May 14, 2013, 10:09 PM
Yes, tonight’s commute was definitely more exciting than most. You may have heard about the Red Line train that caught fire this evening at Silver Spring. That was my train. Apparently the Metro gods thought we all needed a little excitement in our commutes this evening. And that’s exactly what we got.
The ride started out pretty normally. I got the train at Dupont Circle, boarding Breda 3147 – the lead car. I was doing Facebook, and noticed this man who looked like a very serious businessman in a suit with his tablet computer and all that…
…and then I noticed that he was actually playing Angry Birds on his tablet.
When we got to Takoma, the train operator powered the train down and left the cab. My first thought was that he was being relieved to use the restroom, and that a supervisor would be taking over the train shortly. But no supervisor arrived, and I was starting to get a little bit concerned about when we were going to leave Takoma station.
May 8, 2013, 11:57 PM
So last week on Facebook, a friend of mine posted a status where she scoffed at a recipe for kale pops. Basically, the gist was that it seemed gross, and this was a bit over the top for getting kids to eat vegetables. I thought it was crazy enough that it just might work, and asked my friend to pass the recipe along, which she did. Basically, to make these Yogurt Kale Popsicles, you take the kale, some nonfat plain yogurt, frozen strawberries, frozen pineapple pieces, and some stevia, and then you throw it all into a blender and blend it until it’s smooth.
This evening, I went over to Giant after I went swimming and got all of the stuff to make it happen. I had the stevia, and I had previously gotten the popsicle molds on Amazon (I tried several places locally, and none had them!). Then I just had to get the kale, the yogurt, and the fruit. Giant was out of both the frozen pineapple and the frozen strawberries (hey, it was late in the evening), and so I substituted fresh. Just as well, I suppose, considering that I was blending it all until it was smooth anyway.
And then when I got home, I started throwing things into the blender. First, the kale and the fruit:
Categories: Food and drink
May 5, 2013, 6:57 PM
As evidenced in a few places on this site, most notably the Fruit Stands set in Photography, I like photographing food. I don’t quite know why, but I enjoy it. I like capturing the details on food items. I like seeing the food items up close. It’s kind of fun like that. Since, outside of the aforementioned Fruit Stands photo set, food photos are usually not planned shoots, I don’t have my real camera around. Thus these are phone photos. Still, I have fun with them. I took some this week, so I thought I would share. Enjoy…
April 30, 2013, 5:30 PM
First of all, hello from the Microsoft Store at Pentagon City Mall:
And I am writing this on a Microsoft Surface tablet with one of those flat keyboards. Take a look:
April 20, 2013, 12:54 AM
The day after my trip out to Annapolis, I was back in the car again and headed out to Baltimore. It’s kind of funny how things work out. This vacation kind of reminded me of spring break in 2002 and 2003 back when I was in college. I planned out the vacation week with five or so different destinations in the eight days that I had available. In 2002, my destinations were (in this order) DC, Richmond, Norfolk, Charlottesville, and Roanoke, with a day in between all but Richmond and Norfolk (which involved a hotel stay). Then in 2003, I did (in this order) DC, Richmond, Norfolk, Covington/Clifton Forge/Lake Moomaw (one outing, all three destinations), Roanoke, and Charlottesville/Blue Ridge Parkway. I only took two “off” days in 2003, between DC and Richmond, and Norfolk and Covington. Now, ten years later, I had the luxury of spreading it out over two weeks, and did Stuarts Draft (intended to do Roanoke, but it got snowed out), DC, Richmond, Cumberland, Annapolis, and Baltimore. I also scouted out Glen Echo Park as a potential photography destination (spoiler: not high up on my list). And with two weeks and a few destinations planned, I kept a close watch on the weather, and that affected my plans. Richmond was moved up a day to take advantage of sunnier weather. Cumberland was similarly scheduled to take advantage of optimal weather (that’s how Glen Echo Park got included – to fill a gap in the schedule from Cumberland’s placement). And then Annapolis fit the schedule, though weather was less important there, since it was mostly to get a feel for the area and determine further location work (probably).
