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I’d like to take a moment to thank my relatives for the lovely Christmas gifts…

December 31, 2006, 1:39 AM

I went to Charlottesville after work today to redeem the gift cards I received for Christmas. I received a gift card to Circuit City from Uncle Johnny and crew, and a gift card to Best Buy from Uncle Bruce and crew. I was quite pleased.

So in the end, the Schumins of New Jersey ended up getting me the second season of The Cosby Show at Best Buy, and the Bowmans of Connecticut ended up getting me the third season of The Golden Girls and also Trading Places starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy at Circuit City. Needless to say, that worked out really well, and it will provide me with entertainment for hours on end.

And for The Golden Girls, that’s three seasons down, and four more to go.

Plus I had fun in the process. For some reason, I enjoy running around through those stores, though I admit that the help is not exactly helpful in either one of those stores. Not once was I approached by a salesperson in either place asking if all was well, and the one I approached at Best Buy didn’t even speak to me – he just pointed at the movies. I know how customer service ought to be, and I deliver it in my own workplace. I could customer service circles around those salespeople.

Along with the other DVD sets, add to this what my parents got me – the fourth season of Roseanne, which means I now have two seasons (the other being the first), with seven more to go. Not too shabby, if you ask me.

So all in all, I was pleased, and thank you to all involved for the great gifts.

Categories: Christmas

Unlocking Mom’s inner railfan…

December 27, 2006, 3:53 PM

Slowly but surely, I am unlocking Mom’s inner railfan. Today, on a trip to Washington that consists of Mom, Sis, Sis’s boyfriend Chris, and me, she chose to sit at the railfan window out of Huntington, commenting that she used to do this on the high-speed line in Philadelphia in the 1970s. It seems Mom thoroughly enjoyed her time at the railfan window of Breda 3087 from Huntington to Pentagon City.

Otherwise, we’ve had a fun trip. Sis did a bit of shopping, as we hit a vendor at Rosslyn, and right now, she and Chris are running through Pentagon City Mall. We also went to Chinatown in DC, where Mom learned that Chinatown’s not so Chinese anymore. Da Hua Market is gone, and a number of the restaurants are closed as well. It’s become very gentrified as of late, especially with the first thing you see when exiting via the Chinatown exit of the Gallery Pl-Chinatown station being a United Colors of Benetton store. But we still had a good time. Then we also visited the George Washington Masonic Memorial. All in all, a fun time was had by all.

And then we’re going to Murali at Pentagon Row for dinner. After that, our group parts company for a few hours, as Mom, Sis, and Chris are going to a play at the Kennedy Center. While they see a play, I’m meeting my friend Matthew Tilley, and we’re going to, like, chill for a few hours. Then we’re all getting together after the play, and riding back to Vienna. Then we go drop Matthew off at his house, and the rest of us go back home. All in all, a fun time shall be had by all.

And I have to figure out what to buy with a $40 Circuit City gift card, and a $25 Best Buy card. Hmmm…

Categories: DC trips, Family, WMATA

Taquitos? Looks more like cigars to me!

December 25, 2006, 11:19 AM

I was watching “I’m Dreaming of a White Ranger”, which was the third-season Christmas episode on Power Rangers. That was the one where Rito Revolto took over Santa’s workshop, forcing the elves to make Rita and Lord Zedd’s toys. The Power Rangers came to fix things up, but due to various odds and ends, they were unable to morph. Of course, the bad guys’ powers didn’t work, either, so all is fair. They just ran on being bad guys.

The scene I find amusing, though, is the scene where Lord Zedd is having his favorite snack: taquitos and dry ice. They didn’t do that great of a job showing what these things were. It looked like Zedd was having a good smoke over there, to be quite honest. See for yourself on these stills from that episode:

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Categories: Christmas, Power Rangers

“…I pack ’em and I wrap ’em, and stick on a bow or two!”

