It’s not often that I agree with Republican candidates’ ideas, but…

2 minute read

August 30, 2009, 10:47 PM

I’ve been kind of halfway following the gubernatorial race in Virginia this year, even though I’m no longer a Virginia resident. Part of that is because I did most of my growing up in Virginia, part because my parents still live there, plus half of the Washington Metropolitan Area, where I now live, is Virginia.

And Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell has been saying a few things that resonate with me that seem to make sense. For one, he wants to reopen the closed rest areas within 90 days of taking office (though to his credit, Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds also wants to reopen the rest areas, promising 60 days). The other thing that McDonnell wants to do is privatize Virginia’s liquor stores.


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A different twist on a game we’re all familiar with makes for an interesting evening…

4 minute read

August 30, 2009, 11:25 AM

On Saturday, Matthew Tilley and I went duckpin bowling in College Park. You may recall that we have bowled together before, having played three games of ten-pin bowling (i.e. what most consider bowling) in July.

This was exciting, because neither one of us had done duckpin before, and the rules and the equipment are slightly different. First of all, the pins are shorter and squatter than ten-pin. Secondly, the ball is smaller and lighter, and without any finger holes. The play is different as well, as you roll three balls per frame, and the scoring is slightly different. It’s the same as ten-pin, with the exception of knocking down all ten pins on the third roll. If you knock down all the pins on the third roll, no bonus is awarded.

And one thing that neither one of us was used to was that this was a very low-tech operation. This was a totally manual game. There was no automatic scoring equipment, and you pressed buttons to operate the pinsetter. There were two buttons – one was to reset the pins, and another just to clear the pins that had been knocked down (“deadwood”). This was one of those do-your-best moments. On Matthew’s first frame, we didn’t realize that there was a “deadwood” button, and so we bowled that frame in something of candlepin style, not clearing the pins between shots. On my first frame, I figured that there had to be something to clear the downed pins, and so I wondered if the reset button would do that. So I rolled one shot, knocked down a few pins, and then pressed reset. That killed all the pins, and laid out a fresh set. Oops. Good thing I didn’t do too well on that roll, since I essentially forced a do-over. That’s when we discovered the “deadwood” button, and we were good to go. Now we knew what we were doing.

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A Friday night flash raid was full of win…

3 minute read

August 29, 2009, 3:24 PM

Well, I had fun on Friday night. A bunch of Anons, including myself, flash raided outside the Founding Church of Scientology for about four hours or so, and had a blast in the process. Beret went in superhero garb to an extent, wearing bright blue shiny tights, a cape, a black top, and of course, in the style of too many superheroes, underwear on the outside. Plus, of course, the customary Guy Fawkes mask. I had my Power Rangers tee on, and coupled that with a Guy Fawkes mask. Not bad, if you ask me.

We got going right around 5:00, holding signs and passing out You Found The Card cards. Soon, the Scientologists showed up, such as “camera girl” and Scientology spokesmodel Sylvia Stanard. Funny that they never show up for our global raids anymore, but will certainly come out when we flash raid. Sylvia and a few of her goons came out with a flyer entitled “ANONYMOUS Frequently Asked Questions”.

The flyer was quite amusing, as they cited various YouTube videos and Web sites, and unverified Wikipedia passages. As a Wikipedia geek, that particularly amused me. The passages they cited were added on April 9, 2008, citing Uncyclopedia (hardly a reliable source). Scientology cites a revision on May 17, 2008, and the passages that they quoted were removed as unsourced on June 5, 2009. Yes, when you have a user-generated encyclopedia, sometimes stuff goes in that shouldn’t be there, and Scientology latched onto something with no sourcing. Fail on them. Plus using information about Anonymous as it existed in early 2008 to describe today’s Anonymous protests is kind of off, since much of that was before more mainstream Scientology critics such as Mark Bunker (aka “Wise Beard Man”) and Tory Christman joined the fold and helped Anonymous find its way. Now, many of the people involved in the early stuff are no longer active, and today’s group has little to no connection to the hacker group.

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Categories: Project Chanology

When you go beyond “first” church of something, it’s probably time to come up with a different name.

3 minute read

August 28, 2009, 3:05 PM

I drove to work two days this week, and when driving, my commute takes me down Georgia Avenue to just north of downtown Silver Spring, and then down 16th Street into Washington to my P Street office. And there are a zillion houses of worship along the way. Seriously, 16th Street must be the religious district or something, because it seems that there are churches upon churches upon churches on there. There are a number of Jewish facilities, the Washington Ethical Society (which at first glance seems like a bit of an oxymoron, with “Washington” and “ethical” in the same sentence), a Buddhist facility (Chua Giac Hoang), and a number of Christian houses of worship of various denominations, including at least one that President Obama has been to (Nineteenth Street Baptist Church).