And then there was Baltimore. I was out exploring Fells Point on this particular day. I chose Fells Point based on an episode of Bar Rescue. One episode featured J.A. Murphy’s, which was located in Fells Point. That bar, renamed “Murphy’s Law” during the show’s makeover, had closed, but I knew that going in. No worries, though. I wanted to explore. I parked on the street (in front of Dogwatch Tavern, also featured on the episode), and went to work. In getting the lay of the land of this area, I ended up dividing it into three sections. First area was south of Thames Street. This was the harbor area. Then the next area was Broadway from Thames Street to Broadway Market. The street around Broadway Market was a bit of a choke point due to construction on either side of the building that took away the sidewalks. Then the third area was the block of Broadway between Fleet Street and Eastern Avenue. I could have gone further north, I suppose, but owing to time considerations, I cut it off there.
April 13, 2013, 5:54 PM
And this is the rest of the photo stuff that I did while I was on my vacation a little more than a week ago. I wanted to do something related to water on my vacation, as I had already done snow and Stuarts Draft, suburban places, urban places, and mountainous areas. The early plans for this involved a trip up to New Jersey to do this, but I determined that New Jersey was more than I wanted to pull off, owing to the other trips. One day, perhaps, I’ll do the Jersey shore. Stepping down from New Jersey, I thought about day tripping it out to Ocean City or Rehoboth Beach, but realized that if I was going to go all that way, I might as well just go to New Jersey. That brought me to looking at Maryland locations that didn’t involve going over the Bay Bridge. I narrowed it down to Baltimore and Annapolis, and then decided that with two days available, why not do both? So I did. I went to Annapolis on Thursday, April 4, and Baltimore on Friday, April 5. Not bad.
In going to Annapolis, I was kind of surprised at what I encountered. I knew that Annapolis was a smaller town as state capitals went, but exactly how small it was surprised me. Realize that every state capital that I had been in or through (Little Rock, Richmond, Boston, Providence) has been its own metropolitan area. Annapolis reminded me of Staunton, Virginia with a harbor on it. It was a cute town, for sure.
By the time I did Annapolis, I had done a lot of photography. By my accounting, by the time I set foot in Annapolis, I had taken 1,971 photos. So I had pressed the shutter button quite a bit. I wasn’t that interested in doing a cohesive photo set, though if I ended up getting a cohesive photo set out of it, that would be a plus. Honestly, I was just looking to see what caught my interest and looked interesting to photograph. What I ended up doing was wandering through the downtown area a bit, wandering around the harbor, and then going around the Maryland State House. I had a good time, photographing signs, architectural details, birds, some boats, and (of course) fire alarms. I feel as though I probably took more fire alarm photos in Annapolis than I did anywhere else on my two week vacation. The reason was that in Annapolis, unlike in other cities that I photographed, a lot of buildings had fire alarm notification appliances on their exteriors. Most were just bells, but I did spot one horn/strobe on the exterior of a jewelry store.
April 7, 2013, 12:28 AM
You may be familiar with Cumberland, Maryland. Whenever Mom and I go to Chicago, we take the Capitol Limited, and that train travels a route that goes through Martinsburg, Cumberland, Pittsburgh, Toledo, and South Bend, among other locations. When I take train trips, I like to look at the scenery. Some of it intrigues me, and it leads me do more research on it later. Take the Koppers facility in Green Spring, West Virginia. I always found it interesting to see these piles of neatly stacked lumber along the tracks. I researched it, and I enjoyed learning a bit more about what I had seen from the train. Towns are a similar idea. These little towns that the trains either pass through or stop in make me want to do more research. Unfortunately, many of these little towns are beyond my reach without incurring a lot of travel expenses, but for the places that I can reach, if they interest me enough, I’ll pay them a visit.
Cumberland was one of those places. The Capitol Limited spends a lot of time in Cumberland. Going west, the first thing that they do is a crew change, where they exchange engineers. Then they continue a little further west and do the passenger stop. That stop takes about ten minutes, and is also a “smoke stop”, where passengers who smoke are permitted to get off of the train and have a cigarette. While on the train waiting through the crew change and the longer passenger stop, I got to take an extended look at Cumberland. And I liked what I saw. I saw a town with some character to it, and I saw a few places that I would love to explore more deeply. I saw houses, I saw churches, and I saw the WTBO sign on Wills Mountain. And I was sure that there was much more that was interesting beyond what I could see from the train.
