You know, I’d wanted for years to have a life in and around Washington. Now, I’m going to be glad to spend a week away from it next month.

July 17, 2008, 11:25 PM

Yeah, it’s time for a change of scenery. After all, I’ve been living in Silver Spring and working in Washington for a year and two months now. Amazing how time flies. But yeah, in a little more than a month, I’m taking my vacation! I’m going to Virginia Beach, and I’m excited. You do realize I’ve not been on a get-out-of-town vacation in three years, don’t you. The last time I went was in 2005.

This one ought to be a lot of fun, though. Usually when I go to Virginia Beach, I go by myself, and tend to concentrate on my photography, with a bit of a change in scenery. And this year… new equipment! While we certainly miss Big Mavica, its optical zoom sucked. And that was a real bummer in 2004 and 2005 when I hit the beach with it, and I couldn’t get close-in ocean shots from the hotel balcony. Now mind you, I think Atlantic Sunrise in 2004 was a great photo set. But I didn’t get a lot of the close-in detail that I really enjoyed in Sunrise at Virginia Beach from 2000. The close-ups really made the earlier set special, and technical limitations prevented me from doing that again in 2004. Now I’ve got a 12x optical zoom, and different nighttime settings, so we’ll see what happens this time around.

But what really excites me is the idea of using my waterproof “duckie” camera. I’d love to take that one out into the surf and see what I can get. After all, the thing is waterproof, so we might as well make good use of it. Big Mavica, to quote Fenton Crackshell from Ducktales, was “more gizmo than duck” when it came to water. So taking “duckie” in the ocean really ought to be fun. Might even cause me to spend a little more time in the ocean than I did last time. I think last time, out of four days, I spent a grand total of three hours in the water. But yeah, with “duckie”, it ought to be fun.

Yeah, I can’t wait until August 24…

Categories: Cameras, Travel

Even if it does just pain you to get a water cup, you’re not supposed to overtly show it…

July 16, 2008, 8:37 PM

This week, I’m not at the office as I usually would be. I’m at American University all week at Plone Bootcamp along with two of my coworkers. It’s been very interesting, as I’ve been learning about Plone, an online content management system that’s somewhat similar to a few things I’m used to, but on a far deeper level than anything I’m used to. It’s interesting, and I’ll get the hang of it. And I’ve been taking the Lappy along for this, and so we’ve been bonding all week. I figured that rather than borrow one of the Mac laptops from work, for this week, I’ll just use my own personal laptop, a Dell Inspiron.

And then meanwhile, there’s the lunch hour. I’ve had a wonderful time getting to know various other people in the class. There’s an Einstein Bros. in one of the buildings near where we’re having the class, which is where I’ve been getting lunch. And obviously, they didn’t hire the woman with the mustache working behind the counter for her personality. She is not a pleasant person. Her style is almost confrontational in asking us what kind of sandwich we wanted. After all, who are we to be asking for a meal from her? Puts me slightly on the defensive as soon as she says it. And I don’t even get a custom-built sandwich. I get the Italian chicken sandwich, where the only question I get is whether to get lettuce and tomato on it, and then I get a fruit cup with it.

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Categories: Some people, Work

I am officially a Suppressive Person!

July 14, 2008, 8:28 PM

I felt so honored today when I got home after work and found a letter at my door. I took a look at it. The letter was dated July 9, 2008, and was from the law firm of Johnson, Pope, Bokor, Ruppel & Burns. The letter indicated that their firm “has been retained by the Church of Scientology International in connection with a series of terrorist threats against Church leaders and parishioners made by an internet group known as ‘Anonymous’.”

My favorite part is near the end:

We are sending you this letter because we have reason to believe that you are associated with and have been assisting Anonymous in its campaign against the Church. In particular you were identified as participating in “Anonymous” activities against the Church in Washington, DC on June 14, 2008.

The purpose of this letter is to place you on notice that the activities of Anonymous in inciting violence against the Church and its members and engaging in acts of terrorism […] violate State and Federal law. We demand that you immediately cease all such activities. Should your organization continue inciting and/or engaging in violent acts against the Church or its members, we are prepared to take any and all steps necessary to protect our client, including referring the names of persons to State and Federal authorities.

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Categories: Project Chanology

A prostitution ring in Dupont Circle station?

