A fun and memorable day…

February 8, 2023, 9:00 AM

Today marks twenty years since I made one of my favorite early DC adventures.  On that day, February 8, 2003, I drove up from Harrisonburg and headed up to the DC area on a Saturday for a day of fun, photographing the area in the snow and checking out parts of the Metro system that I’d never been to before.  It was my senior year of college, and was one of three trips to DC that I made from my dorm that year.  I also feel like I shot a number of my “classic” DC area photos on this trip, since a lot of photos from this trip have made their way all over the Internet (i.e. you’ve probably seen some of them in the wild, and never realized that they were my work).

This trip had an interesting set of circumstances that led up to it, though.  As I recall, snow had been predicted for Thursday night and Friday morning.  That prediction ultimately came to pass, as it snowed enough to cancel classes for Friday.  This was not unanticipated, so, the night before, as part of my duties as a resident advisor in Potomac Hall, I had posted signs on my floor advising people to check the JMU website for information on class status.  In other words, make sure that you have to go out before you go out, because you might not have to go out if the university cancels classes.  The sign was posted with the intent of putting the responsibility for checking the status onto my residents, so that I would not have to get up early to check the status and post signs to that effect, since I didn’t have classes until later in the day, and would not wake up before the first classes of the day would have started.  So with the signs posted, I went to bed.  Good.  Now fast forward to around 6 AM or so.  I vaguely remembered hearing the phone ring a few times while I was trying to sleep, but I never answered it, because I was trying to sleep.  Then I’m awakened by a very loud banging on my door.  Having just been rudely awakened like that, my first response was to shout, “WHAT?!?”  It was Mecca Marsh, our hall director, i.e. the boss, so it must be important.  I went to get up, and in my haste in getting up, I lost my balance and fell back onto my bed, landing on my left elbow.  When I landed, I heard a series of four or five popping sounds, and I remember thinking, “That can’t be good.”  Apparently, that popping had come from something in my left shoulder, and it now hurt very much.

So what was the big, important reason that Mecca came up and woke me up out of a dead sleep?  Make a sign and put it on the outside door stating that classes were cancelled.  Believe me, she was lucky that my arm was sore from the injury that I had just suffered, because I probably would have hit her otherwise.  I was absolutely seeing red following all of that.  For the amount of effort that she went to, making multiple phone calls and then coming up to my floor and waking me up, just to order me to make a single sign, she could have done it herself.  And when I mentioned that I had just injured my shoulder in the process of getting up, and that it now hurt very much, she responded with a dismissive, “You’ll be fine.”  Yeah, way to show some compassion after an injury that you played a part in causing.  I expected no less from Mecca, though, because she had her favorites on the staff and I was not one of them, and therefore I was treated accordingly.  In any case, I made the sign, and tried to go back to sleep, but I was now pretty mad about what had just happened, plus I was in a good bit of pain.  You understand why I consider Mecca Marsh to be one of the worst bosses that I’ve ever had.  I probably should have seen a doctor on a worker’s comp claim, and I also can’t imagine that the management would have taken too kindly to the whole situation had I reported it like I probably should have, and it wouldn’t have reflected well on Mecca considering that she precipitated the whole thing.  She would have hated that, considering how big she was on propping up her own image (she had some major inadequacy issues of her own).  But I was only 21 and didn’t know any better, so I just suffered through it.

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Looking at some old photos from 2002…

June 17, 2019, 11:54 AM

Sometimes, it’s fun to look back at old photos.  The world changes, after all, and sometimes, old photos document things that don’t exist anymore.  For whatever reason, Elyse and I were looking at my photos from a trip to the Washington DC area that I made on April 13, 2002.  For context, back when this trip happened, I was a junior in college, and had just been notified that I was being laid off from my call center job with Telegate USA (the successor company to CFW Information Services) after just under five years’ employment there.  The call center where I worked was closing, and Telegate, primarily a European company, would exit the US market entirely within the year.

This particular trip produced the Old Town Alexandria set in Photography.  I now consider that set to be poor work, and have it on my list of photo sets that I eventually want to reshoot, along with Meridian Hill Park.  I figure that, with the passage of time and my becoming more proficient with the camera, I could do a much better job a second time around.  In the case of the Old Town Alexandria set, I really didn’t take enough time to compose the shots.  Timestamps indicate that it took me an hour to cover from near the waterfront to the Metro station.  I was really just walking and photographing without putting much thought or effort into it.

