Archive 12

The following articles have appeared in the Westbriar Crier

NEW 2/12/14

Music Lovers:

This Weekend!

The Vienna Choral Society will perform
Text and Sound: When Music Paints a Thousand Words

Saturday, March 21, 2015 7:30 - 9:30

Tickets and info HERE

"Goose bump good."

NEW 3/7/14

More Fun in the
Snow ...

Think you are a good skier?

Watch this guy's moves from his cap-mounted camera.

When almost isn't enough. Watch this guy go down the mountain alone almost as fast as he went up.

Just when you think it is over, his snowmobile finally catches up.

2/19/14 Town of Vienna annual business, professional and occupational license tax is due on Monday March 2.



Prime Ministers of foreign lands have addressed our Congress on issues that they felt were pressing. In 1941, Winston Churchill spoke of a rising threat in Europe, and travelled at great personal risk through a sea of U-boats to bring his message.

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu travelled at considerable political risk to outline this morning the perils the Mid East and world could be facing in a situation of similar dimensions.

NEW 3/7/14

More Fun in the
Snow ...

Think you are a good skier?

Watch this guy's moves from his cap-mounted camera.

When almost isn't enough. Watch this guy go down the mountain alone almost as fast as he went up.

Just when you think it is over, his snowmobile finally catches up.



Walking on
Thin Ice


FIOPS on the Move

Crews have been busy this week in Westbriar Zone A laying a plastic conduit in the right of way along Wolftrap Road SE.

The conduit will carry fibre optic cables, which will significantly upgrade capacity and flexibility between Tysons and the Airport, serving primarily to connect commercial establishments along the Dulles Access corridor.

As 2015 rises ....

"Each New Year, we have before us a brand new book containing 365 blank pages. Let us fill them with all the forgotten things from last year -- the words we forgot to say, the love we forgot to show, and the charity we forgot to offer."

-- Peggy Toney Horton

Power Substation
in the works


The 234,000 volt power lines marching across Westbriar between Fairway and Westwood Drives is the Tysons' extension cord. To meet future demand, a new substation is needed which will draw power from these lines.

Virginia Electric Power Company has just filed a Development Plan with Fairfax County to build and operate a new substation located at the north edge of the Spring Branch woods. The present substation located on Tyco Road will continue to operate.

Fairfax Bond Issue Passes 11/5/14

The Transportation Bond Question passed yesterday. In our Hunter Mill District, 73.3% voted Yes, compared to 71.8% overall in Fairfax County. A number of civic organizations in the greater Vienna and Reston areas, including Westbriar, have been working on trail issues, especially into the Tysons area. Dan Benson, who is the Transportation Advisor at The Trails at Wolftrap HOA, thanks you all for the support.

Bicycles make a lot of sense, especially in an urban area. Compare two commuters going ten miles to work. One exhales perhaps a bathtub-full of CO2 into the atmosphere, over and above what he would exhale at rest. The other is the sole passenger in an SUV which exhales a garage-full of CO2 plus other green house gasses and soot over the same distance. The bicyclist is better for our environment, and is keeping fit. They both the share the roads for the most part. But this is not ideal. Sometimes motorists become impatient behind the slower bicycle. When there is contact, the bicyclist always pays the price. A comprehensive pedestrian and bicycle trail system is a vital part of the Tysons plan.


Vienna's State Reps Met with Residents

Delegate Mark Keam and Senator Chap Peterson took turns at the mike yesterday morning at the American Legion Post 180 to discuss important regional issues, and to highlight their upcoming legisative goals and strategies. They identified the state budget as the most pressing issue at the moment, and addressing a number of current issues including college campus violence.

Afterwards they answered questions from the enthusiastic audience that filled the hall.

Del. Keam wants certain corporate tax credits eliminated to promote economic growth. "Virginia usually does better than US average. But no so this year."

Among the topics brought up by the audience was a need for more funding for Alzheimer's care, autism in children, and other health-related care programs. Three different speakers pointed to Virginia's low ranking in this area.

Another topic was gun control and the need to stop loopholes such as gun shows from circumventing requirements for background checks. Both leaders agreed with the need, but pointed out these measures routinely die in committee, and do not reach the floor for a vote.

Susan Stillman, a Sierra Club member, made a pitch for more support of renewable energy initiatives. Keam agreed, but indicated that Virginia's coal industry automatically introduces strong competition to solar and wind investments.

Another attendee wanted to see the decriminalization of marijuana. Both leaders were not in favor of this because the Federal Government's laws make state iniatives troublesome and complex. "It is best to wait for them to take the lead," said Keam.

