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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

Road trip to New Jersey…

October 30, 2013, 9:45 PM

Last Thursday, October 24, was a fun day.  I took a one-day road trip to Monmouth County, New Jersey.  The inspiration was my needing a change of scenery for a day, and seeing this as an opportunity to do a few things I’d wanted to do for a while now.

As with any trip, they say that getting there is half the fun, but I was quickly struck by how much it cost to get to New Jersey.  Let’s just say that officials in northeastern states, New Jersey in particular, never met a road or a bridge that they couldn’t slap a toll on.  And tolls have gone up.  The Baltimore tunnels in Maryland (Fort McHenry and Harbor) are now four bucks each way (up from $2), and the Millard E. Tydings Memorial Bridge is now eight bucks(!) for its northbound-only toll (up from $5).  Otherwise, the Intercounty Connector near me was $2.05 from Layhill Road to I-95 (it’s a variable toll depending on time of day – your results may vary), Delaware was still four dollars, the New Jersey Turnpike was $3.50 to Exit 7A, and then the Garden State Parkway wanted fifty cents from me for going one exit.  Kind of surprisingly, New Jersey didn’t want anything for my ride on I-195.  Altogether, it cost $22.05 in tolls alone to get to my first destination.  And that’s just getting there.  I had to run that gauntlet of tolls coming back, too.

The first stop was a very personal one for me.  I went to Temple Beth-El Cemetery in Neptune, where my grandparents on my father’s side, Ruth and Seymour (“Pop”) Schumin, are buried.  I also didn’t realize before I arrived that Aunt Ruth and Uncle Seymour were buried in the same location.  Uncle Seymour died in April 1981, a little less than two months before I was born.  Pop and Grandma died within a month and a half of each other in the spring of 1988, when I was in first grade.  Aunt Ruth died in November 2003, right around Thanksgiving.  Therefore, I never got to know Uncle Seymour, it’s been 25 years since Pop and Grandma died, and it’s been almost ten years since Aunt Ruth died.

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Categories: Asbury Park, Driving, Family, Roads

I can now add “commode critic” to my resume…

March 28, 2013, 12:44 PM

So I got back Tuesday night from a trip to Stuarts Draft.  That was fun, though not the fun that I was expecting.  I got to visit my friend Bergit in Charlottesville, and then spent two days spending time with my parents.  The original plan was to go to Roanoke with Mom on Monday and also visit friends and see transportation-related stuff, but that unfortunately got snowed out.

But first, though, in case you’re wondering what the deal with the title is, let me explain.  My trip started out with proof that my kidneys do great work, and that having a cup of coffee before a three-hour road trip is inadvisable.  Yes, I took far more restroom breaks on this trip than I normally would.  I ended up stopping at the rest area on I-66 near Manassas, Sheetz in Madison, the new Trader Joe’s in Charlottesville, and then the rest area on I-64 near Ivy.  Usually I can make it on one restroom break.  But, noooooo… my body decided that this was the perfect time to unload a bunch of water.  And I was not shy about discussing restrooms on social media on the entire trip.  This from the Sheetz in Madison:

This road trip has been brought to you by the letter P, and by the number 1.

And I accompanied this on Instagram with the following caption: “This road trip has been brought to you by the letter P, and by the number 1.”  Yep… that kind of day.

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The Walters Art Gallery and Great Falls…

January 6, 2013, 9:42 PM

So as promised, this is the photos-from-Baltimore-and-Great-Falls post.  Right after Christmas, Mom came up to visit for three days.  We certainly had fun while we were out.  We went out to Montgomery Mall, we went to Baltimore, we went to Arundel Mills, we went to Great Falls, and we had dinner with friends.

Montgomery Mall was pretty much what you would expect.  After-Christmas sales and all that jazz.  Mom did, however, leave me a bit scandalized when she went into Abercrombie and Fitch just to pay the five-cent bag tax to get one of the bags with the picture of the guy with the six-pack abs on it.  I commented:

My mother went to the Abercrombie store just to get the bag with the picture of the guy with the six pack abs on it. I am scandalized.

This must somehow be payback for all the times that I may have embarrassed her in the past.  Especially when I brought the little green reusable bags that I take with me to go grocery shopping.

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Driving in Virginia on Thanksgiving morning…

November 22, 2012, 7:04 PM

First of all, greetings from Stuarts Draft, where I will be through Sunday.  And so far, so good.  The drive went surprisingly well, and then Thanksgiving dinner was absolutely wonderful.

Considering how well my drive went today, though, I don’t know why anyone would want to go driving on the day before Thanksgiving.  Seriously, this was one of the easiest drives to Stuarts Draft that I’ve had in a long time.  I left the house around 8:45, and it was more or less smooth sailing the entire way.  Georgia Avenue in Montgomery County, from my house to the Beltway, was no problem.

On that note, by the way, does anyone know what’s going on with the Freestate gas station on Georgia Avenue at Layhill Road?  This is how it looked this morning:

The Freestate station on Georgia Avenue

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