Many adults can struggle for several minutes with a 3×3 Rubik’s Cube.
Fifth-grade student Hunter Paige at Arlington’s Cardinal Elementary School can do it in less than ten seconds.
Hunter is heading to CubingUSA this August for a national championship where “speedcubers” — people who race to solve Rubik’s Cubes — will face off against each other.
Hunter’s mother, Liz Paige, said her son become interested in cubing in February 2022.
“A few of his friends had started cubing and showed him,” Liz said. “He got curious to learn more, found some video tutorials online, and picked it up pretty quickly after that! Watched the Netflix documentary, The Speed Cubers, and was further hooked.”
Liz said early on, Hunter practiced and timed himself, then he joined an online cubing club and kept training. When local competitions started up around summer 2022, Liz said her son was eager to start competing. There, Liz said Hunter found his crowd.
“At the competitions, he meets people of all ages and skill levels,” Liz said. “One of the great things about the competitions is everyone is encouraged to not only compete but be a judge, a runner (bringing unsolved cubes to the competitors) and a scrambler (scrambling the cubes a specific way before handing off to runner). It really encourages a sense of community — it’s not just about the competition and who wins.”
The classic 3×3 cube is just the tip of the iceberg. There are quicker 2×2 cubes and more complicated 8×8 cubes, along with a variety of shapes like a pyramid or a skewb. There are competitions to solve the traditional 3×3 blindfolded or one-handed. Hunter’s done the latter with what his mom called “decent results”.
Hunter said that he likes cubing as a hobby because it’s unique and helps him stand out in a crowd. And it has paid off — in addition to the trip to nationals, Hunter is on the front page of an upcoming issue of the school’s student newspaper, The Cardinal Times.
He isn’t alone in the cubing craze: Liz said there’s a clique of students at the school that also enjoy cubing. At family gatherings, though, it’s an impressive party trick.
“I do think people are surprised to learn he’s a ‘speed cuber,'” Liz said. “There’s been many a family gathering when he’s brought his cubes and everyone’s seriously impressed by how quickly he can solve one!”
Liz said she isn’t sure how long Hunter will stick with cubing, but at the very least he’s excited for the national championship later this year.
“Beyond that… we’ll see,” Liz said.
It’s May the 4th, which means this reporter is swooping back to ARLnow like the clones arriving at Geonosis.
Today’s poll addresses one of the all-time great questions: what are your top three favorite Star Wars movies? Since the top two spots are almost guaranteed to be A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, a “Top 3” poll allows for some third-spot surprises.
Conventional wisdom would hold that Return of the Jedi is, fittingly, the third-best Star Wars movie, but the epic Revenge of the Sith has a claim to the throne as well. Among the newer movies, arguments could also be made for Rogue One, Force Awakens or Last Jedi dethroning the ewok-stuffed Episode VI.
Not to sway the voting or anything.
Meanwhile, for those looking to flex their Star Wars knowledge, Alamo Drafthouse in Crystal City (1660 Crystal Drive) is hosting a Star Wars-themed trivia event today at 7 p.m.
(Updated at 9:45 a.m.) You can’t get an trans-Pacific flight from National Airport, but with a new P.F. Chang’s location opening in the airport, you can at least get a taste of (very Americanized) Chinese food.
The popular chain opened in Concourse E (Gates 46-59) of the airport. It’s the second location in Arlington after one in Ballston (901 N. Glebe Road) and joins a bookstore and a burger joint as some of the new offerings in the airport this year.
The new 5,800-square-foot restaurant will have restaurant staples like Mongolian beef and lettuce wraps.
“The much-anticipated addition of P.F. Chang’s brings our passengers an appetizing option that completes the arrival of new dining choices envisioned for Concourse E,” said Chryssa Westerlund, executive vice president and chief revenue officer of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, in a press release. “Working in partnership with Marketplace Development, we are proud to further evolve the Reagan National dining experience through P.F. Chang’s beautiful design and elevated cuisine.”
P.F. Chang’s isn’t the only Asian cuisine at National Airport. Matsutake Sushi sits in National Hall just post-security and Wow Bao is a centerpiece of Concourse D.
Provided things go according to eggspectations, Hangry Joe’s Hot Chicken’s new Pentagon City location could hatch early next month.
The eatery is opening at 1301 S. Joyce Street in the Westpost (formerly Pentagon Row) shopping center.
Hangry Joe’s Hot Chicken is a restaurant chain specializing in — no points awarded for guessing — Nashville-style hot chicken. The menu also includes standard sides like coleslaw and loaded fries, but the stars of the show are the spiced-up chicken sandwich, chicken fingers and chicken waffles.
