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No more gate lodge for the old Howard Johnson’s in Harrisonburg…

July 30, 2005, 11:05 PM

Going through Harrisonburg on my way up to Pennsylvania on Thursday’s road trip, I noticed something unusual out my right window. At the site of the former Howard Johnson’s in Harrisonburg (which, according to both official and unofficial sources, is being upgraded in order for it to be used as a dorm again due to capacity issues), another building had bitten the dust. Recall that on October 9, 2003, I photographed the old Howard Johnson’s as Rockingham Hall – perhaps the last photos ever made of the complex while still whole. Then in June 2004, the unused restaurant was demolished. Gone. I drove by on June 23, 2004, and was shocked. A pile of rubble stood where the restaurant was, including the mangled remains of the cupola. Then this summer, you may recall, the remainder of the complex, meaning the gate lodge and the motor lodge, was slated for demolition. However, the demolition was called off, and the motor lodge building was upgraded slightly for use as a dorm once again. However, the gate lodge was demolished, having been reduced to a pile of rubble. The gate lodge had been done over in the 1990s, and there were even remnants of the blue roof installed at that time (replacing the signature orange roof) visible in the debris.

For the back-story on that, JMU learned in 2004 that they couldn’t use the Howard Johnson’s buildings anymore unless they were upgraded to higher standards. Thus the buildings were vacated, because it was not considered feasible to upgrade a building that they bought with the intention of demolishing. Thus, for 2004-2005, the facility was unused as a dorm, and offices housed there were intended to be relocated (no word on how that went). However, capacity reared its ugly head again, since JMU still hasn’t figured out that it’s not a good idea to admit more freshmen than you have space. And I also don’t believe that bunking three people in a room designed for two is a solution, either, even if you do have a suite living room at your disposal. What JMU needs to do is find the funds to demolish the R5 parking lot next to Chesapeake Hall and build the third CISAT dorm that’s in the master plan for the east campus. That would either be three separate buildings of five floors each that are basically single-wing versions of my beloved Potomac Hall, holding roughly 200 students each, or the same three structures as “A”, “B”, and “C” wings connected by low-lying corridors like at Potomac Hall. Which one it’s slated to be depends on whose drawing you look at. But until then, they’re remodeling buildings whose days are already numbered. It looks fairly nice, with JMU putting new furniture, carpeting, and fixtures in, according to some new-freshman literature I found on the Web. One may notice right offhand driving by on I-81 that the sliding doors to the balconies were removed, and replaced with a more conventional glass door with windows on either side. Additionally, new railings were installed on the balconies. And this is going to be a FRESHMAN dorm.

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Categories: Howard Johnson's, JMU

I did go out, and I certainly covered some distance!

July 30, 2005, 10:59 PM

Yes, I did go out on Thursday, and it was quite a road trip, for that matter. I drove up to Pennsylvania and back via I-81.

I left the house at around 10:30 AM. The outfit was black shirt, blue shorts, and flip flops. Also unshaven for that matter, but the last time the razor and I had spent some quality time together was Tuesday morning. So I could almost pass it off as one of those thin beards that some men wear. Moving along, though, one look from Mom at how I looked leaving the house got this reaction: “You’re wearing flip-flops?” I’m like, “Yes…”

I still don’t understand what Mom’s obsession is with my shoes. After all, I’m an adult, and I can wear what I want, and look as sharp or as dumpy as I want. I decided to go for “casual”, thus no shave and the flip-flops. Still, the objection to it was weird, but expected. But it’s rare that I’ll wear flip-flops. Normally, I’ll wear my chucks or my real sandals (with socks, of course). Never flip-flops with otherwise bare feet. So that was a surprise for Mom, but lately on my off-days when I’m not doing anything too important, I’ll wear that. It’s quick and easy.

Moving along, though, I ran this like DC to an extent. But obviously, the destination was not DC this time around. The 10:30 departure, for one thing. Still, I went to Mt. Jackson on the way up and enjoyed some grub at the Sheetz there, which I do on the way up to DC. It was busier there, though, since it was around 11:30 when I got there, vs. 7 AM or so when I go on my DC trips.

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I went to Singles Shopping… or at least tried.

