Response from VA Delegate Scott

Thanks very much for your message about needed transportation improvements. The main reason we in No.Va. suffer from inadequate transportation solutions is that we have not increased revenues in 20 years. Again this year, many of us in NoVA tried to obtain support for new sources of funding, but we had little support from House members from other parts of the state. In response to your specific inquiry, I am copying my legislative aide on this email with my request that she contact VDOT about the specific problem you have described—and let you know what she finds out about possible steps that can be taken.

Jim Scott

Response from Senator Allen

Thank you for your email regarding Leesburg Pike. I appreciate your concerns and value your input on this important matter.

While safety on our roads is one of my highest transportation priorities and I support initiatives aimed at protecting all highway users, this is an issue that falls under the jurisdiction of State and local government. In fact, I feel that this is a matter in which federal involvement would not be appropriate.

As a common-sense Jeffersonian conservative, I strongly believe that the reach of the federal government ought to be limited in nature. States and localities understand the needs of their people better than a remote federal government.

Please be assured that as a citizen of the Commonwealth, I will closely monitor this issue. However, while my staff and I are more than happy to assist you with matters involving federal legislation or agencies, this particular issue should be dealt with at the State level. I encourage you to contact your State and local officials, should you need further assistance in this matter. These officials may be identified through the citizen services page of the Commonwealth of Virginia website.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me. If you would like to receive an e-mail newsletter about my initiatives to improve America, please sign up on my website ( It is an honor to serve you in the United States Senate, and I look forward to working with you to make Virginia and America a better place to live, learn, work and raise a family.

With warm regards, I remain


Senator George Allen

The Atrocity at Seven Corners

Dear Congressman Moran

I am writing to request that something be done about the Seven Corners intersection Leesburg Pike, Route 50, and various other roads. I’m sure you’re familiar with the intersection, although I’m not sure it’s technically in your district.

I drive through the intersection nearly every weekday after dropping my wife at East Falls Church Metro on my way to my office in Bailey’s Crossroads. And nearly every weekday, someone turns into a lane which I am currently occupying, and to which I have a legal right, and they do not. I have consulted with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and in this particular case, I am entitled to the lane while they are not.

I understand that reworking the entire intersection would be quite costly and would cause impossible traffic delays while work was being done. And while I think that the intersection is an embarrassment to the state of Virginia, a monument to unchecked growth and poor planning, I would be satisfied if there were simply signs clearly identifying which lane a driver should be in to end up in a certain spot.

I am a more observant driver than most people. And if I can’t figure out the proper flow of the intersection after six months of driving through it and a request for clarification from the DMV, then I find it hard to fault other drivers for not knowing which lane to be in.

I truly believe that the only reason there are not daily accidents at the intersection is that there is too much traffic for anyone to build up any speed.

Thank you very much for your time, and I look forward to your response.

Response from DDOT

Jonathon  – Michael Miller of my staff delivered letters to the residents of the 1400 block of Harvard Street, N.W. at the end of July, informing them that the beginning of the enforcement date for the new RPP block would begin on August 13, 2007. Residents of new RPP blocks have always been informed by letter, since the beginning of the RRP program in 1976, that their block has been approved for the installation of RPP Zone signs. DPW parking enforcement was always informed not to enforce the new regulations until the enforcement date on the letter, even though the signs are usually installed before the enforcement date. This policy has worked for the most part, over the past 30 years, except for occasional slip ups by either parking specialists, parking enforcement or sign installers from the shop.

In the case of the 1400 block of Harvard Street, N.W., I received e-mail complaints that enforcement of the RPP restrictions on this block had begun before the enforcement date of August 13, 2007. The citizen’s complaint on the e-mail message was that he was going to purchase his RPP permit the next day. I figured other residents of this block would need additional time to buy their permits, so I asked DPW enforcement on August 9, 2007 to suspend enforcement of the RPP restrictions on this block until August 27, 2007.

