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Protesting leaves you SO sore…

January 29, 2007, 2:07 AM

Marching around DC for six hours at a relatively fast pace leaves you sore the next day. Specifically, my legs hurt. Whatever muscle runs along the outer sides of the thigh must have gotten quite a workout, because it’s aching today. Going down the stairs has been hell. Going up is no problem. Go figure.

Otherwise, I thought it was interesting to read this in this ABC News article:

The rally on the Mall unfolded peacefully, although about 300 protesters tried to rush the Capitol, running up the grassy lawn to the front of the building. Police on motorcycles tried to stop them, scuffling with some and barricading entrances.

I was part of that group of 300-some protesters. And it was quite an event, as this picture attests:

The J27 demonstrators at the southeast corner of the Capitol

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Categories: Anti-war, Cameras, DC trips

“GIVE US A TOUR! GIVE US A TOUR!”

January 27, 2007, 5:29 PM

So the January 27, 2007 anti-war protest went quite well. I ran with the black bloc (no surprise there). The black bloc started out at Dupont Circle, and marched down Massachusetts Avenue to Scott Circle, to 15th Street, to N Street, to Thomas Circle, to Massachusetts Avenue again, to 12th Street, to M Street (or something thereabouts – I made notes with the camera), down Mt. Vernon Place past the front entrance of the DC Convention Center where an auto show was happening (speaking of wars over oil), and down 7th Street through Chinatown and down to the Mall. We ultimately crossed the Mall, and went up Independence Avenue SW to the Capitol.

We marched up to the west stairs (right side) and were denied access (as expected). We shouted, “GIVE US A TOUR! GIVE US A TOUR!” I loved it. After a little bit here, we marched around to the southeast side of the Capitol and repeated this. Then we marched back to the west front again, and then down to 3rd Street NW on the Mall, where things got dull for a bit. Then we again stormed the Capitol, going to the left side steps on the west front. Same result. Not surprised. Then we went back to 3rd again, and had a bit of a meeting. Black bloc quickly came to a rough consensus about where to go from there. They determined to go to a recruitment center downtown. 14th and K, if not mistaken. By that time, I was wearing down, and dropped out at 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, which many of you may know as the location of Archives-Navy Mem’l station. My exact comment to myself was, “It’s been real, but I’m tired.” And I let the black bloc pass down the street.

Funny: After undoing all my black bloc finery, I spoke with a group carrying a black flag that had been in the black bloc. They didn’t recognize me. I was like, “wait a sec.” I took my glasses off again, put on the little hat, and held up a red bandanna. I said, “Recognize me now?” They’re like, “oh, yeah, I remember you!” Funny how people recognize you in an “anonymous” appearance. Black blocs are fun, though.

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Categories: Anti-war, Black bloc

The protest was interesting…

January 25, 2007, 2:10 AM

The 2007 State of the Union Address protest next to the Grant statue at the Capitol Reflecting Pool was okay (map here), though it fell below all expectations as far as attendance went.

The protest was sponsored by DAWN and World Can’t Wait. The format was two-staged. Before Bush’s speech began, speakers spoke from the “stage”, which was about three steps higher than the rest of the area. Then when it was time for Bush’s speech to start, they turned on a local radio station carrying the speech and played that over the sound system. Attendees were encouraged to react openly and loudly to the speech as they saw fit. And while the speech was going on, David Barrows, dressed as George W. Bush as the devil, acted out the speech.

The protest was less successful than expected, with attendance estimated at around 30 people (compare to an estimated 300 last year). I believe that there are several reasons for this. First of all, it was really cold out. The temperature was in the 20s – that’s pretty darn cold. But at least there was no wind. Then access to the location was a bit troublesome. From the south, the nearest Metro station was Federal Center SW, and from the north, the nearest station was Union Station. The obvious station to the uninitiated, Capitol South, was out since it’s on the wrong side of the Capitol. I went in from Federal Center SW. That turned out to be a wise decision, though I admit it was a long walk to the venue. Due to security arrangements in place related to Bush’s arrival, there were police cars at every corner, with markings for the Metropolitan Police, the Capitol Police, and the Park Police. To get to the reflecting pool from that way, you had to approach the area from 3rd Street SW and then walk around the reflecting pool to reach the Grant statue. That’s a long walk in the cold and the dark. But at least it was a clear way in. From the north, you had to deal with the streets being blocked off for Bush’s motorcade. People reported having to wait for some twenty minutes before being allowed to cross the street. Then because of the cold, the whole event broke off early.

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Categories: Activism, DC trips

Sable got slimed…

January 24, 2007, 2:39 PM

First of all, just to let you know, I did go to the protest, though I wouldn’t consider it to be as successful as many would have liked. I’ll discuss it in more detail later, because I want to look at the photos and movies from it first.