So this past Tuesday, I did exactly that. I grabbed the camera bag, got in the car, and headed off to Cumberland. This, by the way, is not exactly a short trip. Amtrak gives three hours and nine minutes to take the train from Union Station in DC to Cumberland. Google Maps gives two hours and 123 miles driving from my house in Aspen Hill to Cumberland Amtrak station by car. That’s going via the Intercounty Connector and I-370 to Gaithersburg, I-270 to Frederick, I-70 to Hancock, and then I-68 to Cumberland. I’ve done the drive on I-270 to Frederick a number of times in the past, and so I knew what to expect there. Interstate 70 through to Hagerstown took me over a number of hills and past the Appalachian Trail. I had taken I-70 west the rest of the way through Maryland when I went to Breezewood in 2006. Then I-68 was really awesome. The first thing you do is go through a highway cut through Sideling Hill, and then you go over a number of mountains before you arrive in Cumberland – directly in the middle of downtown.
April 1, 2013, 11:05 PM
So on Saturday, I headed down to Richmond to visit an area that I had not visited in about ten years: the Canal Walk. You may recall that I first featured the Canal Walk in 2002 in a three-part set in Photography. Then I visited the area again in 2003 for the Richmond portion of An Urban Comparison. I photographed the Canal area again with Big Mavica since I was already in the area, but I never really did much with the photos. There were three Photo Features from that day: one of the Reynolds Tobacco building, one of the skyline, and one of Riverfront Plaza. Now, ten years later, it was time to get new photos again. I didn’t expect that the Canal area would change much, but I had changed quite a bit. My Canon Powershot SX10 IS is a far superior camera to Big Mavica, and my technique has also improved. I also have a polarizing filter that I got in January, and I wanted to give that another spin. The Sandy Point photos that I took in February (photo set from this on its way before too long) came out wonderfully using it, and so I wanted to give it a spin again in a city environment.
I did the same thing that I did ten years ago, parking at the east end of the Canal and walking to the other end. Like in 2003, I walked down the Canal and then headed over to the Belle Isle pedestrian bridge. I also explored Belle Isle just a little, which I had never done before, as I had previously just gone to the end of the bridge and then turned around.
The biggest take from this trip was that the Canal area had grown up in ten years. There were some new buildings, and there were new businesses in some of the older buildings. The area had flooded in 2004 due to the effects of Hurricane Gaston. I also noticed a lot more character in the area. One semi-enclosed section of the Canal Walk now had all sorts of murals painted on it. There was also a lot more life along the Canal itself, with recently constructed housing nearby, and shops and restaurants fronting the Canal. Previously, the Canal was somewhat disconnected from the surrounding neighborhood, with not much to do on the Canal Walk except to walk. Not anymore.
March 29, 2013, 11:38 PM
Thought I’d share. Here’s a photo that Isis got of me at Landmark Mall in Alexandria today that I found amusing:
Isis found it interesting because everyone in the photo was wearing a hat in front of the “CITY CAP” sign and the mall train (both the other gentleman and I are train enthusiasts). I found it amusing because I’m standing in a common pose for me when I’m out and about. Holding my phone and tapping away. After all, those amusing Facebook/Twitter/Instagram posts don’t just post themselves, right?
March 28, 2013, 12:44 PM
So I got back Tuesday night from a trip to Stuarts Draft. That was fun, though not the fun that I was expecting. I got to visit my friend Bergit in Charlottesville, and then spent two days spending time with my parents. The original plan was to go to Roanoke with Mom on Monday and also visit friends and see transportation-related stuff, but that unfortunately got snowed out.
But first, though, in case you’re wondering what the deal with the title is, let me explain. My trip started out with proof that my kidneys do great work, and that having a cup of coffee before a three-hour road trip is inadvisable. Yes, I took far more restroom breaks on this trip than I normally would. I ended up stopping at the rest area on I-66 near Manassas, Sheetz in Madison, the new Trader Joe’s in Charlottesville, and then the rest area on I-64 near Ivy. Usually I can make it on one restroom break. But, noooooo… my body decided that this was the perfect time to unload a bunch of water. And I was not shy about discussing restrooms on social media on the entire trip. This from the Sheetz in Madison:
And I accompanied this on Instagram with the following caption: “This road trip has been brought to you by the letter P, and by the number 1.” Yep… that kind of day.
March 21, 2013, 5:58 PM
A friend of mine recently sent me a link to this article by Dr. Christopher M. Bailey, a geology professor at The College of William & Mary. The article discusses the name of a place that many people in the part of Virginia that I grew up with are most likely quite familiar with: Afton Mountain.
The article is titled, “Mind the Gap! Where is Afton Mountain?” and discusses the geology of the area, specifically Rockfish Gap, and a few quirks of the local culture. First, for those not familiar, Rockfish Gap is a wind gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which separate the Shenandoah Valley and the Piedmont region in Virginia. Because it is the lowest gap for quite some ways traveling both north and south, the area became an important way to travel east and west. Today, Interstate 64 and US 250 carry travelers through Rockfish Gap.
