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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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So there I am, fast asleep, staring down a fire alarm…

November 11, 2013, 12:09 AM

I graduated from high school in 1999.  That means that I have been out of high school for fourteen years.  The question I have is, why am I still having fire drill dreams?  I had one of these on Saturday night, and I don’t get it.

In this dream, I was going to Stuarts Draft High School, which is where I actually went to high school.  Back then, the school had a Simplex system, but the school has since been renovated.  It now has a Notifier system with System Sensor horn/strobes.  The take-home point on this, however, is that the school now contains a horn/strobe in every classroom.  And I am acutely aware of this.  When I was in school, I only shared a classroom with a fire alarm horn once.  That was in kindergarten at Southside Elementary School in Rogers, Arkansas, but the kindergarten room was the size of a basketball court with a really high ceiling.  At Grimes Elementary in Rogers, and Stuarts Draft Middle School and Stuarts Draft High School in Virginia, I never shared a classroom with a fire alarm horn except for in shop classes (where I never had a fire drill) and Phys. Ed, where we did have the occasional fire drill.  However, in middle school, two Edwards horns in a big gym weren’t very loud, but four Simplex 4040 horns in the gym in high school were extremely loud.  But outside from those situations, there were no horns in the rooms where I had class (the horns were out in the hallway).

In this dream, I was sitting in a modern-looking classroom on the first day of school at Stuarts Draft High School.  And across the room from me was this:

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Categories: Dreams, Fire drills, School

Okay, explain this dream…

February 28, 2013, 10:33 PM

Okay, this is a weird one.  Now you know I’ve discussed some odd dreams in this space in the past, like the surgery dream, the derailment dream, the Power Rangers dream, the countless Walmart dreams, CFW dreams, fire alarm dreams, etc.  But this one from a few weeks ago is hard to explain.  But here goes.

In this dream, I was at the building where I work in DC, and I was in the office doing work.  And outside, at least according to the dream, there was a volcano erupting.  Yes, a volcano.  In the DC area.  I know.  That said, this volcano was one of those explosive types of volcanoes, putting out tons of volcanic ash, but no lava, much like the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried Pompeii.  In fact, in the dream, I even recalled that this was just like Pompeii.  Volcanic ash was falling all over, and the entire city was going to be buried, just like in Pompeii.  And we were all apparently doomed due to falling ash and poisonous volcanic gases.  It didn’t matter in the dream that Pompeii was only buried under nine feet of ash and my office is on the third floor, at least twenty-some feet above street level.  We were all doomed, and our building was going to get buried.  Completely.

With me so far?  Basically: big volcano erupts in DC area, ash falling all over the place, we’re all going to die.

The thing that got me in this dream was actually my own reaction.  Of course, I’ve noticed that in dreams, I seem to often “have a copy of the script” and know many details that are taken as indisputable fact within the dream’s fictional universe as things play out.  Thus how I knew volcano, ash, and pending death.  The only thing I saw in the dream was the inside of my office building.  Which had orange-red walls in my dream.  (Go figure.  The real office has mostly eggshell walls.)  But as my coworkers were panicking due to our impending burial by volcano, my reaction was indifference to our fate, because I had stuff that I had to take care of.  Yes, I was doing work as we were about to be buried under ash, decay completely, and then become plaster casts when we were rediscovered a thousand and some years later.  And yes, the idea of plaster casts of our final positions like happened in Pompeii came up in the dream.  I know.

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Categories: Dreams, Fire drills

So let’s go swimming!

May 16, 2011, 6:09 PM

So… I went swimming today at the Graham S. Little Natatorium, aka Olney Swim Center. I had never been before, so while I had an idea about what to expect from going online, it was still a new experience. For those wondering, the Olney Swim Center is an indoor swimming pool in Olney, Maryland, owned and operated by Montgomery County.