July 11, 2008, 12:13 AM

That just blows my mind. Two Metro employees are accused of running a prostitution ring out of the Dupont Circle Metro station. According to the July 10, 2008 Examiner article called “Metro manager accused of prostitution agrees to life skills, education program”, station manager Sharon Waters, dubbed the “Metro Madam”, and custodian Pam Goins were accused of “arranging sexual trysts for money”, even going so far as to use the station’s PA system to “facilitate an arrangement”.

You may recall that Dupont Circle is my work station. I go through Dupont Circle station twice a day every day, and have seen both female station managers and female custodians at the station. So now I wonder if it was anyone I know, since I occasionally talk to personnel in the station, especially if I worked late and I know there won’t be a Glenmont train for a number of minutes.

Of course, the PA system part really gets me. Have you ever heard Metro station PA announcements? They’re not exactly the gold standard for clarity. In fact, most of them are downright unintelligible, particularly the ones piped in from Central Control. The announcements that originate from the station manager’s kiosk are a bit better than the ones that come from Central, but still not exactly crystal clear, especially since the primary construction material in most stations is concrete. Too many announcements sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher, i.e. completely unintelligible. Maybe those hooker announcements sounded a little better, but who knows.

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So what’s the story here?

July 2, 2008, 11:45 PM

Looks like there’s more than just Breda 3290 and 3291 as a mismatched set in Metro’s 3000 series of rail cars. Look at this:

Breda 3193 and 3218 mated together as a pair

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Categories: WMATA

“What do you know that I don’t?”

July 1, 2008, 2:22 PM

Well, the Sable’s in the shop at Lindsay Ford in Wheaton, after I had it towed there late last night. That was not a fun experience last night, but the tow guy was really helpful, meeting me at Glenmont, among other things, making it far easier.

So first thing in the morning, as I’m tying my shoes to go out, I got a call from the folks at Lindsay. They want to know what to do with the remote. I said I just need to get it programmed again, since it quit working when I had the battery replaced back in December. Okay. Pretty straightforward.

Then at around a quarter to two, I got a call from Lindsay’s sales department, as a gentleman was looking to see if I was interested in something a little newer. My exact response: “What do you know that I don’t?” Once I watched him start doing some major back-pedaling, I realized what he was up to, as service just casually gave my name to sales to try to drum up some new-car business. I nicely told him off, and that unless there’s something he knows about my car that I don’t, I’m keeping the one I’ve got, thank you very much. And more back-pedaling, and he made sure to give his name again before he said goodbye.

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Categories: Mercury Sable, Some people

Ford: “Fix Or Repair Daily”? “Found On Road Dead”?

June 28, 2008, 7:24 PM

The Sable’s not feeling well right now.

The little check engine light came on when I took it out on Tuesday, and now today, I had such a time trying to get it going today that I determined that if I ended up taking it out, I couldn’t guarantee that the car would be able to make it back under its own power. So that scraps my weekend plans. I had to run a bunch of errands, and they’re not getting done now. I was also going to go to a coworker’s housewarming party in Shaw today, and sadly, that’s not happening now, either.

So here’s what happened. I went down to fire up the car to go out, and it started up. I put it in reverse. I move a few inches, and the car stalls. Start up again. Reverse. A few inches, and dead. I eventually did manage to start the car and get it moving, so I ran it once around the parking lot to test. As soon as I got to the exit of my complex, which is up a slight incline, the car died again. I had to wave someone around me there, since the Sable was “Found On Road Dead”. Well, almost on the road. So I managed to get it back into a parking space, and raised the hood to take a look. Here’s what I saw:

Battery on the Sable

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Categories: Mercury Sable

Does anyone know a good ophthalmologist in the DC area?

June 28, 2008, 10:52 AM

Does anyone know a good ophthalmologist in the DC area? It’s that time again, as it’s been three years since the last time my glasses were updated. And I’m not about to go to Augusta Eye Associates again, for reasons of distance. However, if you are in the Staunton/Waynesboro/Augusta County area, I highly recommend these folks. I would always see Dr. Patel.

So now I’m wondering what people think. I live in the Silver Spring/Wheaton area in Maryland, and I work in Dupont Circle. And I’m wondering if anyone has any recommendations. I’ve found a few names while doing some research, and I’m wondering if any of the names you all hopefully will give me match what I found and turn up good recommendations, or absolutely-positively-hell-no recommendations. And no, I’m not giving out my list in order to not box myself in, in case I missed anyone.

And lastly, I am only referring to ophthalmologists – doctors with MDs. I am not looking to go to an optometrist (doctors with ODs). So what do people think? Let me know…

Categories: Personal health

Let’s all say, “Go, team, go!”