July 23, 2005, 5:38 AM

I went down to Roanoke on Friday evening after work to visit the Wal-Mart on US 220, where, you may recall, I wrote in this space about “Singles Shopping”, the place for desperate singles to tie a red ribbon onto their cart and try to find true love.

So after traveling 90 miles from Stuarts Draft to Roanoke, I arrived at Wally World way down in Roanoke, only to find out that Singles Shopping was cancelled, and that they wouldn’t be having it anymore. I knew something was up as soon as I got in, considering there was no signage for the event, and saw no red-ribbon carts. I asked the greeter, who, after enthusiastically greeting me with a hearty “Welcome to Wal-Mart!” (major plus points there), told me it was cancelled. Turns out that earlier in the day, the store received a directive from Home Office in Bentonville: Do not have Singles Shopping tonight, and do not have it again. Drat. And I was looking forward to it, too. I, along with several others, put in comment cards about how we traveled distances to see this, only to find it was cancelled. Some even came from West Virginia, though from Roanoke to West Virginia isn’t as far as from Roanoke to here. All the store associates I spoke to were very apologetic about it, from the managers and right on down, since this was their great idea, and Bentonville nixed it (though I was told that some associates absolutely HATED the concept). After all, it got such wonderful press in the Roanoke Times (linked in the first entry I posted on this topic), and via the Associated Press to other papers. Jay Leno even made fun of it on his show.

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Categories: Roanoke, Walmart

Somebody called me at work for this…

July 19, 2005, 11:41 PM

It’s right around 3 PM on Tuesday afternoon, and I’m working the self-checkouts. Then one of our CSMs comes up to me and tells me that I have a call on Line 1. So I get the cashier next to me to keep an eye on the Fastlanes for a couple of minutes while I take that call, figuring it’s probably Mom or Dad with some highly pertinent information or something.

It turned out to be a fairly random individual who had heard of me and the Web site and wanted the URL, and knew where I worked. I’m thinking, why are they calling me at work?

All I have to say is, that’s odd. (And please don’t call me at work unless it has to do with me in a job-related capacity, which Schumin Web is not.)

Categories: Some people, Walmart

Wal-Mart in Roanoke – the place for desperate singles to meet and greet?

July 17, 2005, 5:58 PM

You know what’s so special about this store?

Wal-Mart on US 220 in Roanoke

This is the Wal-Mart on US 220 near Tanglewood Mall in Roanoke, Virginia. They have introduced Singles Shopping, which, according to The Roanoke Times, is “an opportunity for singles to meet while stocking up on milk, underwear, snacks and small appliances.”

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Jolt Cola: It really does exist!

July 12, 2005, 10:50 PM

I could not believe it today when I went to the 7-Eleven after work for some refreshment. Looking in the drink cooler, I found Jolt Cola. I was surprised, because I’d heard of it for so long, but had never ever seen it. I was starting to think that Jolt Cola, the soda that was completely LOADED with caffeine, was an urban legend, since people had spoken of it, but I’d never seen it before. But now I know it’s real, and it’s weird. Take a look:

Jolt Cola - it does exist!

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The combination of things people buy sometimes…

July 11, 2005, 12:08 AM

I saw what was perhaps the funniest thing on the self-checkout register today. A person bought a pack of condoms, and two different kinds of sandpaper. I’m just like, hmmmmmmm. You have to wonder about that. It leaves lots to the imagination. But if they like to sand in bed, that’s their business. Still, what cracks me up the most is the line I came up with. The couple is in bed together. He says, “So honey, do you want medium grit or fine grit tonight?”

Priceless.

Of course, the reason people buy condoms through the self-checkout in the first place is to be discreet. They don’t want anyone to know that they’re buying condoms in the first place.

This, by the way, is how retail employees have lots of fun doing their jobs. We are completely following established procedure, and laughing like heck on the inside the whole time. Person rings up condoms on the self-checkout. They put it in the bag. The self checkout machine goes off: “Item not recognized! Remove last item and try again!” So I come over. Me: “Hi, let me fix you up so you can continue.” I look into the bag (so as to visually verify that the items match their ticket). I see the condoms. I don’t say anything, but you can tell that they’re completely embarrassed by it. I’m laughing on the inside.

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Malcolm X Park: Mission Accomplished

July 7, 2005, 9:48 PM

Yes, I had a very productive time in Washington DC. Though I did get a touch of a late start. But we recovered. I ended up making up the time by hurrying along my Sheetz stop on the way up, plus traffic was lighter than usual going in. Usually I hit a considerable bottleneck from mile 41-45 on eastbound I-66, and this time, while I did encounter traffic (slowed due to construction vehicle movements), it was not as bad as I’ve seen it. So I was able to breeze right through. I still got to Vienna a touch late, but no problem.

I also finally found some background information on the I-66 construction.

At Vienna, I got a pleasant surprise – a parking spot on the top level, close to the elevator. Usually, and especially since the garage rehabilitation project began, I can only get a parking spot in the North Garage after 10:00, when the guaranteed spaces open up. So that was handy. Also, the rehabilitation work has moved once again, now encompassing the western ramp between levels. How strange it is to have that section closed off now, since that’s the ramp I usually use going up and down.

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You’ve heard of Deep Dish? This is what we call “Cheap Dish”.

June 25, 2005, 5:45 PM

Yes, tonight, dinner consists of what I call “cheap dish pizza”. In other words, Great Value is the name of the game. Store brand pizza. Whoopty-doo. Of course, on a Wal-Mart income, that’s what it’s about. Still, that ought to be pretty good.

Meanwhile, Mom’s been organizing and rearranging things in my bathroom lately. I have two words for it: BAD IDEA. She completely rearranged all the stuff in my bathroom that I use on a regular basis. In fact, it’s been in the same place for so long in there that I can reach for it all while still half-asleep (and sometimes do end up doing just that). So Mom rearranged. A big handful of my Q-tips ended up in a container on top of the toilet. My blue toiletry tote that sits on the counter and contains all my toiletries was missing, and the contents scattered all around the bathroom. My toothbrush was in a holder elsewhere in the bathroom. My flosser was in there, too. My deodorant was in the closet. So was my dental floss on a string. And then while the flosser was in the aforementioned holder (that had always been known for being downright nasty), the floss clips that fit it were in the closet. All on different shelves all over the bathroom. And my toiletry tote was in the bottom of the closet, empty.

Needless to say, this rearrangement of my stuff without even so much as telling me was not wanted nor appreciated. My Q-tips went back in the box. Q-tips are for cleaning ears, not for display. That little container went back in the closet empty. My tote came back out. And all the stuff that went in it went back into it in the proper places. Everything I needed to use regularly went back where it was before. When I am ready to rearrange, then I will rearrange. And for someone who doesn’t even use that bathroom to come in and totally rearrange it really irritates me.

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Stop the presses!

June 19, 2005, 10:34 PM

After publishing the last Journal entry, where, at the end of the article, in the “Quote” part, I spoke about the demolition of the former Howard Johnson’s motor lodge in Harrisonburg, I learned from a friend that the motor lodge still exists!

So I went into JMU’s Facilities Management master schedule online, and found out that a lot of different scheduled projects are listed as being on hold. All sorts of projects are marked “ON HOLD”, such as:
Renovating humidity controls in the ISAT/CS Building
Reconfiguring the old WMRA space in Anthony-Seeger Hall for JMU Police use
Building a turning lane into the Convocation Center
Asbestos abatement and demolition of Lincoln House, Shenandoah Hall, Smith House, Wellington Hall, and Zirkle House
Demolition of Rockingham Hall (the old HoJo’s)
Replacement of UREC astroturf

As you can see, a lot of stuff is on hold. And it seems that ALL the demolition projects are on hold, for that matter. I really have no idea why all of these projects are on hold, but they are. By the way, all the other demolition projects aside from the HoJo’s are all on the same block, to make way for a new performing arts center.

So maybe the old Howard Johnson’s motor lodge will be with us for a tad longer than anticipated. Not like it will be of any use to us, though, as it will more than likely remain closed, as it has been for the past year.

Now to clarify, I am referring only to the MOTOR LODGE complex (guest room buildings and the gate lodge). The restaurant had already been demolished in June 2004. I describe my discovery that the restaurant had been demolished in the June 29, 2004 Journal entry.

