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Unlocking Mom’s inner railfan…

December 27, 2006, 3:53 PM

Slowly but surely, I am unlocking Mom’s inner railfan. Today, on a trip to Washington that consists of Mom, Sis, Sis’s boyfriend Chris, and me, she chose to sit at the railfan window out of Huntington, commenting that she used to do this on the high-speed line in Philadelphia in the 1970s. It seems Mom thoroughly enjoyed her time at the railfan window of Breda 3087 from Huntington to Pentagon City.

Otherwise, we’ve had a fun trip. Sis did a bit of shopping, as we hit a vendor at Rosslyn, and right now, she and Chris are running through Pentagon City Mall. We also went to Chinatown in DC, where Mom learned that Chinatown’s not so Chinese anymore. Da Hua Market is gone, and a number of the restaurants are closed as well. It’s become very gentrified as of late, especially with the first thing you see when exiting via the Chinatown exit of the Gallery Pl-Chinatown station being a United Colors of Benetton store. But we still had a good time. Then we also visited the George Washington Masonic Memorial. All in all, a fun time was had by all.

And then we’re going to Murali at Pentagon Row for dinner. After that, our group parts company for a few hours, as Mom, Sis, and Chris are going to a play at the Kennedy Center. While they see a play, I’m meeting my friend Matthew Tilley, and we’re going to, like, chill for a few hours. Then we’re all getting together after the play, and riding back to Vienna. Then we go drop Matthew off at his house, and the rest of us go back home. All in all, a fun time shall be had by all.

And I have to figure out what to buy with a $40 Circuit City gift card, and a $25 Best Buy card. Hmmm…

Categories: DC trips, Family, WMATA

I can’t believe that Greta has a better bed than me!

November 19, 2006, 6:42 AM

I also can’t believe that I accidentally erased the first version of this Journal entry as I was getting ready to post it. Let’s see if I can remember everything I wrote before as we begin “take two”.

But yeah, Greta got a new bed, and it’s quite nice. It’s all memory foam. Greta’s old bed was a two inch thick piece of foam rubber with a cover on it. The bottom of the old bed’s cover had cow spots, and the top part was some sort of fleece. Now, memory foam is where it’s at.

Compare to my bed, which I’ve had since 1988, back when I was in first grade at Grimes Elementary. The mattress is slightly newer than the bed itself, but now, 18 years later, it’s no longer as nice as it once was. To put it nicely, it sucks. To give you an idea of how not-fond I am of my bed, I had actually seriously considered taking the bed that came with my room in Potomac Hall home with me, and letting Residence Life bill me for it. So many people complained about the dorm beds, but compared to my bed at home, the dorm bed was living large.

I still remember when I first got it. The bed was bunk beds back then, but in 1998 or so, I finally dismantled the top bunk as being of no use to me anymore. I remember that I put a nice gash in the wall when I accidentally hit one of the parts against the wall, which I then had to fix.

So there you go. And when I mentioned it to Dad and Sis, they good-naturedly told me that I could get a doggy bed for myself just like it…

Categories: Greta

I got my strap, and I got a battery for the Lappy…

October 21, 2006, 6:21 PM

My strap and the Lappy’s battery came on the same day. First of all, thank you to everyone who made suggestions regarding both items.

Interestingly, Mom intercepted the package for the strap before I got home, and was wondering about the fact that I’d ordered from a scuba company. After all, I’ve never expressed an interest in scuba diving, nor have I even so much as mentioned it in passage. And then Mom sees this package, a nondescript brown box, addressed to me, with “scuba.com” as the return address. So it caught her interest. And so I explained the whole story, as I already explained to you here, ending with, “And no, I’m not planning on taking up scuba diving.”

I still find it amusing, though, that the only place where I could find a replacement strap was through a scuba place. Of all places, a scuba place. That just doesn’t make sense, but I’m like, sure. At least I got a new strap. And the bag rides like two inches higher with the new strap than it used to, and I have no problem with that. So all is well on that front.

And meanwhile, we scored a direct hit with the Lappy’s battery. We got an exact replacement, and it snapped right in, and now it’s charging peacefully.

So once again, all is well!

