First US Large-Scale Solar Power Tower

July 14, 2009
esolarchris

Chris On-site

esolarplant

eSolar Plant

OK, for those of you who care about my family (of course all of you do) you might be interested in watching the National Geographic Channel at 5 PM on Thursday, July 16 where Sean Riley in World’s Toughest Fixes will participate in constructing America’s first large-scale solar power tower, courtesy of eSolar, Chris’s company.

Not literally his company, but he does have stock options. And he’s R & D-ing power tower designs.

In Fairfax County, that’s Cox HD channel 719 or Cox Digital Discovery Tier channel 160.esolarlogo


Warranty Robocalls To Be Prosecuted?

May 15, 2009

robocallsSource: Fairfax County Times
FRIDAY, MAY 15 2009

Those who have been annoyed by “robocalls” selling second car warranties may soon have some relief, thanks in part to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D).

Warner and New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D) announced May 12 that the Federal Trade Commission is pursuing criminal charges in relation to the calls, which both senators said they have personally received. More than 300,000 people have filed complaints about the practice.

“We’ve heard of Virginians receiving these calls when they do not even own a car, and others who are understandably upset that the automated calls tie up their phone lines, costing them time and money,” Warner said in a release. “We appreciate this prompt action by the FTC to help consumers through a swift investigation and prosecution of these con artists.”

—————

Now – when will political robocalls stop? And how about the credit card robocalls? And “Congratulations! Your family has been selected to win a free vacation!” robocalls?


One Last Graduation . . .

May 11, 2009

Vicky HannemannMy youngest child Victoria . . . no more a “child,” to be sure . . . graduated from James Madison University on Saturday, with her older already-anointed brothers looking on with pride. It’s hard to believe this was the angsty teen who four years ago  in her first dorm room was putting her stuff back into the boxes as fast as her Mom was taking it out, insisting she wanted to go home.

Somehow we all survived that first month and she made the Dean’s List. Fourteen months later she was off to London on her own for a semester of history, literature, theater and pub crawling. Then it was the rigors of two years of regimented nursing school curriculum, and now she’s a BSN – or Bitchin’ Sexy Nurse, as I like to say. And a good one, apparently, because INOVA Alexandria wants her on the Labor & Delivery floor badly enough to drop an open RN2 position to pick her up as a fresh grad. She must have impressed them when she interned there last summer, and did her student nursing there afterwards. She impresses me, that’s for sure.

But I might be just a little biased, perhaps. A father’s prerogative.


Special Education Teachers in Demand

May 7, 2009

bethSpecial Education Teachers in Demand – washingtonpost.com.

I bask in the reflected glory of my friend and neighbor Beth Curtis. She truly is “a natural.”


No Matchy-Matchy, Just Great Style

April 16, 2009

The last of three (3) posts coming up today, all related to some talented young friends of mine who are alumni of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ).

john-sherry1John Petersik (2000) and his lovely wife Sherry have developed a tremendous following for their remodeling/renovation work. The best place to catch up with what is happening for, by, and to them is at their primo website, This Young House.

diymagFor starters, they’re writing columns for regional and national publications such as R. Home Magazine and Do It Yourself Magazine; they’ve been featured on HGTV in Rate My Space; and they’ve done both a video tour in thenest.com and an 8-page cover spread for [thenest] Magazine.

Check out the terrific photos (1, 2, 3, 4) from the magazine spread and read their blog post on the process of the photo shoot – pretty funny.

thenestJohn’s degree is in Communications and Sherry’s is in Fine Arts – and it’s clear that they are putting both to good use.

My connection to John? I carried his mellophone and toted water for him at Marching Band Camp and on numerous Marching Band Trips. How’s that for A-List, huh?

The other two posts are on Sam Willmott (2005) and Thao Nguyen (2002) – both performing in DC on Friday evening, April 17!

Kim Hannemann, Real Estate Consultant/Realtor®, Samson Realty
Cell: 703-861-9234 • Fax: 703-896-5055 • Email: KimTheAgent@gmail.com

It’s Good To Have A Friend In The Business®
samson-realty-and-bird

If you would like to discuss real estate questions, sell or buy a home in Northern Virginia – including Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Clifton, Fairfax, Fairfax Station, Falls Church, Kingstowne, Lorton, McLean, Reston, Springfield, or Vienna – contact Kim today.

4 – 4.5% Listings with First-Class Service — Cash Back to My Buyers!


Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

April 16, 2009

The second of three (3) posts coming up today, all related to some talented young friends of mine who are alumni of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ).

thaoThao Nguyen (2002) – most TJ alumni know her as Teresa – graduated with degrees in Sociology and Women’s Studies from William & Mary. In high school she worked mostly with vocalist Brenna Clerkin as the duo Brenna & Teresa. Here’s a selection from their EP Three Words:

Knocks Me Down – Brenna & Teresa

From this morning’s Washington Post:

Falls Church native-turned-Kill Rock Stars darling Thao Nguyen plays tomorrow at the Black Cat with her band the Get Down Stay Down, and offers more than enough smart heartbreak to go around (sorry, no faux-lebrity melodrama, though). Nguyen and her band broke out last year with the album “We Brave Bee Stings and All,” a jaunty collection of soulful pop tunes spiked with downer lyricism delivered in a staccato sing-speak.

beestings“I’m a huge Motown fan, and I enjoy the juxtaposition of a bright-sounding song with a melancholic lyric,” Nguyen told us when we chatted up the 25-year-old recently by phone in Portland, Ore. The sad thread isn’t a put-on; her childhood seems to have consisted of toiling in her mother’s laundromat (“I feel like I was an indentured servant,” she says jokingly of her days spent making change for customers) and time spent alone.

“I would say I spent the majority of my time in my room, being sad or watching television. Growing up there helped in that I had nothing else to do but focus on playing music,” Nguyen says. She has since moved to San Francisco, where urban living seems to suit her, uh . . . better. Tomorrow’s show is something of a homecoming.

“For all the lamenting I have done,” Nguyen confesses, “I am a product of the place I came from. And everyone [here] has always been so supportive and hospitable.”

The Black Cat is at 1811 14th St. NW. Tickets are $13. Show starts at 9 p.m, also featuring Sister Suvi and David Shultz and the Skyline.

Move quick, or you’re gonna miss Thao because she’s off to Durham, NC on Saturday.

Here’s a recent video for Bag of Hammers (you may have heard the tune on a Clorox commercial):

My connection to Thao:  she rehearsed in my basement. That’s right – some of her first collaborative work took place there in the summer of 1999 after summer school computer science sessions, playing songs like “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Cocaine,” and Cake’s “Let Me Go” with a band (that term is used loosely) calling itself Cool Whip. [Note – most TJ students go to summer school to fit in all the classes they want to take with the ones they have to take. It’s like camp for them.] Later, my son Chris backed her and Brenna on drums at a TJ talent show and at Jammin’ Java in Vienna. Yes, another A-List connection, folks.

thao2Here is a review of her most recent work written by Chris after he caught up with her when she played at Berkeley in 2008.

UPDATE:  See Washington Post Weekend feature from April 17 – may require free login, may not be available more than two weeks or so.

The other two TJ Alumni posts are on Sam Willmott (2005) – also performing in DC on Friday evening – and John Petersik (2000).

Kim Hannemann, Real Estate Consultant/Realtor®, Samson Realty
Cell: 703-861-9234 • Fax: 703-896-5055 • Email: KimTheAgent@gmail.com

It’s Good To Have A Friend In The Business®
samson-realty-and-bird

If you would like to discuss real estate questions, sell or buy a home in Northern Virginia – including Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Clifton, Fairfax, Fairfax Station, Falls Church, Kingstowne, Lorton, McLean, Reston, Springfield, or Vienna – contact Kim today.

4 – 4.5% Listings with First-Class Service — Cash Back to My Buyers!


Standardized Testing and Northern Virginia Real Estate?

April 16, 2009

The first of three (3) posts coming up today, all related to some talented young friends of mine who are alumni of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ). Coming from the country’s preeminent nerd academy, you would think they’d be, oh, maybe scientists or engineers, but au contraire – they are artistes. They could also be scientists or engineers, but in the context of today they are budding if not fully flowered artistic talents.

willmottI realize this is supposed to be primarily a blog about Real Estate . . . but hey, if I can get the TJ Alumni business, I’m gonna be set!

stantest1Sam Willmott is a 2005 TJ grad now finishing up at NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture. He is a composer and lyricist already gaining some terrific recognition – in fact, his Standardized Testing – The Musical!!!! earned the 2009 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Musical Theatre Award for music and lyrics. Here’s an excerpt:

And you can see it tomorrow night (Friday, April 17) at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater for a measly ten bucks, along with the national finalists of the John Cauble Award for Outstanding Short Play and the KCACTF Ten-Minute Play Award, performed by an ensemble of Washington, D.C.’s leading actors.

My connection with Sam is that he was Tony, the male lead, and my daughter Vicky was a Shark in West Side Story. I had the privilege of not only seeing him perform but actually feeding him and the rest of the cast at multiple rehearsals! That’s an A-List connection, folks!

The other two posts are on Thao Nguyen (2002) – also performing in DC on Friday evening – and John Petersik (2000).

Kim Hannemann, Real Estate Consultant/Realtor®, Samson Realty
Cell: 703-861-9234 • Fax: 703-896-5055 • Email: KimTheAgent@gmail.com

It’s Good To Have A Friend In The Business®
samson-realty-and-bird

If you would like to discuss real estate questions, sell or buy a home in Northern Virginia – including Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Clifton, Fairfax, Fairfax Station, Falls Church, Kingstowne, Lorton, McLean, Reston, Springfield, or Vienna – contact Kim today.

4 – 4.5% Listings with First-Class Service — Cash Back to My Buyers!


Why We Have A Cat

April 13, 2009

dilbertA post from The Dilbert Blog:

Last week, my in-laws were in town. While they were out visiting some other relatives, I took my turn watching their dog, Mollie. At this point, I should pause and mention that I haven’t had a dog since I was a kid. And in those days, in the country, when the dog felt nature’s call, we’d simply let the dog out, and it would use any part of our 2.5 acres as its toilet. Later, if you wanted to throw a ball around, you just kicked the (usually) frozen logettes to the side to clear a path. In those simple times, you weren’t playing a sport unless someone ended up covered in dog feces. It was just part of the game.

These days, things are quite different. Today, if you go to school covered in dog feces, there’s a stigma. And of course there’s the leash law. But nothing takes the joy out of a walk in the fresh air quite like being required to carry a plastic purse full of dog poop.

Back to my story, I took Mollie for a walk, thinking I understood how this process worked. The leash was no mystery. It had a cool spring action with a pistol grip. I liked that part. And I grabbed an official poop bag on the way out of the house. I was ready for anything.

Within a minute, Mollie laid down a steamer. I think she had been eating the cat food, because it wasn’t the firm little log I was expecting. But I soldiered on, turning the bag inside out like a glove, and grabbing the warm pile that melted in my hand. It wasn’t pleasant in the usual sense of the word, but I experienced some satisfaction in a job well done. I tied the bag into a tidy little package and intended to head home.

That’s when I noticed Mollie had just begun to poop. I don’t know if she was trying to spell “HELP” in case a rescue plane flew over, or what, but by now she was in full production. Step, squat, step, squat.

I looked at my tidy little bag, now sealed, and realized I was screwed. I knew the neighbors would be looking, or feared they might. I couldn’t leave this Katrina-sized disaster and get another bag lest someone think, incorrectly, that I had abandoned my doody. So I decided to see if I could untie the pooper bag and have another go at the new deposits. This plan did not work as smoothly as I had hoped.

Do you know what is NOT effective for picking up warm piles of poop? If you guessed “other warm piles of poop,” you might have been in this situation yourself. It was like trying to pick up mashed potatoes with a catcher’s mitt. And I was hurrying, so needless to say, back at the house I needed the Karen Silkwood treatment to feel clean again.

Later, when my in-laws returned, I told the story. Larry, a laid-back gentleman from Arkansas, turned to his wife Cheryl and drawled “Mollie double-bagged him.” Let me tell you, the only thing that could have made my experience worse was finding out my in-laws have a name for it.

catAnd that’s why we have a cat.


Kim & Janet Visit New York City

April 11, 2009

newyorkskylineYes, it’s true, we went to the b-i-i-i-g city. We have the photos to prove it. And you are going to see some of them.

After hemming and hawing over whether to take a so-so cruise for Janet’s spring break, we decided instead to visit New York. Janet had been listening to the Jersey Boys CD for a couple of months and was really itching to see the show, and she hadn’t seen Ellis Island. Apparently she missed that marching band trip, the one where the band director got on the wrong ferry leaving Ellis and left 3 busloads of high school kids and chaperons sitting in New Jersey for an hour wondering where he was. Battery Park, it turned out . . .

affinia-dumontI was going to book a hotel in Midtown near the theater, but one of Janet’s friends suggested a small chain called Affinia. I found the Affinia Dumont on 34th Street in Murray Hill, and it was great. 35 stories but only about 7 rooms to a floor.

affiniasuiteWe had a junior suite on the 28th floor with a full kitchen and an executive desk setup, not to mention a corner view with the Chrysler Building out one window and the East River out the other. I felt like a big shot sitting there in my corner office. We admired a building across the street with nice gardens on some of the upper floors. At first we thought it was an exclusive condo, but it turned out to be the US headquarters and conference facility for Opus Dei (remember The DaVinci Code?).

newyork093The Barking Dog Bar & Grill – and yes, I did the usual and asked the clerk if he said “Barfing Dog” – was next door and served as the hotel’s restaurant. They have a small plaza where they welcome dogs to enjoy a meal with their owners (in decent weather). Their motto is Sit! Stay! Great place – we had breakfast there every day, and a couple of dinners too.

