December 30, 2009, 11:01 PM

Mom and I went to Roanoke today to get my outfit for Sis’s wedding that’s coming up in a few weeks. I’m the photographer, and we got a really cool black-on-black-on-black outfit for me. We got black dress pants, we got a black shirt, and the surprise: a black vest as well. Mom saw it and wanted to see it on me, and it actually looked pretty good. So we got it. Excellent. I’m covered for the wedding, and at less cost than renting a tux. Oh, and unlike the rest of the boys, I get to keep my new threads after the big “I do”. Plus I’ve got my Metrobus tie that Sis is letting me wear, and we’ve got it all covered.

Then afterwards, we went to Panera Bread for lunch, where the food was good, but a little pricey. Fun stuff, if you ask me. Then after that, we went over to Valley View Mall, mainly just to wander around for a bit. We spent most of our time in three stores.

First, we hit up Bath and Body Works, where Mom got various treatments to mask stinky air in the bathroom. There, they had these giant rubber duckies. I, of course couldn’t resist picking one up. I wondered if they were functional or for looks. So I squeezed it. It let out a squeak that just made my face light up. This was fun! Then I got Mom to take a photo of me with the duck. And here we are:

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Categories: Family, Mercury Sable, Roanoke

Something tells me that they’re closed.

December 27, 2009, 11:50 PM

First of all, hello from Stuarts Draft, Virginia, where I’m writing to you from the Lappy at my parents’ kitchen table instead of my real computer.

On the way down to Stuarts Draft, I stopped to photograph the Safeway in Wheaton. The Safeway in Wheaton recently closed due to a pending redevelopment. They’re supposed to be tearing down the existing store and replacing it with a mixed-use development, including a new modern Safeway store at street level. The store closed on the 19th (the day of the snowstorm), and, to my surprise, was completely boarded up following the closure. I saw it boarded up on Christmas Eve, and was like, whoa! when I saw it.

First of all, here’s the store as it appeared when open, courtesy of Google Earth:

Safeway in Wheaton while open
Image: Google Earth

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Categories: Safeway, Wheaton

Snow in Dupont Circle…

December 25, 2009, 9:05 PM

First of all, I hope everyone had a lovely Decemberween, as images of Dr. Christmas and the Dethemberween Thnikkaman dance through everyone’s heads.

I took some photos with my phone on the way into work on Tuesday, the first day back at work after the big snowstorm caused a snow day on Monday. These photos are of the snow encountered on my usual walk from the Dupont Circle Metro to the office.

Snow on top of the canopy over the south entrance to the Metro station.
Snow on top of the canopy over the south entrance to the Metro station.

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“You broke the bowling alley!”

December 20, 2009, 5:22 PM

Meanwhile, before the snow, I had a fun Friday night out on the town. The town of College Park, that is. I got together with JB, Anyman, and Burnt Toast from Anonymous, and we went out for bowling and dinner. We had a blast.

We went to College Park Lanes for bowling, where we rolled three games of duckpins. Of the three games, Burnt Toast won the first two, and Anyman won the last one (by one pin over Toast). JB hovered between second and third place, and then I came in last on all three games.

The strangest moment was when I accidentally broke the pinsetter. I wasn’t quite paying attention, and rolled the ball thinking that the pinsetter was finished. Turns out it was almost finished, but not quite. As a result, the ball hit the pins while they were still in the pinsetter. Oops. See, unlike in regular ten-pin bowling, a gate does not come down across the entire lane when the pinsetter is in action. So my ball hit the pins, and knocked a few of them out slightly left of the center. Yeah, if they hadn’t been in the pinsetter, that would have been a great shot. So the pinsetter sat for a minute or so, and then rose up with the pins it still had. Then after another minute or so, it unceremoniously spewed out the pins that it had been holding. Seriously, it just dropped them all to the floor, like as if it was carrying a bunch of stuff and accidentally dropped it all. We tried to get the lane to reset the pins from the controls we had, but it wouldn’t respond. That led to the comment, “You broke the bowling alley!”