June 25, 2008, 9:27 PM

I think that would be appropriate. Food & Water Watch, where I work, has a team for a summer volleyball tournament on the Mall. And on my way home, I ran into them on the Metro heading towards their first game. So here’s everyone on Breda 4058 this evening…

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Categories: WMATA, Work

If the name of the development consists of the name of the station that the development is next to, and then they show a photo of the wrong station in their advertisement, what does that say about them?

June 25, 2008, 7:36 PM

Anyone who’s been through Fort Totten station on Metro’s Red Line has probably seen Fort Totten Station, the development of cheaply-built (they’re built of wood, not concrete) alleged luxury apartments contributing to the gentrification of DC. I go by them twice a day every day on my way to and from the office.

And the company that operates the development also runs advertisements in the Express. And they made a big boo-boo in their ad here. Let me show you what I’m talking about from today’s Express:

Ad for the "Fort Totten Station" apartment complex
Photo: June 25, 2008 edition of Express, page 8

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Categories: Advertising, WMATA

So this will be an interesting summer, I’d say…

June 24, 2008, 10:48 PM

I’m looking at what’s coming down the pike for this summer, and I can tell right now that this is going to be a great summer. First of all, look at Schumin Web! It’s all refreshed for the summer as we’ve gone “square” with this new background. No more fades here as it’s been for nearly four years. The color gradient is gone, and we’ve moved on to a pattern. Hopefully this will make things look a little more festive.

And then I’m going to be busy in July, with two Anon events – July 12 and July 19. By then I ought to have something really cool figured out for a costume, since here’s the thing – the “black bloc” look doesn’t seem to work at Anonymous events. When I hang out with the anarchists, yes – black bloc is the style. For Anonymous, it’s more like a masquerade ball, since many people really get into the dress of the event, and dress in wild outfits while including the all important mask (don’t want to get fair gamed, after all – or R2-45’d for that matter). And as I learned on June 14, the Guy Fawkes mask is too warm for the summer. However, we must admit – I had fun at Operation Sea Arrrgh with my Guy Fawkes mask and all:

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Did you ever think that milk would one day be cheaper than gasoline?

June 22, 2008, 12:38 AM

Did you ever think that milk would one day be cheaper than gasoline? Take a look…

Price of milk at the CVS in Aspen Hill

Milk is $4.09 per gallon at the CVS store in Aspen Hill. I can get it in the upper 3s at Shoppers. That just blows my mind, as the various gas stations along Georgia Avenue are either meeting or beating that price. Then if you go into Washington DC, they’re beating it – soundly.

We really need to make some serious progress on sustainable alternative fuels – and soon.

Categories: Gas prices

Mom, Sis, and I had a great time…

June 15, 2008, 10:24 PM

I always enjoy when my sister comes back from Chicago. This time, she took a week and went to Stuarts Draft. However, as my own schedule precluded going down to Stuarts Draft, which meant that we didn’t get to have a the-four-of-us kind of moment this time around, I still did get to see her. Mom and Sis spent Thursday and Friday in DC with me, so the fun was still had.

First off, Mom and Sis met me Thursday afternoon at the office. Mom knows where my office building is, and so after stashing the car at Wheaton Plaza, she and Sis rode on down to Dupont Circle and met up with me in my office.

Getting back to Wheaton, they got to see how much I had done my restaurant homework for them. See, Mom was displeased in her earlier visits about how little I knew about the restaurant scene where I lived. I could tell you everything about places in Pentagon City and Dupont Circle, but nothing right in the immediate area where I actually live. After all, if I’m going to eat near where I live, I’ll just save the money and nuke something at home. But I found a restaurant for us to go to, and in Wheaton, no less. It’s called Umbertos, and it’s a family-owned restaurant located in this cluster of hispanic-run businesses in between Georgia Avenue and the Wheaton Plaza shopping mall. If you’re ever in Wheaton, I highly recommend it.

Then Friday, we headed to Georgetown. Yes, that Georgetown. So after an unexpected shopping trip at the JCPenney in Wheaton Plaza (Mom and Sis seem to be unable to turn down a sale on clothes), we took Metro down to Rosslyn, and then from there, walked over the Key Bridge to Georgetown. Sis’s big thing in Georgetown was seeing the Exorcist steps. And here they are:

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When trains derail…

June 9, 2008, 10:11 PM

Hopefully, the events that transpired on Metro today are not an indicator as to what there is in store for this summer. Especially since I ride the Red Line, which seems to have more than its fair share of delays sometimes. But this time, the accident was on the Orange Line. So all of us on the Red Line can feel smug for a brief moment because it happened on someone else’s line for a change.