The rest of the day was spent wandering around the DC area via the Metro, and more or less exploring around.

It’s also funny to think that I took these photos with my original Sony Mavica camera, which recorded at 640×480 resolution, with corresponding image quality.  It was only slightly better quality than a potato.

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The final DC trip…

May 31, 2007, 9:08 PM

The final DC trip in my every-two-weeks DC trip routine that I had maintained for almost three and a half years happened on May 8. On that final trip, it was highly appropriate that I tied up the final loose end in my DC trips. That was that I finally took my friend Katie Shapiro to Washington with me. You may recall that we were originally going to go on February 2, 2005, but I had an unexpected issue and had to cancel at literally the last minute. Now, we finally pulled it off.

You may be wondering why it took me this long to do this little exposé about this trip. After all, it’s May 31 now, and this trip occurred on the 8th. The reason is because two days later, I signed the lease to my Silver Spring apartment, and finally moved out of my parents’ house. So there was a bit of a disruption in my Internet service and my whole media collection, since all my stuff lives on my real computer rather than on the Lappy.

So let me take you back a little bit. I was in the last week of my “extended vacation”, and Katie and I planned to go to Washington right before I moved.

It was a fun trip, too. Since I’d gotten fired from Wal-Mart, every DC trip was related to either getting a job or getting an apartment. This trip would be different. This was a classic DC trip.

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Categories: DC trips, WMATA

This time it’s really happening!

May 8, 2007, 5:19 AM

It only took, what, two years to make it up, but we are finally going to run the DC trip that was originally scheduled for February 2, 2005. This will be the trip where I take Katie with me to Washington. This time it’s really happening. This time, there is no pilonidal cyst to get in the way. As I said to Katie, my butt is in tip-top shape.

And it’s going to be a fun trip, as Katie experiences the Metro for the first time. So that means she’ll get to experience my friends Rohr, Breda, CAF, and Alstom, and get to know what Randi Miller sounds like.

So now, I’ll see you in DC!

Categories: DC trips, Katie

Now I really know where I’m living!

May 5, 2007, 4:50 PM

After the first apartment deal fell through, and we found out what a bunch of slimeballs they were, I found another apartment up the road from the other one, and I can move in immediately. And unlike the first one, the new place showed me the actual apartment – not a model. Top floor, private balcony, and a huge walk-in closet. And rather than being nine pages, this application was only one page and took two minutes to do.

And as I mentioned, I can move in immediately. That means that when I go to DC on Tuesday with Katie, I can finalize the deal and start moving in. And I can go right to the apartment, and not spend a week with Matthew Tilley in Reston (though that would have been fun).

So rather than go to Ikea, since the first apartment deal fell through, Mom and I went to Wheaton and did more apartment hunting. And I think I’m going to enjoy it in Wheaton. Nice area.

And now, I have to move…

Categories: DC trips, Move to DC area

Bet you haven’t seen this before…

May 1, 2007, 6:06 PM

I’ll bet you haven’t seen this destination on Metro trains before:

Red Line to Twinbrook

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Categories: DC trips, Harrisonburg, WMATA

And it looks like I know where I’m going to be living in DC…

April 30, 2007, 7:35 PM

As things presently stand, it looks like I’m going to be living in Wheaton, Maryland. The apartment is going to be nice. It’s got one bedroom and one bathroom, a good-sized living room, an eat-in kitchen, another separate dining area, and – the best part – a balcony. The balcony was the clincher for this deal. One thing I never liked about dorm life was having to go halfway across the building to be able to go outside. Now, I’ll be able to go out onto a balcony right off the living room. Sweetness on a stick.

And it’s within walking distance of Glenmont Metro.

However, here’s the kicker – the apartment won’t be available until May 20. The job starts May 14. This is when you find out who your true friends are. Matthew Tilley and his mother are letting me stay with them for that week before the apartment becomes available. So for a week, I’ll be living in Reston, and taking Metro to work from Vienna. Then that Friday, I’m going back to Stuarts Draft, getting a whole lot of stuff together on Saturday, and then moving into my apartment on Sunday. That will be when Wheaton becomes “home”, and Stuarts Draft officially becomes “my parents’ house”.

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Hello from… Rosslyn?

April 30, 2007, 11:45 AM

Yeah. Hello from Rosslyn. I’ve found out that Rosslyn Center is just teeming with wireless access points. CommuterStore on the second floor has a free wireless hotspot, and it works in most of the first and second levels of Rosslyn Center. This is good to know for future reference, like if I’m meeting Matthew Tilley on a future railfan trip where the Lappy would play a role (we’ve discussed such a possibility). However, the CommuterStore link, or any other link for that matter, does not work in my favorite part of the building – the way back of the food court, near the windows. I usually go there to read the Express if I couldn’t finish on the Metro. That location is presumably too far away. There’s also a free wireless connection at Tivoli on the first floor. All I have to say is, sweet! about finding wireless connectivity here.

Next mission is to see if I can find a free wireless hotspot over at Pentagon Row. Now that would be nice, to be able to sit outside and get online there…

Categories: Arlington, Computer, DC trips

Lost two farecards in one day!

March 28, 2007, 11:22 AM

And when it was all said and done, my performance when it came to Metro on this last DC trip was horrible. Never before have I lost two all-day passes in the same day.

Now, I’ve had farecard problems before. On two DC trips some years ago (April 12, 2003 and January 3, 2004), and one recently (September 20, 2006), my day pass got demagnetized. In those cases, I got date coded, showed the pass to the station manager at every station, and went through the employee gate. In the two cases from a few years ago, it was caused by the farecard’s living alone in an otherwise empty pocket. Therefore, it saw a bit more abuse than it should have. I switched pockets after that, and put the farecard against other things, which worked well for the most part. The other occasion, who knows what happened. It shouldn’t have demagnetized.

Then on my November 21, 2006 DC trip, I lost my day pass at Pentagon City. I think it just fell out of my pocket when I pulled something else out. I ended up having to use my SmarTrip to get back to Vienna. I think I probably lost it at Champps in that instance.

This time, I lost my day pass twice! I lost it the first time at New Carrollton. I used the pass to leave New Carrollton, and that was the last I saw of it. I went to reenter the Metro at New Carrollton, and the pass was nowhere to be found. I even went back over to where I was earlier to look around a bit, since passes don’t just disappear into thin air, after all. But it was gone. So I ultimately just got a new day pass and was done with it. So the first day pass saw two official “rides”: Vienna to Rosslyn, and Rosslyn to New Carrollton. I rode four different trains during that time, but Metro only logs your entry and exit points, therefore the fact that I took a Blue Line train from Rosslyn to Stadium-Armory and then an Orange Line train from there to Cheverly (where we were offloaded), and another Orange to New Carrollton, doesn’t play into the equation.

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Categories: DC trips, WMATA

“Booger” is a word, but “burqa” isn’t?

March 27, 2007, 7:13 PM

First off, hello from Pentagon City. I’ve had a fun day today. I rode out to New Carrollton on the Metro and then around to Fort Totten and then to the Infoshop. And at times, I’ve been playing Scrabble Blast on my cell phone, like while I’m waiting on the train. I’m working my wordiness, keeping my mind in tip-top shape.

However, it’s kind of strange about what words are valid words. I had tried “burqa” – the Muslim women’s veil – and it rejected it! I would have scored 212 points on it, which would be a personal record, beating “mixed” for 170 points. This is the same game that accepts “booger” and “titties” as valid words (wipe that grin off your face!), while something far less juvenile gets rejected. It gets frustrating when it rejects perfectly valid words. Of course, it also rejects a number of “colorful” words that I’ve had the opportunity to give it.

But all in all, it’s a really fun game. That and Tetris Mania.

Otherwise, I’m revamping my discussion forums, changing from YaBB to phpBB. The official cutover takes place Saturday night. I’m excited.

Categories: Cell phone, DC trips, Language

You were just on TV – Fox News

March 17, 2007, 5:01 PM

First of all, hello from the Infoshop, where I just now met David Rovics.

The protest went swimmingly. I got off the Metro at Foggy Bottom, headed down to the main rally site, and eventually found the SDS contingent. After we determined what we wanted to do, we were off! This time, the black bloc stayed with the mainstream march (sponsored by ANSWER) for the most part. We formed a very tight affinity group, with arms locked the entire way. My right shoulder is now a bit sore due to that. We marched past the counter-protesters “guarding” the Lincoln Memorial (*eyes rolling*), and then marched over Memorial Bridge and on into Arlington. We eventually made a left turn, and headed towards the Pentagon. Our black bloc, after initially having to wedge itself into the mainstream march to get moving, mostly marched as its own unit to the side of the mainstream march, arms locked all the way. Did I say very tight affinity group?

