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:


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:

It’s Good To Have A Friend In The Business®

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. . . !

It’s Big Johnson Basketball Time Again !!

March 11, 2009

It’s once again that time . . . bigjohnson

 . . . when people all over the country stop doing what they are doing and feverishly consider their picks for the NCAA Basketball Tournaments so they can enter the SEVENTH Annual Big Johnson COED College Basketball Tournament Classic, sponsored by yours truly. 

newshuffleStick It To The Man – that’s me! A NEW 4GB Apple iPod Shuffle (in your choice of silver or black ) awaits the winner of EACH of the Men’s and Women’s Big Johnsons! (YOUR gender is irrelevant. I am referring to the separate basketball tournaments.) If you win, and you happen to already have an iPod – or other music player (ptui!) – I’ll give you the equivalent in iTunes credit, if you prefer. I would suggest that you check out the NEW Shuffle carefully before you decide. And as usual, anyone who gets more points than The Man will win something. Last time it was a king-sized Snickers bar. Can’t beat chocolate . . .

ti82It won’t cost you anything but your sanity . . . and not even that, if you just choose the higher-seeded team in each matchup, and then pick the eventual Final Four winner based on their mascot or school colors. How difficult can this really be? Well, there might be upsets. Or not. And gee, there are only – uh, lessee, 64 teams in each tournament, where’s my TI-82? – okay, 126 total games.

And it takes a special kind of person to enter BOTH the Men’s and Women’s tournaments. Yes, I mean you!

The brackets are being set by the NCAA (Men’s Sunday March 15; Women’s Monday March 16). The men’s first round games start on Thursday March 19 (we don’t do the men’s “play-in” game on Tuesday), and the women’s on Saturday March 21 – and the brackets are locked shortly before the first game of each tournament. That doesn’t leave you much time, so GET GOING!

The Group Name on ESPN is “Big Johnson” for each tournament, and the group password is: kimsentme. That’s right, kim sent me, one word.


You can get there through the following URLs:

   Men’s Tournament Challenge:

   Women’s Tournament Challenge:

I know some of you like to fake out ESPN with an alias and throwaway email, but please be sure I can identify you from your name or the name of your entry. Otherwise I will keep your iPod, ha ha. 

After you create your entries, be sure to join the Big Johnson group in each tournament! And, if you create your entry before the brackets are set, be sure to return in time to choose your winners before they lock. Most people will wait until March 17 or 18, but don’t forget! ESPN tracks your points as the tournaments progress. I will weigh in every now and then with a Big Johnson update note.

FRIENDS ARE WELCOME, so you can forward this if you wish. Just be sure they identify themselves to me!

Best of luck to everyone!


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

It’s Good To Have A Friend In The Business®

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 Winners!

January 9, 2009

Kim’s Big Johnson College Bowl Mania is over and a winner has been declared!bigjohnson

If you peek at the final standings to see how you did, the PCT in the last column represents your position amongst the hordes who competed on ESPN. For instance, our winner did better than 98% of all contestants. Sad to say, our median score was in the lower half. In other words, as a group, we sucked. The only way to redeem ourselves is to resolve to do better next year!

Winning Maniac:  Fred Heggi (iPod Nano)

Second Place:  Dave Gerstner (Mrs. Hanes Cookies)

Also Beat Kim:  Jacob Beckland, Chris Hannemann, Erin Hayes, Eric Torrey, Chris Gruber, Pat Hayes, Donny Samson, Lon Pribble, and Ron Frazier (some kinda chocolate)

Other Notable Achievements

Most Winners:  Erin Hayes (23)

Most Efficient (most points per winner):  Scott Breunig

Least Efficient (fewest points per winner):  Christy Cunnington

Last Place:  Vicky Hannemann (who let Dad choose her point values randomly, and will never make that mistake again)

Once again, my sincere thanks to you for participating in this event. I hope you enjoyed the competition. Start planning for the Big Johnson College Basketball Spectacular, coming in March! It’s gonna be the biggest Big Johnson ever!

I hope you will recommend me me to your friends, neighbors, and colleagues when they need some advice from a good real estate consultant. I am much better at real estate than at predicting football games.


Last Chance For The Big Johnson

December 19, 2008

Right. You were holding off until the very last minute in case you had a brilliant flash of insight about the upcoming college football bowl games, but with Saturday’s 11:00 AM (EST) deadline looming, you have to get your entry in PDQ, ASAP, like NOW, man.

Perhaps you don’t need a new iPod Nano – I understand. My wife thinks she’s getting one for Christmas (heh, heh) so she hasn’t considered entering – I’m sure she would simply click the buttons for the colleges she loves (i.e. Georgia Tech, Cal, UVa, Virginia Tech, North Carolina) or has some friends who attended (e.g. Maryland, Notre Dame). Beyond that, she would choose those she might have heard of. And she’d probably have as good a chance at winning as anyone – after all, it’s not like you’re up against thousands of people here.