Categories: Computer, Family, Products

I took a crew with me to DC this time…

August 3, 2006, 12:36 AM

First of all, welcome to August, boys and girls. July is just so last month.

And August 1 saw me taking the Sable on its sixteenth DC trip, and this time with people in tow. Mom and Sis went with me on this particular trip. Mom came along because she was seeing a friend from high school, and then Sis came along as a what-the-heck kind of thing.

And amazingly, I did my whole routine. I made both my up-stops, though we got to Vienna really early compared to my usual arrival time. But not to worry – we made up that “early” time with what I’d call a “drop job”. Usually when I take these trips, my first stop is Rosslyn, without exception. I can’t think of a DC trip that I’ve taken since I started doing this regularly in 2004 where I did NOT stop at Rosslyn first thing. This trip would be that exception. Since Mom was meeting her friend at Union Station at 10:30, we did that first. So thus instead of Rosslyn, we went straight to Metro Center, and then took Red to Union Station. And once we got Mom to her friend, Sis and I got to have some quality time together.

So what did we do? Back to Rosslyn, duh… I had errands to run, and it was also right about my Rosslyn time, too, so it worked out. Sis also had a snack at Tummy Station in Rosslyn Center, so it worked out.

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Categories: DC trips, Family, Shopping

What a wonderful dinner!

May 31, 2006, 11:17 PM

What a wonderful dinner we had at O’Charley’s! Dad met us up there, since it made more sense for him to meet us up there than go back home. So Mom, Sis, and I went up to Harrisonburg in the Sable via Route 11 (the scenic route through several small towns) and then cut through JMU to get to Harrisonburg Crossing.

Everything went well. The only point where things went slightly awry was when all the staff came out to wish some other customer a happy birthday. Sis mentioned how good of an idea it would be to mention it to our server that this was my birthday dinner. Then our server came out, and Sis mentioned it to her. My exact response was, “Don’t even think about it.” It worked out, though. Our server said she’d bring out a cake without the fanfare. And it was a nice cake.

Still, like I need the sugar and calories in a cake.

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“Shy, silent type that communicates with his eyes”

May 3, 2006, 12:21 AM

Mom actually said that to a coworker of mine at Wal-Mart today regarding me. Of course, Mom was kidding, as she and everyone else knows that I have a really big mouth.

So that was amusing.

Otherwise, though, Mom didn’t realize that I’d gone all the way to Pennsylvania last Tuesday. But indeed I did. And I have photos and receipts to prove it. I have a receipt from McDonald’s from my lunch (the Asian salad), and a receipt from Starbucks where I got a Frappuccino. So there you have it.

Categories: Family

4 AM on the way home from DC means…

January 7, 2006, 12:49 AM

First of all, yes, I get home LATE when I go to Washington. VERY late. It’s actually “tomorrow” for the parents when I’m just finishing up my “today”. If I’m not home by four in the morning, I get a call on my cell phone from Mom, which is basically what I call the are-you-alive call. And the call’s purpose is usually just to figure out when I am and determine when I’ll be back home.

Usually when I get this call, I’m in or close to Harrisonburg. One goal for me for the ride home is to be at least as far as Harrisonburg if not past it when I get that call.

On my December 21 DC trip, I never got that call. And when I got home, I was like, “Why didn’t you call me?” And it’s funny – first few times when Mom started calling, it did annoy me slightly. Now I enjoy them and come to expect such things. In fact, the reason that not getting called that time bothered me was because I was so ahead of schedule that I wanted to brag about how ahead of schedule I was. Just like, “Aha, look at me!” And I never got to do that, sad to say.

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Categories: DC trips, Family

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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Greta enjoys her Christmas dinner…

December 26, 2005, 12:31 AM

Greta got the bone from the beef roast we had, and she just went to town on it!

Greta enjoys her Christmas dinner

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Categories: Christmas, Greta

As we have for a number of years, Sis and I went looking at lights…

December 24, 2005, 10:44 PM

Yes, Sis and I went looking at Christmas lights once again this year, on Christmas Eve as always, and one word comes to mind for this year’s displays: lackluster.

