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Meanwhile, in DC…

December 30, 2005, 12:26 AM

I took an “extra” DC trip this past Wednesday with Mom, Sis, and her boyfriend Chris Lysy. They had previously ordered tickets to see Wicked at the Kennedy Center for December 28, and when I found out that I would be off that day, I asked if I could come along, and Mom agreed. It turned out that my presence was quite helpful, as I knew exactly where I was going, both on the road and on the train, and also knew my way around Washington better than the rest of them. Plus I’m never one to pass up a trip to Washington, after all. Especially one where I didn’t have to pay for gas.

We were also celebrating Sis’s 21st birthday, which was on the 26th.

The trip was, to an extent, run like a regular DC trip of mine. Get to Vienna, park, ride to Rosslyn, go into Washington, run around for a bit, then go to Pentagon City. Our destinations while “running around” were things that Sis and I both picked.

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Fodder for America’s Funniest Home Videos?

December 22, 2005, 8:24 PM

I went up to the Washington DC area once again on Wednesday, and all in all, I had a good day.

The daytime took me all around the Metro doing railfan stuff. I rode the entire length of the system in Virginia, going from Vienna to Rosslyn to Franconia-Springfield, to King Street, to Huntington, and then into Washington via the Fenwick Bridge. While I was at it, by the way, I also rode the entire length of the Yellow Line all at once, riding from Huntington to Mt. Vernon Square. I also checked out the new entrance at King Street, which opens out onto Commonwealth Avenue. It’s nice and new and such, and still harmonizes with the original part of the station, which opened in 1983.

I spent the late afternoon, which is bad for urban photography due to dark shadows cast by buildings (but great if you can avoid it – same goes for early morning), at Dupont Circle and also Union Station. Dupont Circle was basically a photography thing – in, photograph, back out. Then at Union Station, I got a phone call from Mom: “Where did you go today?” This is where we realized that I forgot to tell Mom where I was going. Told Dad, but not Mom. Oops. So I filled her in.

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Meanwhile, on Wednesday…

December 15, 2005, 10:45 PM

On Wednesday, I went up to northern Virginia, though not like you’d expect. This was by no means a “DC trip” like I usually do. Like my “accidental” DC trip in August, this was an off-week trip, but this time it didn’t involve the Metro at all (closest I got was driving past the 1C bus on two occasions), nor did it involve Pentagon City.

The official purpose of the trip was to make a run up to the DC metro area using US 29 via Charlottesville to see how well it would do as an alternate route. I also tested a variation on that route via Harrisonburg. Then while I was up that way, I also had a surprise in store for a friend.

So my trip went like so: I-64 westbound from Fishersville to Staunton. Swing north onto I-81, and take that as far as Harrisonburg. Here, we said goodbye to the Interstates for a while, which honestly are boring roads. I took a pass through JMU for old times’ sake, and ended up down near Valley Mall in Harrisonburg, at US 33. I took US 33 eastbound for a while. This took me through Elkton, in the eastern part of Rockingham County, and then up a mountain to Skyline Drive at Swift Run Gap. At the top of the mountain, we entered Greene County, and got into a monster of a backup. Two trucks were doing the safe thing – going down the mountain very slowly. We can’t fault them for that. Well, we could, but it wouldn’t be fair. Besides, the runaway truck ramp was snowed over, and looked pretty short anyway. I wouldn’t want to be a runaway truck and have to use that…

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Categories: DC trips, Driving, Matthew

Blue Screen of Death on the self-checkout…

December 11, 2005, 5:58 PM

I wondered when it would happen, and today it finally did – one of our self-checkouts crashed and displayed the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death”. I just wish I had a camera with me at the time, because I so wanted to take a picture of that…

Otherwise, though, I realized in the last few weeks that the customers don’t listen to a word I say. I put this to the test recently, using one of everyone’s favorite Homestar Runner holidays – Decemberween. Decemberween is, to quote the Homestar Runner Wiki, “a holiday celebrated by the people of Free Country, USA, 55 days after Halloween, on December 25th. It bears many similarities to Christmas with colorful lights and garlands and the giving of presents, but with some obvious differences.” Read the whole article for more information on Decemberween, because it’s otherwise irrelevant. Just focus on the name. So I would casually ask, “Are you all ready for Decemberween?” instead of “Are you all ready for Christmas?” I would get the same response for “Decemberween” as I would for “Christmas”. Not a single person ever questioned my use of “Decemberween”. Not a one. Scary.