Otherwise, though, this was the Sable’s 31st trip to the DC area (my 85th since starting going to DC regularly in 2004, but who’s counting), and it was not looking all that nice after the trip was over.

The reason was the snowfall we had on Sunday. The area where I live, as well as the Washington DC area, was hit by a snow and ice storm on Sunday, January 21. As a result, the roads were salted. With the snow and ice on the ground, I took the Sable on two back-and-forth trips to work on Sunday and Monday. It still looked all right after that. And then on Tuesday, it went to northern Virginia. I-81 and I-66 were perfectly clear, though I managed to catch my fair share of residue from snow and snow removal.

I was surprised to see water laden with dissolved de-icer dripping from the ceiling of both parking garages at Vienna (where I was unable to find a parking space this time). That fell down on my car as big white drops.

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It’s never good to have your whole trip’s going on as planned in jeopardy when you’re already in the DC area…

January 23, 2007, 1:10 PM

I so hate it when I can’t find parking at Vienna. The North and South Garage were both completely full. Therefore, I had to get back on I-66 and ride the four miles or so to West Falls Church, where I finally found parking in their garage on the top level, with about five spaces remaining. So this makes the third time parking at West Falls Church, and the ninth time overall that I’ve started out from somewhere other than Vienna (three at West Falls, three at Huntington, twice at Franconia-Springfield, and once at Pentagon City).

But the important part is that I eventually found parking, even though not finding parking at my regular station kind of throws me off kilter a bit, since I have to remember to get off at West Falls Church and not Vienna at the end of the day.

Otherwise, though, my itinerary is kind of mixed up today due to the late-night protest. I went from West Falls Church to Rosslyn and did my Rosslyn thing as usual, then headed right to the Infoshop after that, where I’m writing to you now. Then from here, I’m going straight to Pentagon City, then possibly to Alexandria, and then off to Federal Center SW, to head to the protest.

So, yeah, a number of people are going to see me really early today. And I found out that people really do notice me, as the greeter at the Wal-Mart in Manassas mentioned to me that I didn’t show up on my regular day last week. Of course, that’s because I shuffled things around. The January 16 trip became the January 23 trip for the protest, and then the January 30 trip got moved to January 27 for another protest. Mom asked me how I can afford two trips in the same week, and I told her that it’s fine, because it’s not any additional trips – just a reshuffling of the DC calendar. I’m guessing that I won’t double-dip DC for a while at this point unless something comes up. Maybe a shuffle if my work schedule doesn’t work out or if weather conditions make a scheduled trip unwise, but not any additional ones.

So this ought to be a fun day. I’ll let you know how the protest goes.

Categories: DC trips

First time to DC in nearly three weeks…

January 23, 2007, 4:32 AM

Today is a DC day, and I’m ready to go, as it’s been nearly three weeks since January 4 when I last went. This trip was supposed to happen a week ago, but it got rescheduled for political reasons. You see, today is the day Bush gives the State of the Union address, and so I’m going to be at a counter-rally at the Capitol reflecting pool.

The Capitol reflecting pool, by the way, has special significance to me due to some comments Mom made. On our second-ever trip to DC in 1994, we walked from the White House to the Capitol – not a walk to be sneezed at. And in sub-freezing weather, no less. Nearing the Capitol reflecting pool, Mom said, jokingly of course, that it was the spot where all the congressmen and all the senators went to try to snap off Hillary Clinton’s bikini top. The Clinton administration was also the first time in twelve years that they’d been able to partake in snapping off the First Lady’s bikini top, too, as Rosalynn Carter was the last one that they’d been able to do it with. Nancy Reagan was “too small”, and Barbara Bush was “too old”. No word about whether Congress can have fun in the reflecting pool with Laura Bush, because Mom now denies that the exchange ever happened, but we know better.

So who knows. While Bush is blathering on about the poor state he’s left this country in after six years, maybe we’ll see a few representatives who skipped the speech playing in the pool, going after Laura Bush’s bikini top.

Otherwise, this is the first trip since the January 7 derailment at Mt. Vernon Square. And guess what one of my stops will be today – yes, Mt. Vernon Square. I’m going to the Infoshop today, and thus E01 is on the itinerary.

So wish me luck at the protest.

I can’t make it, but…

January 22, 2007, 12:11 AM

If anyone is going to be in the DC area on Monday and has a few hours to spare in the middle of the day, please consider counter-protesting against the pro-life rally that’s going on. I can’t make it because I have to work, but I will be thinking about the counter-demonstrators, and hoping that they manage to make their message louder and stronger than the pro-lifers.

If you’re interested, the counter-protest group will be meeting on the National Mall in Washington DC just outside the Smithsonian Metro station, on the Blue and Orange Line.

