Survivors of the storm

Thursday - 11/1/2012, 2:00am EDT

You gotta love Washington.

Being a political town we will argue about just about anything, up to and including the weather. As in, is it nice or terrible? Like, how hard is it raining (with some saying it is just a fine mist) during a deluge? Absent heavy industry, amber waves of grain or other natural resources we find, here, that debate and strife make for full employment. For us, agreement and consensus are to be avoided wherever possible. Where else would the "sequestration" time bomb have been built?

Take our recent hurricane, please.

Even before Sandy left our area for points north and west, officials and the media were arguing about her status. As in how to describe her. When did she cease being a hurricane and morph into a tropical storm, cyclone or whatever? And what was she before she became a hurricane. And why was she a she? Why not Hurricane Irving or Clyde?

One D.C. newspaper columnist attempted to explain how much worse the storm would have been if the person he opposes were elected president.

Whatever.

The storm was a good reminder of a lot of things. Including how important (nay, critical) the federal presence is to metro Washington, which is home to seven of the 10 richest counties in the U.S. We take pride in our IT and research facilities, but few if any of them would be here if the capital were in Kansas City or Denver.

Driving to work Monday and Tuesday was a piece of cake (despite some reroutes because of flooding and downed trees or power lines) because non-emergency government workers were told to stay home. The schools in Maryland, Virginia and the District were closed too, which also helped with traffic. It was less of a break for private firms and construction jobs where workers were off the job without pay.

Although coastal areas were slammed, big time, we got off relatively easy here. It certainly wasn't nearly as bad or long-lasting as the TV weather people warned that it could — and probably would — be.

As a veteran urban warrior, my toughest storm moment came Tuesday morning. The Starbucks on my way to work shut down early. I was one of the last people admitted before they locked the doors and turned off the lights. My sacrifice was that they had run out of decaf so I had to make do with a decaf Americano.

Most people know that the government was closed in the D.C. area and other places in the path of the hurricane/storm/cyclone. But tens of thousands of feds reported for duty or teleworked from home. The DHS headquarters was filled with people. FAA had skeleton crews at airports and centers, even though most East Coast airports were closed and other flights grounded. Emergency workers did their thing.

So how about you? Did you have to come to work? If so, how come? What did you do? Did you stay home? What was it like having a surprise four-day weekend. What did you do (remember this is a family website)? We'd like to know. Dull, delicious or dangerous, drop us a note. We'll use your name, if you like, or initials or the handle of your choice.

What might seem routine or even dull to you could be fascinating and informative — or amusing — to the rest of us. A snapshot of how the other half works.

Don't be shy. Send them to me: mcausey@federalnewsradio.com


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

A year-round, bronzed tan wasn't always the sign of health and wealth it is today. In the olden days, pale skin was in. During the 1500s, European women drew blues lines on their faces "to create the illusion of translucency," according to Slate. And up until the 1800s, women often used arsenic-based skin-lightening treatments, "which put many courtesans into early graves."


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