News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Reston Snapchats Just About What You'd Expect

Snapchat header V. v. exciting news! Reston now has its own Snapchat Geofilter! While we couldn't get Snapchat to work on our fancy new flip phone (even though it has a 35-number memory and a choice of six ringtones!), we're told all the cool kids under 35 use it constantly as they overshare every inane moment of their meaningless lives document their existence for their cellular telephone BFFs. But at great personal risk, we managed to intercept some recent Reston-themed Snapchats, maybe, and here they are.


Maybe this wasn't the best choice of words.

Mac Grill
Hey, how did our Snapchat get in here?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Silver Line Map Somewhat Accurately Describes Strip Malls, Malls, Bros, But Misses Opportunity to Mock McTacoHut

This fancy "judgmental map" of the Washington, D.C. Metro accurately describes the Virginia portion of the Silver Line as a wasteland cornucopia of malls, strip malls, fake malls, and bro-tastic Arlington neighborhoods featuring twentysomethings living nine-deep in $750,000 one-bedroom apartments. But for Reston? All they can come up with is a reference to our awesome gritty downtown Town Center, even though it's a zillion miles away from our (for now) one Metro stop. Even other snarky DC journo types have more accurately pinpointed the true object of ridicule within walking distance of Wiehle-Reston East: The McTacoHut.

See the full map here.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mother Nature Flagrantly Defies New DRB Rules; Lien Placed on Nature House, Lakes, Various Woodland Creatures

In a flagrant act of defiance against proposed new Reston Association rules making it more difficult for homeowners to remove trees, Mother Nature removed numerous trees in South Reston yesterday without the express written permission of a certified arborist.

Apparently M. Nature didn't read the new rule that clearly stipulates that the "dropping of fruit or leaves is not a valid reason for removal."

Maybe we're rushing too quickly to judgment. Maybe the "arborist's International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certification number" is sitting on the dashboard of that minivan.

No truth to the rumor that in an emergency meeting last night, the DRB placed liens against the Nature House, all four Reston lakes, and various woodland creatures. "This act of aggression against our cherished covenants will not stand," a DRB representative probably didn't say. "And we're taking a close look at some of Ms. Nature's Japanese maples. The reds are looking suspiciously different from the agreed-upon burnt umber coloration."

(Photos courtesy of Confidential Restonian Operative "Paul Bunyan.")

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

We Read the Proposed Reston Design Guideline Changes So You Don't Have To

It's been a few years since everyone's favorite homeowners association tweaked its design guidelines, thereby making white stone and red mulch thoughtcrimes covenant violations. Now, winter is coming it's happening again. Our Favorite Correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought-After South Reston, delves into the proposed changes and, in true journalistic web-logging fashion, What They Mean For You:

The current issue of our Pulitzer-winning Reston Connection "news-paper", which was delivered to my hovel today by a Uniformed Federal Agent, contained a notice on page 7 from our RA overlords designed to strike terror into the heart of all property owners in Reston: the Committee for the Defense of the Mauve Revolution, i.e., the DRB, is making changes to the design guidelines and application process (drum roll please!). You can find all the info on the RA website.
The Peasant examined all 79 sections being revised, including the 33 involving clusters and the 32 for single-family homes. Here's what he found:

Cluster common area signs
DRB language: "The top of the sign (is) no higher than 36" above grade...18" maximum height from grade to bottom of sign"

Translation: "We are responding to numerous complains from residents about lost hobbits and dwarves wandering into the wrong cluster ("Bilbo, we want Mirkwood, not Shadowood!") because the existing signs are too high for them to read."

Compost bins
DRB language: "The compost bin is...made of durable plastic or wood...Its capacity is no more than 27 cubic feet."

Translation: "OK, you can now use wood, but if that Hurley dude from "Lost" fits comfortably in your compost bin, it's way too large"

Landscaping: tree removal
DRB language: "The DRB will require a statement from a certified arborist...This statement must include the arborist's International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certification number and the reason for (tree) removal."

Translation: "Backwoodsman Billy Bob, who was one of the extras in the film "Deliverance", doesn't count as a certified arborist any more."

Landscaping: tree removal (continued)
 DRB language: "Dropping of fruit or leaves is not a valid reason for (tree) removal unless the litter creates a hazardous situation."

Translation: "We're thinking ahead to 100 years from now. When climate change turns Northern Virginia into the tropics, you WILL be able to cut down that banana tree so you don't slip on its peels."