December 24, 2006, 8:14 PM

Well, maybe “eventually” needs to be inserted in there somewhere. I bought all the presents weeks ago, and I haven’t wrapped any of them. They’re all still in the various shopping bags, and now it’s Christmas Eve. I have the wrapping paper and the tape, but now I’m procrastinating, trying to put off the inevitable – having to wrap the stuff, even though the paper will all fly off in twelve hours.

Meanwhile, I came up with the best term ever for last-minute shoppers: I call them “the ‘oh, s—‘ crowd”. The ones that say, “Oh, $&%#, I forgot to buy Aunt Bertha a gift!” and then run to Wal-Mart.

And we’ll be opening presents at 9 AM tomorrow morning. I want to sleep in. I said, “Will the presents still be there at noon? Then let’s open them then.” I want to sleep in on Christmas, and open presents later on. I don’t consider this to be that difficult of a concept. But the family wants to open gifts at 9 AM. And with it being three-to-one on that, I lose. Still, I’d prefer sweet sleep.

And lastly, one wonders if Santa’s ditched the sleigh and reindeer for something more modern:

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Categories: Christmas, Walmart

Eating a spoonful of cinnamon…

December 22, 2006, 10:52 PM

I recently watched a video on YouTube of one of the participants on my discussion forums eating a spoonful of straight cinnamon. Literally, straight cinnamon. He poured some cinnamon from a bottle directly onto the spoon, and swallowed it.

And I would say that he paid dearly for it, as evidenced by his facial expressions. And the ginger ale that he was drinking didn’t help any, as the carbonation had to make it worse. If it were me, I’d have used water or milk.

It reminds me of what I used to do my freshman year of college with the ramen noodles. I used to remove the flavoring package, and then mash up the dry noodles in the package, and eat them like potato chips. Then with the flavoring package, I’d eat that straight. That was a strong flavor right there, mostly in the salt content. VERY salty. Makes your eyes water. I also don’t recommend that anyone else do that.

Of course, we didn’t have YouTube during my college years, or else I might very well have made a video of it and posted it online. Of course, in my early videos with Big Mavica, I was big on capturing crazy antics from a behind-the-camera vantage point. Then and now, it’s rare that I’ll make an appearance in front of the camera, but it’s been known to happen.

And as far as cinnamon goes, I know that too much cinnamon with food in much smaller amounts than that makes me uncomfortable. I can’t imagine what it feels like to eat that much cinnamon at once.

Categories: Amusing, YouTube

When food attacks?

December 22, 2006, 10:28 PM

I have a feeling that I must have eaten something that was not quite right today, because around 3:00, I started feeling really bad, and became somewhat feverish. I felt really bad driving home, but still went right back out after work to take care of some stuff.

At least I’m not going to miss any work on account of this little bout of food poisoning, unlike what happened last time, when I took my first and only sick day from work. While I was out, the fever broke, I cooled right down, and life was once again good.

Of course, the thing that always gets me when it comes to eating something that ends up attacking back is not knowing exactly what the culprit was. Everything I ate today was just wonderful, at least from my point of view at the time. So who knows.

Somehow, I’m thinking that a new machine might just be what I need…

December 22, 2006, 1:41 AM

Remember back in September when I spoke of whether to put my current computer through a second rehab or replace it? Well, I’ve decided. I’m going to get a whole new computer. I figure that with the computer coming up on nine years in May, it’s time. I’m going to get a Dell, but I’m going to wait until Windows Vista comes out before taking that plunge. I find it to be an unnecessary bother to get a new machine shipped with Windows XP, and then have to turn right around and upgrade it to Vista. I did that with my present computer, which shipped with Windows 95 and came with a free upgrade to Windows 98 when it came out that summer. It was a tremendous waste of time, especially when everything didn’t work right at first. I ended up having to do a clean install of Windows 98 to get it to work correctly. Yucko.

And what will I be doing with my present workhorse, my Gateway? Well, it still works like a charm, but it’s just really old. So once I get all my stuff moved over, I’m thinking about converting it to a Linux machine. I’ve never used Linux before, and I want to learn. And so a spare computer to learn Linux on would work. So my “real” computer would be Windows, but having a second, separate computer running Linux would be just awesome.

