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I can’t believe I set off the DriveCam…

January 28, 2015, 7:57 PM

I had a good bit of fun on Tuesday.  I went down to the Washington Auto Show at the Washington Convention Center with Elyse, and we wandered through, seeing all sorts of interesting things.  We took the Red Line to Gallery Place, then took the 70 bus up to the Convention Center (and we got an artic).

Unlike most car shows that I’ve been to in my 33 years, this was primarily for auto manufacturers to show off new cars.  As such, it was heavy on the marketing, and you could touch and interact with most of the vehicles that were there.  If you go on a Tuesday, as we did, the place was pretty quiet.  No wait for tickets and security, and no wait to see or do anything, and more time to chat it up with people.

Right off the bat, with its being a slow day, Elyse and I could tell that the people working the event were in a good mood.  When I purchased my ticket, the guy mentioned that admission, normally $12.00, was only $10.00 with a SmarTrip, or $5.00 with a student ID.  My old JAC card from my college days still lives on my keychain over a decade after I graduated college.  I said, “I still have my old student ID from when I was in college.”  The guy sold me a ticket at the student rate, and justified it by saying that it just says “a student ID”, and not that you had to be a current student.

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Categories: Elyse, Events, Washington DC, WMATA

A splash photo that’s open to some interpretation…

November 25, 2014, 1:38 PM

This past Saturday, I got together with my friend Elyse, and we spent the day seeing what we could see, mostly in Rosslyn and Ballston.  While we were in Rosslyn, we checked out the open-air patio on the fourth floor at the Le Méridien hotel (formerly Hotel Palomar) at the Waterview complex.  The patio had decent enough views, but we ended up spending more time taking photos of the fire alarms, and as a result of that, got December’s splash photo:

Two conflicted lovers?

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No longer a Baltimore transit virgin…

September 28, 2014, 1:58 PM

Two weeks ago, I went up to Baltimore with my friend Elyse.  We went for the Star Spangled 200 celebration, and wandered around the city a bit.  And most importantly, I rode public transportation in Baltimore for the first time.  MTA Maryland is a very different beast from Metro.  MTA has buses, and MTA has trains, and there’s also a Circulator-type service.  But the details are quite different.  Elyse and I started out at Cromwell station in Glen Burnie, which is out by BWI.  That’s light rail.  DC doesn’t have light rail, as you know.  There’s a streetcar system coming in DC, but it’s not here yet.  Then there’s a heavy rail system, i.e. the Metro Subway, which we also rode.  That’s more like what I’m used to.  We also rode the Charm City Circulator, which is a free bus service that travels around the city, separate from the regular MTA buses (which we didn’t get to ride).  And owing to cooperation between MTA Maryland and Metro, my SmarTrip card worked in Baltimore.

Most surprising was that the fares for the light rail were basically on the honor system.  You bought your ticket at the machine, and then you just got on.  No faregates, no fareboxes, no nothing.  In my case, I loaded an MTA pass onto my SmarTrip.

So this was what I saw on my first ride on the Baltimore Light Rail:

Baltimore LRV 5011

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Categories: Baltimore, Elyse, MTA Maryland

“Fire drill in three, two, one…”

September 15, 2014, 10:09 PM

Back on August 1, I got together with my friend Elyse and we tested a number of different fire alarm notification appliances at her house.  We had to take it to her house, because I live in an apartment, and, out of respect for my neighbors, I have a visual-only policy at my house, i.e. as many strobes as you want, but no horns.  Most of the alarms that we tested were hers, though we did run a couple of mine, plus I provided the power, i.e. my Wheelock RPS-2440 24-volt power supply.

The first alarm up was a Gentex smoke alarm.  I’ve seen these in person before, most notably when I stayed at the Bolger Center in Potomac for an event with a company that shall remain nameless, where there was a Gentex smoke detector in my room, next to a Wheelock ET speaker/strobe.  At the time, I commented about the alarm system, “I thought about how neat it would be to see both devices in action, but the thing is, if both devices are going, you’re really screwed.”  While I had since seen a Wheelock ET in action, I hadn’t seen a Gentex smoke alarm in action until this day.  And here it is:

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Categories: Elyse, Fire alarms

Best birthday cake ever…

August 28, 2014, 11:46 AM

My friend Elyse recently celebrated a birthday, and, as a fellow fire alarm enthusiast, she got what I consider to be the greatest cake ever.  She sent me pictures of it.  Take a look:

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Acceptance testing on a waterproof camera enclosure…

July 5, 2014, 9:33 PM

First of all, I had fun at the Outer Banks.  I’m going to leave it at that for now, though, because the whole trip is going to become a photo set for Life and Times, and so it’s going to come out, but the “extended Journal entry” treatment in Life and Times is what will do it the most justice.

