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They couldn’t even get mad…

August 12, 2019, 10:17 AM

After the Journal entry where I spoke about my seventh grade year, which generated a lot of great discussion, mostly on Facebook, I thought I’d share an amusing moment from eighth grade.

Eighth grade was one of my best years in school.  I had a great group of teachers, and I had a much easier time with the kids.  Sure, some kids were still terrible, but not like seventh grade.  I didn’t get in trouble at all in eighth grade, except for one time in the middle of the second semester, when I got written up for something relatively minor, but which was entirely my fault.

To give some background, my mother has always enjoyed sharing information that she learns with me.  In the era of the Internet, I typically use it as a starting point to do my own research to turn up more information about it, but back then, with much more limited resources, I typically took it at face value, and was still happy to have learned something new, even if I couldn’t necessarily dive into it more deeply.  In this particular instance, what Mom shared was that men who wore boxer shorts had higher sperm counts than men who wore briefs.  Okay.  So 13-year-old me just learned an interesting new factoid, though I didn’t really understand the whole mechanism behind it (if you want to know, go look it up for yourself).  But in any case, I was a tad more knowledgeable than I was five minutes earlier, and that was awesome.

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Crossing the line from punishment to just plain mean…

May 29, 2019, 10:26 AM

Sometimes, in reflecting on childhood, you remember an incident and think, “Wow, that was really messed up.”  And then the more that you think about that incident, the more messed up you realize that it was.  Such was the case of a punishment that I received from my mother in November 1990 that, based on the way it all happened, was just wrong.  Before I begin, though, I should note that my parents did a great job overall in raising my sister and me.  But this one was wrong in so many ways.  And my mother likes to bring this one up in conversation, and speaks about it as though she’s quite proud of herself for it, despite how hurtful it actually was.

Back in late 1990, I was in fourth grade.  For context, recall that I did not have the best relationship with my elementary school, as it was clear that they weren’t equipped to handle someone like me (I briefly discuss this in the Mrs. Bradley Journal entry).  Because of that, I had a bit of trouble in school, and things were starting to come to a head with my relationship with my fourth grade teacher.  So getting punished was something that I was accustomed to.

However, this particular punishment really took the cake, mostly because of how it came about, and what happened in the course of the punishment, and the lasting damage that it caused.  In the fall of 1990, Mom had started openly tossing around the idea of cleaning out my room, i.e. taking all of my toys away, as a punishment.  Mom brought it up on several occasions that she wanted to do that, and nine-year-old me was terrified of the prospect, because it felt inevitable that she would eventually do that, and I didn’t know how to prevent it because I was never told what transgressions would trigger such a punishment.

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The things that a mother will do for her child…

December 14, 2018, 2:00 PM

One of my favorite books as a small child was Sir Andrew by Paula Winter.  For those not familiar, it is a wordless picture book about a donkey who is very vain, who both gets in and causes trouble over the course of the story due to his vanity.  We first found it at the library in Rogers, Arkansas, where we lived at the time.  Apparently, I wanted my own copy of Sir Andrew, having liked the book that much.  However, in the mid 1980s, over a decade before Amazon and the Internet became commonplace, locating a book like that for purchase was a very tall order.  So my mother did what she could to make me happy: she photocopied the entire book, colored it, and bound it.  I knew that it was a homemade copy from the moment that I saw it, but I was pleased as punch nonetheless.  This was the Sir Andrew that I grew up with:

My bootleg copy of Sir Andrew

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Categories: Family, Popular culture

It has been twenty years since my trip to England…

June 19, 2018, 12:50 PM

This week marks twenty years since my family went to England.  That trip, from June 14-21, 1998, was our last real family vacation, where we spent about a week doing all of the various touristy things, mostly in the greater London area.

