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See anything in this picture that raises an eyebrow?

June 14, 2004, 10:24 PM

Mall hours sign

Let’s read that last bit again: “Please note that these times will change if the National Threat Level rises to ‘ORANGE’.”

Interesting sign that the folks at Fashion Square Mall in Charlottesville put up, eh? I was watching CNN Headline News earlier today and they were talking about a perceived threat to shopping malls, and that they have no details whatsoever otherwise. Me: Well, that’s a threat that has no teeth whatsoever. A “warning” (if you want to call it that) like that is like, “Hey, America! Go shopping! We’ve got some explosive deals that will simply blow you away!” All you’re really doing is scaring the public with no real information. Oooooh, shopping malls are bad, terrorists could get you! Realize that my mother’s next meet-up with her old college roommates was moved from Washington DC to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania because one of them was afraid of “terrorists” in Washington DC. I’m sorry, but I think that’s a bit of a weak reason. I’ve gone to Washington DC before during a Level Orange alert a number of times, and I feel perfectly safe.

As you can tell, I’m not afraid of terrorists.

I also have this philosophy regarding terrorists. Terrorists could strike anywhere, any time, using God-knows-what means. Remember that September 11 was just another non-descript random date until 2001. And what can you really do about it? As Bo the Sheep said on a US Acres cartoon on the Garfield and Friends cartoon show, there are some problems you can solve, and some you can’t. There’s no sense worrying about the problems you can’t solve, when you can work on the ones you can. So if a terrorist wants to strike at, say, Bill’s House of Spuds, and I happen to be there eating the best potato I’ve ever eaten in my life when they execute their attacks, and it blows me to kingdom come, well… sucks to be me, doesn’t it?

Fine print for the Department of Homeland Security: Bill’s House of Spuds is a fictional place I just made up to illustrate a point, and should not be construed as a terrorist threat, real or imagined.

Just like how I was quite amused back in May at Smithsonian Station on the Metro, on the day the World War II Memorial was dedicated, meaning there were hordes of people from out of town in the Mall area of DC. There were uniformed officers from some DC city government department (I think Health Department) helping with security on the Metro. They were standing, keeping vigilant watch, wearing bright orange vests (as to be expected) and bright orange helmets. I struck up a conversation with one of the people in the helmets, a very nice lady. We discussed how things were going, etc. etc. etc., and I asked what was going on with the helmets. Answer? Terrorists. That’s for protection if a terrorist strikes the Metro station, and the ceiling collapses. Now mind you, Smithsonian Station is an underground station, and the ceiling is concrete. If the station blew up, falling earth and concrete would laugh at that helmet. I saw a better reason for the helmet, though: idiots. Considering the amount of out-of-towners that day carrying cameras, bags with souvenirs, and all pushing through the station to get through the faregates (this conversation took place outside of fare control in the station mezzanine), the helmet serves better purpose of protection from accidentally getting bonked on the head by a tourist’s camera or bag or getting accidentally knocked aside by a tourist who’s not watching what they’re doing.

So it’s not terrorists that scare me, since you really can’t do anything about them. It’s otherwise harmless Americans who simply aren’t paying attention to what they’re doing that keep me on edge. Since the idiot that’s running to meet his train and not paying attention to what he’s doing is more likely to kill me by accidentally knocking into me and sending me falling onto the tracks into the path of an oncoming train than a terrorist is to get me through mean and nasty terrorist methods.

Okay, end of rant.

Otherwise, I went out to Lake Moomaw today, where I went swimming, and managed to get myself a mild sunburn. Nothing to be concerned about, as it will go away in a few days. I also bought some new shirts at the Wal-Mart in Covington, which I will be wearing to work at the Wal-Mart in Waynesboro. Still, Lake Moomaw felt really good today, except that the fish were out in force. And as such, they were a pain in my butt (and constantly running into my butt). Constantly swimming around me, checking me out. Multiple fish at a time, too. I felt sorry for the three guys fishing on either side of the swimming area, though, since according to what the two of them on one side were yelling to the one guy on the other, and vice versa, they were having no luck with the fish. That’s because they were all around me in the swimming area (where you’re not allowed to fish), checking me out. If only I had a net, you know?

Oh, and one of the two otherwise foul-mouthed gentlemen on the one side of the swimming area used the word “varmint” in conversation with his buddy, which amused me. That marks the first time I’ve ever heard that word actually used. Before I’ve only heard it used on TV in western-type things, and by Yosemite Sam.

And I am officially taking a mini-vacation to Virginia Beach, as I secured my days off for it at work, and made the hotel reservations at the Ocean Holiday. I have requested a room on the top floor, as I think that will get me a really good view of the sunrise, which I plan to document again, this time with Big Mavica. And another bonus: Payday falls on the second day of my vacation, which will be really nice to have. So I figure I’m going to probably romp around in the ocean for a while, check out the Atlantic Avenue strip, possibly hit the bars on the first night, and photograph the sunrise. All in all, I’m going to have a great vacation! And then I’ll come home and be all ready for the next day back at work. Hope I have a late shift that first day back after two days at the beach. I also hope I don’t get burned to a crisp by our good friend Mr. Sun.

Needless to say, I’m excited now that I have a vacation planned for just a little less than two months from now.

And I’m going to Washington on the 23rd of this month. I have to miss the SubTalk scavenger hunt in DC on the 19th because of work, but I’ll be out there railfanning on the 23rd, checking out all that the Red Line has to offer me. Then early July, I’m going panda-spotting in DC, checking out all those painted-up pandas that local DC artists have decorated that are all around the city.

Sounds like I am going to have a fun summer!

Web site: The official Web site for our national Scare-O-Meter - pardon me, the "Homeland Security Advisory System"

Song: "I've Never Treated A Mouse" from Today's Special, which I was singing some of the way home in the car today.

Quote: I just was so amused to hear the word "varmint" get used today... hehehe...