At the Pentagon, we split from the mainstream march. The mainstream march went left, and down into the Pentagon’s north parking lot (ho-hum). There, they had their rally, complete with speeches. Meanwhile, we continued on Route 27 for a little bit more, before we were physically stopped by Pentagon Police and the Virginia State Police. After briefly pushing against the line of police, a pyrotechnic device went off right in front of us (I was near the front of the march at this point), and we backed off. The police then started putting on gas masks, and a standoff began. The police were warning us to disperse, and many participants in the black bloc sat down in the street in front of them. The police gave warnings to disperse, they sat down. I backed off, and went to the back of it all, since I wasn’t in the mood to get sprayed and/or arrested. Thus I ended up standing in the back, ready to run if it became necessary. A number of people from the SDS contingent determined that they were going to go back to the recruiting center in DC where the window had previously been broken, while others (including myself) decided to call it a day. Meanwhile, a very dedicated group of black bloc-ers remained at the Pentagon, continuing the standoff. I’m told that no pepper spray or tear gas was ever used (though they were prepared to use it), and that the group finally dispersed on its own when the State Police brought a large number of paddy wagons into position, prepared to make mass arrests (unlike DC, they can do that in Arlington).

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Categories: Anti-war, Black bloc, DC trips

At this early hour, we’re up, and you know what that means…

March 17, 2007, 2:09 AM

It is 3:30 AM on Saturday, March 17, 2007 as I am writing this. And you know what that means, right? Yes, that’s right – I’m going to Washington DC, and it must be something important if I’m going on a weekend and getting up so bloody early that the road’s not even awake yet.

As you probably guessed, and as I hinted to in my previous Journal entry about the Malkinites, I’m going to the M17 demonstration today. Yep! Despite the snow that hit the area yesterday, I’m still going. Nature’s going to have to do better than that to keep me away.

And I’m ready, too. The protest pack is already in the car, and Big Mavica’s batteries are fully charged, plus I topped them off last night. All I have to do is get my two big bottles of water, and I’ll do that on my Mt. Jackson stop.

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Categories: Anti-war, DC trips

Now let’s travel to Breda 3040…

March 4, 2007, 8:54 AM

As promised, I have posted the videos of the man singing on the Metro to YouTube. And here you are:

Singing “Age of Aquarius”

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Categories: Amusing, DC trips, WMATA

I wonder if he’s been puffing on the magic dragon…

March 1, 2007, 7:50 PM

So I’m on the Metro, on Breda 3040. I got on at Mt. Vernon Square, and rode all the way to Huntington. Most people board the Yellow Line at Gallery Pl-Chinatown or L’Enfant Plaza. Those who want seats board at the former. This guy got on at Gallery Place and sat in the seat in front of me. He was a middle-aged white guy, and appeared to be coming home from work.

Why is this notable? He started singing on the train. He’s sitting there, and he’s got his MP3 player with headphones, and he’s singing to himself, somewhat loudly. It wouldn’t be that bad in and of itself, but this guy could not sing to save his life. He was oblivious to the fact that everyone around him was making fun of him. I took the additional step of pulling out Big Mavica and recording him. I’ll put that up when I get home. He sang a bunch of different songs. Two that I knew were Age of Aquarius and Puff, the Magic Dragon. He was awful. He couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. The other people on the train wondered if he was not exactly all together. I suggested that he probably just didn’t care, or that he thought he sounded good.

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Categories: Amusing, DC trips, WMATA

It got a little hairy at one point, but I made it…

February 13, 2007, 4:24 AM

I am pleased to say that I am home safe and sound once again, back from my 87th DC trip since I started doing these things back in 2004. This trip was moved up two days due to an impending snowstorm, and even then, I was fully prepared to abort the trip and return home should the weather have turned sour while I was up there. But thankfully, the weather held, and I accomplished all of my objectives for this trip. The weather in DC was beautiful, too. It was cold, but it wasn’t windy, and the skies were clear well into the afternoon.

The trip home was not so nice, though. I encountered light snow briefly around Front Royal, and then I encountered the heaviest snow from just north of Woodstock to just south of New Market. From New Market to Harrisonburg, it was wet, and then the roads were perfect from Harrisonburg to Stuarts Draft.

I also made excellent time going home despite 25 miles of snow, through which I was going 45 mph on the interstate. I made such excellent time in part because I really blew right through my two stops. Seriously, I was in and out of Sheetz in Haymarket and Wal-Mart in Woodstock in record time. All part of making hay while the roads are clear. Especially when I don’t have the luxury of two off-days back to back this week.

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