I got there just before 2:30, and, after changing in the locker room, I got in the water right at 2:30, and swam mostly continuously for an hour. I believe that this marks the first time that I’ve done any serious swimming since I quit Rhonda Dossey’s class, and that was twenty years ago! And I certainly got a workout from this, that’s for sure. I started doing the front crawl for a few laps, and then switched to backstroke. I did that for a while, then did the breaststroke for a bit. Then I spent the rest of the time doing the backstroke. I did the backstroke most because when you consider that I’m just getting back into things, I couldn’t quite manage to get the multitasking together to stroke, kick, and breathe doing the front crawl and the breaststroke. So I decided to work on just stroke and kick, and we’ll deal with the breathing in another session. Something tells me I should work on the breathing with a kickboard for a while and then try to put it all together later. It’s okay – don’t want to overdo it, and I don’t have any swim instructor standing on the pool deck yelling at me about my stroke.

There is one other thing that I need to work on, and that’s direction. When I was a kid, I had no problems swimming in a straight line. Tell me where to swim, and I could get there in a straight line. Kind of like this:

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Categories: Fire drills, Olney, Swimming

Nice weather, fire drills, FIOS, and stupid Comcast…

February 16, 2011, 8:22 PM

So I did a Video Journal tonight. And here it is:

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Everyone say, “Xenu!”

August 15, 2010, 2:18 PM

It’s funny how Fridays work out sometimes. Last Friday, a few of us went out after work, and ended up at Maddy’s in Dupont Circle, on the west side of Connecticut Avenue between R and S streets. All in all, it wasn’t a bad time. We had a couple of beers, and some other bar food. They actually had a baked potato on the menu, which I had. Not too shabby if you ask me.

Then afterwards, some of us were heading back to the Metro and others back towards the office, and our path took us past the Fraser Mansion, which, as you know, is the old Founding Church of Scientology before they moved right next door to my office (someone should consider a cult moving in next door as creating a hostile work environment). So we got a photo while we were there, especially when one considers that one of my coworkers ended up briefly visiting the last Anon raid (after I left).


Photo: Sarah Alexander

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So the fire drill went well.

August 13, 2008, 11:20 PM

So the fire drill at work went off without a hitch. At 11:15 AM, the fire alarm went off, and all of us on “Team Wheelock” (since the signals in our building are Wheelock) put on our safety vests and hard hats and got down to business, doing a sweep across the floor, making sure that everyone was clear before leaving. And after the fire drill was over, here’s Team Wheelock, victorious:

"Team Wheelock" during the fire drill

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Categories: Fire drills, Work

Fire drill at work tomorrow…

August 12, 2008, 7:20 PM

Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been in an honest-to-goodness, genuine fire drill? It has been five years, since the last time I was in an actual, planned fire drill was back in Potomac Hall in 2003. In fact, I got to pull that alarm. That was fun.

So now for tomorrow, we’ve been notified by the building management that we’ll be having a fire drill. They’ve given themselves a 30-minute window in which to conduct the drill, and that ought to be that. The alarms in our building are Wheelock 34 horns, and then those horns are attached to Space Age light plates. Thus we have these horns:

Wheelock 34

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Categories: Fire drills, Work

It could only happen to me…

August 24, 2006, 11:13 PM

This one falls under that heading of stuff that could only happen to me. I went to visit Mom after school today. I was wearing my fire alarm shirt. First thing’s first, though. Being the first week of school, I asked Roxie, one of Mom’s teaching partners, “Did you all have one of these yet?” and pointed to the Wheelock 7002T on my shirt. Answer was, yes – they had their first fire drill this morning. And it’s sad – SDMS has broken with tradition entirely. It used to be that the first fire drill of the year was always on the third day of school at 9:30 AM. Not so this year. This time, it was on the fourth day of school, and closer to noon than to 9:30.

But anyway, what could only happen to me? I was describing something to some of the other teachers in the room at the time, and using Schumin Web to illustrate my point. I clicked a link, and I got this:

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Categories: Computer, Fire drills

Upgrading the fire alarm system at my old middle school brings back a lot of memories…

September 10, 2005, 9:02 PM

I found out on Friday that Stuarts Draft Middle School is getting a new fire alarm system, to replace the charming vintage-but-terribly-obsolete Edwards system installed when the building was constructed. As I’ve not been over there lately, I can’t tell you whether the update is in the process of completion or if it’s done, though my guess is that it’s done. I also don’t know who makes the new system or what model, nor do I know what kind of horns and pull-stations were used.

