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Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski is leaving her post in 2016. Perhaps, a career in astronomy is next? By Nancy Doyle Palmer
Photograph by Simon Bruty.

When Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland was little, her parents took her to a movie about chemist and physicist Marie Curie. Thus began her lifelong love of science. Later she got a chemistry set and imagined herself winning two Nobel Prizes. But she was clumsy in the lab, so she switched to debate and drama, then became a social worker.

Once elected to the House of Representatives, Mikulski says, "I figured if I wasn't going to develop the cure for cancer, discover a planet, or develop a tsunami warning system, I could be on the committees that support all of this."

Although Mikulski—elected to the Senate in 1986—is committed to medical research, her true love is space.

"I'd be a Trekkie in two hot seconds," she says. But she admits a more realistic job would be an astronomer.

"While I would love to go up to the distant planets and find new galaxies," she says, "I wouldn't want to be an astronaut. I don't quite see myself in the costume."

Nancy Doyle Palmer is a DC writer whose fantasy is to be a backup singer with Kool and the Gang.

This article appears in our October 2005 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:20 AM/ET, 03/03/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Seven reasons to be glad we live in and around the nation’s capital By Alyssa Rosenberg

Washington can be a city of grumblers and grim prognosticators. Disaster lurks in every election cycle. It’s all too easy to compare ourselves unfavorably with rival cities such as New York and Los Angeles when it comes to fashion and food. But Thanksgiving’s a great moment to remember why it’s wonderful to be a Washingtonian. Here are some regional reasons to be grateful this holiday season.

1. In the less-news-is-good-news category, CQ Press announced this week that Washington has moved down on the FBI’s list of high-crime cities, from 16th place in 2009 to 22nd in 2010. Improving public safety is hard and unglamorous, but the nation’s capital needs to look and feel good for residents and visitors alike. There was positive news for residents of the Baltimore-Towson area in the same survey: The region fell three places in the rankings of high-crime metropolitan areas.

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Posted at 09:03 AM/ET, 11/24/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
Know a great Washingtonian? Help us honor them. By Leslie Milk

For more than 30 years, the Washingtonian of the Year awards have been the highest honor our community bestows on the people who make this a better place. The Washingtonian is looking for the 2010 Washingtonians of the Year. If you know of someone who is helping to build a better city and region, help us recognize his or her contribution. Please send us any information you think might be helpful, and include your name and phone number or e-mail address. Winners will be featured in the January 2011 issue of The Washingtonian and honored at a luncheon at the Willard InterContinental hotel. 

Send or e-mail letters of nomination by September 30 to:

Washingtonians of the Year, The Washingtonian, 1828 L Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20046

Or e-mail

A full list of past winners appears after the jump. 

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Posted at 10:30 AM/ET, 09/02/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Washington National Opera loses a member of its chorus By Alyssa Rosenberg

All murders are tragedies for families and friends who lose people they love and for communities made uneasy by violence. And some murders, even if we didn’t know the victim personally, make unexpected holes in overlooked folds of the fabric of the city. The shooting of Don Diego Jones in Fort Dupont Park last week is one of those deaths.

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Posted at 07:39 AM/ET, 06/16/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
Put on your high heels and sharpen your claws; Bravo's DC edition of the popular show may ready to roll out at last. By Alyssa Rosenberg

When Michaele and Tareq Salahi came just a little too close to last week's state dinner for Mexican President Felipe Calderone, their swing by the White House mostly read as hubris—or an addiction to risk-taking. Turns out, it may have just been a case of great publicity instincts. Washingtonian's been tipped that a significant announcement involving Catherine Ashley Ommanney, a photojournalist's wife, interior designer, and soon-to-be memoirist widely rumored to be part of the Real Housewives of DC cast is imminent. We couldn't get absolute confirmation that said announcement will be the air dates and cast for the latest installment in Bravo's popular franchise. But for those of you eagerly awaiting the show's arrival, there's now good reason to hope.