George Carr- See message below. [Me] received a ticket on August 15th and on Aug 16, 2007 for violation of the RPP restrictions in the 1400 block of Harvard Street, N.W. Since parking enforcement was supposed to be suspended on this block until August 27, 2007, would you please work with [Me], resident of [1400 block of] Harvard Street, N.W. PHONE # (202)555-1234. to adjudicate his two parking tickets. Thank you George, I have always been able to count on you in the past.

[Charles Whalen, DDOT]

Howto – Install Ubuntu Feisty on a Lenovo Thinkpad T61

So, you have a new Thinkpad. I have a T61 with the Nvidia 140M graphics card. Ubuntu Fiesty doesn’t seem to like that card, and it’s been a pain in the neck to get it working. But it’s working now, and here’s how I did it. Before we go any further: This tutorial is just what worked for me. I make no promises, guarantees, or anything else. This may turn your brand new computer into a really pricey paperweight. Use of this tutorial is ENTIRELY at your own risk. I am willing to give advice if you get stuck, but I’m a Linux noob. The Ubuntu forums are likely to be more helpful. Anyway, I make no promises, I just want to share what worked for me. First, the regular installer doesn’t work because you don’t get any sort of GUI. So, go to the Ubuntu downloads and get Ubuntu 7.04 Desktop edition. You want the version for 64 Bit AMD and Intel computers. Below the green download button, you want to check the box where it says, “Check here if you need the alternate desktop CD. This CD does not include the Live CD, instead it uses a text-based installer.” Then click download. You know how Windows probably asks you to open it with whatever your cd burning software is before you even download the file? Well, don’t do that. I tried, and it didn’t work. If you are not familiar with MD5 checksums and burning ISO images, check this tutorial. It should tell you all you need to know. Once you have your cd, put it in your cd drive and install using the text-based installer. The only issue I had with the installer was partitioning the drive. I have a 120GB drive. I read somewhere that Vista requires 30GB (As an aside, good grief, Microsoft, no wonder old Windows machines run really slowly. Do all your operating systems have such ridiculous requirements?), so I set my partition to 90GB. Well, Vista took that to mean something really, really bad happened, and now wants me to recover Windows. It refuses to boot. Some may see this as a blessing, and I’m not going to argue, but I had hoped to keep a working Vista install for those rare cases when it’s just more convenient to use Windows. Anyway, getting Vista to work is a project for another day. That’s why this tutorial is provided with no guarantees. Once you have Ubuntu installed, you have to boot into the recovery (that is, text-only) mode. Log in using the user you created during installation. Then the real fun begins. Install development tools sudo apt-get install build-essential Setup ethernet connection sudo vi /etc/network/interfaces Add the following to the file: auto eth0 iface eth0 inet dhcp Save the file and close. If you don’t know how to use VI, Google is your friend. Restart networking sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart Test to see if it works ping Stop pinging. Someone can probably tell me how to ping like Windows, where it tried a few times and then stops, but I didn’t bother to look it up. ctrl-c If you get this error – sudo: timestamp too far in the future: Try rebooting with Ctrl-Alt-Delete Remove old Nvidia file sudo rm /etc/init.d/nvidia-kernel Disable the installed Nvidia driver sudo vi /etc/default/linux-restricted-modules-common Add this line DISABLED_MODULES="nv nvidia_new" Save and exit. install nvidia drivers sudo apt-get install nvidia-glx sudo nvidia-xconfig --add-argb-glx-visuals --composite Restart sudo reboot Update Ubuntu (This might have been a good idea earlier in the game. But this is where I did it.) sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get upgrade sudo apt-get dist-upgrade Restart sudo reboot Get the new Nvidia driver installer Create a temp directory in your home folder cd sudo mkdir nvidia_temp cd nvidia_temp Download the driver installer Make sure to check this url – it’s current as of 8/28/07 sudo wget sudo sh It will ask you about runlevels. Ubuntu apparently doesn’t do runlevels. Continue with the installation. Mine had errors, which I ignored. Reboot, this time start up in regular mode. You should have a functional graphics card. Unfortunately, it’s only partially functional. Mine only supported 1024X768, which is totally unacceptable. Reconfigure X From the menu at the top of the screen, select “Applications”, then “Accessories”, then “Terminal” to open a terminal window. At the prompt: sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg This will open a little wizard. You can leave all the defaults for the most part. However, it is important to select “nvidia” instead of “nv” from the big list of drivers. Select “1280X800” from the list of resolutions. When it asks to specify “simple”, “medium”, or “advanced”, just pick simple and choose “Up to 14 inches”. That is, assuming you have the 14″ screen like I do. Now, you can click the red icon at the top right of the screen, reboot, and your screen resolution should be set to 1280X800. Update: I finally got around to checking the sound, and it turned out I had none. However, if you go to this Ubuntu forum thread and follow the instructions from forum user fmhoyt, sound should work fine. From here, you’re on your own. The Ubuntu Forums are great. Lifehacker loves to talk about Ubuntu. is also a really good resource for cool stuff to do with Ubuntu. There are lots of cool apps and tricks and whatnot. So, have fun. Resources:

A first response

Thank you for writing Councilmember Graham.  The Councilmember is in El Salvador at the invitation of the Mayor of San Salvador for meetings of mutual interest.  On Aug. 1, he was presented the key to the city by the Council and the Mayor.  He has participated in many meetings, as well as two parades.

In his absence, I am forwarding your message to Jonathan Kass, on his staff.


Jason Yuckenberg Public Information Officer Office of Councilmember Jim Graham

Appeal to Councilmember Graham

Councilmember Graham –

Is the city of DC required to give notice of changes to parking restrictions beyond simply changing the signs?  In particular, is there a process for notifying residents that an un-zoned street is becoming zoned?

I ask because I received two tickets that I do not think I deserved, and I would like to know the law before I contest them.

I moved to the 1400 block of Harvard Street in February.  This block was not zoned when I registered my car.  Sometime in the last few weeks, our block became Zone 1.  I received no notification.  I do not make a habit of checking the parking signs every time I park on my block to make sure they have not changed.

The first notification I received about the change was a parking ticket last Wednesday the 15th of August.  I looked at the signs, and sure enough, they had been changed.  The DMV was already closed for the day, so there was no way to fix this situation, and I do not have off-street parking.

I left a note on the car for the parking enforcement officials, explaining the situation.  I told them that I was a resident of the block, that I had just discovered the change in zoning, and that I was going to the DMV that day.  Then I thanked them for their understanding.

When I returned home after work to apply my new zone 1 parking permit, less than 24 hours after the first ticket, I had another, sitting just above the note I had left.

I know the DMV has a helpful online form for requesting a new parking permit.  Had I known even a few weeks in advance of the change, I would have paid for my new permit online, saving my time, and saving the District’s time.  But because I wasn’t given the courtesy of any notice, I had to take two hours out of my day to go to the DMV.  And I have to take some of your time, and some of the court’s time as I contest these tickets.  From various sources at DDOT and the DMV, I have heard varying measures for zoning a street – anywhere from 15 signatures to 90% of the residents on the street.  My downstairs neighbor was approached about having our street zoned, but no one asked me.  No one informed me it was in progress.

I have been driving for thirteen years.  In that time, I have received six parking tickets.  Five of those have been in the District in the last year and a half.  Four have been in the last four months while my car was parked within fifty feet of my front door.  I understand that we have parking restrictions for a reason, and parking tickets are the way these restrictions are enforced.  But these restrictions were not put in place to persecute District residents.

I appreciate your attention to this matter.



And Im out

A to-do list for the next ten days:

  1. Fly to London this afternoon.
  2. Take a train to York.
  3. Hang out in York for a few days.
  4. Rent a car, drive a manual transmission on the wrong side of the road for the first time.
  5. Be 1/2 of that cool couple that came all the way from the States to the wedding.
  6. Fly to Dublin.
  7. Enjoy a delicious Guinness at a pub.
  8. Repeat #7 as necessary.
    So, I’ll be out until Friday the 13th.  I don’t expect internet access while I’m gone.  But, I’ll bring back pictures.  And memories.