But did you know that I am willing to convert your prize into something you might value more? Last year the winner went for a contribution to her (get that guys? Her?) favorite charity. Others have gone for iTunes credit. Really, I don’t care.


  Kim’s Big Johnson College Bowl Mania

Click on it . . . read the instructions . . . go to ESPN . . . create your entry . . . make your guesses.


You are getting very sleepy . . . .

Kim’s Big Johnson College Bowl Mania Is Here!

December 6, 2008

bigjohnsonGet In On Kim’s Big Johnson College Bowl Mania!!!

You know if it has three (!!!) exclamation points, and is written in red, it’s gotta be good.

This contest involves choosing the winning team for each of the 34 (yes, now it’s 34!) upcoming college football Bowl Games, to be played between December 20 and January 8. In addition to choosing the winning teams, you have to assign a Confidence Points factor of 1 to 34 to each game – your personal view of how certain you are of the outcome of each game. If you have high confidence in your choice, you give that game a high value; conversely, if you have no idea which team might win, you would assign a low value. If the team you pick wins, you get the points you assigned. For a tiebreaker, you have to guess the score of the BCS Championship game.

nanoThe contest will feature a small prize of some sort – probably involving chocolate – to everyone who beats me, and an engraved 8GB iPod Nano (your choice of color) to the top scorer. Second prize is a 1 pound tin of Mrs. Hanes Moravian Sugar Crisp Cookies. Mmmmmmm . . .

If your entry is really hot, you might win something from ESPN, too, but who cares? The Big Johnson is special!

You enter the contest by going to the ESPN website and follow the instructions below. There is no cost. You are welcome to invite your friends – any friend of yours is a friend of mine.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

How To Play College Bowl Mania the Big Johnson Way



To enter, fill out the free game registration at the ESPN website. A valid ESPN member name and password will be used as an identifier to sign in to game play, and to keep track of your entry’s score and standing. If you are already a registered ESPN account holder, you do not need to go through the registration process. If you’ve had an ESPN account in the past but forgot your password, visit Member Services and have your account information sent to you.


After you have signed in, you will be prompted with a screen with a “Create Entry” button. After you click on the button you will be automatically redirected to the “Entry Settings” page where you will be asked to name your entry and decide whether you would like email reminders.

  • Name your entry: Use the text box to determine how your entry will be displayed in the game. Use your imagination. Please. 
  • Scoring system: Use the radio buttons to select Confidence Points (required for our game).
  • Email Reminders: Use the radio buttons to select whether or not you’d like to receive email reminders from ESPN pertaining to game locks and game rules. I will send emails through the ESPN system to the participants about the game, so be sure to read the email account you use to register!

Once you have completed your game settings, click on the “Submit Entry Settings” button.


To join the Big Johnson group after you submit your entry settings, click on the words Create Or Join A Group. Search for the group named Big Johnson, and join the group using the password, “kimsentme” (get it? Kim Sent Me?). You can join the group as soon as you create your entry – you don’t have to make any picks first. Let me know if you have any problems getting into the group.


You won’t be able to make your picks for the games until all the bowl game contestants are known – probably by Wednesday, December 10. Then you will be able to pick your winner for each game, and predict the final team scores of the National Championship Game as the game’s primary tiebreaker. To select the team you think will win, click on the table cell containing the team name or the checkbox next to the team name. Once you’ve made all of your picks, you can “click and drag” the game up or down in the list to change the assigned Confidence Value for that game. The higher the confidence you assign to a bowl game, the more points you will earn if you have selected the winning team. Each game must have a different confidence value assigned to it from 1 to 34. To predict the final team scores of the National Championship Game, enter your predictions in the fields designated as “Score Guess.” Once satisfied with your selected picks, the confidence values for those picks, and the championship game’s score guess, click the “Submit Your Picks” button to enter them.

Register and submit your entry no later than the first kickoff of the first game of the college football bowl season (Saturday, December 20, 2008 at 11:00 am ET) at which point the game will lock and no additional picks can be made. If you change your mind about a game, you can go back and change your picks until the first game starts.

Step 5 – SCORING

In the Confidence scoring system, the higher the confidence you assign to a game, the more points you will earn if you have selected the winning team. If your chosen team wins, you get the points you assigned to that game. You do not lose points for incorrect picks.


You can join up to three (3) different groups with the same entry, not that you will give a hoot. Once you have enjoyed the Big Johnson, all the others are, well, kinda puny. Each user may have up to three (3) different entries – but only ONE entry in the Big Johnson.