Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Twin Anniversaries

It would be a shame if I let this month end without first acknowledging two December anniversaries that mark important milestones in my life.

In December 1999 -- ten years ago -- I moved to Charlottesville from Arlington. At the urging of my friend, Eric Strzepek, I bought a house here. (It was only a coincidence that Eric was also my real estate agent.) The closing was actually in October, but my move-in did not occur until the weekend of December 10.

It's hard to believe, but in those years before the housing bubble burst, I was able to obtain a 2,200-square foot house for a price substantially smaller than the one asked for the 800-square foot condominium I had been living in since early 1990. I haven't looked at real estate listings in Arlington lately, but I suspect that, even with the threefold increase in value of my house, it would still be cheaper to buy in Charlottesville than in Pentagon City.

The second anniversary worth noting could also be called a blogoversary: On Friday, December 17, 2004, I began blogging. Some 1,215 posts later, here we are.

How about that?

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Friday, December 25, 2009

'Et Homo Factus Est'

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Today I traveled from Charlottesville to the D.C. area to celebrate Christmas with friends and friends of friends.

At the annual Christmas Eve get-together at the home of Warren Coats and Ito Briones in Bethesda, I was surprised to see my old friend, Rob Teir, and his husband, Johnny Smith, who live in Texas but came all the way to Maryland just for Warren and Ito's party. (At least that's what Rob told me; there may be more to the story than that.) Rob has recently opened up a law practice in Houston, which he seems to be enjoying very much.

(I have to apologize for my strange greeting. I found it hard to believe that Rob and Johnny were there, since just last week I received a Christmas card from them, postmarked Houston. So it was a weird impulse that caused me to walk up to Rob and say, "What are you doing here?")

The food was delightful, as was the company. Warren and Ito are always perfect hosts.

After I left the party, I drove to the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, where I arrived just in time for Midnight Mass (which started at 11:00 p.m., strangely enough, but since it ended at 12:30 a.m., I think that counts as "midnight"). An hour of lessons and carols was just ending, and the last organ piece played before Mass began was, again to my surprise, my favorite Polish carol, Dzisiaj w Betlejem. That's just something you don't hear outside of places like Milwaukee, Chicago, and Hamtramck.

I happened to have my video camera with me and captured the processional (preceded by a "Christmas Choral Introit" by Richard Proulx based on Luke 3:4 and Philippians 4:5), which was accompanied by the traditional carol, "O Come, All Ye Faithful." I also taped the recessional, which was accompanied by "Joy to the World."

Here's the video, which also includes a final blessing by Bishop Paul S. Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington:

Enjoy Christmas Day. Check back next week to see what I have up my sleeve for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Still More Snotos? SnOMG!

Based on news reports, I'd say that most of the East Coast is in stand-by mode at the moment. Some adventurous people are trying to drive on the roads. Other are just having fun, such as having a snowball fight at 14th and U Streets in Northwest D.C. that becomes a national story.

As for me, I've remained homebound. I may venture out tomorrow on foot to explore the winter wonderland.

Anyone who wants to help me dig out my car, please let me know. I'm willing to pay. Maybe provide free hot cocoa, too.

Here are some of the last pictures I took on Saturday, just before the snow stopped falling and we were told there was no longer a winter weather warning.

Previous sets of photos are here and here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

More Snotos

Whether you call it snowmaggedon, snowpocalypse, or snOMG, the white stuff that fell on Central Virginia last night (and that is still falling) will be remembered for many decades to come. This is the snowstorm of the century, the sort of snow that inspires Santa Claus to call on Rudolph in order to save Christmas.

Snow like this brings back memories of my boyhood in Milwaukee, and even in those vast reaches of history there are few snowncidents that stick out as so deep, or as so quickly accumulated.

Last night I posted some snotos that were taken about six hours after the snow first began falling in Charlottesville. What you see below are photographs I took at about 1:15 this afternoon, or about 21 hours past the outset of snowfall.

Face it, folks: this is a storm that today's schoolkids will be telling their grandchildren about. The Charlottesville Newsplex (Channel 19) reported these measurements from around Central Virginia as of 11:30 this morning:

Wintergreen 30"
North Garden 24"
Esmont 23"
Covesville 22"
Greenbrier Drive 22"
Ruckersville - 22"
Nortonsville - 21"
Ivy 21"
Rio Road 20"
Scottsville 20"
Crozet 20"
Afton 20"
North Albemarle 20"
Free Union 20"
Downtown Mall 18"
UVA Grounds 18"
Lake Monticello 18"
Meade Park 18"
Woodridge 17"
Fluvanna 17"

Since I live about equidistant from the downtown mall and the UVA Grounds, the snow in my yard must be about 18 inches deep -- though I would guess it's a bit more than that by now, perhaps as much as 22 or 23 inches.

Friday, December 18, 2009


I am not willing to venture out far beyond my own front and back yards, so the range of these photos is narrow. Perhaps tomorrow, when the sun is shining, I'll take a walk through the neighborhood and up to the University of Virginia to get some good snowtos.

Here are a few images of the biggest snowstorm to hit Charlottesville in several years. Just for a bit of perspective, these pictures were taken at about 9:15 p.m. The snow had started to fall around 4:00 p.m., just 5 hours ago. No wonder people on Twitter are using the hashtag #snowpocalypse!

One unusual image you'll see here is the snow piled high upon the hot tub. This would not happen under normal circumstances because the heat of the water would melt anything hitting the cover on impact. Unfortunately, my hot tub is out of order and I've been awaiting delivery of a part from the manufacturer. So there's no heat being generated and the snow is able to accumulate.

Enjoy these winter images.

Update, 11:14 p.m.: I measured the snow on the back deck and it was 9 inches deep as of about 10:30 p.m. Here are some more snotos: