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The parking lot known as Interstate 66…

November 25, 2009, 10:07 PM

First of all, greetings from Stuarts Draft, where I’ve not been in six months. I’m here until Sunday, and left straight from work, which was interesting.

I tried something new this time around. I drove into work, worked a half day, and then left for Stuarts Draft straight from the office. For that, I took 16th Street from P Street to K Street, and then took K Street to I-66. Then I took 66 to the end, where I caught I-81 down to Staunton, and then from there, moseyed around a few back roads to Stuarts Draft and my parents’ house.

Driving into work and then leaving straight from work certainly has its ups and downs. On one hand, I can load up in the morning and then go, and not have to go back home to pick up the car, i.e. go north from the office back to Maryland just to immediately turn south again to go to Virginia. Then the drop-at-Vienna-the-night-before bit is a shade complicated. Recall that the drop-at-Vienna method involves positioning the car with most of the luggage in Virginia the night before, taking Metro and a bus back to Maryland, and then going to work like normal the next day. Then after work, take Metro to Vienna rather than Glenmont, grab the car, and zing off to Stuarts Draft. The idea there was to avoid the inside-the-beltway traffic by putting the car ahead of that and taking Metro to meet the car, but it’s just a bit too much trouble, and involves a lot of advance planning and coordination of what needs to be where. Plus it’s weird stashing the car and one’s luggage in another state for a night.

The whole idea is dealing with the traffic most effciently when there’s a workday involved. See, going into work precludes use of the Beltway for the trip out, since work is in Dupont Circle, near downtown Washington. One would think that it would have been less congested, but I-66 was slow all the way to Vienna. Seriously, I was on the phone with Mom part of the way, and was like, “I’m going eight miles per hour. Oh, wait, now ten. Wait… five.” Yeah, that slow. On the freeway. At least I had people on the phone, plus Randi Rhodes when I didn’t have anyone on the phone.

Most amusing phone-wise was when Dad called me while he was looking at the VDOT traffic cameras for I-66 online. So he knew what I was driving in, with the live images. I was driving westbound, and could see the cameras themselves. He tried to spot me twice – once at Nutley Street (Exit 62), and once at Route 123 (Exit 60). I’m like, “Can you see me?” and unfortunately, the resolution that he was getting was too low to make out my car. Maybe if I still had the Previa, he would have been able to pick me out, but who knows. Still, I was telling him what I was approaching and what lane I was in, and then at one point even turning on the headlights for a few seconds to see if that got Dad’s attention. He didn’t see me. Drat.

Then once I cleared Gainesville in Prince William County, traffic started moving. Then it was smooth sailing from there.

I stopped in Harrisonburg to do a drive through JMU, plus I had to return a tablecloth that I’d bought at a Wal-Mart up near me. I stopped at the big Harrisonburg store, where they apparently had remodeled. They took the old logo off the building, and put Wal-Mart’s new “anus” logo in its place. Then they also added a large collection of System Sensor fire alarm notification appliances to the ceiling. I’m surprised they didn’t have all these fire alarms in the ceiling when they built the joint back in 2003. But Wal-Mart was apparently going through its we-don’t-need-no-stinkin-fire-alarms phase. In fact, I remember noticing that there were zero notification appliances. Then when I started working at the Wal-Mart in Waynesboro, and heard the alarm go off, it confirmed things. They only had one horn in Waynesboro, and that truly was the only horn for a 183,000-some square foot store. I remember Wal-Mart’s emergency flip-chart at the time. It instructed associates to evacuate the store using the PA system. Yeeeeeah… bad idea. But this was Wal-Mart, and bad ideas were their specialty. The point of a fire alarm system is to set that thing off and then get your own tail out the door while the system notifies everyone else. I couldn’t even rely on the management or my coworkers to so much as get me a price check when I needed one, and that didn’t even require a brain, let alone one that actually was capable of thought. Did I really think I could rely on them to notify me of an emergency? I think not. I didn’t trust them as far as I could throw them, after all, and let’s admit – at Wal-Mart, safety is a big joke. So yeah, I was glad to see actual fire alarm devices in the ceiling, since those are often smarter than Wal-Mart management. The system is programmed to go off when it meets a certain threshold, or a pull station is pulled. I was amazed to also see actual pull stations at the entrances, too. Yeah, if the building is burning down, it might be a good idea to tell those people shopping in there to leave, and if Wal-Mart staff is too incompetent to do it, I’ll pull the alarm for them…

But yeah, now I’m in Stuarts Draft, and running on the Lappy. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and then on Friday, Katie and I are getting together to just kinda goof off all day. Should be fun.

Web site: Virginia "Safety Rest Areas". By the way, I went by a few of the closed ones, and they look sad. Governor-elect Bob McDonnell had better make good on his campaign promise to reopen these within 90 days of taking office. Thus his due date for making it so is April 16, 2010.

Song: "Still Alive"

Quote: Meanwhile, JMU looks different. There's a new dorm on the other side of Chesapeake Hall, and a new dining hall across from this trio of dorms (which includes Potomac Hall). Additionally, Warren and Taylor Halls, formerly known as the "University Center", are called "Madison Union". I wonder whose bonebrained idea it was to rename that complex. Otherwise, the new Fine Arts Center looks really cute, and there's new lighting along South Main Street by the Quad, but I didn't get to explore that area too much, since I was starting to run against the clock by then.