I hope that many will attend, and I’ll be thinking about you. And I also hope you all attend the World Can’t Wait rally outside the Capitol on Tuesday night in DC counter-protesting the State of the Union address. I’m planning on being there for that one.

Categories: Activism

Remember not to misspell, now… that’s B-O-R-F.

January 21, 2007, 10:10 PM

Occasionally I have fun with my coworkers. I recently had the occasion of having some cans of spray paint go through the Service Desk to go back to their proper department. And in the meantime, talk of graffiti came up. I made reference to the DC-area graffiti artist John Tsombikos from Great Falls, best known as the main person behind the “Borf” campaign. Of course, my coworkers had no idea. They don’t make these biweekly runs to DC like I do. I remember seeing graffiti from the train along the eastern half of the Red Line referring to “Borf”, and I was like, what-the-heck. “Borf”? It wasn’t until really recently, talking about the “disarm” message that was stenciled on the sidewalk of the Key Bridge, that I really found out what Borf was all about. Very prolific.

Otherwise, it snowed today, as the weather forecasters predicted. Actually, it snowed first, then turned to freezing rain, and then to sleet. All and all, it was not a pleasant drive to work. Actually, going in was worse than leaving. It was all still snow then. Basically packed snow all the way to Waynesboro. The Sable still drives better in the snow than the Previa did, but the trip was not without its challenges, as stopping was something of a challenge. Most notably, I was unable to stop at the intersection of the westbound off-ramp of I-64 and Rosser Avenue in Waynesboro, and therefore slid right through a just-turned red light. So yes, I ran a red light today. I did, and so did the car beside me. Both of us slid right through the red light, blowing our horns to warn any potential cross-traffic of our situation. We both got through unscathed.

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Also, do you ever have this?

January 20, 2007, 12:37 AM

Some nights when you don’t get enough sleep, getting up can be a whole lot of fun. This is what happened this morning. The real alarm clock goes off. Snooze bar gets whacked, and I get a few more minutes of shuteye. Repeat a few times. Thirty minutes past the first blast of the alarm clock, my cell phone alarm goes off.

This, by the way, is deliberate. My real alarm clock is within arm’s reach. Then my cell phone is on my desk, and therefore out of reach from the bed. Thus to kill all the alarms, I have to be fully alert.

So I tried to drown out the cell phone. Then my regular alarm goes off again. Snoozed. The cell phone also automatically snoozed, thereby going silent. I then start negotiating with myself. Seriously. I look at the time in big numbers on my alarm clock, and I think about how much wiggle room I have time-wise, and whether I can still catch a few more winks. I make my determination, and then either snooze or get up. So we look, and it’s like this: DEE DEE DEE DEE DEE *whack*.

Then of course actually getting completely up on those kinds of mornings requires a can or two of Coke Zero. Once we clear that, I’m usually good for the day, though. I just find it amazing that I found myself negotiating with myself over about fifteen minutes of sleep…

Categories: Amusing, Dreams, Myself

I would like to address something that’s been bothering me for a bit…

January 19, 2007, 11:57 PM

I’ve been listening to Bruce Williams on my iPod, and I finally hear the shows after they’re about two weeks old. I download the podcast every week, and then listen to them in the car when there’s nothing else on. So right now, I’m listening to shows from the first week of January.

One of the things that Mr. Williams brought up was why people are so strongly against wanting to see the execution of Saddam Hussein, when television shows show such violence like that on a regular basis. From my personal standpoint, I draw a big distinction. The stuff you see on television is pretend. It’s “Hollywood magic”, so to speak. A person can be “killed” for a movie, but we know in the back of our minds that they still went home at the end of the day and had dinner.

Compare to seeing the execution of Saddam Hussein. That was real. At the end of it all, Saddam was really dead. He wasn’t going home for dinner after filming was over. The term “snuff film” comes to mind. I’ve never seen a person killed in real life before, and don’t want to. Likewise, I don’t want to see an execution, Saddam Hussein’s or otherwise. I don’t want that image etched onto my mind.

Of course, I still consider the whole concept of executions to be somewhat barbaric in the first place, as I’ve discussed in this entry.

Categories: National politics

I found the beacon in Rockingham County

January 11, 2007, 2:43 PM

You may recall back in November in this entry that I was discussing a beacon visible from I-81 in Rockingham County.

Fast forward about a month and a half, and I can now tell you that I found the beacon. I was coming home from Harrisonburg last night, after attending a potluck at Rocktown Infoshop. I took Route 42 down as far as Bridgewater, and then crossed over to Route 11 on Dinkel Avenue. And there’s the light from the beacon, going around and around.

I’d spoken with some people about the beacon since I wrote my Journal entry, and they told me about an airport that I previously didn’t know about that exists in Bridgewater. I thought it was somewhat odd for an airport to be in Bridgewater, considering that the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport exists just over the county line in Weyers Cave. But okay. There’s the light, and it had been a curiosity of mine for some years.