Meanwhile, my belief that the more religious stuff a person has on their car, the worse driver they are has been confirmed once again. I first talked about this in this entry from May 23. Today I had two cases on the way home. The first was on US 340 where I got stuck behind this van that had “JESUS” right on the license plate. And it was going 35 in the left lane (and the speed limit was 45 and then changed to 55 before I could pass them). Then turning onto 608, I got behind another person with a bumper sticker where a religious group decided to be cute and do a religious take on the logo for CSI. The bumper sticker said “CSI: Christ Saves Individuals”. Here’s a Web site showing the logo in question. These people not only were going five miles below the speed limit the whole time I was behind them, but they also decided that a green light means “stop”. After dealing with the previous slowpoke coming out of Waynesboro, and then having to sit behind this moron for a few miles, sitting at the green light was the final straw. I hit my horn, and leaned on it until these bozos moved. They moved, and thankfully, our paths diverged after that point.

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And the first snowfall has started!

December 5, 2005, 7:35 PM

It’s so interesting to work at Wal-Mart when snow is falling or when it’s predicted to come. The entire population of Waynesboro piles into the store, and buys enough groceries to last them for weeks on end. All of us who work there just comment to ourselves that it’s only a few inches, and these people are acting like they’ll be buried in snow up to their necks for weeks.

Then of course when it snows, reports trickle in about what’s going on elsewhere in the town. By that I mean road conditions, school closures, accidents, etc. And of course, since Wal-Mart has no windows, it’s hard for us to tell what it’s doing outside.

Of course, meanwhile, I’m thinking about my ten-mile drive back to Stuarts Draft from work, and how deeply my car will be covered in snow, and how tricky getting out will be. I park on the far edge of the lot, nose in, with a rear wheel drive vehicle, so it can get a little tricky. By the way, I park in the same parking space every day unless a semi or motor home blocks it. The last row in the lot is slanted down more sharply than the rest of the lot, and so with my car being rear-wheel drive, it doesn’t take much distance before my drive wheels are on snow, ice, or slush. But I got out just fine, after realizing I didn’t know where my snow brush and ice scraper were. So to get de-snowed, I just used the front and back wipers a few times, and did some up-and-down moves with the front windows to clear it all.

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Categories: DC trips, Winter weather

Hello from Pentagon City!

November 16, 2005, 5:44 PM

Hello all from the Apple store at Pentagon City Mall! (Yes, I’m writing this on a Mac.) What a fun day I’ve had. I went around to Lafayettte Square, where I met up with one of the DAWN demonstrators from February. I saw lots of people engage them in debate, as they were doing a similar anti-torture demonstration in front of the White House. However, no arrests this time.

After that, I went up and around on the Metro, and even took a bus from Fort Totten to Georgia Avenue-Petworth. Flxible 9802, running on the 64. Then I got one of the happiest train operators on earth (some of you may know who I’m referring to) for the ride to Gallery Place-Chinatown.

I also tried to visit the Infoshop, but they were closed when I came by. They would reopen at 6 PM, but I wasn’t about to wait more than an hour for them to open up. Ah, well…

And now, it’s Pentagon City time…

Categories: Activism, DC trips, WMATA

Going to Washington on back-to-back weeks…

November 16, 2005, 4:34 AM

I’m going to Washington this week on back-to-back weeks, thanks to a work schedule on my intended week that doesn’t permit a trip – I’d need to have either two days off together, or a day off followed by a shift that starts at noon. So I’m going this week instead, then it will be three weeks before I go again.

And it looks like my weather will be unsuitable for outdoor photography once again, with rain predicted. So we say *sigh* as I once again have to come up with alternate plans.

Meanwhile, I want to see a “Blue Screen of Death” come up on one of our self-checkouts at work. Considering that the Fastlanes seemed to be crashing left and right yesterday, and run Microsoft Windows, I wouldn’t put it past them to BSoD eventually. I just want to be there when they do it so I can laugh (and take a couple of pictures).

And then I’m still working on the site redesign/refurbishment. I’ve got tags on the site now in Life and Times and Photography that mark some images as being available under the GNU Free Documentation License. Those images that are available under the GFDL are the ones I also have uploaded to Wikipedia, which requires that images be licensed under GFDL, another free license, or put in the public domain. I certainly don’t want to put my images into the public domain (no way will I ever do that), but GFDL is a fair compromise. So now these images will be marked on here, and I’m still working to implement this. Right now, 23 images are marked like this in Life and Times.

And now, I’ve piddled enough. Off to DC!

I now know what happens when you overstay your welcome at the Exeloo…

November 11, 2005, 1:47 AM

I went to Washington on Wednesday, and had fun. I explored around Washington Circle near the Foggy Bottom station, explored a bit around the Friendship Heights station, and also walked through the neighborhood along Connecticut Avenue between the Cleveland Park and Woodley Park-Zoo Metro stations. All in all, it was a relaxing day, and I got some awesome photos.

First of all, Washington Circle. You may recall that I first visited Washington Circle by accident, on my “accidental” DC trip in August. There, I discovered Washington Circle while trying to find my way to I-66 from downtown Washington, and took four laps around the circle in the process. This time, I just took one lap, for photos, all the while amused about my past experience.

Also, despite DC being a large city, it’s really a small, small world. At Washington Circle, by pure chance, I ran into someone I’d first met at Dupont Circle on September 24. Here she is then:

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Categories: DC trips, WMATA

A fun day was had by all…

October 27, 2005, 11:48 PM

Now that I’m back home, I’d like to tell you about my surprisingly eventful day in Washington on Wednesday. As I mentioned before, I spent much of the day railfanning with my friend Matthew Tilley. The day was “surprisingly” eventful for two main reasons. One was an incident at New Carrollton, and the other was an incident at Ballston.

I met up with Matthew Tilley at Rosslyn Center, where we’d previously agreed to meet. Not finding him right away, I looked outside the door, and saw a person matching his description outside. The person pulled out their cell phone. I had a feeling that mine would be ringing shortly. Not wanting to be detected, since I knew what I wanted to do here (you’ll see), I quietly stepped outside the door and waited. My cell phone went off as expected. “Hello?” Matthew says, “Where are you?” I replied, “I’m right behind you.” He turned around and hung up the phone. We ended up sitting at the tables on the first floor of Rosslyn Center for a few minutes before starting out, talking about what Metro and what we were going to do for the day and such.

Then we started out. Blue Line in the direction of Franconia-Springfield. We went as far as King Street. There, we got off, and I discovered a strange object on the platform:

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Categories: DC trips, Matthew, WMATA

What a fun time!

October 26, 2005, 5:25 PM

I had quite a fun time in DC with my friend Matthew Tilley today. We went railfanning, since he’s quite the Metro buff as well. We met up at Rosslyn, and then rode to Huntington via Arlington Cemetery with a transfer at King Street, then rode back up and transferred to the Blue Line again at L’Enfant Plaza, rode out to Morgan Boulevard and Largo Town Center, rode back to Stadium-Armory and transferred to an Orange Line train out to New Carrollton. Then we rode back in, and we parted company at L’Enfant Plaza. All in all, a fun day. We rode the trains, and also walked around at a number of stations. The Exeloo, however, was closed. A shame.

Meanwhile, now I’m at the Infoshop, where I’ve got a small notice posted to hopefully get some people to contribute to WikiProject Anti-war.

And next up: Pentagon City! This has really been a fun day, and I have lots of stories to tell you (particularly about our time at New Carrollton). I also got some beautiful photos today, and hopefully they’ll all come out like I want them to.

Categories: DC trips, Matthew

“I work alone, except when I work with Renaldo – which is all the time.”