DRB language: "When reviewing applications for window or patio door replacements or additions, the DRB will compare the width of the new window and door frames with the old...The DRB will require the frame width to match as closely as possible, and will generally accept a difference of 1" or less."

Translation: "We're still grooving to Reston's original hippie vibe of the 60's inspired by the rock musical "Hair". Let the sun shine in, let the sun shine in...".

Carpet (indoor/outdoor)
DRB language: "The indoor/outdoor carpet is neutral in color (brown, gray, or tan)."

Translation: "As much as we like recycling and repurposing, don't even think about using that lime green shag rug you bought in 1973."

Sheds & Storage Boxes
DRB language: "There is only one per property...Its footprint is no greater than 80 square feet, and the roof no higher than 8 feet from the ground."

Translation: "Hoarders, if you have more than 640 cubic feet of crap made in China, you better start cleaning out."

Spas and Hot Tubs
DRB language: "No one with a BMI greater than 25 is to wear a tanga, thong, or Speedo while in an outdoor hot tub visible to others.

(OK, so we made that last one up).

The DRB is holding a public meeting at 7 tonight to discuss the changes.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Finally, The One Quote That Proves Reston Gets The Midscale Chain Retail We Deserve

Wonder why our beloved fake downtown gritty urban core and awesome village centers strip malls aren't filled with authentic local shoppes, offering artisanal goat cheese cultivated from free-range grazing animals or sustainable hand-knit fashions ethically produced by Peruvian orphans using fair-trade wool? Or, for that matter, a local bookstore or maybe even a coffee shop that doesn't happen to have 23,999 other locations?

Turns out we don't want any of that crap. What do we want? Show us the tags, baby:
From a retail perspective, [JBG Principal Greg] Trimmer says the Reston market is booming.
"75 percent of people in Reston will consider brand name more than price. Retailers cannot get here quickly enough."
Do modern web browsers still support the [blink] tag? If so, it's worth repeating again:

"75 percent of people in Reston will consider brand name more than price. Retailers cannot get here quickly enough.”

Small wonder then, that when people are asked to dream big about possible businesses coming to Reston, our champagne wishes and caviar dreams circle around places like this. And if you notice more people wearing black than usual this week, it might be because Loudoun bragbait grocery chain Wegman's announced it's coming to Tysons, not a certain stucco wasteland in Reston as some once hoped.

But fear not, Reston! We can have nice things, so long as those nice things are large chains that duplicate services already offered by other large chains:
The JBG Companies have signed 24 Hour Fitness as an anchor tenant for the Reston Heights expansion on Sunrise Valley Drive. 
It will be 24 Hour Fitness’ fourth Northern Virginia location. The national chain, which has more than 450 locations nationwide, has gyms in Tysons Corner, Falls Church and Fairfax.
How many mega-gyms and indoor rec facilities does that make for us?

We'll note without irony that we also just learned that Reston Kabob, one of the last small businesses in the spot where the Reston Heights expansion will soon rise, is closing in July. They might return once construction is finished. Or maybe some awesome midscale national kabob chain -- let's call it the Kabob Grill -- will swoop in and take its spot.

The current kabobery owners have another location across Fairfax County Parkway in.... Herndon. Our neighbor to the west may be a little different, but they certainly have lots of the kinds of places we say we want, the end.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Black Hole of NoVa: Reston's Lack of Lighting Can Be Seen From Space

There's been a lot of handwringing of late that the Metro has brought with it food trucks annoying creative class hipsters undesirables crime to our beloved earth-toned community, even though the facts have a clearly pro-mass transit bias. But now our county supervisor has, as they say in the movies, a plan:
Reston may soon be getting some more street lights, according to Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill). 
On May 28, Hudgins addressed the issue during a meeting held at the Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods by Fairfax County Police who were addressing a recent rash of vehicle break-ins in Reston’s Hunters Woods neighborhood. 
At the meeting, among other measures, police addressed Reston’s lack of nighttime lighting as a potential issue for crime prevention. 
“Reston is very dark,” said assistant commander Lance Schaible of the Reston District police station. “Our helicopter pilot calls Reston ‘the big black hole in the northwest part of the county.’
An exaggeration? Our favorite correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought After South Reston, looked to the skies for answers:
Anyhow, as I was intrigued by this comment, I used The Google to see if I could find a nighttime view from space of Reston to confirm this startling discovery, and, shazzam, lookee what I found! This view from the International Space Station of Northern Virginia taken on Inauguration day 2013 confirms we are indeed the black hole for the entire region:

Except for the comforting archipelago of midscale chain retail in the center of the circle, the Peasant is right--Reston is dark. Dark as... a golf-course hating insurance company's soul. Dark as... mauve in the moonlight. So is much of Fairfax County south of I-66, but there's no Metro there, so QED, no need to worry about crime. That's why folks in Centreville sleep with the doors and windows open and the keys in their ignitions.

