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Big Brother knows when you travel the Intercounty Connector…

March 24, 2011, 11:01 PM

On February 23, the first phase of Maryland Route 200, otherwise known as the Intercounty Connector (ICC), opened from Shady Grove station to Norbeck Road, with an interchange at Georgia Avenue.

Taking advantage of the fact that tolls were waived on the ICC for the first week and a half of operation (it’s normally a toll road), I rode the ICC for the first time on February 26, riding from Georgia Avenue to I-370, and then I turned around somewhere on Sam Eig Highway. Basically, for those not following the designations, it’s one road with three names. My trip going west started at Georgia Avenue on Maryland Route 200 (Intercounty Connector). At Shady Grove Metro, the MD 200/ICC designation ends, and I-370 begins. Then at I-370’s interchange with I-270, the I-370 designation ends and the road becomes Sam Eig Highway, and goes for a while longer as an arterial, and then as a regular surface road (but whatever, I’ve never traveled Sam Eig Highway beyond where I turned around).

The ICC is certainly a nice-looking road, with the concrete sound walls designed to look like natural stone, and stained to match. Plus they also did a lot of work on the landscaping, and there is even a short tunnel along the route, covered in bright white tile (seriously, this is like the-color-of-your-toilet white, and lit brightly).

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Categories: Roads

Wednesday’s commute home was perhaps one of the most challenging driving experiences I’ve ever had…

January 28, 2011, 9:09 PM

It was also the most unpleasant, for that matter. Wednesday, January 26, you see, the DC area was hit by a fairly large snowstorm. I think the area got about eight inches of snow, which, by last winter’s standards would be just a dusting, but by this year’s standards so far was a major snowstorm.

I think my biggest mistake was that since I had the car with me (due to work-related errands that I needed to run), I decided to wait to leave until it was likely too late. So I ended up getting a six-hour snow tour around Washington DC, watching transformer explosions light up the sky and testing every nerve in my body in the process. And both the car and I came out just fine, thank you.

I left the office around 5:30 on Wednesday, sending a tweet to announce my departure:

I’m outta here: LSMFT @capitalweather: Heavy snow overspreading entire region http://wapo.st/gp0zP2
January 26 5:27 PM

It was in the early stages of being dark, and I figured I was doing fairly well. Traffic was heavy, but moving, albeit slowly.

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So why don’t you just tell us what you really think?

January 11, 2011, 10:02 PM

So I drove to work today, and then going home, I put the phone in my GPS mount and did a Video Journal entry from the driver’s seat. And here it is:

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Obviously, the date and time would be too useful to display…

December 19, 2010, 1:59 AM

Coming back from a Christmas shindig in Northern Virginia this evening, I encountered this sign on the Beltway:

TERROR TIPS?  CALL 1-800-492-TIPS

Basically, the sign encourages people to report “terror tips” to the authorities at the aforementioned number. A little research indicates that the number goes to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, a state counter-terrorism agency.

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Well, I certainly was a man with a destination today…

September 25, 2010, 3:25 AM

Do you ever have those days where you look back at how you handled yourself and think, boy, I really was an a–hole? Today, I drove to work because I didn’t feel like dealing with Metro, and during the day after I got to work, I thought about how I handled myself on the way down, and I realized I was a bit of an a–hole in the car this morning. I had Randi Rhodes on as always, and for whatever reason, I refused to let anyone merge in front of me if I could help it. And then after the potential mergers gave up and dropped back, I was all, “Heh, heh, heh!”

Now mind you, I wasn’t a complete jerk in the car today, nor did I drive dangerously. If someone really wanted to get in, I still let them in. I wasn’t about to blatantly cut someone off. But I wasn’t as courteous as I usually am. Georgia Avenue during rush hour seems to do that to a person. Usually, I’ll let people in, but today I just didn’t feel like it, I suppose. What point I was trying to prove, I don’t quite know. But yeah, I look back at the morning commute, and I was certainly being a dick, which the folks at Wikipedia highly recommend against.