Interestingly, this was a trip that I had been dreading for quite some time.  TWA Flight 800, which went down a few years prior due to what was determined to be a malfunction, was still fresh in my mind, and I was convinced that I was going to die on this flight.  Thus I didn’t want to go.  But they made me.  And as things turned out, I got there and back in one piece, but nonetheless, I still am not a fan of flying.  Every little bump, I’m wondering what’s going on.  I guess that I’m a bit of a white-knuckle flyer, though I wasn’t as a child.  In hindsight, I consider my concern to be rational enough, but I was forgetting that for every incident that makes the news, there are thousands of flights that take off and land uneventfully every day.  It also didn’t help that my last flight prior to that, from Dallas-Fort Worth to Fayetteville on American Eagle in 1992, was one where they had aborted the takeoff due to a mechanical issue.  After aborting the takeoff, they parked the plane somewhere to run a test to determine what was wrong.  The test involved the entire plane’s shaking violently on the tarmac.  After the shaking stopped, they announced that the problem “had corrected itself”.  That was not exactly reassuring.  I would have preferred that they had swapped the plane after that for one where they hadn’t told us of any issues.  I wanted off of that plane, but there was nothing that I could do about it.  Every single bump in that flight, I thought, we’re going to crash.  Not a good feeling.  I was so glad when we finally were on the ground again at the end of that flight.

In any case, we flew from Charlottesville to Philadelphia aboard US Airways Express, and then flew US Airways flight 98 from Philadelphia to London Gatwick.  The Tube was on strike the week that we were visiting, so we did much of our travel via London black cab.

The first day was basically a rest day.  We were jetlagged and knew it, and so we did a lot of sleeping that day, ate dinner at our hotel the Novotel Waterloo), and then took a walk around the area.

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Categories: Family, Vacations

Just when you thought that the mountain couldn’t look any worse than it already did…

April 16, 2017, 5:37 PM

On Tuesday, April 11, I got together with Elyse and Melissa, and we headed down to Virginia for the day.  The plan was to get together with my parents, plus visit Afton Mountain and downtown Staunton.

We left the house at 9:30, and took US 29 down to Charlottesville.  First stop was Moe’s Original Bar B Que, where we had lunch with my father.  Fun time, and my father seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to finding good barbecue.  Every barbecue place that Dad has taken me to has been wonderful, and this was no exception.

From here, we took US 250 across to Afton Mountain.  There, we went to the second overlook, i.e. the Rockfish Valley Parking Overlook, to get some views.  I tend to avoid Afton Overlook, the first overlook, after being propositioned for sex there one night back in 2005.  The second overlook, which is a mile and some change further down the road, tends to attract fewer undesirables.  I suppose it’s because it’s further away from civilization than the first one, which is a minute’s drive from the freeway.  In any case, the view is awesome:

View from Rockfish Valley Parking Overlook

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My life according to Clive and the Cowboys…

August 6, 2016, 5:12 PM

I was going through my Facebook “memories” feed today, and one in particular struck me as amusing.  My sister made a post on this day in 2009, called “My Life According to Disney”.  It was one of those chain posts where you fill in the blanks and then tag fifteen of your friends.  Here were the directions:

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Pass it on to 15 people you like and include me. You can’t use the band I used. Try not to repeat a song title. It’s a lot harder than you think! Repost as “my life according to (band name)”.

She chose Disney.  Technically, “Disney” casts a very wide net, since their body of work is very large and spans multiple generations of authors, artists, composers, etc.  But she made it work.  She also tagged me, encouraging me to do the same.  I commented thusly:

Hahahaha... I responded to your note. You asked for it...

And then I gave a proper response:

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Pass it on to 15 people you like and include me. You can’t use the band I used. Try not to repeat a song title. It’s a lot harder than you think! Repost as “my life according to (band name)”.