A regular Orange Line rider described a very uncomfortable situation currently with lack of trains, and people packed in like sardines. Petersen described the situation as resulting from a possibly overdone promotion of the Silver Line, and that it needs to be recalibrated for better balance.

Sen. Petersen discusses gun control with a safety advocate privately after the meeting. Both leaders are up for election this November.


Passion for Art Transcends
Limitations of Artist

An inspiring story of what can be done with patience and ten typewriter keys.
CLICK to watch.


Tragic Aircraft Crash
Caught on Dash Camera

Just after takeoff Wednesday, a TransAsia plane crashed in Taiwan, killing about a third of those on board.
for dramatic video.

The Maple Avenue Corridor initiative officially became part of Vienna Town Code last night. MAC is a framework of zoning refinements, recommendations, and other incentives which will encourage compact, pedestrian-oriented development, consistent with preserving Vienna's unique small-town identity. The adoption of MAC is the culmination of years of work by various groups, and input over the summer from Vienna citizens.

Green Dot Scam:
Still Going Strong

We have covered this topic before, but this week's Vienna Police Reports shows no let up in this vicious scam. A Westbriar resident on St. Andrews Drive was a target, but fortunately he did not fall for it.

Ring! A telephone caller, who represents himself as being from the IRS, claims you owe back taxes. He directs you to go to a drug store and purchase a Green Dot MoneyPak card, usually for several hundred dollars. Once you do that, he directs you to read the numbers from the card. At that point he has the money, and you have nothing but a hole in your bank account.

A Rite-Aid employee called the police after a customer bought several thousand dollars worth of cards, and was actually talking to the scammer on his cell phone. The responding officer was able to intervene.

No legitimate government or utility company demands payment with these cards. A number of other ruses are used, such as your relative has been arrested in a foreign country and needs to be bailed out of jail. Or, you have won a huge prize. The variations are endless. If you receive any call of this nature, hang up and call the police.

Why do we bother with spelling?

Unlike chess, in spelling the middle game is irrelevant. All that matters is the right choice at the beginning and the end. The middle letters, which must be the correct set of letters, can be completely jumbled and the reader will not be confused. For example:

Arocdnicg to rsceearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pcale. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit pobelrm. Tihs is buseace the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

How can this little known God-given ability of the human brain be exercised to simplify, and perhaps improve, our lives?

Make the Ordinary Come Alive

Do not ask your children to strive for extraordinary lives. Such striving may seem admirable, but it is a way of foolishness. Help them instead to find the wonder and the marvel of an ordinary life. Show them the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples, and pears. Show them how to cry when pets and people die. Show them the infinite pleasure in the touch of a hand. And make the ordinary come alive for them. The extraordinary will take care of itself.

By William Martin

I-95 Express Lanes Opening


With the I-95 Express Lanes project ahead of schedule, DOT opened the lanes and new ramps last Sunday, December 14th. The current rush hour HOV rules will be in effect until December 29th when tolling will start, but you will be able to try the lanes out for free in non-peak times before the 29th. These lanes will be similar to the I-495 Express Lanes, and will be free to use for buses, motorcycles, and HOV-3 vehicles. Please remember to use these lanes as an HOV-3 vehicle you will need an EZ-Pass Flex. All commuters should familiarize themselves with the new lanes by viewing this short video. For full details visit HERE.

A Tree Reborn, and

Sand, Fire, Horse
1/8/14 by Leon

This was sent in by one of our friends from the Artsy-Craftsy set.

If you appreciate extreme artisan skill with simple materials, you will not be disappointed with either of these two fast paced videos.



Bands, comedians, and magicians provided non-stop entertainment to a standing room only crowd as New Year revelers took over the iconic Caboose venue.

While the weatherman was reporting a night in the 20s, body heat captured by the massive white tent made it balmy inside.

Meanwhile, along Church Street,
roasting marshmellows was a
popular way to stay warm.

Postponed to
the 25th


Rained out on the 24th, the Luminaria was moved to a windy 25th. But at sunset, right on cue, the wind calmed, and the Luminaria was very nice, thanks to the efforts of the entire Westbriar community.

The Luminaria is a spectacular sight when the weather cooperates, but it is not really the reason for our Civic Association. We will be discussing this after the Holiday Season. Meanwhile all the best to you and yours in the end of year time of reflection.

Not so
Silent Night


See the current trend in Holiday home lighting.
It will only get more so in the future, as the prices
of LEDs and microprocessors continue to fall.

Click on the photo at right,
turn up the sound, and Enjoy!

The music which is synchronized to the lights is also broadcast on a low power FM radio transmitter so that visitors can enjoy the show on their car radio in stereo.