One evening we ran into Sandy Davidson, the owner of Annandale’s AnnSandra – one of Janet’s favorite shops – where Vicky has worked on and off for a couple of years. Sandy was also staying at the Dumont and was having Seder with her family and friends.

Weatherwise, New York did not exactly welcome us. We arrived late on a pleasant Sunday afternoon and toted our little suitcases six blocks or so up 34th St from Penn Station (we parked in New Jersey and rode the train in – yokels that we are, we first jumped on an Amtrak with our NJTransit tickets, and they booted us off at the airport to await the correct train). That was the last decent weather we had until we left on Thursday. Monday it poured most of the day, Tuesday was showers on and off, cold and windy, and Wednesday was more of the same with snow flurries. Spring, isn’t it lovely?

newyork05On Monday, Janet went to the ten-floors-of-shopping Macy’s at Herald Square, while I got in some exercise at the hotel gym (very nice, by the way). Janet had the forethought to be carrying the camera and took some pictures of Macy’s annual Flower Show, in between marveling at a whole floor dedicated to Petites and buying at least two pairs of shoes.

newyork071Monday evening we took Brendan’s advice and checked out Otto Enoteca, Mario Batali’s wine bar/pizza joint at 1 Fifth Avenue. Actually, the entrance is on 8th Street, but that’s waaaay too mundane an address for a celebrity chef joint. As is our practice, we went out on a limb with our dinner orders . . . she had the margherita pizza, but I was even more daring – pepperoni! With a glass of white zin! It was great pizza, and it was not done in an oven, but on a griddle.

desserttruck1After dinner, we went to find the Dessert Truck. Brendan told us it would be around St. Mark’s Place, just up 8th St from Otto. We searched the area twice, went around two blocks or so before giving up. We headed back to the hotel where we found the following note on the web site:

MONDAY, APRIL 6, 2009

we will not be open tonight because of the weather. please watch the NCAA men’s championship game instead. thank you.

No, thank you! We saved room for dessert, but in the end we were thankful to have avoided the calories and had a nice walk. Then Janet went for a massage while I watched the Big Game. I had already lost my shirt and pants in the Big Johnson contest, so it was all fun.

newyork08Tuesday we decided to check out some of the NY cultural scene and visited the Guggenheim Museum. Although I enjoy a variety of abstract and contemporary art – for instance, I liked the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Tate Modern in London – I didn’t enjoy the art in the Guggenheim. In hindsight, I think we would have enjoyed MoMA instead, but Janet was completely put off by the thought of another modern art museum, so we went down Fifth Avenue to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Now this is one huge museum. So big, in fact, it’s almost overwhelming. We stayed only an hour or so – despite the $20 admission – but we enjoyed the incredible display of European royal porcelains.

newyork12It was so cold, though, we wound up heading back to the hotel for a nap – but not before we stopped by Macy’s so I could check out the ten-floors-of-shopping and get a photo of the Empire State Building (being rebuilt, BTW).

That evening we had dinner at a nice place in the theater district, Rino Trattoria, before going to the show. The owner said that it’s been a tough few weeks – the economy has been keeping both the locals and the visitors away. He was out in the street offering to pay for your meal if you didn’t like it! We enjoyed the meal so we didn’t take him up on the offer.

jerseyboyslogoFinally, we saw the show that was the purpose of our visit – Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Terrific show. Of course, the original cast has been gone since 2007, but the current cast is certainly excellent, and they are still packing in the crowd. We would see it again – I suppose that’s the ultimate compliment. And I understand it’s going to be in DC this coming October, so we probably will be seeing it again!

newyork10Last but not least, on Wednesday we braved the snow, wind and cold in New York Harbor to pay our respects to Lady Liberty and visit Ellis Island. Fortunately, I had booked reserve ferry tickets – otherwise we would have been standing in the cold, wind and snow for well over an hour just to get on the ferry. It was an impressive sight, especially when the sun came out in between the flurries as we were passing the statue.

