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A regular summary of irregular news and notes from neighborhood blogs and email lists around the District.

Santa in Mount Vernon Square: Life in Mount Vernon Square is advertising photos with Santa that kids can take for free: “Have your photo taken with Santa Claus on Thursday, December 1 from 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. at 5th and K Streets, NW. Bring your camera or have us take your picture and download it from FaceBook. Free candy canes will be given to all kids (and kids at heart)!  This event is free and will go on snow or shine!  Happy holidays from Mount Vernon Triangle CID!!!

Emergencies Aren’t What They Used to Be: Penn Quarter Living notes the cool looking emergency call boxes dotting city streets: “I’ve often walked by these fixtures on the sidewalk and wondered what they were.   It turns out these are the old fire and police emergency call boxes.  Based on some web research, they were first installed in DC in the late 1800s and were used up until the 911 system was established in the mid 1970s. Around town, some have been transformed into colorful pieces of art as part of a restoration project called Art on Call.  I’ve done some searching and haven’t been able to find a complete listing of the ones in our neighborhood.    If you happen upon one, please leave a comment with the location and if it has been transformed into a piece of art or not.”

Dinner and A Show: Dining next to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta can’t salvage a bad meal, according to In Shaw, though a diverse wait staff sort of can: “The Help and I went on our date night last at i Ricchi (1,000 Opentable points plus a Spotlight coupon) and two or three tables over was the Secretary of Defense. You’d think such a restaurant would have great food if it can attract the likes of Mr. Panetta, alas no. With the exception of the soup, I’ve had better at Olive Garden. Maybe it was the atmosphere, which was great, once I got comfortable with something I noticed. Almost all the waitstaff were African American men, giving me throwback visions of what dining in the early half of the 20th century must have looked like. But hey, this place hires black men for the front of the room, which is a good thing and sort of makes up for the crappy entre that ruined my meal.”

DDOT Cares: Congress Heights On The Rise is encouraged by a letter she got from DDOT after the parking meter debacle: “When I got into the office today I found this letter from DDOT informing the Anacostia community of Safety Improvement Project taking place on MLK, Jr. Ave SE. Weather permitting construction will begin Monday, December 5, 2011. Outreach is more than a flyer but and a letter is a good start of a more comprehensive outreach plan. Looking forward to seeing that they rest of the plan is. This could definetly [sic] become a teachable moment in how DC agencies communicate with communities East of the River.”