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Categories: Friends, Snowpocalypse

It’s like playing “find the buried treasure”…

December 20, 2009, 3:02 PM

Remember how I said I wasn’t going to clear my car until at least Monday? Well, I lied. First of all, I was bored, and it was something to do. Secondly, I started to think about things a bit. If I have work tomorrow, this will be about the only opportunity I’ll have to clear the car out in daylight, because this time of year, it’s dark by the time I get home. Plus if there’s any melt-and-refreeze action, it might make the snow harder to clear later.

So I went out to the parking lot of my apartment complex with a broom, and kind of dug out my car. Note the use of the term “kind of”. I cleared most of the snow off the upper half of my car. The lower half is still firmly embedded in the snow, and I don’t have the tools necessary to clear that out. But at least you can see the windows, and know that yes, there is actually a car under there (though mine wasn’t buried as deeply as others’ were).

But at least the car has lost its hat, and you can distinguish enough features to tell that it’s my car. The windows are clear, and the foot or so of snow on the roof is gone. So here’s the result of my handiwork:

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Categories: Snowpocalypse

Sun’s out!

December 20, 2009, 10:28 AM

The sun is out, and it’s looking like it’s an absolutely beautiful day. That, of course, means it’s time to dig out. And people have been doing just that, getting the snow off their cars and such. My car, meanwhile, still wears its hat:

The Sable, still covered by more than a foot of snow

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Categories: Snowpocalypse

As the snow stops, here’s what we’ve got…

December 20, 2009, 6:44 AM

Well, it looks like the snowfall is over. The snow has stopped, and the folks at Capital Weather Gang say that clouds will decrease during the day. Meanwhile, we’re pretty much buried in the white stuff, and here’s the proof:

My car has a foot or so of snow on top of it. That snow is expected to stay on there until at least some time tomorrow, because there's no way in hell I'm going anywhere today.
My car has a foot or so of snow on top of it. That snow is expected to stay on there until at least some time tomorrow, because there’s no way in hell I’m going anywhere today.

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So needless to say, I’m not going anywhere today…

December 19, 2009, 4:13 PM

Yeah, take a look at this:

The Sable, covered with snow

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Categories: Snowpocalypse

This is going to be a lot of snow…

December 19, 2009, 2:43 AM

The second snowfall of the year is officially underway, as of around 9 PM Friday night. And here it is:

The snow comes down outside my apartment in the early morning of December 19, 2009.

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Categories: Snowpocalypse

“Whammies, you can drop dead… STOP!”

December 16, 2009, 10:15 PM

I do a trivia contest at work every year to divvy up some freebie items that we get from our office supply company. The past two years, I’ve done a shout-it-out format, where I come up with some questions, and then the first person to shout the answer wins a pick at a prize.

However, a few of my coworkers have been saying that they would like to see me juice up the format a little. They suggested teams, but I couldn’t come up with anything that would achieve the desired result (getting rid of all the prizes), and still not make it too overly complicated, and still get a lot of gameplay and participation. I’d thought about pricing games or something for it, but couldn’t come up with something that we could fit into an hour and get rid of the prizes (we usually have around ten or so).

But then it hit me. I came up with an idea of how to spice it up. I determined how to work in the trivia bit, and get some action. Each correct answer will earn spins. Then they take those spins and win points. And the spins, when taken, will look like this:

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Categories: Television, Work

I’m surprised that this made it through…

December 14, 2009, 7:48 PM

A friend recently referred me to a Dr. Gridlock column where Les Dorr Jr. of Frederick, Maryland wrote this:

Is Metro trying to increase public confidence by renumbering the 1000-series rail cars? I ride the Red Line every workday, and recently I’ve been aboard two very old, obviously 1000-series cars that had “4000” series numbers on the end doors.

Dr. Gridlock was very cordial about this accusation being slung at Metro, saying, among other things, this:

The 4000 series of 100 cars, built by Breda, entered service in the early 1990s. The 1000 series is scheduled to be replaced beginning in 2014. But the 4000 series also is reaching an important milestone: A midlife rehabilitation needs to be done over the next few years, at a cost of more than $1.5 million per car.

If I were going to fake a number in the Metro fleet, I would have picked something higher than 4000. Still, riders would see through it: The cars are very obviously showing their age.