We chose not to get off the ferry at the monument – we could not get tickets to go up in the statue, and it was too cold to just walk around outside – so we went on to Ellis Island.

ellisisland1Ellis Island was the point through which about 12 million immigrants, chiefly European, passed between 1892 and 1924, probably the greatest period for immigration in US history. (Restrictive quotas limited immigration after that time, and the processing moved to embassies and consulates overseas.) These were the third-class and steerage passengers on the steamships – the “rich” first- and second-class passengers were cleared to enter by the time the ships docked in New York, while the hordes of poorer folk were ferried to Ellis Island to undergo a number of screening tests to ensure they would not be “likely to become a public charge.” I know my grandparents were admitted from Denmark in 1909, but I could not find them in the Ellis Island records – it’s possible they had money enough to avoid it, but I wouldn’t have guessed that. About 100 million Americans can now trace their ancestry to Ellis Island. In the current immigration-unfriendly atmosphere, that’s amazing.

Afterward, we had a nice (but cold) stroll up the East River to the South Street Seaport. We’d been there before when Vicky’s TJ Marching Colonials played their Harry Potter show on a rainy October afternoon in 2002, but it was a lot more crowded this time. We ate a late lunch at Harbour Lights and watched people crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. Did I mention it was cold (and windy)? I guess they didn’t notice.

Kim Hannemann, Real Estate Consultant/Realtor®, Samson Realty
Cell: 703-861-9234 • Fax: 703-896-5055 • Email: KimTheAgent@gmail.com

It’s Good To Have A Friend In The Business®
samson-realty-and-bird

If you would like to discuss real estate questions, sell or buy a home in Northern Virginia – including Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Clifton, Fairfax, Fairfax Station, Falls Church, Kingstowne, Lorton, McLean, Reston, Springfield, or Vienna – contact Kim today.

4 – 4.5% Listings with First-Class Service — Cash Back to My Buyers!


Big Johnson Basketball Winners!

April 10, 2009

bigjohnsonThe Seventh Annual Big Johnson College Basketball Tournament Classic is history. As is my reputation for competent prognostication, but we will get to that later. For now, let me congratulate the winners:

gruber1Chris Gruber won the Mens Tournament competition, after a comparison of final game point totals determined that he came two points closer to predicting the total final score than did Scott Breunig. Scott claims they tied based on absolute numbers, but all decisions of the judges (me) are final. Nyah, nyah.

Chris is the winner of a brand new iPod Shuffle, handsomely engraved with his name and achievement!

chrishChris Hannemann (a distant relative . . .) won the Womens Tournament contest going away. There was simply no way any team would beat the Huskies, and Chris wisely chose Louisville to upset Baylor and Maryland to get to the final four.

Chris has a different plan for his winnings:

Though it against my better judgment as an engineer to forgo fancy electronics, I am already the proud owner of a perfectly functional iPod. Instead of taking the $80 in iTunes cash, I have decided to go the route of Ms. Deems (victor of last year’s college bowl challenge) and have it donated through a charitable organization. Now most of you would say, “obviously, Chris will be sending a check to a fund focused on curing alopecia” (specifically, alopecia areata barbae . . . seriously, you should see my patchy stubble). But no, I instead am going to invest the money through kiva. Kiva is a microfinance/microlending organization that allows you to make small loans to specific people & projects around the globe (in fact, Kiva teams up with several partners, making it more of a microfinancing warehouse). The loans are used to help budding entrepreneurs in developing nations buy equipment, stock their stores, and otherwise get off the ground. As the money is paid back, you can donate it to the next project. I haven’t chosen which project(s) to donate to yet, but I will probably focus on manufacturing ventures.

Now let’s discuss the big loser – me. In the Mens Tournament, I was beaten by 52 of the 59 entrants. Never have I been ground into the dust to that extent. Naming everyone would take up too much space, so let me list those I did manage to beat: Jon Coggins, Christy Cunnington, Brendan Hannemann, Ron Frazier, Brian Johnson, and Michelle Boyd. In the Womens Tournament, I did better – aside from Chris, only Jason Pollan, Tiernan Doyle, and Pat Hayes beat me, with Jim Cocco managing to tie The Man.

twizzlersHowever, given my appalling performance overall, I have made the Executive Decision to pay off every participant with Strawberry Twizzlers. If you were entered in either contest, you can expect to receive your Twizzlers either in person or in the mail soon – meaning when I get around to finding the appropriate mailers, etc, etc. . . !