Pick your artist: Clive and the Cowboys (yeah, Today’s Special – sue me)

Are you a male or a female: “I am thunder and nothing can happen ’til I bellow and I rumble and wake everybody with my roar…” (A Visit to the Opera)

Describe yourself: “Hocus pocus alimagocus, I can bend, I can stretch, I can see…” (Family)

How do you feel: “Let go of your busy day, let it all just drift away…” (Sleep)

Describe where you currently live: “When I’m at home I just relax, put on slippers, shirt, and slacks, settle down to watch TV, and dunk a donut in my tea.” (Homes)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: “Let’s not get carried away, Sneakamore! Still, I will admit… I’m nasty, I’m not very nice… the heart that’s inside me is as cold as ice…” (Storybooks)

Your favorite form of transportation: “All aboard, the whistle blows, a rumbling starts beneath your toes…” (Trains)

Your best friend is: “When you’re with me, I’m not afraid of anything…” (Flight)

You and your best friends are: “Who’s the one I like to play with? Who’s the one I’ll spend all day with?” (Sharing)

If your life were a TV show, what would it be called: “Today’s Special” (main theme)

What is life to you: “We’ve got a store that I explore when the customers aren’t here anymore…” (Sleep)

Your last relationship: “Just give a snap, a clap, and a chuckle any time you feel a bit dismayed…” (Storms)

Your fear: “I love the rain, I love it when it’s raining…” (Storms) coupled with “Riding along the highway, singing a song and going my way…” (Cars)

What is the best advice you can give: “Let your smile shine through in every thing you do… don’t hide that special you…” (Teeth)

How I would like to die: “Without ever leaving, I’ve been everywhere… I’ve been to those lands ’cause you’ve taken me there…” (Memories)

My soul’s present condition: “Blue! Blue! The cow was blue! She jumped high like a kangaroo!” (Dreams)

My motto: “A singin’ yo he ho, sailin’ across the ocean blue, singin’ yo he ho, I’m a comin’ home to you!” (Costumes)

For those who don’t know, “Clive and the Cowboys” is, as far as I can tell, the name of the group of musicians that played the accompaniment for the songs on Today’s Special.  They were referenced in “Sleep” when Sam was talking on the radio, and also in “Records” when Jodie made the record.  On that later occasion, she referred to the group as “Jodie and the Cowboys”.

Some of these responses are obvious, and some not so much.  With the passage of time, I couldn’t tell you why, for the “male or female” question, I quoted Thunder from “The Rainmakers”, other than that Thunder was a male actor.  The “If you could go anywhere” question, I assume I meant the “Land of Make Believe”, because that’s a song that the two villains sung together explaining how evil they were.  “Your last relationship”, I don’t recall why I chose “Snap, Clap, and Chuckle” for it.  I suppose that 2009 me had a rationale for it, but it’s lost on 2016 me.  And then I also apparently didn’t like driving through storms in 2009.  Still not the most fun, especially since larger vehicles slide surprisingly easily in the rain.  You wouldn’t think that a vehicle the size of a bus would slide more than a much smaller car, but they most definitely do.  I also can’t explain what the Blue Cow song has to do with my soul’s present condition.  Maybe I was in a silly mood, and that’s certainly a silly song.

And then there was my sister’s comment on the post, in response to my original comment on hers:

I guess I did ask for it.

In any case, though, this was a fun exercise, both in writing it at the time, as well as revisiting it now.  Facebook memories can be so much fun to go through.  Unlike a photo album, Facebook memories are like going through an album of our thoughts.  Facebook, without a character limit for posts, allows the space for more explanation of one’s thoughts, and therefore the ability to express the entire idea.  What we were thinking at the time often helps give perspective to what we’re thinking now.  After all, we may not realize it at the time, but we all are constantly growing and changing.  What was important a few years ago is laughable today.  What was considered a dream years ago is now reality.  You know.

Good to see our old house looking better than it has in quite some time…

June 30, 2016, 6:15 PM

Back on June 9, Elyse and I took a one-day road trip to Philadelphia.  From the outset, this was to be something of a transit adventure, with a visit to the SEPTA gift shop as one of the main priorities.  On the way up, Elyse even got annoyed with me for a few restroom stops (hey, when nature calls…) because she didn’t want to miss the SEPTA store.  But then as we were heading up I-295 towards Lindenwold station to get PATCO, I commented as we were approaching the exit for US 322 that this was the exit that you would take to go see my old house in Glassboro.  Her response was an enthusiastic “Let’s go!”  Looks like someone just gave up their right to complain about the time.

