Month: April 2014

Arts & Entertainment, High Notes

Get A Grip!

The Grip Weeds: Inner Grooves For over a quarter century, one of rock’s best kept secrets has been The Grip Weeds.  Over the course of five albums, the Grips have mastered the art of the perfect power-pop record, to the point that they sound like the inventors of the genre.  Listening to the Grip Weeds is often like traipsing through the Coolest Record Collection In The World, albeit some parallel world where the songs are all different and, dare I say, better. Bold statement, eh?  Folks, it ain’t no lie.  The Grip Weeds went from being nowhere near my radar to one of my favorite bands in less than the three minutes it took to hear “Astral Man” on Little Steven’s Underground Garage (aka “The Only Radio Station In The World Worth Listening To”).  That’s all it took. Comprised of brothers Rick and Kurt Reil (guitar and drums – both split vocal duties) as well as Kristin Pinell on lead guitar and Michael Kelly on bass, this is a band that was clearly raised on the right sort of records, the kind of records that Record Store Dudes pine over, the kind of records that made the world a better place, the kind of records that influenced everything that came after, whether the influenced knew it or not.  I’m talking about original British Invasion bands and West Coast Psychedelic and Detroit Garage Rock and British Psyche and acid-folk, and everything else that rock and roll was really built on.  But rather than just rehash those old records, they weed out the best bits and weave them into their own propulsive sound and make them their own.  The proof, my friends, is found within their body of work. Their most recent release is also one of their most revelatory and one…

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Under the Black Flag: Massacre at Fort Pillow

An ugly fact of the Civil War is that the Confederate army on several occasions refused to accept the surrender of uniformed colored troops.  At least three such incidents occurred in 1864: Fort Pillow in April, the Crater in June, and Saltville in October. In the spring of 1864, legendary cavalryman Nathan Bedford Forrest and 6000 troopers mount up to drive the Yankees from western Tennessee and Kentucky.  This will be a nasty fight – Sherman’s depredations are very much on Southern minds and Forrest’s men are in the mood for payback.  Harper’s History of the Great Rebellion, acknowledging that Sherman’s conduct is uncivilized, nonetheless condemns Forrest’s expedition as “characterized by brutality and cowardice such as is not surpassed in the record of even savage warfare.”  What Harper’s means by this is that Forrest enforces the ancient rule of no quarter after an initial demand of surrender is refused.  Remember the Alamo? Thus on March 24th, a detachment of Forrest’s command confronts 500 Yankees garrisoning Union City, Tennessee.  After repulsing three charges, the Yankees are cowed into surrender under the shadow of the Black Flag.   On March 25th, Forrest assaults Paducah, Kentucky.  After its occupiers retreat into a fort, Forrest sends them a message:  “If you surrender, you shall be treated as prisoners of war, but if I have to storm your works, you may expect no quarter.”  The Yankee commander replies he will do his duty and take his chances.  Three assaults and 1500 casualties later, Forrest retires.   Yankee losses are 14 killed and 46 wounded. Forrest appears before Fort Pillow on April 12th.  Inside are 557 men – two units of colored artillery with six guns, plus a detachment of turncoat Tennessee cavalry.  Near the fort live about 100 family members.  Surprising the garrison in a lightning attack,…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

First Blush – April

There are few cultures whose women garner more attention than the sexy, moody, natural nonchalance of French women. Perfectly imperfect locks, fresh, minimal makeup, luminescent skin, and an almost military-strict skin care routine that is as French as brie and Beaujolais all combine to create the alluring mystique of the femme fatale. It’s a disciplined lifestyle that fosters a beauty and style that is as coveted as it is timeless. Some say when French girls finally become teenagers they get their first visit to the dermatologist to learn how to properly care for their skin. But what are those of us to do who haven’t been blessed with a personal aesthetician since high school? If you haven’t before, you know you’re now wondering what they’re doing over there to get that certain … je ne sais quoi. Although every woman possesses a wealth of natural beauty and allure, it’s a combination of time-honored traditions, techniques, and rituals, along with that uniquely Gallic and enlightened attitude that make French women the envy of women worldwide. Read on to discover what it takes to steal the look of an entire sexy nation for yourself. Bon chance! Adopt a different wrinkle attitude! Here in America we are quick to jump into extreme and invasive procedures like Botox or facelifts at the first sign of what we think of as imperfection. The French have adopted a much gentler and more therapeutic approach to caring for the delicate skin on your face, as well as a much more enlightened attitude when it comes to aging. Next time you apply your daily moisturizer, instead of slapping it on willy nilly as you run out the door, take the time to sit back, relax, and give yourself a facial massage. Opt for a richer, more decadent face cream and work it into drained…