So I turned onto Route 11 and proceeded south through Mount Crawford, and turned right onto the aptly-named Airport Road. Airport Road starts out with a one-lane bridge over some river or stream, and then follows a series of sharp curves. All the while, the beacon’s light is still visible in the distance. And there are houses on this road. I could not imagine living so close to that beacon, but still, there you go. And as I traveled along this road, the beacon’s sweep became somewhat narrower, making it apparent that I was getting closer to the source.

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Categories: Harrisonburg

No, I want a “platinum” wash, please.

January 8, 2007, 10:33 PM

The folks at All-American Auto Spa in Waynesboro ought to be ashamed of themselves for this misspelling on their wash-selection screen. It’s a real doozie, too. You can select one of three washes: Silver, Gold, and “Plantinun”. I presume that they meant “Platinum”, but that’s not what they said. Check it out:

"PLANTINUN WASH"

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Categories: Amusing, Companies

Saturday night, I had an interesting dream…

January 8, 2007, 10:56 AM

It’s not often that I’ll dream about Greta, our dachshund. Greta usually doesn’t factor into my dreams. I’ve had more dreams about fire drills in school than about Greta, if that tells you anything. I’ve also had more dreams about protests than about Greta.

But I did have a dream about Greta on Saturday night. In this dream, we had two dogs – Greta, and another, larger dog. In the dream, the dog looked like a Labrador Retriever, which is a bit bigger than Greta, a dachshund. Greta is twelve years old, and this unnamed new dog was definitely a lot younger than Greta. And despite the other dog’s larger stature, guess who was pushing who around. That’s right, Greta was showing the other dog who was boss.

I was like, go, Greta! in seeing this in the dream, because when we go on walks, Greta’s definitely the one getting her butt sniffed when we encounter other people’s dogs. So it was nice to see Greta basically taking charge, even if it was only a dream. In real life, Greta’s like those people who talk big and have nothing to back it up. The neighbors’ dogs know when Greta’s outside, because she always has a few words for them. And based on what I’ve heard Greta saying to those other dogs, I’d say that her mother would be embarrassed. Greta barks like a sailor, you see. But she’s got that fence to keep the other dogs out, so Greta can say whatever she wants and who’s going to stop her? Well, Mom, maybe.

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Categories: Dreams, Greta

I feel like such a yuppie…

January 8, 2007, 10:06 AM

Here I am, sitting in a coffee shop, working on a laptop computer via a wireless connection, with a cup of coffee on one side, and a scone on the other. I’m sitting here at Daily Grind in Stuarts Draft, looking oh so trendy here with my coffee, scone, and little mouse next to the computer. The trick, though, is not to spill coffee on the Lappy’s keyboard. That would be BAD.

Otherwise, I got the Sable inspected today. It passed with flying colors, minus the right rear tire. I got that replaced, and all is well again. I kind of expected the rear tire to fail, as I’d had trouble with it holding air for a while. So good riddance to it. I have a brand new tire now that hopefully will hold air like a pro.

And then today is an off-day because I was originally supposed to pick my friend Katie up from the Charlottesville airport today. But guess what – Katie came back home early, and to stay, too. So that airport trip was scrubbed, and I’m glad. Since she’s been back in Waynesboro, I’ve gone to see her three or four times now.

Then I’m also a bit concerned – the Green Line up in DC had its first-ever accident yesterday, as the fifth car of a six-car train derailed outside Mt. Vernon Square station, injuring 20. This is also the first accident involving CAF cars. And Mt. Vernon Square is a station I’m quite familiar with. It’s the station that services the area around the Infoshop. How weird to think of a train derailing over one of the interlockings in that area. Check out an article on the incident.

And then later today, I’m going to Charlottesville to do some odds-and-ends shopping.

Hey, isn’t that…?

January 4, 2007, 7:35 PM

First of all, after visiting my friend Tristan in Alexandria, I got back on the Metro at King Street. I literally ran to catch this train. I saw the inbound PIDS showing a Blue Line to Largo in two minutes. So I was just booking it. Dash into the station, through the faregate, up the escalator, and onto the platform just as the lights are starting to flash. And in comes this Rohr train.

*ding ding* “Doors opening! Step back to allow customers to exit. When boarding, please move to the center of the car.”

So I got on the train, and sat down. I pulled out my log, and started writing. Blue Line, Rohr 1263, origin at King Street. I’m looking at that number as I see it on the cab door and write it down, and it looks awfully familiar. So I checked my log. Sure enough, there’s 1263 at the top of my log: Orange Line, Rohr 1263, origin at Vienna, destination Rosslyn.

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Categories: Cell phone, WMATA