Christmas 2005 will definitely go down as a blah year for outdoor lighting displays. Far fewer houses decorated at all this year than usual, both in our neighborhood and elsewhere. And a lot of others scaled their displays back significantly.

First of all, though, Sis and I went looking for a set of decorations that used to reside in our neighborhood. I received a lead from a coworker on where this particular family had moved, and we followed the leads. This particular house, by the way, was just awful-looking in its decor. When they were in our neighborhood, these people had Santa, a nativity scene, large wooden snowmen with the family members’ names on them, winter-themed Disney characters, VeggieTales, and certainly much more than I’m remembering at this point. And it was all lit by large, garish white lights. So you could see this display a long way away.

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Categories: Christmas, Family

Good morning!

October 22, 2005, 4:57 AM

Good morning… I have the house to myself this weekend, and thus I will be spending it going to work and taking care of the dog. The parents are going to a wedding in New Jersey this weekend.

To get to New Jersey, they took I-81 to Carlisle, followed the road that connects I-81 to the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76), and then took the turnpike to the Schuylkill Expressway through Philadelphia into New Jersey.

And discussing the non-connection between I-81 and the turnpike, my father still insists someone must have gotten paid off to create that, despite my insistence that it’s related to rules on use of funds at the time of construction. Basically, the rule in place at that time stated that if you’re going to use federal funds to build a direct connection serving a toll road, then the toll road must cease collecting tolls once the bonds are paid off. Otherwise, the toll authority must fund the direct connection themselves. Or, as happened here, they can simply not build a direct connection between the two highways.

This, by the way, is also the same set of rules that created the better-known non-connection west of here between the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-70 at Breezewood.

Still, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get Dad to realize that no one was paid off in creating the non-connection at Carlisle. When I told him that it was about rules unrelated to the specific project in question, he said that it was probably the rulemakers who got paid off.

So there you go. It’s like Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Thus non-connections.

Categories: Family, Roads

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

What a wonderful day Wednesday was…

September 8, 2005, 11:41 PM

I went down as far as Blacksburg on Wednesday. My goal was to visit two people: Sis at Virginia Tech, and my friend Amanda Mone, who I first met in December at the Roanoke Star.

But first, I had some shopping to do. Coca-Cola recently launched Vault, which is marketed as an energy drink, but is basically Surge in a new package. Currently, Coca-Cola is test-marketing it, and Roanoke is one of the areas where it’s being test-marketed. So I went down to the Wal-Mart next to Valley View Mall and got some. First I bought a 20-ounce bottle, to make sure it was really Surge in drag. It was a match! So I went and bought ten bottles of it, so that I’ll have lots of it, since I have no idea when I’ll be able to get down to Roanoke again to get some more.

I also checked out the Halloween aisles, since I was looking for a certain Halloween item that Wal-Mart sold last year that I was hoping they were going to sell again. You may recall that I mentioned in December about a mechanized black cat that reared up on its hind legs and sang a song that went like, “I’m just an alley cat, with an alley life.” I’d been unsuccessful in finding it in Waynesboro so far this year. I figured this store in Roanoke is bigger than Waynesboro, so it might be in this store. And I was right! So I bought the cat, and I’ll be figuring out all the lyrics. All I know is that I’m pretty psyched that I finally got my hands on it. I honestly thought I’d never hear that song again. And it’s catchy.

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Mom got into the newspaper…

September 2, 2005, 4:38 PM

It’s an article in The News Virginian on Friday, September 2 about SOL writing testing in middle schools, and how the middle schools in Augusta County made the mark for the most part.

And here’s the picture with the caption:

Lauren Campbell and Clay Agee, sixth-graders at Stuarts Draft Middle School, read stories they wrote for a homework assignment to language arts teacher Jane Schumin. (Rosanne Viscuso/Staff)
Lauren Campbell and Clay Agee, sixth-graders at Stuarts Draft Middle School, read stories they wrote for a homework assignment to language arts teacher Jane Schumin. (Rosanne Viscuso/Staff)

And here’s a link to the News Virginian article: Middle schools make mark

It’s really neat seeing your mother’s name and photo in print in the newspaper. And in her room at SDMS, no less.

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