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History, History Column

Woodrow Wilson – 28th President

Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, was a child of the Civil War; a pacifist who led his country into WWI, a domestic reformer who failed to fully implement the post-war League of Nations.  Tommy was born December 28, 1856 in Staunton, Virginia, the Scotch-Irish son of Presbyterian minister Joseph Ruggles Wilson and Janet Woodrow Wilson.  He remembered the family’s black servants; secession and the Civil War, Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ prison trek, Reconstruction and its 1877 end. The Civil War, Woodrow said, is “but a memory of a short day.”  Yet it was Wilson who segregated the federal government in 1913.  His Texas-born Postmaster General, former US Congressman Albert S. Burleson disliked “racial mingling in federal offices, particularly in the case of black supervisors overseeing white clerks.” Despite W.E.B. DuBois’ Presidential endorsement, Wilson “had made no promises to negroes.”  The problem was different when dealing with his daughters, two of whom were suffragists.  The social tensions, some dating from the 19th century, were many. “Woodrow Wilson may well have witnessed more dramatic changes in national and global affairs than any other president since Washington,” Carter Smith wrote.  “He entered Presidential office as a highly regarded reformer.”  Wilson served as Governor of New Jersey from 1910 until 1913. Woodrow Wilson was first inaugurated President on March 4, 1913.  In his speech he said: “There has been a change of government…What does the change mean?…No one can mistake the purpose for which the Nation now seeks to use the Democratic Party.  It seeks to use it to interpret change.” “We have itemized [what] ought to be altered,” Wilson’s 1913 speech continued.  “Here are some of the chief items: A tariff which cuts us off from our proper part in the commerce of the world…; a banking and currency system…

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Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

Free on Friday

After guiding full time for 15 years, some clients become very good friends. In February I lost one of those friends. Arvid Knutsen always made me laugh. Sometimes I would fall to the deck laughing so hard. His was a self-deprecating humor. Booking his first trip with me many years ago, he told me he had never caught a bass with a guide. He was willing to learn and researched me as the guy for the job. On our first trip Arvid did catch “a” fish. I could see that he had a long way to go and I told him I could see why he had never caught a bass with a guide. He said “Understood”, smiled and our friendship began. Fishing once or twice the first year, then eventually every Friday, we hit the water and had fun! He improved slowly, very slowly, but quickly I learned he was really out to enjoy himself. If he caught fish, so much the better. On days where I would have normally canceled due to poor conditions, Arvid would ask what he could expect to catch; I replied “One, if you are lucky!” He accepted the challenge and would catch one. And he would spend the day and months ahead quoting me, including my accurate prediction. Arvid was so excited about getting on the water; he would arrive at the dock in a total panic. Running late was routine. Tangled line and tackle started every trip. I would get him to a fishing spot and prepare his gear for the day.  Often I would go to his house to organize his tackle as he kept bringing more and more gear onto the boat. Rain or shine, he even packed rain gear! I admired his stick to it attitude! No matter the…

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Social Media Message

Offline Data meets Online Marketing Campaigns

As the first quarter of 2014 comes to an end and we move into the spring fever months of marketing, there has been a rise in the popular trend of using offline data to finely tune an online campaign. Offline data can be defined as any information that is gleaned about an individual while they are not performing online activities. For example, demographic information (age, gender, marital status, income, address, etc.), shopping preferences, and travel destinations are just a few of the data points that are readily available to Big Data companies. This information is then used to directly target individuals while they are online. Targeting can occur through social media networks, email campaigns, and the pop-up ads that appear on various websites. As you might imagine, this trend has given rise to questions of consumer privacy. However, for this post I want to steer away from that controversial portion and instead speak to the underlying message of the current (and future) marketing trend. Because let’s face it, offline data points are here to stay. At the base of this trend lie a few quintessential infrastructure points to marketing success. Know your customer. Understanding your customer on an individual level will promote brand loyalty. Manage customer expectations. By knowing your customer offline, you can better manage their online expectations of your brand, product, or service. Keep your customer happy. People change. That is a pure and simple truth. As such, if you want to continue to market to the same person, then you must be able to spot life patterns that indicate a change in wants, desires, or needs. These patterns are often spotted in both offline and online data. Attract new customers. Company growth can only occur if one of two things happens: a) your current customers spend more…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Don’t Jerk Me Around!

With the nicer weather on the way, you may be looking forward to longer walks with your dog, enjoying the blossoming trees, warmer breezes, and blue skies along the Potomac.  But what if your dog is one of those leash-pullers?  One of those who makes walks miserable because he’s pulling so hard on the leash that your wrist feels like it’s spraining, and he’s wheezing and coughing and choking himself?  Well, the good news is:  you’re not alone – a lot of dogs do this –and, there is hope!  It turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks – with persistence, consistency, and patience.  I repeat:  this may take a LOT of persistence and patience! So:  BE CONSISTENT.  Stick with it.  Remind your dog that you’re the pack leader by walking tall, deliberately, and confidently. Here are a few other ways to train your dog not to pull on the leash: Keep the leash short but loose.  That way you can correct your dog instantly but the leash can quickly return to a relaxed state. Keep the collar up behind the ears (not low on the neck, which encourages and aids pulling, using shoulder strength).  High and close to the ears is a more sensitive spot and thus your dog is more responsive to correction there. Some folks have good luck with Gentle Leaders, harnesses, Halti leashes or prong collars.  I can say from personal experience with my dog Polly that none of those worked to keep her from pulling.  Only much persistence and lots of treats! Make sure your dog is calm before the walk begins. Otherwise, it’s kind of like telling a kid you’re headed to Disney World and then telling him not to get excited!  If your pup freaks out when she sees the leash…