Otherwise, I put together a desk for the office today. Since our previous style had been discontinued, I was putting together the “Galant” style desk from IKEA. That was this one with the frosted glass top. It was something refreshingly modern, as one would expect from IKEA.

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Categories: Driving, IKEA

Oh, what a commute it was today…

August 12, 2010, 10:55 PM

So today is one of those days where I drove to work. I had to do some work-related errands in the suburbs first thing, and when I do those kinds of things, I drive into work because I’m already in the car, and so it just makes sense to do that.

Now mind you, we had some intense storms today. There were some severe thunderstorms in the early-ish morning (enough to wake me up), and then in the late afternoon and early evening, there were more severe storms, including some tornado warnings (eek!) near Fredericksburg and in the northern part of Montgomery County. Needless to say, I hear “tornado warning” and “Montgomery County” in the same sentence, and I drop everything at work to find out exactly where the tornado is, because I would like to know if I’m going to be without power, or worse, homeless, when I get home. Thankfully, not only were the tornado warning areas a considerable bit north of me, but I also never lost power the whole time.

So… the morning’s errands ended at Home Depot near my house. Since Georgia Avenue looked wall-to-wall, I took Connecticut Avenue, which I had hoped was not as bad. It was also pretty bad. It took ages to get as far as University Boulevard, i.e. this far. Basically, as Homer Simpson would say, “Gas, brake, honk.”

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Categories: Driving

So I decided to talk and drive again…

July 8, 2010, 2:19 PM

So on Wednesday evening, I decided to talk and drive again. I set the cell phone in the GPS holder once again, and started talking. I started at approximately 16th and T Streets NW, heading north on 16th Street:

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So I tried my hand at video blogging today…

June 23, 2010, 10:36 PM

So I tried my hand at video blogging on the way home from work today. I used my phone, setting it up it in the holder clipped on my air vent that I usually use for the GPS while I was stopped at a red light. Then I started it recording and just started discussing things:

And there you go, I suppose. It’s a first try, and so I kind of want to know what you think. Did I plan out what I wanted to say? No. I just kind of discussed it as I thought of it. And I managed to go on for just about ten minutes. So what do you think? Like it? Hate it? Think it’s got potential but needs to be refined? I want to know.

A fun time was had by all…

April 7, 2010, 9:06 PM

So I got back from Stuarts Draft last night, and all in all, it was a pretty good trip. First of all, on the way down, I visited my friend Bergit, who I first met at the National Equality March back in October. We had a good time, chatting it up, and visiting a few stores in Charlottesville’s Corner district. Perhaps the most amusing part of the whole trip was the discovery that UVA sold a Snuggie with their logo on it, which Bergit modeled for the camera:

Bergit models the UVA Snuggie

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See, don’t tell the allergies that it’s their season, because maybe they’ll forget and it will be too late then…

April 3, 2010, 10:10 PM

First of all, hello from my parents’ house in Stuarts Draft. This ought to be a fun weekend. I saw my friend Bergit in Charlottesville on the way down (that was a lot of fun), and then I’m spending tomorrow with the parents, then Monday I’m spending with Katie, and then Tuesday, back to DC.

The drive down here was kind of interesting. Usually I don’t hit traffic on a Saturday, but this time, the Beltway was awful. Almost as soon as we crossed into Virginia, pow. Slowed to a 10 mph crawl. Once I hit I-66, though, no problems, and except for some moderate congestion on US 29 through Gainesville, we were good. Smooth sailing right down 29 to Charlottesville. I noticed that they were expanding the Charlottesville Wal-Mart, and also noticed that an Exxon station at the corner of US 29 and Barracks Road had been demolished and seeded. Very strange seeing a vacant corner lot like that…

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And it’s snowing again.

