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I went to Harrisonburg today…

July 6, 2004, 9:35 PM

Yeah, I had to run a few errands over in Harrisonburg today, and so that gave me an excuse to go visit JMU. That was fun. I took Big Mavica with me, and so I took some photos of Potomac Hall, the new fire alarm system in Warren Hall, and the progress of the renovation work on Harrison Hall. So that was fun. JMU is doing some changing, all right. They’re also continuing with the work on bricking over the drive right in front of Wilson Hall.

It was also really cool to be photographing Potomac Hall again! I needed some “authentic Potomac Hall” for my new College Life site, and so that felt really nice to be back there again. My exact comment to myself was, “I feel like I’m home again.” I didn’t go in, since it appeared that the place was empty anyway. But I did get to see Potomac’s housekeepers again, whom I hadn’t seen since May 2003. They were all glad to see me again, too.

What amazed me the most about my trip to JMU was the new fire alarm system in Warren Hall. Recently, Warren and Taylor Halls each got new fire alarm systems. Recall that these two buildings share a few levels, and when the fire alarm goes off in one, it trips the other. The fire alarm system in Taylor was replaced last December, with that side getting a new Simplex alarm system. They replaced the smoke detectors and the pull stations, but they did not replace the horns and strobes. Those were non-ADA compliant Edwards horn/strobes from 1993, when Taylor was built. Which I thought was strange, both right afterwards, and even more so now, which you’ll see why after I tell you more. Now the new fire alarm system in Warren Hall that they installed also replaced the smoke detectors and the pull-stations, but they also ran new wires with related conduits for new Simplex notification appliances (horns and such) on the Warren Hall side ONLY. Stranger still that on three of the four floors, this was replacing already-ADA-compliant Gentex equipment installed during the 1999 renovation of the third through fifth floors of Warren Hall (Warren no longer has a first floor, since the floor numbers between Warren and Taylor Halls were synchronized with each other when Taylor was built, and Taylor has a first floor). So they mostly replaced ADA-compliant equipment, and provided about the same or less coverage as before in most areas (they did add some new coverage, though, in some rooms). But they still left the old horns in the other area, and did not upgrade there.

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Categories: Fire alarms, JMU

July 4: A colossal non-event

July 5, 2004, 7:02 AM

Yeah, I had to work on the Fourth of July. 2-11, too, which meant no fireworks. Oh, well. Just as well, though, I guess, because it rained anyway. I was on my lunch break at work, and I commented, “Please tell me that’s someone making a lot of noise on the roof and not thunder again,” since that would be our third or fourth consecutive night with thunder and lightning. And lightning was twinkling up above for quite a bit of the ride home, too.

Speaking of the ride home, though, that was an interesting experience. Let me tell you what’s going on. The road that I take most of my trip to work on, US 340 (Stuarts Draft Highway/Rosser Avenue), is a four-lane divided highway from the edge of Stuarts Draft until well into Waynesboro (beyond Wal-Mart). As a result, you have two lanes going northbound, and two lanes going southbound, separated by a wide median. So I’m going southbound to go home, in the left lane on my side. I see headlights ahead of me, and I’m looking at them, and I’m thinking, those headlights are at the wrong angle from me to be going north. Turns out that the headlights were going north, specifically, headed directly at me. So I moved over to the right lane, and we passed harmlessly. Considering the speed at which this person passed me, they were going full speed down the highway, on the wrong side of the road. If I hadn’t moved, we would have had a head-on collision at 55 miles per hour. Unpleasant? You bet.

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Categories: Driving, Weather

And now the car is dry again

July 2, 2004, 6:07 PM

And thank goodness for that, too. Turns out that the “hot box” treatment worked just fine, where I shut all the windows and left the car out in the sun. Totally dry the next day, and was greeted by a mass of warm, moist air when I opened the door. And then when I got it all vented, it was good as new. Then after I finished running my errands and then some driving around, I cleaned up from Thursday’s storm, getting some Great Value window cleaner (aka Wal-Mart brand Windex) and wiping down the entire front end of my car. And getting the rear view mirror clear again.

Otherwise, though, I have a lot less hair now. I finally got a haircut today, which was a long time in coming. I think if I had gone any longer without getting a haircut, I could have rented myself out as a mop.

Categories: Toyota Previa

One more thing about the storm…

July 2, 2004, 1:38 AM

One more thing… a number of people’s cars were damaged by not only the hail, but also the wind. The hail was an obvious one. Golf-ball sized chunks of ice can do some serious damage to a car. One person’s windshield was cracked as a result. The wind did some damage by catching the shopping carts, sending them flying into cars, and also literally spinning in the parking lot. A dangerous combination.

Me, my car came out unscathed, except for one minor problem… I left my windows open a crack to let the heat out. Remember it was sunny when I came to work. So I got to my car for my lunch break, and it had rained in. A lot. Usually a little crack doesn’t let any water in, but with the wind, it really rained in, getting the entire front seat area all wet. No damage. Just wet, and it’s already mostly dry. But still… even with the windows cracked, the storm was going so hard that it got my rear view mirror dirty, perched high up in the center of my car. I’m like, whoa.

Just remember that I am driving the car that a friend of mine described as “The car that will not die”. It’s fourteen years old now, you realize. We got it when I was nine. And it’s been through three major accidents (street sign by Mom, deer by Dad, and hillside by me), one minor accident (a small fender-bender last September), a few slides off the road in bad weather (unscathed each time), and God knows what else. It’s like Bill Clinton – the comeback kid. Or like that Chumbawumba song, where they say, “I get knocked down, and then get up again”.

Right now, though, I just need a dry day to let this car air out. And of course, I have to clean the front of the car again, which I just did on Monday. Now it looks like it never happened.

Categories: Toyota Previa, Weather

Wild weather!

July 2, 2004, 1:21 AM

Boy, did we have some wild weather today! A tremendous thunderstorm came up out of nowhere around 5 PM (literally out of nowhere – it was sunny when I left for work at 1:30). This thunderstorm was amazing. Winds like mad (so I’m told – no windows at Wal-Mart), really heavy rains – enough to hear it on the salesfloor over the din of the customers, lightning like crazy, incredibly loud thunder (one round of thunder was a BOOM like an explosion rather than a rumble), and even hail, which you could hear on the roof.

And then, as one of our CSMs was handing me a flashlight for “just in case the power went off”, no sooner did she say it than the lights went out. Then they came back on. Then they went out for good. Let me say that the many skylights we have came in really handy, as the only parts of our store that were actually dark were the Service Desk and the other various “caves” in the store, like Layaway, the Vision Center, the Portrait Studio, etc. Those areas were dark, but we still had emergency lighting, which helped. But the bulk of the store was still very well lit by natural light.

Since we couldn’t do much at the Service Desk, since our scanners were out of service over there, they pulled me to the registers, where we hurried to get all the customers checked out despite having no belts due to no power (I told customers that I have no belt and that they should put their items at the end of the belt), and the fact that the customers had to be checked out before our backup power went out. We made it, thank goodness.

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