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Financial Focus, Pets, Places, & Things

Family Foundations: Building a Rich Philanthropic Legacy

Callout: Both the donor and the foundation avoid potentially steep capital gains taxes on appreciated assets, as long as the assets are used for the purposes for which the foundation was established. If charity is important to you and you want to build a philanthropic legacy, then starting a family foundation may prove beneficial. A family foundation can form a legacy of community involvement and responsible citizenship for generations to come. What exactly is a family foundation? The Council on Foundations defines it as one whose funds are derived from members of a single family, in which the donor and/or the donor’s relatives play a significant role in governing and/or managing the foundation throughout its life. Family foundations, like the families who create them, come in all shapes and sizes, with equally diverse motivations, mission statements, and methods for pursuing their philanthropic objectives. In general, there are two types of family foundations: private foundations and supporting organizations. A private foundation is the more flexible and controllable of the two entities. By establishing a fund into which charitable gifts can be placed, private foundations allow donors and other family members to take charitable deductions in the year contributions are made, without having to make an immediate decision regarding which charity or charities to support. Although private foundations maintain their own Board of Directors and control their own funding decisions, they have less attractive tax benefits than supporting organizations. In addition, the IRS requires private foundations to distribute a minimum of 5% of their assets each year and to pay an excise tax of 1% to 2% on their investment income. Supporting organizations are neither required to pay an excise tax nor distribute 5% of their assets each year. But what they enjoy in enhanced IRS treatment, they sacrifice in terms of…

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

From the Trainer – April

Welcome back to another edition of From the Trainer! April is my favorite month for a number of reasons. My mom, grandma, aunt, uncle, a few close friends, and I were born this month which calls for many celebrations. April also means that spring is here! I don’t want to jinx anything, especially the way winter has misbehaved, but we should be able to count on more sunshine and warmer breezes. This is the perfect time to add a variety of outdoor activities to your fitness lifestyle. This month’s exercise is called the Renegade Row. This is an advanced exercise designed to improve core strength, however, it also challenges the shoulders and legs. I used a pair of kettlebells, but dumbbells work just fine. The start position is shown in Figure 1. Place the feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, arms straight, palms facing each other, and kettlebells directly underneath the shoulders. The exercise starts before you even lift anything from the floor. First, tighten up the abdominals and then shift your bodyweight onto the left hand. Next, lift the right kettlebell off the floor by pulling or “rowing” it to your side (Fig 2). This sounds easy enough but several things have to happen to keep this position.                             Balance will be a major issue if your feet aren’t set wide enough. Also, if your bodyweight isn’t shifted to the opposite arm, you might fall to the floor! Notice how the hips, abdominals, and chest are still facing the floor. It’s a common mistake to rotate the hips when trying to lift the kettlebell. If you find yourself doing this, the kettlebells are too heavy. Core strength is tested to the max because without it, the…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

River Bend Bistro & Wine Bar: A Modern Neighborhood Spot

River Bend Bistro & Wine Bar: A Modern Neighborhood Spot 7966 Fort Hunt Road Hollin Hall Shopping Center 703-347-7545 ”Since opening last fall owner Bill Ross and executive chef Caroline Bruder Ross have worked diligently to bring diners in Fort Hunt a fulfilled dinning experience with their realistic approach to neighborhood dining.”   Atmosphere: Upbeat, contemporary Service: Coordinated, reserved Open: Lunch (everyday) 11:30am-4pm Dinner (Mon-Sat) 4pm-10pm (Sunday) 4pm-9pm Brunch (Sunday) 11:30-4pm Plates: $12-24 Wine glass: $6-$16 When I hear the word bistro, I get excited. I think of the early dinner my parents and I shared my graduation weekend at Petit Louis in Roland Park. I think of fresh ingredients, passion, hospitality, good friends and good memories. I want to go to a bistro because bistros want me to come to them. When driving through the Fort Hunt area of Alexandria, I was quickly reminded of the suburbs I called home as a kid in New Jersey: beautiful homes, green grass, and a warm sense of community. Walking into the space, formerly held by The Village Wharf, there is much to be drawn to in the simplicity of the layout. On your right there are loafers, sandals, Vans, and pumps all dangling from the bar stools as regulars are comfortably chatting over the low set music. On the left there are friends and lovers both old and new chowing down on dishes – faces glowing in the consciously lit dining area as everyone is enjoying their neighborhood spot. In an effort to increase their marketability some restaurants compromise their very existence by incorrectly branding themselves. This makes me furious. I could list the “inns” and “taverns” that do not actually offer room and board or the numerous “cafes” without liquor permits or any food offerings other than overly sweet,…

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