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Categories: Computer

What is wrong with this picture?

December 20, 2006, 7:49 PM

Categories: Martin's

I found an article for the incident on U Street

December 19, 2006, 9:06 PM

I Googled it, and indeed I did turn something up. It turns out that what was going on over by the 7-Eleven at the corner U and 12th Streets was about a 51-year-old man shooting another 51-year-old man on the street.

What gets me is that at the time the incident took place, it was broad daylight, and U Street was bustling with people. Therefore, lots of witnesses around. I think I can attest to that considering there were a lot of civilians (as in non-cops) right there. I did not witness the actual event, just to make that perfectly clear. I didn’t see the shooting, and I didn’t hear the shooting. The closest I got to the action was the 13th Street entrance to the U St/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo Metro station, which was nearly a block away. Police and ambulance units were already on the scene when I came out of the station.

If you can imagine this…

December 18, 2006, 7:53 PM

Picture with me if you will…

I’m walking up Diagonal Road in Alexandria towards the Old Town Transit Shop, and right when I get there, I hear a loud crashing sound and see sparks. Then I see a tire rolling down towards King Street station. A gentleman in a red SUV actually dropped a wheel! Literally dropped a wheel, as the left front wheel separated from the car and, now liberated, went rolling on its own down the hill. My exact reaction was to say a four-letter word that I can’t say in this space. So I went in to see my friend Tristan, and what did we do? We went outside to look. We both couldn’t believe that this guy had dropped a wheel. But the car was visibly off-kilter, leaning down in the direction of that missing wheel. I’m sure that the guy was not happy about that.

Otherwise, I had a lovely walk in Georgetown, discovering The Shops at Georgetown Park, which is a very expensive three-story shopping mall on M Street. I got a few pictures of it, and I’m going to tell Sis about it, since she loves to shop. Those of you who have seen the movie First Kid will know Georgetown Park, since that is the place where the big hostage/shootout scene happens.

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DC on a Monday…

December 18, 2006, 4:08 AM

And now at this early hour, I’m getting ready to go to Washington DC. This would be the second time going to DC on a Monday, and the first “regular” trip (the previous one was done via Richmond).

This will also be the last truly regular DC trip for a little bit, as stuff is planned for the next four. December 27 is when I’m going with Mom, Sis, and Sis’s boyfriend Chris and doing what I call “refereeing”. My job is to keep Mom entertained, and to pull Sis and Chris apart whenever they begin a public display of affection, which makes both Mom and me uncomfortable. Then January 4 will likely be a demonstration – World Can’t Wait demonstrating against the Bush Administration on the opening day of the new Congress.

January 16 will be a trip with my friend Katie, finally making up for a trip that never happened on February 2, 2005. That trip was one I called the morning of and cancelled, since I was in so much pain due to an inflamed pilonidal cyst that I couldn’t move, and I certainly couldn’t imagine myself in DC with that much pain. That ultimately resulted in this, where the pilonidal cyst was removed, which put me out of work for two weeks. The DC trip itself was made up the next week, but Katie couldn’t come with me. Now this will finally tie up that loose end, because despite having a very legitimate reason for cancelling, I still felt bad about having to cancel. Normally, I don’t cancel as a rule, but there you go. Likewise, my “snow rule” is that if it’s not snowing at the scheduled start time, we’re going. We might have to abort en route or leave early if it starts snowing hard, but that’s the criteria for starting up.

Then January 27 will be a United for Peace and Justice demonstration, where we will be demonstrating against the Iraq War. That ought to be exciting, and I’ll be interested to see who shows up to that one.

So there you go! And my plans today will hopefully take me into Georgetown from Rosslyn via the Key Bridge. It will be a bit of a walk, but it should be fun.

Categories: DC trips

This is the kind of stuff that happens to other people…

December 14, 2006, 9:21 PM

I still remember the day I bought it new… I bought my wireless keyboard and mouse on March 9, 2002, at Best Buy in Roanoke. Now fast forward to December 14, 2006, as I buy another wireless keyboard from the Wal-Mart in Staunton.

