Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dulles Rail Picks up where it left off

Today's WAPO reports the "stark reversal" of the FTA in planning to approve the proposed 23-mile extension of Metrorail into Loudoun County and Dulles Airport.

The issue seemed to utterly disappear from the news and commentary for the past few months, as a foregone conclusion of failure, while officials and politicians evidently continued to wrangle in private. It's absolutely good news for Loudoun, and a cornerstone of the county's ongoing efforts to lure more commercial taxpayers into the county, keep cars off the swollen roads, and encourage more "reverse commute" workers to head into Loudoun for work. We won't actually see this until successive phases of the project, however, as the first phase ends at Wiehle Ave. in Reston. But that's close enough, especially for those in Loudoun battling the Toll Road or Rt. 50 every morning to get deep into Fairfax or downtown to DC.

The discussions appear also to be only semi-politically driven, as leaders from both sides of various aisles were instrumental in their support - the Democrats led by Kaine and Republicans led by Warner and Wolf. It makes obvious sense to draw conclusions that the politicians are motivated by upcoming elections to cast their parties and their candidates in the best possible light over this very public and important issue - but their motivated support also simply makes good economic sense with our Northern Virginia communities suffering through hideous downturns in the housing market and associated industries, and facing all sorts of county and education cutbacks in light of reduced tax revenues.

Dulles Rail can't get here fast enough - hopefully there won't be any more delays, and hopefully there will be fewer "back-room" deals and discussion necessary to keep it moving over the requisite hurdles.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Take a Limo to your Next Loudoun Concert!

Running errands around Loudoun County or Northern Virginia, driving children to school, or simply out for a stroll, every once in a while you'll notice it. It's unmistakable and hard not to notice, or stare at - that long, glittering denizen of the rich and powerful known as the limousine or "limo". Sometimes it's a nondescript black Lincoln, or "stretch" town car, other times it's a super-modified Hummer or long, white beast with 3 rear axles and a built-in hot tub. Many "limos" aren't actually sleek, dark and low-riding cars; they're actually smaller, custom-equipped vans or buses. The car's not as important to consider and evaluate as the thought of who might be inside, and what they might be doing (or thinking of you!). Outside of Hollywood's Oscars night, however, you might be surprised at who's being treated to a fabulous and stress-free ride.

You know them! It's probably your neighbor, or some group of friends or business acquaintances you actually know inside that limo. And not dressed in bow-ties or gowns, either. Very likely a group of your neighbor's kids, heading off to this year's Prom. For you, the prospect of an exciting limo ride is probably reserved only for the most special and predictable of occasions, like a wedding, prom or anniversary. For many of those around you, limousine service is a very reasonable luxury, and in fact a quite rational and affordable decision for many types of outings. It may even be standard business or entertaining necessity, more inexpensive and reliable than regular taxi service.

For example, there are several global computer consulting companies with large campuses and educational facilities outside of cities such as Washington DC, Chicago and San Diego, some up to 90 minutes beyond the airport. Rather than support the constant stream of one and two-person, expensive cab rides, the companies contract with San Diego limousine providers for service to and from the airport. Most stretch limos can accommodate up to 10 passengers, and most passengers are your typical rank and file employees attending training. The companies save a lot of money, ensure reliable and consistent service for their employees, and add a touch of panache to the start and end of some long training sessions. Many businesses with employees located outside of town, away from the public transit system, routinely offer limo service for after-hours service - again, it's a reliable, professional, courteous, safe, clean and ultimately very comfortable and stress-free way to end a very late and tiring day.