That said, in preparation for the trip, I bought a waterproof camera enclosure, with the intention of taking photos in the water.  The idea behind the waterproof camera enclosure was to get Duckie, my Vivitar ViviCam 6200W, out of the picture.  Duckie, to put it nicely, has a very limited operating envelope.  It’s because the ISO is too low, as 200 is as high as it goes.  That means that when you take that camera underwater, you have to hold the camera very still to get clear pictures, unless you want to use the flash (which I don’t always want to do).  It became quite frustrating, and led to a lot of bad photos.  Basically, submerged handheld photos were a no-go under the vast majority of conditions.  It worked well enough outdoors and in daylight on land, but the pictures taken under those conditions have a slight red tinge to them, which is a pain to try to correct.  Plus it has no optical zoom, and the buttons were a bit stiff, with the latter’s making the camera’s use somewhat cumbersome.

Thus I got this to replace Duckie:

The new waterproof camera enclosure with my point-and-shoot camera inside.

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Categories: Cameras, Friends, Swimming

It was a six-mile hike, mostly uphill, but the view was definitely worth it…

May 12, 2014, 12:19 PM

On May 4, I got together with Melissa, Pete, and Pete’s dog Bruno, and we went on a trip out to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia to do some hiking.  The inspiration for this trip was twofold.  First of all, Pete and Melissa had recently become friends on Facebook, though they had never met in person.  This seemed like a good opportunity for them to actually meet.  And then the venue came about after I saw someone else post pictures of the Maryland Heights overlook at Harpers Ferry onto Facebook, and I decided that I wanted to see it for myself.

Heading in, I first picked Melissa up at her house in Hyattsville, along with, to my surprise, Jason.  He was going to check out the Smithsonian, and so we brought him down to a Metro station.  After dropping Jason off at Eastern Market station, Melissa and I met up with Pete for breakfast at Sizzling Express.  After breakfast, we headed back over to Pete’s house to get Bruno, and then we all walked down to the car, which was parked on 6th Street SE.  I ended up taking Bruno’s leash, which was an experience all of its own.  Realize that when I was growing up, my family had a dachshund, which is a small dog.  Bruno is a basset hound, which is a much bigger breed.  Walking a basset hound is a different experience entirely from walking a dachshund, in that I was mostly walking Bruno, but there were definitely times when Bruno was walking me.  Bruno is pretty strong, and was able to pull me around at times as he checked out various items along our path.  Greta could never have pulled me around like that on account of her being too small.  But it was fun, so all was well, and Pete was there to remind Bruno to be on his best behavior if necessary.

When we got to the car, Bruno got in his carrier, and we were off.  To get there, we took the Southwest Freeway to GW Parkway to the Beltway to I-270 to US 340.  And for the record, 340’s east-west signing in Maryland always throws me off, because I am very much accustomed to 340’s being signed as a north-south route, as it is in Virginia and West Virginia, though that’s by far not the only US highway that changes directional designations like that.

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Fun at the Inner Harbor!

April 29, 2014, 9:42 PM

Sometimes you’ve got to love what kinds of amusing things you can get into with friends.  Last Wednesday, Melissa, Jason (whom I know through Melissa) and I got together and went up to Baltimore.  The primary purpose was to visit the observation deck at the Baltimore World Trade Center.  And that we did.  We got to see Baltimore from above, and I got all sorts of photos from 27 stories up, but then we also got all sorts of crazy pictures of each other, mostly of Melissa and me.

But first of all, for those not familiar, this is the Baltimore World Trade Center:

The Baltimore World Trade Center, the world's tallest regular pentagonal building

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Categories: Baltimore, Melissa

Car show!

April 20, 2014, 8:34 PM

On Saturday, April 12, I got together with my friend Matthew, and we went to a car show in the Sterling area.  I’ve always enjoyed a good car show.  I used to go with my father when he would bring his Mustang to car shows in the 1990s.  I met Oliver North at a car show at Wright’s Dairy Rite in Staunton back when he was running for the Senate in 1994, in fact.

Thus I was quite pleased to go to this show with Matthew.  I had been to this show once before, in 2012, and had a lot of fun, but for whatever reason (possibly related to the ongoing site conversion at that time) never really featured all of the neat cars that I saw, save for one.  I’m not about to miss this time, because I saw some really neat cars.  I also remembered what I like when photographing cars.  I like seeing show cars as they might appear while being driven.  Thus I like it when the hood is kept down.  For whatever reason, I’m not that interested in looking at the engine.  And then if it’s a convertible, I love seeing the top down.

That said, this is not the way I like to see a car when it’s on display:

Ford Mustang with the hood way up

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Categories: Events, Matthew, Photography

The mildly interesting things that you see in a day…

March 21, 2014, 11:34 PM

So my Friday was fun.  I got together with my friend Matthew, we did some cooking, and then after Matthew and I parted company for the day, I headed over to Dulles Town Center for a bit.  Over the course of the day, I spotted a few things that I found mildly interesting.

On the way in, I stopped over at Aardvark Swim in Chantilly.  I usually go to the Rockville location, but since they were out of goggle straps (the bungee cord kind) in Rockville, and I knew I was going to be out this way sooner than Rockville would get more in stock, I swung by and here to get them.  Those of you who follow me on Instagram may remember that I was contemplating whether or not to buy this:

"Suck it up, cupcake" swim cap at Aardvark

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Singing about five overbearing and overemotional humans…

February 6, 2014, 11:34 PM

So Tuesday night was fun.  I got together with my friend Melissa, and we hung out for a few hours.  We did some computer and phone maintenance over at my house, and then headed out for dinner.  We went to The Potomac Grill, which is located in Talbott Center on Rockville Pike.

For those not familiar, The Potomac Grill hosts Blinkie’s Karaoke, which is run by my friends Ken and Luisa.  I’ve done fill-in work as the engineer for Blinkie’s Karaoke from time to time, but this was my first time going solely as a participant.  Melissa didn’t sing, but I did.  I sang a karaoke version of the theme to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  Those of you who are familiar with what I’ve talked about know that I’m a bit of a Power Rangers geek (I got into it in high school).  This was a new addition to the catalog, and so I premiered it.  And to top things off, Melissa filmed my performance:

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Categories: Melissa, Power Rangers

Brace yourselves…

January 29, 2014, 12:22 PM

On the morning of Saturday, January 25, I started the day with this post to Facebook:

BRACE YOURSELVES: SPEEDO PIX ARE COMING

See, January 25 was polar bear plunge day, i.e. the day that I would head over to National Harbor and go for a quick swim in the cold Potomac River in support of climate change work with Chesapeake Climate Action Network.  And for those of you who are unfamiliar with my practice on these things, it should be noted that I follow my own advice, which I first gave in 2010, and thus I wear a speedo when I do the plunge (and if you don’t like it, don’t look).

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Categories: Events, Friends

Lights on the Bay!

December 20, 2013, 3:35 PM

So on Wednesday evening, I got together with my friend Melissa, and we spent much of the afternoon and evening in Annapolis.  We visited the downtown area and Annapolis Mall, we had dinner, and then headed down to Sandy Point State Park, where we saw the “Lights on the Bay” Christmas light display.

In downtown Annapolis, we visited approximately the same area that I explored back in April.  We parked on Main Street, and went down to the harbor, explored around a bit, went up to the traffic circle near the Maryland State House, and then returned to the car.  We were both kind of amused with getting photos of each other, more than anything else.

Case in point:

Selfie.
Selfie.

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Categories: Annapolis, Christmas, Melissa

Trashing a tripod…

October 16, 2013, 1:38 PM

It’s funny how things work out sometimes.  Some of you may know that I’m in the process of doing a photo set of the Washington Monument while it’s in scaffolding.  I shot all of the daytime material on September 5, where I walked 6.35 miles around the Washington Monument, and took 900 photos in the process (no wonder I was exhausted after that).  One of the photos became the photo feature on September 8.

The plan was to also do a nighttime component for this set, and I got together with my friends Suzie and Rocio to do half of the night photos (since the full round proved to be too much) on September 28.  Since I had gotten jittery photos when I did a similar photo shoot in March (the nighttime photos of the DC War Memorial and Jefferson Memorial are from that shoot), I did some equipment testing out on my balcony prior to this shoot to determine the cause of the jittering and get some quality photos.  Since the camera wasn’t going to change, the test was on the tripods.  I tested Big Mavica’s original tripod, which is a Kodak tripod that I got in December 2002, and my regular tripod, which is a Sunpak tripod that I got in December 2003 (which I used in the March shoot).  Turns out that the Sunpak tripod jittered and the Kodak one didn’t.  So it seemed a no-brainer: take the Kodak tripod out on the shoot.

Getting out on the Mall, with Suzie and Rocio along for the adventure, things quickly went south.  I can deal with most equipment issues fairly well.  But this time, an important piece decided to go: the head of the tripod.  Early on, things held together, but while I was working in front of the Jefferson Memorial, the head popped off, and it wouldn’t go back in and stay there.  Thus the best I could do was perch it in there and make do, but the problems got worse and worse as the night went on.

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Categories: Friends, Photography

And who managed to dump themself out of their kayak in the first thirty seconds? That’s right. Me.

August 21, 2013, 1:46 PM

On Sunday, August 18, Melissa, Doreen, and I went down to the Key Bridge Boathouse (historically Jack’s Boathouse) right under the Key Bridge in Georgetown for a kayaking adventure.  This was a long time in coming.  We bought a Groupon voucher for this back in May, with the intention of going on May 19.  However, come May 19, the weather did not cooperate with those plans, giving us a cold and rainy day.  We ended up rescheduling, and this was the day we eventually settled on to reschedule.  It still ended up being a rainy day, but at least it wasn’t cold.

Doreen came along for our outing as well, and her participation ended up being something of a surprise.  Originally, Doreen didn’t want to go out on the water with us, and was going to be our designated photographer, using my real camera from the dock to photograph us.  Once we got to the dock, she decided that she wanted to go in the water, and so all three of us ended up going kayaking, and we just photographed using Duckie, which was securely clipped to my life jacket.

After signing all of our waivers and putting on life jackets, we got going.  First, Doreen got into her kayak:

Doreen gets into her kayak

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