But the one that kind of struck me as amusing was the Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist on the 5500 block of 16th Street. Note “fourth” church. I’ve never understood why churches like to number off like this, but it seems to be fairly common. Waynesboro, Virginia has a First Presbyterian Church and a Second Presbyterian Church. Then Staunton has a First, Second, and Third Presbyterian Church (I grew up Presbyterian, so this is why I’m citing Presbyterian churches – I’m familiar with it).

The way I see it, first, sure. To be “First Church of Christ, Scientist” or “First Presbyterian Church” or “First Baptist Church” or whatever, I suppose you get the right to say you were first. However, until moving to Virginia in the 1990s, I never saw anything beyond first, and thought it was more of an indication of quality more than anything else, especially since in Rogers, Arkansas, in many cases, “first” often translated to “only”. There was only one Presbyterian church in Rogers (and we attended it), and there was only one Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and only one Church of Christ, Scientist. They all called themselves “first”, yet they were all “only” in practice. But “first”, sure.

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Categories: Religion

Themed subway cars. Now there’s an idea…

4 minute read

August 23, 2009, 11:15 PM

I was listening to the podcast of the August 1 broadcast of Car Talk, and they had this to say regarding public transportation:

Tom: I think we have to use your idea of – my brother has a brilliant idea. Not enough people use public transportation. His contention is that the people who run the public transportation business, subways and buses, especially the subway which we have here in the city of Boston. They try… they almost make it difficult for you and unpleasant.
Ray: They took all the fun out of it.
Tom: They took all the fun out of it.
Ray: They’ve sucked the life out of it.
Tom: Sucked the life out of the train. Like in Washington DC, you can’t eat a donut, you can’t drink a cup of coffee, you can’t do anything, you can’t spit, you can’t smoke a cigar… My brother thinks that all the public transportation systems should have theme cars.
Caller: Theme cars…
Tom: Theme. So that you can go in the “cha cha” car. And there would be band, bands in there, playing, people dancing, and…
Ray: Yeah, Xavier Cugat, would fit right in there!
Tom: Xavier Cugat! Or you could have the cigar-smoking car, or you could have… I mean, there’s no end to the number of themes that they could come up with, so that people would be fighting, paying hundreds of dollars to get on the train.

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Categories: Radio, WMATA

“Cut your cheese in style” probably didn’t go over as well as the writers hoped…

5 minute read

August 12, 2009, 10:46 PM

First of all, let me just say that I am WIRED tonight. One of my coworkers, who recently came back from an extended vacation overseas, brought a loaf of palm sugar and a plate of coffee beans to work, and the idea was to take a pinch of sugar (it has the consistency of brown sugar), and some coffee beans, pop both in at once, and enjoy. Something tells me I had too many coffee beans today – on top of my regular daily cup of coffee. And to add to it, today’s coffee was the best kind – that bottom-of-the-pot coffee that’s super strong. My coworkers even commented that I was particularly “animated” today. I blame the excess caffeine. Perhaps crunching on coffee beans and then washing it down with a cup of coffee wasn’t the best idea…

But the caffeine buzz might just work, because I have a lot to say today.

First of all, the title of this entry. I spotted this on the front page of the Express today:

"Cut your cheese in style"
Image: Express

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I understand saving money, but when six of the facilities you are closing were renovated less than three years ago…

3 minute read

August 9, 2009, 8:40 PM

New Market rest area, one of the rest areas that was not closed.Virginia recently executed a plan to permanently close 19 rest areas in order to save money and help close a state budget shortfall. I can see closing a few rest areas, because there are admittedly some places where the rest areas are fairly close together, such as Mt. Sidney and New Market, which are 29 miles apart – most certainly the close spacing referenced in this article in The Washington Post. Now, the state is aiming for rest areas every 120 miles, or roughly two hours’ driving time.

Among the rest areas that I’m familiar with, on I-81, both Mt. Sidney (near Staunton) rest areas are now closed, as is the southbound rest area near Troutville (Botetourt County), as well as the southbound New Market rest area (northbound, pictured at right, remains open). On I-64, both Goochland County rest areas (near Richmond) are closing, and on I-66, both Manassas rest areas are closing, though due to the presence of a tourist information center on the westbound Manassas rest area, the facility remains open until mid-September. Then on I-95, both rest areas in Ladysmith are now closed, as well as both car rest areas in Dale City (truck facilities remain open at Dale City). That leaves no rest areas between Richmond and DC traveling northbound, and one southbound.