October 12, 2005, 4:20 AM

I’m about to head up to Washington today, for the first time since the big September 24 protest. Depending on the weather, I hope to get some outdoor photo sets today.

Meanwhile, it’s funny… the day after the September 24 protests, Mom read in our local paper (I believe it was The News Virginian) about how a group from Augusta County went to the big protest. I believe the group was the Augusta Coalition for Peace and Justice, which participated in the protests at the Augusta County Courthouse that I spoke about in August (and which I could not attend due to being on vacation).

Mom wondered why I didn’t go with them and instead did my own thing. I simply replied, taking a line directly from Dangeresque on “I work alone, except when I work with Renaldo – which is all the time.”

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Categories: Anti-war, DC trips

One word about the protest on Saturday

September 26, 2005, 2:46 AM

I have just one word for the September 24 protest: WOW.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many people out against the war in Iraq and the like, even counting J20 (which seemed to consist of a smaller, but very dedicated bunch). They say that more than 100,000 people attended.

I’m working on a full narrative for this trip like I did for the Million Worker March, J20, and A16. The full report for this trip will end up in Life and Times as a photo set when I’m done with it. Unlike in those other three cases, however, I’m not posting the narrative here. It will go up when I finish the entire set.

All in all, I took 391 photos and 41 movies. Of that, roughly 360 photos and 30 movies were protest-related, while another 31 photos and 11 movies were rail-geek stuff.

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Categories: Anti-war, DC trips, Family, WMATA

“Yeah, shut up, kid.”

September 14, 2005, 2:55 PM

First of all, hello from the Infoshop in Washington DC.

It’s interesting… Chevy Chase Bank is having a little publicity stunt today at various Metro station to promote the fact that many Metro stations now have a Chevy Chase Bank ATM near the farecard vending machines. According to the Express, their ATM mascot would be greeting customers at Metro Center in the morning, and then going to Gallery Place-Chinatown from 11:30-1:00. Then he’ll be at Bethesda later on from 3:30 to 5:00. Plus there will be representatives all over the place.

I met up with their ATM mascot outside Gallery Place-Chinatown. And he was surrounded by Chevy Chase Bank people plus others. I got my picture taken with him! Considering how everyone was making a commotion over the guy in the ATM suit, it was almost like meeting The Thnikkaman, as it seems the ATM’s power of distraction is legendary. You almost expect the ATM to say, “Yeah, shut up, kid.”

Then otherwise, today seemed like “one of those” days. First, I got a late start out ot the house. Then I got to Vienna and locked my keys in the car, and didn’t realize it until I got all the way to the station. I carry a spare key, so it wasn’t like I had to call AAA or anything, but still, that’s a long walk to take an extra few times! Then at Rosslyn I had to go back to use the ATM after forgetting to do so. But then things got better (see above).

So fun stuff. And more still to go.

Categories: Advertising, DC trips

The weather held out, though it looked likely to rain at any moment.

September 1, 2005, 11:43 PM

My trip to Washington DC on August 31 was a good trip, though I was expecting some rain to keep me indoors for much of it. If that turned out to be the case, I was going to go explore the Crystal City Underground (by the way, here’s an interesting article about Crystal City’s future). But it turned out that the weather would hold out for me, and so things went differently.

But on the way, up, I got quite an unpleasant surprise:

Gas prices at the Sheetz in Mt. Jackson, Virginia

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And it’s off to DC we go…

August 17, 2005, 5:26 AM

Still amazed by the success of my “Shades of Gray” photo shoot in DC on August 3, I’m heading up to DC once again to see what kind of mischief I can get into. The last time that one day’s photos became a single photo set was back in March, when I did my Life and Times set entitled If These Streets Could Talk, which was a retrospective “clip show” photo set. That shoot was when I shot all the linking material for the set.

Then the next DC trip after that was the A16 trip. This time around, I’m not going to any demonstrations (but stay tuned – something’s coming in September). So we’ll see what happens.

And today is also the day that Sis goes back to Virginia Tech. We’ll miss her very much while she’s away.

Categories: DC trips, Family