First Snow and
a Pleasant Surprise.


Starting at midnight, and letting up by noon, Vienna got its first real snowfall of the 2013-14 winter.

As the day ended, deer and fox tracks criss-crossed Wildwood Park attesting to a well-staffed critter habitat.

Tracks of a different sort were reported by residents of Westbriar Zone A and B. The Crier was deluged by calls, like "Who was that Masked Man?" Driveway snow at dozens of homes was being destroyed by a strange force rarely seen on the planet.

We finally caught up with the mystery man, who was driving a sporty red Jeep outfitted with a plow, leaving trails of bare asphalt in his wake. His name turns out to be Damien Marsh, and he lives on Niblick Drive.

He would not take money. "I just want to give back a little to the neighborhood," he explained. "I love the Luminaria and living here. The only thing missing I think, is we should be going out singing carols."

Maybe Damien can organize that. He certainly is a guy that can get things done.

Congressman De Santis, continued

On the other hand, Washington's legacy seems to have little influence on modern political debates. Any Republican worth his salt will invoke the principles of Lincoln or Reagan with regularity; Democrats look to Wilson, FDR and LBJ for intellectual support in pursuing their agenda. Yet, one would search in vain to find very many political leaders citing George Washington as an authority on the issues of the day.

This is much more a poor reflection on us than it is on Washington.

Washington's sterling political character is without peer in American history. Commanding a victorious revolutionary army during a time in which winning generals were expected to assume power for themselves, Washington instead surrendered his sword to the civilian Congress and retired to his Mount Vernon home. How many triumphant generals throughout history would have made such a selfless decision?

Washington's willingness to refuse power was essential to the creation of a republican system of government based on law and in which no individual is indispensable.

He understood that constitutional government was preferable to the monarchies that governed Europe, and he dedicated himself to supporting and defending the Constitution.

In his Farewell Address, a true tour de force, Washington stressed the importance of preserving America's constitutional arrangements:

"It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield."

To study Washington's example is to understand his greatness and to agree that what was often said about him in his day is true: first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.


And now, it's on to ....

1st NIGHT!

There is a safer, saner, and less costly way to usher in the New Year, right here in Vienna. Head down to the Caboose on New Year's Eve and enjoy a family-friendly night of fun and entertainment.

Click HERE for all the Details.

Town Hall



Reminder: Dogs more than four months old must be licensed by January 31, 2015. Dog licenses may be purchased in the Finance Department at Town Hall, 127 Center Street, S. The license fee is $10. A current rabies vaccination certificate must be shown if the rabies vaccination expires by January 31, 2015, or for any dog new to town.

Learn more about the Town of Vienna's planned Community Center renovation and expansion on Tuesday, January 20, 7:30 p.m., at the Community Center. The planned design incorporates many elements that create a park-like environment including living walls, rain gardens, a permeable concrete parking lot, a nature inspired color scheme, and areas for people to gather. The meeting will feature construction scheduling information, exterior and interior finishes including flooring, light fixtures, glass, roofing, landscaping, and paint colors.

Vienna offices will be closed on Monday, January 19, in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. The Vienna Community Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; only classes are canceled. Refuse will be collected as normal on Monday, January 19. Public safety services will not be impacted.

Christmas trees are being picked up on normal refuse collection days. Remove all decorations, but don't wrap them in a bag or sheet. Just the bare trees, plees.

Rachel Reloaded

by Leon


On a hot summer night in 2003, I was intrigued by the music coming from the open door of Jammin' Java, and strolled inside. A young gal with a guitar on a stool brought me back to the days when I first connected with the genre, through the likes of Karen Carpenter, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, and perhaps Joan Baez. I bought the album she was offering, and have treasured it since.

Wondering what became of her, I did a few Googles, found out she was still singing, sent a fan letter, and in return got a sweet note saying she remembered her gig at Java well. But the best part is that she included a link to a brand new album, (her fifth) which has not yet been released, but will be at a big concert in San Francisco next month. . I think it's great. Listen, and tell me I am crazy.

Tysons Planning


For those interested in the evolution of Tysons, the Planning Commission Committee Meets Thursday, January 8, 2015 7:00 - 8:00 pm Fairfax County Government Center, Board Auditorium - Conference Room 12000 Government Center. Discussion on Phase 2 (Transportation) edits of the Tysons Plan Amendment will continue on Thursday, January 8, 2015 at 7:00 pm. Also, at the December 10 Tysons Committee meeting, staff distributed draft Phase 3 (Parks, Public Facilities and Other Updates) edits, which is now posted on the Tysons Plan Amendment website. Staff will make a presentation on Phase 3 once Phase 2 concludes. Please visit the Tysons Comprehensive Plan Amendment website for more information and to download documents Here. Future related meetings are scheduled on Thursday, January 22, 2015 and Wednesday, February 4, 2015. Public welcome.