Posted at 02:48 PM/ET, 05/24/2010 | Permalink | Comments ()
In this week’s edition of Washingtoniana—our feature where we collect your questions about Washington and do some sleuthing to find the answers—we find out the purpose of police motorcycle sidecars. By Jesseka Kadylak

Photo by Flickr user takomabibelot.

"Why do DC policemen attach sidecars to their motorcycles around this time?"

You’ve seen them around—the motorcycles with the little car attached to the side. While recreational bikers might use them as an attention getter, it serves a real purpose when utilized by the DC police force.

It helps provide extra stability during the winter months, according to Traci Hughes, the executive director of the public information office for the Metropolitan Police Department. She says that sidecars are typically attached from mid-October (after Columbus Day) until March 17.

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Posted at 10:55 AM/ET, 12/18/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
In this week’s edition of Washingtoniana—our feature where we collect your questions about Washington and do some sleuthing to find the answers—we find out the history of Malcolm X Park. By Jesseka Kadylak

How, why, and when did Meridian Hill Park become Malcom X Park? —Liz

While some might know it as Malcom X Park, the official name for the 12 acres of land between 15th and 16th streets and W and Euclid streets, Northwest, is Meridian Hill Park. It is so named because it’s located on the exact longitude of the original District of Columbia milestone marker. It became a park in 1936—22 years after construction began—according to the National Park Service.

So where did the Malcolm X nickname come from? A leader of the Black United Front began referring to the park in honor of the civil-rights leader on the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., says Simone Moffett, cultural-resource specialist for Rock Creek Park, the organization that deals with administrative issues for Meridian Hill. DC residents later voted for the name to be officially changed to Malcolm X. A bill to change the name was introduced to Congress in January 1970, says Moffett, but didn’t pass. Moffett says that because a presidential memorial is located in the park—in honor of 15th President James Buchanan—the name cannot be changed to represent another person.

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Posted at 03:08 PM/ET, 11/21/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
In this week’s Washingtoniana—our Thursday feature where answer your questions about Washington—we get the lowdown on the Maine Avenue Fish Market in Southwest DC. By Emily Leaman

Photo by Flickr user Bethany L. King 

Stephanie Caccomo asks: “What is the story behind the fish market barges on the Southwest waterfront? I think I’ve heard that they have been around for a while, but I’d love more info on their history.”

To get the facts on the fish market, we hunkered down with a stack of books and called in favors to two local historians. Read on to find out what we uncovered.

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Posted at 08:15 AM/ET, 10/30/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
In this week’s edition of Washingtoniana—our Thursday feature where we collect your questions about Washington and do some sleuthing to find the answers—we seek out the original purpose behind the traffic circles scattered throughout the District. By Jesseka Kadylak

Photo of Thomas Circle in 1922 from Flickr user NCinDC 

“I’ve been told that the traffic circles, most with statues, in Washington were purposefully placed two cannon ranges apart so the city would be defensible from any point. Is this true, in whole or part?”—Kay Larson

As far as we can tell from our research, Kay, that wasn’t quite the case—though the traffic circles did have something to do with defending the city. While the circles throughout the District may now seem like a nuisance, they were originally meant to do more than frustrate drivers. Read on for the explanation.

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Posted at 11:55 AM/ET, 10/23/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()
In this week’s edition of Washingtoniana—where we track down answers to your questions about Washington—we get the facts on the grass-covered structures at the southeast corner of North Capitol street and Michigan Avenue. By Carlos Lu

Photo by Flickr user IntangibleArts 

“What the heck are those grass-covered rounded structures at the southeast corner of North Capitol street and Michigan Avenue? They look like something out of an old war movie.” —Sarah

Although they may look like a backdrop for Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan, the structures are actually abandoned sand washers that are part of the McMillan Reservoir’s sand-filtration system.

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Posted at 06:55 AM/ET, 10/16/2008 | Permalink | Comments ()