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Categories: DC area local news, WMATA

I handed a “You Found The Card” card to Ralph Nader! EPIC WIN!

December 12, 2009, 11:08 PM

The December raid was particularly epic for DC Anons, as we had a good time, and got the word out to many passers-by. The crowd was small, however, as a few Anons were feeling under the weather, and I believe the cold scared a few people off. Cold has that way of doing that to people. But the crowd that was there was dedicated.

Early on, we just had 3rdman, Purple Hair Anon, and me. But that was sufficient to get the epic win of the year. We’re raiding, doing what Anons do outside the Ideal Org, and here comes Ralph Nader down P Street. I greeted him, explained that we were protesting the abuses of the Church of Scientology, and gave him a You Found The Card card. Nader questioned why we were at 16th and P Streets, and not at the Fraser Mansion, not realizing that Scientology moved from the Fraser Mansion to the Embassy Building a month or so prior. I explained that they had moved, and this was their new location. That’s when he noticed that Scientology was over there. In departing (as Nader had places to go), he told us to “Keep up the good work.” Awesome! The only regret is that we never got a photo with the Nader, since he left too fast for us to get a photo.

Otherwise, today seemed to be bring-your-children-into-the-cult day, since we saw a zillion children going in and out of the Ideal Org with their parents. School-aged children, toddlers, kids in strollers, you name it. Like this:

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Categories: Project Chanology

Turned out to be a three-pronged strategy…

December 9, 2009, 11:53 PM

My office had its annual “holiday party” this evening, at Bossa Bistro & Lounge in Adams Morgan. All in all, it was a fun party. I stayed for three hours and had a good time.

The thing that was the most entertaining was the slideshow that featured pictures of all the stuff that the office did over the last year (or so). The slideshow had pictures taken in the office, pictures taken at various official events, plus various “extracurricular” events (i.e. things coworkers did outside the office). Most surprising was that a good chunk of the photos were either of me or taken by me. I often volunteer to do the photos, plus a lot of photos of me ended up in the rotation. They actually had what I called a “three-pronged strategy” in digging for photos: Official photos, Facebook, and Schumin Web. This was one of the more amusing photos of me that ended up in the rotation:

Holding up a "Congressional facebook"

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Categories: Work

So it looks like the season’s getting off to a very good start…

December 5, 2009, 1:28 PM

While winter doesn’t technically begin until the 21st, this is possibly a good sign of things to come:

The first snowfall of the season

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Categories: Winter weather

You know, I didn’t expect the “bellying” of the 1000-Series cars to be proven to be window dressing so soon…

December 4, 2009, 8:27 PM

You may recall that after the June 22, 2009 collision on the Red Line, where Rohr 1079 telescoped on impact, Metro decided to sandwich the Rohr cars in between cars of other series in order to allegedly protect them in the event of a future collision, which Metro called “bellying”. The idea was that in a collision, the newer rail cars, allegedly of stronger construction than the Rohrs, would take the force of impact and leave the Rohrs unharmed.

I said at the time that if Metro was going to put the 1000-Series cars in the center of consists, they should do the same for the 4000-Series cars as well, since the first telescoping incident in 1996 involved Breda cars. Others derided Metro’s decision to put the Rohr cars in the center of consists, calling it a public relations move to make the public feel safer, but providing no real safety advantage. After thinking about it, I tended to agree. Seems that the critics were proven right, though I think that everyone involved, from Catoe and right down the line at Metro, as well as the riding public, had hoped never to find out if the idea was a good one or a bad one.

In the wee hours of Sunday, November 29, Metro had its second collision of 2009 at the Falls Church Yard off the K Route (Orange Line) in Fairfax County, Virginia. What happened is that train 902, which was the final Orange Line train of the night, was returning to the yard, and getting into position to be cleaned by yard workers. As it was approaching its final position, it managed to collide with the train ahead of it. There were no fatalities, but two yard workers and the operator of train 902 went to the hospital, and were treated and released. Three cars were believed to be damaged beyond repair, though all twelve cars involved sustained at least some damage.

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Categories: WMATA