Technically speaking, this is Rockfish Gap, seen here in a 2003 Schumin Web file photo:
March 12, 2013, 10:16 PM
According to an article on Patch.com, since January 22, four pedestrians and one cyclist have died in collisions with cars in the eastern part of Montgomery County. The cyclist was struck in downtown Silver Spring. The pedestrian fatalities all occurred outside the Beltway. One involved a woman’s being struck while on the sidewalk, and the other three were struck and killed while attempting to cross major arterial roads in the county – specifically, Columbia Pike (US 29), Connecticut Avenue (MD 185), and Georgia Avenue (MD 97). Ken Silverman, an analyst for county councilwoman Nancy Navarro, created a map showing the location of the accidents.
Now in looking at all of this, I latched onto the fatalities related to crossing the arterials. I am on each side of the pedestrian-driver coin in Montgomery County at various times, and so I am familiar with both driving around pedestrians, and walking around cars. And I have crossed Georgia Avenue on foot many times. In these instances, the Columbia Pike incident happened in the southbound lanes at the intersection with Oak Leaf Drive in White Oak. The Connecticut Avenue incident happened at the intersection with Everton Street, in the Wheaton area. The Georgia Avenue incident occurred at the intersection with Heathfield Road in Aspen Hill. I looked at these areas, and there are some common factors in all of them:
- All three incidents occurred after dark
- All three incidents occurred at unmarked crosswalks (any intersection is considered a legal crosswalk in Maryland whether it’s marked or not)
- The main roadway in all three locations is a six-lane divided highway with three lanes on each side
- There are bus stops on both sides of the road at all three locations
- There is street lighting on the side of the road where the incidents occurred (Columbia Pike and Georgia Avenue have lighting on only one side in these areas, and Connecticut Avenue has lighting on both sides)
March 3, 2013, 10:01 PM
After all, what’s the fun of having a monkey wrench if you can’t throw it in someone’s plans, right?
February 28, 2013, 10:33 PM
Okay, this is a weird one. Now you know I’ve discussed some odd dreams in this space in the past, like the surgery dream, the derailment dream, the Power Rangers dream, the countless Walmart dreams, CFW dreams, fire alarm dreams, etc. But this one from a few weeks ago is hard to explain. But here goes.
In this dream, I was at the building where I work in DC, and I was in the office doing work. And outside, at least according to the dream, there was a volcano erupting. Yes, a volcano. In the DC area. I know. That said, this volcano was one of those explosive types of volcanoes, putting out tons of volcanic ash, but no lava, much like the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried Pompeii. In fact, in the dream, I even recalled that this was just like Pompeii. Volcanic ash was falling all over, and the entire city was going to be buried, just like in Pompeii. And we were all apparently doomed due to falling ash and poisonous volcanic gases. It didn’t matter in the dream that Pompeii was only buried under nine feet of ash and my office is on the third floor, at least twenty-some feet above street level. We were all doomed, and our building was going to get buried. Completely.
With me so far? Basically: big volcano erupts in DC area, ash falling all over the place, we’re all going to die.
The thing that got me in this dream was actually my own reaction. Of course, I’ve noticed that in dreams, I seem to often “have a copy of the script” and know many details that are taken as indisputable fact within the dream’s fictional universe as things play out. Thus how I knew volcano, ash, and pending death. The only thing I saw in the dream was the inside of my office building. Which had orange-red walls in my dream. (Go figure. The real office has mostly eggshell walls.) But as my coworkers were panicking due to our impending burial by volcano, my reaction was indifference to our fate, because I had stuff that I had to take care of. Yes, I was doing work as we were about to be buried under ash, decay completely, and then become plaster casts when we were rediscovered a thousand and some years later. And yes, the idea of plaster casts of our final positions like happened in Pompeii came up in the dream. I know.
February 26, 2013, 12:17 AM
At last, I have an outfit to go running in. Check it out:
So there you have it, I suppose. For around half the cost of a pair of compression tights at Sports Authority, I am outfitted. I got this snazzy pair of jogging tights at TJ Maxx for $15, and then I got the wicking shirt at Target for $20. Not bad, if you ask me. And, it all holds my stomach in place quite well.
And yes, I will wear shoes when I actually use this outfit for exercising. I was trying it on for the camera at home in this case, and so, yeah, I didn’t bother to put on shoes for the photo.