That said, we went over to Glassboro, and over to 304 Cornell Road.  I was surprised to see how nice the place looked:

304 Cornell Road, Glassboro, New Jersey

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Nobody knows how to tweak you like your mother…

May 31, 2016, 9:32 PM

So yesterday was my 35th birthday.  And sometimes people really get one on you.  Case in point with my mother this year.  We were talking on the phone on my way home from work on Saturday (a nice long ride, as I’m working out of a facility in Alexandria this week), and amongst discussions of Hefty bags (don’t ask, but I was laughing so hard that I was in tears), my mother asked if I’d seen the birthday card from her yet.  I hadn’t.  My mother insisted that I check the mailbox to fish the card out while we were on the phone.  I was thinking, it can’t be that exciting, now, and then I saw it:

"Age is just a number but to me your #1"

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Categories: Birthdays, Family, Language

A visit to JMU…

April 12, 2016, 10:36 AM

Recall that on March 30 and 31, my friend Elyse and I went on a road trip to Stuarts Draft and such.  On the 30th, we visited Afton Mountain, my ex-store in Waynesboro, and Staunton Mall, among other things.  On the 31st, we visited JMU, as the plan was to show off a bunch of vintage elevators and fire alarm systems on campus.  Plus JMU was planning to build a new dining hall to replace the current one, so a final visit to D-Hall was a must.

The first order of business on our trip to JMU was a visit to Zane Showker Hall.  I took many classes in that building over the course of my college career.  We came to Showker to update a very well-known photo in higher resolution with my Nikon SLR.  Specifically, this one:

Wheelock 7002T at Zane Showker Hall, March 22, 2003

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Categories: Elyse, Family, Fire alarms, JMU

The only constant is change…

April 5, 2016, 6:06 PM

On March 30 and 31, I went on a road trip down to Stuarts Draft with Elyse, where I showed her a whole bunch of stuff.  I showed her the mountain, we visited my ex-store, we went to Staunton Mall, and we saw JMU.  All in all, a fun trip.  The lesson to be learned from this trip, however, is that change is inevitable, as many things that I had hoped to show Elyse had changed, and other things were going to change.

Coming down from Maryland via US 29, we visited Afton Mountain.  I have photographed this area many, many many times before.  So I more or less know what’s there.  I did spot a few new things in the process of going about things, like this vintage television:

An abandoned RCA XL-100 television set

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Cranberry sauce. From a can.

November 26, 2015, 10:09 PM

First of all, I hope that everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.  I certainly did.  Since I have Wednesdays and Thursdays off for the current pick at work, Thanksgiving worked out perfectly, so I went down to Stuarts Draft on Wednesday and came back Thursday.  Not bad.

That said, one of the things that we had with our Thanksgiving dinner was cranberry sauce.  My opinion on cranberry sauce is that if it doesn’t look like the can it came out of, it’s not cranberry sauce.  Last year, I posted this photo to Instagram, and captioned it thusly:

"This is that weird kind of cranberry sauce that doesn't look like the can it came out of."
“This is that weird kind of cranberry sauce that doesn’t look like the can it came out of.”

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Fun in Philadelphia…

April 28, 2015, 11:29 PM

Back at the end of March, I went up to Philadelphia with my friends Melissa and Elyse.  We had a list of things that we wanted to do, and we did as many of them as we could.  We had a blast, plus we got to meet up with my cousins Mike and Tara for dinner.  This trip was also a proof of concept for how my various little outings might go now that I routinely work late nights, since my typical workday runs from approximately 4:00 PM until just before 2:00 AM.