Why? Beverage accident. I spilled a soda all down my keyboard, and after that, it ceased to function. I always used to laugh about people spilling drinks in their keyboard and such. I don’t laugh about it anymore, and that started the moment that my Coke Zero contacted the keyboard. Needless to say, I let out a classic four-letter word right on the spot, and then looked at it for a moment before realizing that I had papers and such I didn’t want wrecked by soda. Therefore, I had to clean it up. That was a joy and a half, as I went and mopped up all the liquid on my desk, and wiped everything down. Greeeeeat.

And I still say that this is not supposed to happen to me. These things are supposed to happen to other people. I’m referring to no one in particular when I say “other people”. I just mean “not me”. Still, that was an expensive lesson to have to learn about why one must be careful with drinks around computer keyboards.

This also marks the second keyboard of mine that I’ve destroyed. The last one I managed to wreck was when I broke the spacebar on the keyboard that came with the computer. I remember it was when I was playing a cow-milking game on coffeebreakarcade.com. My friend Sarah Jones recommended it to me, and the idea was to milk the cows and make sure that all the cows survived the round. If you let them go too long without getting milked, they exploded and died. If you over-milked them, they shriveled up, fell apart, and died. The spacebar was the milking key. It’s called Udder Insanity. Fun game.

Categories: Computer, Food and drink

Leak update…

December 14, 2006, 6:07 PM

Whitesell’s is going to fix the leak, no problem. Just give them a few hours with the Sable, and all will be well. The problem, however, is going to be in finding a time to actually give up the Sable for those few hours for them to re-seal it all. I’m off Monday and Tuesday next week. Monday is a DC trip, and then Tuesday will be the car.

So it ought to make for an interesting return from Monday’s DC trip should things work out as I hope. That would take the Sable from Washington directly to Waynesboro, and then I’d pick the Sable up Tuesday afternoon after someone gets home from work to take me back to Whitesell’s.

Needless to say, that will be an interesting end to a DC trip, with my landing at Whitesell’s instead of at home. The last time I took a DC trip that ended anywhere but my house in Stuarts Draft was actually April 12, 2003 (see A Protest Against the War for what happened that day). That trip ended at Potomac Hall at JMU. This time, Dad’s going to meet me at Whitesell’s, and he’ll take me the rest of the way home. Then someone will pick me up to take me back to Whitesell’s in the evening. Then the Sable will be all ready for another run to work the next day.

So there you go.

Categories: Mercury Sable

That ship looks vaguely familiar…

December 14, 2006, 2:09 AM

Take a look at this editorial cartoon by Jim McCloskey, the editorial cartoonist at the Staunton News Leader:

"American Star" featured in a political cartoon

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Categories: Virginia local news

What a surprise to see water streaming in…

December 14, 2006, 1:28 AM

I took the Sable to the car wash after work today to wash off whatever assorted road boogers had accumulated on the car. This would also be the first time I’ve taken the car through the car wash since the repairs were completed. I was quite surprised to see, as the machine made its various passes, that water was coming inside via the upper right (passenger) corner of the windshield.

I figure it’s probably a bad seal in that area. I also figure that the problem came about when the windshield was replaced, as this didn’t happen with the old windshield, and I’d taken it through the car wash a few times. The problem also doesn’t show itself in normal rainy driving, or even heavy rain, as I’ve taken it through heavy rain on the way home from Washington on a few occasions. Most recently was on November 7, when I had, to quote my November 8 Journal entry, “medium-to-heavy rain for much of the drive home, and wet conditions for the remainder.”

Still, that was a surprise to have water coming in, and I’m certainly glad I didn’t have a passenger with me at the time, because they would have gotten wet. That would certainly have been an unpleasant surprise for them.

So now I have something to do on Thursday. I’m going to go to Whitesell’s and get this problem fixed.

Categories: Mercury Sable