The new location will be the growing chain’s second in Arlington, after opening in the former Laura Cooks spot in Ballston earlier this year. The Pentagon City restaurant is just a couple of weeks away, its owner says.
“My target date of grand opening will be April 8,” Jim Hong, owner of Hangry Joe’s Pentagon Row said in an email. “It may be delayed due to the health inspection, ordering merchandise, or something popped up that I wouldn’t be aware. But I will try my best to open on that day.”
Image via Hangry Joe’s Chicken/Instagram
With Arlington getting some warmer weather, George Mason University is opening up the plaza of its Arlington campus to a series of free activities and events.
The weekly programs are hosted at Mason Square Plaza at 3383 Fairfax Drive, in Virginia Square. The weekly events started today (Monday) and are scheduled to continue through May 12.
In addition to the pre-scheduled events, the plaza also offers public amenities like cart of board games and a cart of art supplies available Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
The marquee event this week is Music on the Plaza. The event is basically what it says on the tin, with local cover band Collective performing at Mason Square on Friday, March 24, from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Other upcoming events include:
- CreativiTEA (Every Monday from noon to 1 p.m.): A crafting workshop with weekly activities ranging from rock painting to poetry and Star Wars-themed Bingo
- Outdoor Yoga with Mind the Mat (Every Monday from 5-6 p.m. and Wednesday from 6-7 p.m.): A yoga class. Attendees must bring their own yoga mat and water bottle.
- People of Mason Square (Every Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m.): A weekly interview session with “a different personality of Mason Square”
- Mason Square Market (Every Tuesday from 2-6 p.m.): A small, locally-sourced marketplace with fresh produce and other goods
- Tuesday Dance Party with Ferocity Dance (Every Tuesday from 6-7 p.m.): All levels of dance experience and all ages are invited to a weekly hour-long dance class, with types of dance ranching from merengue to swing
- Zumba Power Hour (Every Wednesday from 9-10 a.m.): A cardio dance class; all ages, fitness levels and abilities are welcome
- Tiny Stage (Every Wednesday at noon and every Thursday from 5-6 p.m.): A twice-weekly acoustic music session in the plaza, with attendees encouraged to relax and enjoy the music
- Beyond Bullet Points (Every Thursday from noon to 12:45 p.m.): A weekly gathering that invites “bright scholars, local thinkers, and change-makers to share what they are doing, researching, and dreaming”
- Barry’s Bootcamp (Every Thursday from 6-7 p.m.): A high-intensity workout. All levels are welcome, all that’s required is a yoga mat and a water bottle.
Drivers might want to keep clear of Memorial Bridge this Saturday morning: the bridge will be closed for The Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon.
While not listed among the extensive closures in D.C. connected to the race, United States Park Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Thomas Twiname confirmed to ARLnow that the bridge would be closed Saturday (March 18) morning for the half marathon.
The race is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. just east of the White House on Constitution Avenue.
While several D.C. streets will be closed to vehicle traffic from 6 p.m. on Friday to 6 p.m. on Saturday, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) said in an email that the plan is to have the bridge cleared of runners by 9:30 a.m. — which gives runners an hour and a half to run from the White House, across the bridge, and back onto the D.C. side of the course.
“The approval for the bridge closure comes from [the National Park Service] and USPP,” DDOT said in an email. “From our understanding they are supposed to clear the bridge of runners by 9:30 a.m.”
On Saturday, March 18, 2023, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon and 5K will take place in the District of Columbia. In conjunction with this event, there will be parking restrictions and street closures that motorists should take into consideration.https://t.co/8yua0QHKNo
— DC Police Traffic (@DCPoliceTraffic) March 14, 2023
Work is underway on the new Wagamama in Clarendon, which is currently expected to open around mid-year.
The opening estimate was reported last month by Restaurant Business, an industry publication.
One year after the British restaurant chain focusing on Japanese cuisine first announced it would be coming to Clarendon, to the former Oz location at 2950 Clarendon Blvd, the exterior of the building still seems in virtually the same condition it was after the Australian restaurant closed in 2019. That is, except for the removal of the signs and most of the loud yellow paint.
Brown paper now covers the windows, however, hiding the interior construction that’s well underway inside, according to a tipster.
Restaurant Business reported that the Arlington location and a new location in Dallas are expected to open “before summer.” Overall, the chain has over 200 locations across 27 countries. It is in the midst of a renewed U.S. expansion push, focused primarily on the Southeast.
The restaurant features dishes like ramen and donburi — a bowl of steamed rice with stir-fried protein and mixed vegetables — along with more pan-Asian dishes like curry. Plans for the Clarendon location include “an expansive patio,” according to a press release.
Just one month after both Loyal Companion stores in Arlington closed amid the chain’s bankruptcy, both locations are back as new pet stores.