Logistically, it worked out this way: Melissa met me at Glenmont station around 11:00, and then we traveled up to Howard County to get Elyse.  Then from there, up to Philadelphia via I-95.  Then in Philadelphia, everything that we were planning was transit-accessible, save for one thing, but we worked it all out pretty well.

Our first point of interest was the non-transit-accessible one: the SS United States.  This would be a quick look-see for some photos, and then move along to other targets.  We parked at the IKEA store across the street, and then Elyse and I walked over for a look (Melissa stayed in the car).  Here are pix:

The SS United States in Philadelphia

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Going back for the first time in 17 years…

June 26, 2014, 10:21 PM

This coming weekend is going to be so much fun.  I’m getting together with my friend Pete, and we’re heading down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, specifically Buxton, for a weekend trip.  For me, this will also be a bit of a throwback to the nineties, as the last time I was down this way was in 1997.  My family went to the Outer Banks five times in the nineties, for a week each time, from 1993-1997.  Back then, we rented Park Place, a house in the Askins Creek neighborhood in Avon.  This time, since this will just be a weekend trip, Pete and I are staying in a hotel for two nights, though I’m going to see about getting a few photos of Park Place on the way down (Avon is the town right before Buxton going south).  I do want to stay in Park Place again one day, though, but that’s not going to happen on this trip.

When we used to go down that way as a family, it worked out to where Dad would generally just sun himself on the beach, and Mom, Sis, and I would find ways to entertain ourselves.  The first year, in 1993, all the whole family did was get up, eat, and go down and sit on the beach all day.  That got old quickly by the third day, and Mom realized it.  So on subsequent vacations, while Dad was perfectly content to lay on the beach every day for a week, the rest of us found entertainment elsewhere on the island, as well as spent a couple of days on the beach.  On these outings, we went up the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse a few times, we rode the ferry across Hatteras Inlet, and we did a few other things while Dad chilled out on the beach.

The last time my family went, in 1997, I was a freshly licensed driver, and did the driving that year myself, taking the Previa down to the Outer Banks with my mother and sister.  My father, due to a work schedule conflict that year, had to travel down separately.  That was fun, as it was my first time driving through a tunnel (the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge Tunnel), among other things.  Still being a relatively inexperienced driver, I remember my being a little nervous while doing the drive down, but I managed.

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Categories: Family, Vacations

Sometimes you have those weekends where you just have to get out of the house…

June 11, 2014, 6:06 PM

Ever get that feeling of “I just have to get out of the house”?  I recently had that feeling, where I just needed a change of scenery for a little bit, and so I planned a weekend trip down to Stuarts Draft to visit the parents, going down Friday, and coming back Sunday.  They were, as always, delighted to see me, and on the whole, we had a good time.  I also made some extra space in my house, as, on Mom’s request, I brought my sister’s old bicycle back to my parents’ house.  Gave me some practice in “beheading” a bicycle by removing the front wheel, and then reattaching it at my destination.  But it travels much more easily without the front wheel:

The bicycle has been beheaded!
The freshly-liberated front wheel.

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A little walk down memory lane with Mom…

December 31, 2013, 4:07 PM

I certainly had a fun time this past weekend.  Mom came up to visit for a few days, and on Saturday the 28th, we went up to New Jersey for the day, where we wandered around an old stomping ground: Glassboro.  This is where my parents met while in college, and this is also the first place where I lived, from birth to age three.

The first stop was Rowan University, which was Glassboro State College back in Mom and Dad’s day.  First stop was at the Barnes and Noble, which is now the university bookstore.  I had never been in a Barnes and Noble on a college campus before.  It’s something of a cross between a college bookstore and a normal Barnes and Noble, in that it’s styled like a regular store, it has the cafe, it has a section for books and other stuff that they normally sell, but then it also has a section for school-specific merchandise, a school supply section (smaller than I expected), and a textbook section.  Mom got this:

Mom poses with a Glassboro State hoodie

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Categories: Family, Glassboro