Around your neighborhood, perhaps you've noticed limos appearing at times of year other than prom season. It very well may be a group of friends sharing a ride to a professional sports arena, where parking and traffic is otherwise a nightmare. A limousine service might be picking up several couples for transport to a local, Loudoun County concert or event, thereby avoiding the dangers associated with late evenings out in strange places, including sleepiness, "driving while drinking" and getting lost in less civilized areas of town. You might even see a bunch of 4th-graders happily piling into a private limo for a special birthday party, and to visit the Baltimore Aquarium or DC Zoo - much easier to organize and account for the children, ensure their privacy, and get on-call, front row drop-off and pickup service. Using a professional limo service can also provide peace-of-mind when transporting loved ones or children - there's a competent driver, a service organization and a team of people making sure the entire experience runs smoothly and safely. (It'll also make your Loudoun Auto Insurance agent happy!).

In short, it's really you who belongs in that limo - along with your friends, family and business associates. Sure, the high-rollers and entertainment elite ride only in limos or personally-chauffeured luxury cars - but you can and should also, especially if there's more than one. Get there quickly, safely, comfortably and at a very reasonable group price, and keep the paparazzi guessing at who's behind those darkened windows!


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dulles Urban Legends Part I

Here's the first of what we hope are more "Urban Legends" in this end of Loudoun County. You know, things everyone's "heard of", and tacitly accept, but don't really know the source. Printable, historical gossip.

We've heard (but obviously neither believe nor encourage it) that, at "high tide" on the Dulles Toll Road (i.e. between 8 and 9AM), it's actually possible to travel the entire length (from Rt. 28 to the main toll plaza) without ever coming to a complete stop. Legally, of course, and in preposterously-heavy traffic. How so?

The "Dulles Slalom", of course. We probably don't have all the details, and are simply recounting this as totally unverified conjecture - like in a dream, or, in this case, a message from the road gods. "Legally merge far left at the on-off ramp mid-point; merge far right 300 yards before the exit; ride the offload boost; rinse and repeat until the HOV lane opens" - we believe we heard the road gods say. In our dream, we may have actually seen or experienced this event happen - where various lanes stop completely, at seemingly strange intervals - but a single car or small pellaton seems to never get caught in the crush. They just sail right through, making the most of the tiny yet predictable advantages generated by the supposedly unpredictable highway rhythm.

Any other Dulles Urban Legends out there?

Time to start ruminating on Clinton, McCain and Obama

We've held off commenting on the Presidential race - but it's just getting too entertaining to sit out. The latest words of wisdom we recall actually ringing too true, from a certain Sirius "Howard 100" radio personality.

Howard rhetorically muses, "why won't men in general vote for Hillary"? (Note - he's a staunch supporter of Ms. Clinton). The answer - "because she reminds most men of their Mother".

Let that sink in....

It's actually, eerily, uncomfortably, probably more on the mark than most radio prognosticator predictions, or psychological insights. Let's count the ways, here's the first:

1 - she's sure to send Bill to the Lincoln bedroom for a "timeout".


Arcola PTA event May 10th to fund Arcola Elementary Playground


ALDIE, VIRGINA, April 11th, 2008 - The Arcola PTA is working hard to raise funds to build a playground at Arcola Elementary School, located within the Stone Ridge subdivision on Tall Cedars Parkway. Its goal is to raise $65,000 by December 31, 2008.

(No doubt PTAs across the county are going to be busier than ever, with next year's tightened school budgets!)

You can help by coming to the Arcola Elementary School cafeteria, a.k.a. 'The Dragon Diner', on Saturday, May 10th starting at 8:00 AM. A wonderful pancake and sausage breakfast will be served until 11:00 AM. Tickets are on sale now for $4, and Moms eat FREE (with family)!

They will also be holding a multi-raffle with 8 chances to win per ticket. Prizes include a Nintendo Wii System, $500 cash, three $150 cash prizes, and three $100 gift cards! Attendance is not mandatory to win. Only 500 tickets will be sold at $10 each, so purchase one today! Drawings will occur every 20 minutes at the breakfast. Winners will be notified by May 12th. Cash prize amounts may change based on ticket sales.

For more information about this fundraiser and to purchase tickets, please email Karen Goodwin at, or call Arcola Elementary at 703-957-4390.