Of course, Hunters Woods is not exactly a leisurely walk from the Metro station either. So maybe the fault lies not in the Silver Line, but in us, dear Brutus brutalists. Hunters Woods does have a disproportionate number of incidents -- the police say it's second only to the much more populated (and demonstrably gritty) Reston Town Center area in terms of crime in Reston.

Either way, we're stone cold getting more lighting. Maybe.

During the May 28 meeting in Reston, Hudgins said it was time to re-examine Reston’s lighting. 
“The Reston District police station is already strained, and the area is growing due to Metro,” she said. “With Metro here now, we have more people walking and riding bikes in Reston, and they want to do it at night. We need to figure out how to make it safer for them. It is a discussion we need to have. It is very dark here in Reston. I live one mile from the Metro station, and I don’t go out and walk at night myself.”
Why not just bathe all of Reston in high-wattage spotlights? Blame the hippies astronomers:
But there is a reason Reston traditionally has resisted additional outdoor lighting, and it partially has to do with an organization called the International Dark-Sky Association. They have been influencing outdoor lighting policy in Reston and Fairfax County for years. 
Founded in Tucson in 1988, the nonprofit association has about 5,000 members nationwide. Its mission is to protect night skies and natural starlight by educating individuals, private industry and government bodies about the effects of light pollution and “unfocused light emissions.” 
“We have some active people in this community that are part of Dark Sky,” Hudgins said. 
Jim Dougherty, president of the International Dark-Sky Association is based in Washington, D.C., and works on behalf of the organization. He says that there is a common misperception that more light at night deters crime. 
“There have been legitimate studies showing increased outdoor lighting actually increases crime,” he said. “Criminals need light to see.”
Sure they do, hippie. Everyone knows all you need to be a criminal is superhuman night vision and a Metro farecard!

Of course, there's nothing that reassures concerned residents quite like a police meeting that begins with actual police activity:
The meeting was attended by 60 or so residents. Just before it began, police said they recognized a “person of interest” in an ongoing criminal investigation in the lobby of the community center. A police officer excused himself from the panel to go question the person. “We are doing police work all the time,” joked Laura Redman, a crime prevention officer for the Reston District police station.
Did they ask if his SmartTrip balance was in the red?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Flashback Monday: Reston, In All Its 8-Bit Glory

Sure, today Reston is home to high-tech companies like Google and Microsoft. We even had an Apple store a decade or two before they started selling those, whazzitcalled, iPods. But did you know that back in the dawn of the personal computer era, Reston was home to a software company so rad that they named it after the rad planned community that it called home?

That's right, if you had a fancy Atari 800 or Apple II, you could buy a giant, plate-sized floppy disk with Reston Software's programs on it. Set the controls of the Earth-Toned Wayback Machine to 1983, and we'll show you the hours of fun to be had!

There's Paint, which allowed early adopters to... um, paint we guess. No word on whether only earth toned colors were available in this Reston Software offering.

Then there's QuickFlix, which allowed programmers and nonprogrammers to make animated sequences and games. We're not sure, but maybe we can blame today's tedious Powerpoint animations on these guys.

Turns out there's still a Reston Software today, but they focus on your typical bomb-strapping-to-dolphins engineering kind of stuff that dominates the DC tech sector. And the original Reston Software's parent company, Reston Publishing, was "in the foreground of technical-book publishing when microcomputers were still becoming available," says Wikipedia. (You can read one of their books here.) Reston Publishing was part of Prentice Hall, which in turn is part of education giant Pearson.

Sadly, Reston Software's best-selling program, Virtual DRB, must have been lost to the mists of time. With 256-color displays at best, the technology at the time was too crude to capture the difference between Burnt Ochre and Beachwood. Besides, using a keyboard to tally up design violations couldn't possibly have been nearly as fun as using a touchscreen on today's tablets and phones to circle the offending dangly bits. Who knows, maybe it's time for Reston Software to rise again, using an idea we suggested some time ago:

DRB Something.jpg