had to, I could probably do it again. But since I have the roadside assistance plan, which  will send someone out at no charge, who will bring along a hydraulic jack and a power lug-nut tool, it makes much more sense to let a professional take care of it – especially in this morning’s rain.)  

Ten minutes earlier than the predicted arrival time, I get a call from the guy.  He’s outside, and all I have to do is fill out the paperwork while he puts on the spare, which takes him all of about ten minutes. When he’s done, I am astonished -- I have never before seen my car’s temporary spare tire. It’s toy-sized! It looks like something that would fit well on a Fisher-Price Big Wheel. But the very nice roadside assistance man assures me I can drive normally on it and can even take it on the highway, as long as I don’t go above 60 mph.

When I get back to the Geico app, it’s already asking me, how was my experience. Fine, fine, I tell it. Thanks for asking!


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

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Get Out! - The Events Column

Photo by Thomas S Mann
We wanted to share some events and activities that list members might be interested in. Have a great weekend -- and week beyond, too. If you know of an event that the 15,500+ members of the Cleveland Park Listserv should know about, email us at events @

Peggy Robin and Bill Adler
Publishers, Cleveland Park Listserv
Thursday, November 5 at 7:30 PM, “YIVO and the Making of Modern Jewish Culture: Scholarship for the Yiddish Nation,” lecture by historian Cecile Esther Kuznitz, who tells the compelling story of how a group of European intellectuals built a world-renowned institution of secular Yiddish culture in the midst of dire poverty and anti-Semitism. Free. Reservations required at At the DCJCC, 1529 16th St NW.  

Friday, November 6 at 8 PM, “Microbiomes and Microbiomics,” a talk by Jo Handelsman, Principal Assistant Director for Science, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and HHMI Investigator & Rose Professor of Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology, Yale University. The microbiome is the community of microorganisms that inhabits an environment, such as the human body, animals, soil, oceans, and every other ecosystem on Earth. The last decade has witnessed an explosion of knowledge about microbiomes in many habitats. Scientists now realize that microorganisms control the health of virtually every ecosystem on Earth. This lecture will discuss what we have learned about microbiomes and how we may be able to use this knowledge to improve health, enhance agricultural techniques, and  preserve our environment.  This talk is part of a lecture series of the Philosophical Society of Washington ( Free and open to all. At the Wesley Powell Auditorium, next to the Cosmos Club, 2170 Florida Avenue NW.  

Saturday, November 7 from 8 AM - 3 PM, The United Methodist Women's Annual Bazaar. Jewelry, Collectibles, Gifts, Housewares, Boutique Jackets and Accessories, Christmas and Hand-made items. There will be a Luncheon Café and baked goods for sale. Free admission. Free parking lot, enter on New Mexico Ave. At 3401 Nebraska Ave. (at New Mexico Ave., across from American University),  

Saturday, November 7 from 9 AM - 1 PM, Hearst Elementary School’s Annual E-Cycle Community Day. Drop off your unwanted electronics for recycling and your documents for shredding, and you can swap or donate working electronics, kids’ and adults’ books and bikes, cleats and sports equipment. Shop at the rummage market, adopt a pet from the Washington Humane Society, donate your extra diapers to the DC Diaper Bank (open packages accepted), grab a snack at the bake sale and play in the bounce house. Hearst ES is at 3950 37th St. NW. For more information go to

Saturday, November 7 at 1 PM, “Still Standing,” by Gerald Anderson with Susan Orlins. Hear the inspiring story of a man whose life changed for the better when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. Gerald Anderson was an ex-con who found the courage to rescue people from the ravages of the storm. Meet the author in person at the event. Free. At the Tenley Friendship Library, 4450 Wisconsin Avenue NW,  

Saturday, November 7 at 2 PM, "Tangled Web: Race, Gentrification, and Urban Renewal in the Nation's Capital." This is the complex story of the modern urban transformation of Washington, DC from the 1950s onward through the eyes of the winners and the losers, as well as how the city's policies and practices aided some and discomfited others. Free. At the Cleveland Park Neighborhood Library, 3310 Connecticut Avenue NW.,

Saturday, November 7 from 7 - 8 PM, Free Veterans Day Concert at the Mormon Temple Visitors Center. In honor of our veterans and military families there will be a free concert featuring the Navy Color Guard, full Washington DC Temple Symphony Orchestra, Mormon Choir of DC performing songs like the Battle Hymn of the Republic, dramatic readings of letters written on the battlefields of America's wars from the Revolution to Iraq, and a keynote address by Major General Peter Cooke, and more. This is a free, family oriented event, with plenty of parking. The Visitors Center is at 9900 Stoneybrook Drive, Kensington, MD. For more info see:

Monday, November 9 from 5:30 - 7 PM, "En Route to Hell: Dreams of Adventure and Traumatic Experiences among West African Boat People to Europe,” a talk by Papa Sow, Ph.D., a migration scholar at the University of Bonn, Germany. Light refreshments following lecture. Free, but reservations are required - go to: At the GWU School of Media and Public Affairs (SMPA), room B07, 805 21st Street NW.  

Tuesday,  November 10 at 7:30 PM, Simon Johnson, Organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, will perform at National Presbyterian Church as part of his tour of the southeastern United States.
Johnson has had the honor of playing for the daily round of services at St. Paul’s, as well as historical national services and events, including the National Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. More recently he performed in the presence of Holiness the Dalai Lama and numerous dignitaries of the Church of England and of the State for the presentation of the Templeton Prize. All in the community are invited to attend - no tickets required. At the National Presbyterian Church, 4101 Nebraska Ave. NW. Ample free parking available onsite.

Wednesday, November 11 from 10 AM - 3 PM, Generations of Service: Honoring Veterans. Six generations of a family descended from Martha Washington and Maryland’s Calvert clan lived at Tudor Place from the War of 1812 to the Vietnam War. Get to know their history of service by joining a house tour, offered on the hour, highlighting memories and artifacts of war and the home front. In honor of Veterans Day, retired and active-duty service members and their families receive free admission. For more info and to buy tickets for non-military families go to: At Tudor Place Historic House and Garden, 1644 31st Street NW, 202.965.0400.    

Wednesday, November 11 at 11 AM, Veterinarians’ Press Conference on Veterans Day. For too long we’ve let the word “vet” do double duty, for both military veterans and doctors of veterinary medicine. This Veterans Day, The Association of American Animal Doctors (AAAD) will be issuing a statement to call for an end to this unfortunate ambiguity, declaring that from this day forward, veterinarians should be called “bestiological doctors,” or “bestiologists,” or more colloquially, “animal doctors,” while the term “vet” will apply only to those who have served in the military. At the National Press Club - for full details go to