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Nine bucks later, I have a replacement Super Nintendo controller…

5 minute read

August 9, 2009, 9:20 AM

I finally confirmed today that one of the controllers on my Super Nintendo finally went bad. It was a shame, too, but such is what happens sometimes. I bought that controller new like eleven years ago, so it had a good run, giving me plenty of Super Mario-type fun. And then once I confirmed it was the controller and not anything else, I moseyed over to the computer, hopped online, and ordered me a new one. The joys of the Internet.

Meanwhile, does anyone know if the various USB video game controllers work with VirtuaNES? While I’ve certainly gotten some proficiency playing vintage games using the keyboard, as a rule, you can’t play vintage games with the index, middle, ring, or pinky finger. No – vintage video games are played with the thumbs. And maybe then I can really get going when it comes to Doki Doki Panic. After all, Wart is waiting.

Otherwise, the staff retreat at the Bolger Center went quite well. We did a lot of stuff, and really bonded as a staff. Meanwhile, I, as the Senior Office Manager, was in charge of logistics. I think I packed about half of our workroom into the back of my Sable and schlepped it all over to the Bolger. You really don’t realize how much a station wagon will truly hold until you have half the office loaded into the back of it, and luggage in the back seat. But it’s times like this that I’m glad I got a station wagon to replace the Previa rather than something else. You can’t load a mid-size sedan quite as well as you can a station wagon. Imagine if I had my sister’s car. The supplies would not only be in the trunk, but also in the back seat, which meant that I would have had to make a second trip home (on the other side of Montgomery County from the Bolger) to take my luggage.

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Categories: Fire alarms, Video games, Work

I actually got compliments on my bathroom…

2 minute read

August 2, 2009, 3:25 PM

My parents came by as planned, and we had a great time. I actually got compliments on the cleanliness of my bathroom, believe it or not. It certainly pays to really give the place a once-over. Of course, my parents got advance warning that I had cleaned. I posted a status message on Facebook indicating that I was cleaning, and my Aunt Mary, whom, along with Uncle Bruce, my parents visited before leaving New Jersey, saw the status message and commented on it. And Mom noticed that I had missed dusting my printer, and wrote “MOM” in the dust, and then dusted it with a paper towel.

So we got together, and went out for lunch. We originally planned to eat at Umbertos in Wheaton, but much to our dismay, they were closed. I don’t know what was going on, because they were supposed to have been open based on their posted hours, and the restaurant was in a bit of disarray, with the chairs missing, and the tables arranged in a way like they’re doing something or other. So who knows what’s going on. This merits further investigation, but a phone call to the restaurant a few hours later got no answer, and a call to the other Umbertos in Potomac got nowhere. I hope they’re not closed for good, because that would be a disappointment. That’s a favorite of mine for entertaining, and it’s really a diamond in the rough as far as Wheaton is concerned.

So we went to downtown Silver Spring, and had lunch there instead. We went to Austin Grill, which also serves Tex-Mex cuisine, though not as authentic as Umbertos. At Umbertos, the staff consists of mostly native speakers of Spanish and converse amongst each other in Spanish, while at Austin Grill, the employees definitely speak English as a first language. But the food was good. I had the grilled chicken burrito, my father had the burger, and Mom had enchiladas. I also got a hat from the Don Strock Diabetes Classic golf tournament, which Uncle Bruce’s company sponsored.

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Nothing inspires cleaning like a visit from the parents…

3 minute read

August 1, 2009, 11:45 PM

My parents are coming by early Sunday afternoon. Both of them, this time. Mom comes fairly regularly, but Dad doesn’t come nearly enough, and I’ve told him that. So we’re meeting up here, and then probably going out for lunch somewhere, likely in downtown Silver Spring. So they’ll be here for maybe an hour, tops, before we go out for lunch.

And so the cleaning begins. I don’t care if they’re only going to be here for an hour. This place will be clean. At this point, I’ve done everything except vacuum the rugs, and a Journal entry is a good reason to take a break. Now, though, you could eat off my kitchen floor, though the question remains: Why would you want to? And besides that, I wouldn’t let you, because then I’d have to clean the floor again. And cleaning the house is no fun.

But you know the drill. Attack the bathroom, and make everything all white and shiny. Soft scrub is our friend, but make sure the fan is on, because the bleach smell can be overpowering. Then attack the kitchen. Stove, counters, microwave, fridge, floors, etc. Gotta make it all nice and pretty. Then dust the living room. And finally, vacuum the rugs. All in the name of cleanliness. After all, one does not want one’s parents to see how one really lives. They saw how I really lived when I lived with them. Now I like to at least make it look like I keep things a little neater now that I’m living on my own than when I lived with them.

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Categories: Family, House, Work