In the Lee Harrison Shopping Center, Loyal Companion is still the sign above the storefront, but inside it has been converted into Wag N’ Wash, a pet store with a focus on pet hygiene.
Wag N’ Wash is a national chain with a few locations in the region, including one in Vienna.
As far as conversions go, the changes inside are fairly minor. Staff at the store, located at 2501A N. Harrison Street, said “it’s mostly the same stuff” with the same dog washing services Loyal Companion offered, just under a new name.
One of the few notable changes, staff said, is that eventually Wags N’ Wash will have a self-serve dog wash.
Meanwhile, a store manager at Dogma Bakery & Boutique said the new location near Clarendon — at 2509 Franklin Road — will have a soft opening later this week, perhaps on Wednesday, March 15, depending on when the shelves get set up. The store expects to be fully open next week.
Like all the cool kids, the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) is expanding to Alexandria.
The nonprofit food pantry announced in a release that it is launching a new distribution center in The Waypoint at Fairlington, an affordable housing complex at 2451 Menokin Drive that opened last year.
“This is a major step for AFAC in moving beyond Arlington to nearby areas where we can expand on our mission to address long-term food insecurity,” Charles Meng, chief executive officer of AFAC, said in the release.
Nonprofit affordable housing provider Wesley Housing is partnering with AFAC to open the site, which is the food pantry’s first in the City of Alexandria and the second outside of Arlington County, per the release.
Around 2,900 families come to AFAC each week for access to fresh and healthy groceries, per the release. The nonprofit has seen an uptick in people needing assistance, as well as higher grocery bills, due to inflation. It is bracing for more clients now that the federal government last month rolled back a pandemic-era expansion of food assistance benefits, known as SNAP.
“AFAC is already seeing a record number of families coming to our doors weekly,” Meng said in his statement. “The reduction in SNAP benefits will only drive more families to seek our services. While many low income families received an increase in the minimum wage, that increase has already been consumed by inflation especially with the cost of food.”
As part of the partnership with Wesley Housing, residents at The Waypoint who participate in AFAC’s program will receive free weekly supplemental groceries, including chicken, beef, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables and canned goods.
“Our residents in Arlington have been the beneficiaries of AFAC’s program for more than 12 years,” said Wesley Housing Director of Resident Services Irrin Suvanasai. “Mitigating food insecurity at one of our newest communities is another example of our ongoing commitment to create and operate healthy, supportive, stable, affordable housing communities.”
The West Glebe Road bridge partially reopened yesterday, though pedestrian and bicycle traffic will have to wait to make use of the span over Four Mile Run.
The bridge had severely deteriorated, requiring partial closures over the years until the bridge was fully closed last summer.
Work then began to replace the deteriorated roadway substructure, while reusing existing piers to shorten the construction time and keep costs down, according to Arlington County.
The bridge partially reopened yesterday (Wednesday) with one lane open in each direction.
According to the county website:
As of March 8, 2023, the West Glebe Road bridge is open to motor vehicle traffic, with one lane open in each direction. Pedestrian and bike traffic will continue to detour on the temporary bridge to the east of the main bridge.
The bridge is expected to fully open in summer of 2023, after completion of work on parapets, substructure, and streetlights.
The county says the next phase of construction will see the bike lane, curb and sidewalk put into place.
The Four Mile Run Trail underpass on the north end of the bridge remains closed until reconstruction is completed.
Some breaking news on the West Glebe Bridge: pic.twitter.com/QQV38teGd2
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) March 9, 2023
If you’re hitting up one of Arlington’s many St. Patrick’s Day events, your ride home could come free courtesy of a local nonprofit combatting drunk driving.
The Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) is continuing its holiday SoberRide program this year for St. Patrick’s Day 2023.
The SoberRide program will kick off at 4 p.m. on Friday, March 17, and will be active until 4 a.m. on Saturday, March 18.
According to a press release from WRAP:
During this twelve-hour period, area residents ages 21 and older celebrating with alcohol may download the Lyft app to their phones, then enter the SoberRide code in the app’s ‘Promo’ section to receive their no-cost (up to $15) safe transportation home. WRAP’s 2023 St. Patrick’s Day SoberRide promo code will be posted at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, March 17th on www.SoberRide.com.
The program is offered around the region, including in Arlington and surrounding localities.
The release noted that last year, 482 people in the region took advantage of the SoberRide program. WRAP also offers the SoberRide program on Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day, Halloween, and the winter holidays.
In addition to major sponsors like Amazon and the 395 Express Lanes, several Irish restaurants have helped to sponsor SoberRide this year, including Arlington’s own O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub (3207 Washington Blvd).