February 2, 2010, 9:37 PM

Yep… it’s snowing again. And of course, I’m still hitting the workahol, staying tonight until 7:30. When I stay late, I drive, and when I drove through, the roads got progressively worse the further north I went. P Street NW in DC was fine. Then 16th Street NW in DC was also fine. Crossing into Maryland, 16th Street was good. Then Georgia Avenue inside the beltway was all right, but once I cleared Wheaton, I started having to guess about where the lanes were. I really had to slow down in the last two miles home, once I cleared Glenmont station. Then my street was white except for tire tracks. But I made it, and I am once again in my nice, warm apartment.

Meanwhile, they’re calling for a good bit of frozen precipitation this weekend. Capital Weather Gang gives a 20% chance of more than eight inches. However, the reality is that they don’t know. They gave a 25% chance of less than an inch, a 25% chance of 1-4 inches, a 30% chance of 4-8 inches, and then the aforementioned 20% chance of more than eight. But instead of saying “I don’t know”, professional weather forecasters just guess. After all, giving something like that looks a lot smarter than “dunno”.

Otherwise, I’ve been meaning to show an old family photo for about a month now. Take a look:

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Let me tell you, I had a really good time on Saturday…

January 31, 2010, 9:35 PM

I had a really good time on Saturday. I went to the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge, aka “Plungapalooza”, and while it was really, really, really cold and snowing, I had a blast.

The event was held at Sandy Point State Park, near Annapolis. The idea is simple: put on a swimsuit, and run into a body of ice-cold water in the middle of winter. The proceeds from the event went to support Special Olympics, and of course, all involved had a great time.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t jump in. Nuh-uh. Too cold. And when you consider all the cold-weather gear I was wearing, I was determined to stay toasty warm, too. And for the most part, I did.

Getting there involved taking the Beltway to Route 50, and then a short distance on local roads to the parking area. Parking involved leaving the car at a satellite location and then taking a shuttle bus to the site. I parked at the Naval Academy Stadium, and took a bus from there. That was like jumping into a time-warp. The bus appeared to be of more recent mint than I would have ridden, but the interior was light green, and the seats were dark green. I thought they got rid of that when they started using the brown interiors in the late 80s. I guess I was wrong. Ugly green on uglier green is obviously alive and well in the 2010s.

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So the question is… legal or not?

January 14, 2010, 10:04 PM

So the question is, is this a legal move in Maryland, or is it not? Take a look:

School bus stop - legal or not?

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Categories: Driving

So someone explain to me how this happens…

November 30, 2009, 11:56 PM

First of all, the return trip to from Stuarts Draft to Maryland was not exactly a walk in the park. I encountered traffic jams almost the entire way back up. First on I-64 near Ivy, which caused me to have to detour onto local roads. Then Charlottesville was a mess. I was going to call a friend who goes to UVA about possibly stopping by for a quick hello, but I ended up having to nix it because of traffic. Long lines at a lot of lights there. Charlottesville going up Route 29 is like a miniature version of Fairfax County in so many ways, complete with a Giant store, and traffic to make you pull what’s left of your hair out.

Traffic was clear for a while after Charlottesville, but then the headaches returned in Fauquier County, and traffic stayed bad all the way through to I-66 in Gainesville. Seriously, it was like a crawl for what seemed like forever. Then once I got on I-66, it was fairly smooth sailing the rest of the way in. I missed the Beltway, though, since I needed to swing by work on the way back, and thus had to go all the way into Washington.

Regardless, though, it was not fun. My parents kept calling me to check on where I was. My mother called me while I was making a stop, and when she asked about traffic, my response said it all: thbbbbbt. Yes, I gave a Bronx cheer into the phone. Yes, it was that bad. I hate holiday traffic. Regular DC area traffic I can handle. Holiday traffic as one approaches the DC area, not so much. Though as much as I complain about Fairfax County drivers, the drive through Fairfax County was flawless and uneventful.

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Categories: Driving, Mercury Sable

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.

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