A New Burger on Maple

Vienna turned out to welcome the opening of Social Burger, the latest addition to our town's independent burger joints. Located at 350 Maple Ave W, the menu features select aged beef. Plus, Vienna Safety Commission member Tara Voigt is a contributor of secret sauces back in the kitchen. Social Burger has been doing very well in local reviews.

Almost as good as the burgers are facinating videos on their facebook page showing exactly how the furniture was made. And an amazing video of how last New Year was celebrated in the owner's native Taipai.


Did you know that 1942 was the only graduating class at Annapolis that did not launch their covers (hats) in May?

Due to events in Honolulu on this date 73 years ago, the graduation was held 12 days later on December 19.

Upgrading your
Home's Energy


Part 2 in Series

Ross Shearer

November's early cold snap and last winter's stubborn deep chill are reminders that climate change means increased weather variability and extremes. For those of us with older homes built in the 60s and 70s there are many steps we can take to improve the efficiency of our houses. The benefits are not limited to the financial savings and lowering your GHG emissions. I have taken steps that have improved indoor comfort, indoor humidity is more easily managed year round, the late spring ant invasion is eliminated and attic odors intruding into second floor bedrooms on hot sunny days are no longer present. If you notice these odors, or your basement is cold in the winter and extra humid in the summer, there are specific low cost energy-saving steps you can take to mitigate these problems.

The deep chill last January and February and February's natural gas rate spike motivated some of us on the Town's Community Enhancement Commission to compare our consumption for space heat. Those of us who have invested the most effort in making improvements to the efficiency performance of our house had up to 40% better results than those who had done less. How well did your house perform in the stress test?

The most effective actions I have taken are sealing the basement band-board area with foam, fully enclosing and re-insulating the attic (This step includes rebuilding attic access panels to fit tightly and sealing their framing area on the attic side with foam.) and selecting a very high efficiency replacement gas furnace. Importantly, a blower door test using a thermal camera, allowed me to locate and deal with specific areas of leakage that were hidden from view.

Baning ants by sealing the band-board: If ants enter your house during the spring and summer consider sealing the basement as I describe in the following. There are two basement wall areas to focus on: 1) The gap along the top of the basement wall where the sill board rests atop it, should be air tight. Use foam or caulk to seal it. 2) The second area is the 8 or 10 inch high perimeter known as the rim joists or band-board. Effective sealing of the band board area requires foaming it.

If you are comfortable with home repairs, you can do this on your own by combining the use of 3/4 or 1-inch rigid foam and expanding polyurethane foam that is dispensed from a can such as the Dow product “Stuff”. Caulk is much less effective and fails at closing up large voids.

Here are the steps: Temporarily remove any fiberglass. (If a portion of the fiberglass is blackened, that is an indication of the air movement that you want to block

Presence of spider webs at a location is a strong indicator of outdoor air entry.). Cut pieces from the foam panel (use the pink or blue type, not the crumbly white kind) to fit loosely between the joists and vertically against the band-board. Wearing disposable latex gloves and eye protection and following the directions on the can to first shake well, squirt foam around the perimeter of the band board and any openings such as a crack or void in the band board.

Gently press the precut panel in place and squirt a second bead of foam along the full perimeter of the panel. (See photo.) Keep going until the can is empty, patiently discharging all the can’s foam contents. Expect one can for about 5 to 6 panels, which should be cut to size in advance of starting a new can of foam.

Foam spills should be allowed to dry and harden overnight before removing. The following day, replace the fiberglass, preferably using new material to replace those that are blackened from air movement. Using large pieces of Styrofoam, a similar approach may be used along the rim board running parallel to the joists. A Web search for “sealing rim joists”, yields helpful photos. New Energy Star homes built in Vienna use sprayed foam to entirely seal off and insulate the band boards.

Reinsulating the attic: By first removing the old insulation so I could see to block off openings into the second floor ceiling that allowed conditioned air into the attic. I was surprised what I saw open to the attic. There were chases enclosing HVAC return ducts and the furnace flue running as far as the basement, open at the top. The builder had boxed the second floor ducting such that it was also open to the attic and the interiors of second floor walls were not closed off completely. I fit plywood panels to block of these open areas to complete the attic floor thus separating the attic from the living space below. Joints and seams were sealed with foam. This allowed for the installation of new cellulose insulation installed by a contractor. If you want to discuss the details of my experience with me, please contact the Crier for my contact information.