Categories: Howard Johnson's, JMU

When I did the photo set, I never thought I was going to be documenting the last days of the complex…

June 19, 2005, 4:27 AM

When I shot the photos that comprised the two-part photo set Afton Mountain: Victim of Progress, I never really thought that what I was documenting would disappear so quickly. The focus of the photo set was threefold, if you recall:

Howard Johnson's Restaurant
Howard Johnson’s Restaurant

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Today was a good day, though a long day.

June 13, 2005, 6:01 PM

Today was a good day. It was also a long day, but a good day nonetheless. The customers were nice, and seemed to do fairly well today on the self-checkouts, compared to a weekend, where people seem to have trouble on them.

All in all, it was quite a pleasant day. It seemed to be a long day, too, but it was a good day. And we were comfortably busy. Not bad.

And then otherwise, I realized that I’m nearly two weeks late writing this month’s newsletter. I guess with everything going on lately it just totally slipped my mind. Well, I’m going to rectify that just as soon as I finish this Journal entry.

Today was also an interesting head-music day for me. I had the weirdest songs floating through my head today. I had Marzipan’s scroll buttons song running through my head. I had the Crying Kitten song in my head today. I had the I Love You Kitten song stuck in my head. I had Yatta playing on a loop in my head. Today just seemed to be a day for all the different “Internet Songs” to take over my mind.

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I can’t believe it’s been a year…

June 5, 2005, 8:09 PM

I can’t believe it’s been a year since the June 5 anti-war demonstration sponsored by ANSWER Coalition. I can’t get over that it’s been that long.

Goodness… I remember that day like it was yesterday. I remember being excited, but a little bit nervous, since it would be my first time as a true participant, vs. the previous one where I’d stayed on the sidelines the whole time.

I wrote about the June 5 demonstration in the Journal back in June 2004, and it’s good reading. I still regret packing Big Mavica for that demonstration, as all the photos I took were taken with my cell phone. It was a good day temperature-wise, as the rain that fell that day cooled things off a bit.

After the march, I found myself near the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan station. I visited a nearby McDonald’s, where other participants in the march went afterwards, and I also helped out a girl who was in tears because she was stranded by her boyfriend in DC, hundreds of miles from home (she was from the Virginia Beach area). I provided comfort, and help. She was nice. I hope things worked out for her in the end.

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My adventure in College Park…

May 26, 2005, 7:51 PM

I went up to the DC area today, and, in an unusual twist of things, spent NO time above ground in downtown Washington DC.

Arriving at Vienna, one thing I quickly noticed in the North Garage was that the contractor had completed work on the first section of the garage to undergo rehabilitation, and had moved to the second section. I’m not quite sure what they did in rehabilitating it, since it looked exactly the same as it did before. Who knows. On the top level, a pickup truck was parked so badly in its space so as to make the opening for the space next to it a little too close for comfort. Thus there was this very attractive looking empty space, but it was a little too tight of a squeeze to get in there. I ended up having to wait for the guaranteed spaces to open up at 10:00, and then parked on the third level.

Getting on the train at Vienna, I rode a mixed consist of Breda 4000-series cars and CAF cars. Leaving the station, the 4000s were in front, and the four CAFs followed behind. The operator out of Vienna knew me from a previous trip.

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“Weekend” doesn’t just mean Saturday and Sunday, you know…

May 17, 2005, 5:44 PM

You know, a weekend is a state of mind, and not necessarily two specific days. My weekend is usually Wednesday and Thursday, and like most people for Saturday and Sunday, I’m so glad when those two days roll around.

It’s interesting how that mindset is, too. If you call Wednesday and Thursday your weekend, then it’s your weekend! So many people at work complain about not getting weekends off, yet you don’t ever hear a peep out of me. My weekend just doesn’t happen to match with the days traditionally designated as weekends. I’ve in fact asked not to be scheduled off on traditional weekend days because I like my mid-week weekend.

So I normally start my week out on Friday, and so Friday is like Monday to me. So the traditional weekend is like Tuesday and Wednesday in my week. Then my “Friday” is actually Tuesday. So for me, today was like Friday, where I know that if I can make it through the day, I get two days of freedom from that big, green building known as Wally World (our store, for those not familiar, is tan and green instead of the normal gray and blue).

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Categories: Myself, Walmart