What happened was that a Vienna-bound Orange Line train derailed about 1,000 feet outside Court House station. Because of where the interlockings are located, this screwed up Orange Line service from Clarendon to Foggy Bottom-GWU, since trains had to be single-tracked around the incident. Blue Line service was mostly unaffected, because the derailment occurred on the K Route, which is an Orange-only route from Vienna to Rosslyn. I say “mostly” because some of the single-tracking spilled over onto the C Route, which runs from Metro Center to Huntington via Arlington Cemetery, which Blue Line trains use.

Thankfully, no one was injured in the derailment. As my father once said, there’s nothing money can’t fix. All they did was bash up some hardware. I was surprised to find out that the train was a 2000-series car – a Breda rehab – rather than what I would have expected, which was a CAF. CAF cars have a plethora of problems, and have been involved in multiple yard derailments, as well as being involved in the Mt. Vernon Square derailment last year. But no, it was a rehab. Go figure. No word on what the car number was, but Metro says that the consist was #905, and it was the third car of six.

What amuses me, however, is the fact that The Washington Post refers to the car involved this way: “The 2000 series car is one of the older model rail cars.” That’s only half true anymore. Yes, the car body dates from 1982, when Metro received its first order of Bredas. However, the 2000s went to Hornell, New York for rehabilitation in 2003-2004, and came back all shiny and new. They completely restructured the car body, put new systems in, and replaced the interior. So the cars are mostly newer than the CAF cars due to the rehab, which entered service in 2001-2004.

So I’ll be interested to see what they figure out about the cause. There’s no interlocking there, so we can rule out a switch problem, so we’ll have to see. When it comes to Metro, as with many other things in life, the simplest explanation is usually the right one. I’ll also be interested to find out the identity of the accident car. I hope it’s not 2008, which I had my photo taken on twice – once prior to rehab, and once after.

Categories: WMATA

I am soooooooooo sunburned.

June 9, 2008, 3:06 PM

I went to Splashdown Waterpark on Sunday to beat the heat. And at that I was successful. I spent five hours in their Lazy River, and I didn’t give a moment’s thought to how hot of a day it was. I’d guess I put a lot of miles on one of their inner tubes, and had a great time doing absoluely nothing but lounging around in the water. But oh, let me tell you… I am so sunburned.

Of course, it’s not like I didn’t put sunscreen on. I did. But I think it was part a poor initial application of the sunscreen, plus the fact that I didn’t reapply at all over the course of the day. The reason I believe I put the sunscreen on poorly is because it was such a hot day. I drove down to Manassas with the A/C on, but then once I got out in the heat, I started sweating. And that made the sunscreen quite difficult to apply. Then of course, I knew I would get a sunburn on part of my back – there was a section that I couldn’t reach, and so I figured that would get burned, and took that into account.

But I didn’t expect what I got – burned on my face, both arms all the way up, my entire back, my shoulders, and part of my legs. There’s also a line on my arm where I had the key to the rental locker. And I got the classic swimsuit tan – burned except for the area that the suit was covering. I knew I should have thought better about wearing that thong (kidding!). But seriously, I am burned. And it hurts like hell. I need to go get some Solarcaine and some aloe and go to town on it.

Was the sunburn worth it? It might hurt a bit, but you know, I had a great time, so, yeah, it was worth it. At least it’s not like the burn I got on my head when we protested the Nazis. That time, I got cooked so well that it was oozing something. Nothing’s oozing this time. But the burned area is a lot bigger. But it was still worthwhile. Ah, yeah.

Hopefully it will be mostly better by Thursday, because that’s the day my mother and sister show up. My sister is back from Chicago for a week, and we’re going to have a great Thursday and Friday in DC. And I’m being a wonderful host, agreeing to suffer through being dragged through all these little designer clothing boutiques, because that’s what she wants to do. I much prefer going through Georgetown with a rowdy black bloc, but for my sister, we’ll shop. I’ll find the chair in these stores where the men sit looking miserable and park myself there. Seriously, in Chicago at the Talbots store on the Magnificent Mile, there was a cluster of chairs in the corner where all the men were sitting, and all of them looked absolutely miserable. Poor men.

Categories: Recreation/Exercise