I found out when Mom brought a Food Lion bag home from school containing, to my surprise, two Edwards 270-SPO pull-stations (“Local Alarm”), two Cerberus Pyrotronics MS-151 pull-stations (from the 1993 addition), and an Edwards Edwards 881D horn. I believe that one of the Edwards pulls came from the gym next to the boys’ locker room, as it has a sticker with a zig-zag line under the “E” logo that I recalled on that spot. I don’t know where in the school the horn came from, or where the other pulls came from.

Altogether, before this alarm update, SDMS had 24 horns, of which 20 were the Edwards 881D (all were originally the Edwards 881D). Two horns were replaced before I started there with large square horns – one in the cafeteria and one outside Room 38 (a stone’s throw away from the other replaced horn). I won’t swear to it, but I think those horns said “Pyrotronics” on them in small white letters. Then two horns were replaced in 1993 with Wheelock 34T horns. One was outside Room 12, and the other was outside Room 22. I remember seeing workers replacing the horn outside Room 12 from a distance, and noticed the Wheelock 34T outside Room 22, which was near the sixth-grade lockers (which were later relocated), as being new when it was replaced during third or fourth period.

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“I told you I was on a budget!”

April 10, 2005, 1:41 AM

Kids say the darndest things sometimes. This was one of those cases. On Friday at Wal-Mart, a really young girl, probably around first grade or so, said to her mother, proudly, “I told you I was on a budget!” after buying a few things on her own ticket in my line.

Of course, the thing that amused me more than that was what she said while I was ringing up her mother’s stuff. This girl, on her budget, presumably being a real cheapskate with her own money, then turned to her mother, and asked her if she could buy her something. Now we know what “I’m on a budget” really means. We’re not spending much if we’re on our own budget, but on mother’s budget, on the other hand…

I was quite amused, to say the least.

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“…he was from New Jersey! I went to my senior prom with a YANKEE!”

January 13, 2005, 7:22 PM

That line of Blanche’s from The Golden Girls just cracks me up. Since, you see, I am originally from New Jersey, and still consider myself northern, even though I’ve lived in Virginia for more than half my life.

This is why I love it when people say that I sound northern, like one person told me today. Shows I haven’t lost it. And let me tell you – the word “y’all” is not in my vocabulary. And if ever you hear me say “y’all”, slap me.

Meanwhile, I’m going to the doctor’s office tomorrow for pain. Where? Wrists! Over Christmas, I managed to get a repetitive stress injury in both wrists from scanning items for customers. Now it’s painful to scan stuff. I had this happen in 2003 in my right wrist only, and then it went away after a while on the Service Desk. This time it’s both wrists, and I am so done with the Service Desk, so that’s not an escape again. I’m hoping to get some “feel-good medicine” to make me feel good (thus “feel-good medicine”) and make the pain go away. Usually I do so well, and nothing ever ails me. Then within the last month or so, I got two colds in a row in December, and then this. Yuck.

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I finally have a Simplex 4040 in my fire alarm collection!

August 19, 2004, 2:46 AM

At long last, I have a Simplex 4040 in my fire alarm collection, thanks to a person who I’ve been corresponding with online. At last. First of all, to the person who sent it to me, a very heartfelt thank you. This means a lot to me.

For those of you who don’t know, this is what the Simplex 4040 looks like:

Simplex 4040

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Categories: Fire alarms, Fire drills

The little kiddies go back to school soon, and vacation is on the 11th…

August 3, 2004, 12:00 AM

I don’t care if it’s only two days. I plan on making the most of those two days at Virginia Beach, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. And at this last count, it will be a week and a day as of tomorrow. I can’t wait. And this time I know exactly how to get there, since no one changed the route number on me this time.

Recall from 2000, when I last went to Virginia Beach, that I actually rode almost completely around the Hampton Roads area, or as it’s also called over there, the “Hampton Roads Beltway”. Before 2000, I had gone to Virginia Beach only once before, on a one-day trip in 1999. I consider that trip a mistake in retrospect, since for all the driving my friend Andrea and I did, we only got a few hours on the beach before it was time to go back home. And we still didn’t get home until 4 AM. But in that 1999 trip, the actual road to the beach was signed as a state highway, VA-44. As a result, this is what I was looking for on the highway:

Virginia State Route 44 green sign

Instead, in 2000, this is what I got:

Interstate 264 green sign

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