Christmas in Baltimore…

December 29, 2019, 8:35 AM

So Christmas was pretty fun this year.  On Christmas Eve, we had dinner with some of Elyse’s father’s relatives, and then on Christmas Day, we got together with some of Elyse’s mother’s relatives.  This was my first holiday with my new, smaller stomach, and so I was still getting used to its new capacity, figuring out how much I should take, what will be tolerated, and so on.  I believe that I overdid it by a tad on Christmas Eve, likely by eating foods that I wasn’t ready for yet, but I more or less nailed it on Christmas.  When you have a gastric sleeve like I did, you have to chew everything really well, and also not drink and eat at the same time.  Generally speaking, you have to give your stomach time to process the food that it just took in before resuming liquid intake.  Also, if you put too much in at once, it will get rejected, either by getting sent through to the intestines, or it’s coming back up.  But anyway…

After dinner on Christmas, Elyse and I went planespotting near BWI.  We had discusssed doing this for some time, even before our planespotting adventure at National, and on this particular occasion, it just worked out.  We were already in the Glen Burnie area, I had my real camera with me, and we had about an hour or so of daylight to play with.  The location where you typically planespot for BWI is actually specially designated for that purpose: the Thomas A. Dixon, Jr. Aircraft Observation Area.  It’s a very nice area that’s operated by Anne Arundel County, with a walking trail, playground equipment for the kids, and plenty of space to watch planes take off and land.  On this particular day, planes were landing over the park, and so I got some landing photos.  When it comes to planespotting at BWI, it can, for the most part, be summed up in one word: Southwest.  BWI is a focus city for Southwest, and as such, sees more Southwest traffic than anything else, and that also means a lot of Boeing 737s.

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So Christmas in Montgomery Village was a tad underwhelming…

December 27, 2018, 2:44 PM

Elyse and I drove around our immediate area in Montgomery Village looking at lights after I got home from work on Christmas Eve.  The sense that we got from driving around was that this wasn’t a big year for decorating.  There were some houses that were decorated, but on the whole, there was not a whole lot going on.  Last Christmas was definitely better, though admittedly, it is more of a challenge to successfully decorate townhouses than single-family houses.  Nonetheless, I have a few highlights to share:

These were the only decorations of note on my street.  It appears that these two houses coordinated their efforts, as the decorations in the second-floor windows match, and the lighting on the hedges on both properties also matches.
These were the only decorations of note on my street.  It appears that these two houses coordinated their efforts, as the decorations in the second-floor windows match, and the lighting on the hedges on both properties also matches.

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“Crisp bacon strips, sliced French bread, hot cheesy sauce, on a plate full of macaroni!”

December 25, 2017, 10:14 AM

For the last several years, I’ve made it something of a tradition of watching the Today’s Special episodes “Christmas Part 1” and “Christmas Part 2” on or around Christmas Eve.  It only makes sense to me.  Most Christmas specials are awful, but Today’s Special‘s two Christmas episodes are outside of that mold, taking the same care with Christmas that they do when discussing the night or feelings.  The end result is a timeless story that still leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy inside after all these years.

This year, I decided to take a minor element from those episodes and bring it into real life.  Across the two episodes, they sing their own variation of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” using food.  It starts out early when Sam sings, “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a plate full of macaroni!”  Then Muffy later adds, “Hot cheesy sauce on my plate full of macaroni!”  Near the end of the second episode, it takes its full form:

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me crisp bacon strips, sliced French bread, hot cheesy sauce, on a plate full of macaroni!

So on Friday evening, I went to the grocery store after work and bought this:

Pasta, generic Velveeta, bread, and bacon.
Pasta, generic Velveeta, bread, and bacon.

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Yes, that is a star costume…

December 8, 2016, 9:48 AM

For this month, the splash photo shows child me wearing a star costume.  I normally lean towards running a vintage photo for December, because December photos, owing to the Christmas elephant in the room, are typically harder to do than most because of that extra holiday element.  I own very little Christmas junk, and so a new photo requires a shopping trip and some spending to do.  That or I do the photo right in the store, as I did in 2008.  The December splash photo had nothing to do with Christmas in 2012, 2013, and 2014, owing to some recent non-Christmas photos of me taken in those years, but in 2015, Christmas returned to the splash photo.  However, I inadvertently duplicated my work in 2015, as I had run the same photo in December 2006 – a mistake that I didn’t didn’t discover until I did the prep work for this Journal entry.

For this month, my original plan was to run a photo taken in 1987, showing my sister and me with Santa Claus.  However, in a routine check of the archives to prevent duplicates, I discovered that I had run it eleven years prior.  So that went out the window.  I went hunting in my scans of old photos, and found this:

In costume as Andro Star

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If you think that you take your Christmas light displays seriously…

December 27, 2013, 11:12 PM

You may think that you take your own Christmas light display seriously, but I’ll bet that you’ve been outdone by this house located on Red Hill Way in Ellicott City, which my mother and I took a side trip to visit after going to Arundel Mills today.  First, just take a look at the lighting, which by itself is pretty extensive:

Light show on Red Hill Way in Ellicott City

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Categories: Christmas

Holidays are not about a calendar date, but are about what you make of them…

December 25, 2013, 10:03 PM

Happy Festivus, everyone.  It’s time to air some grievances.  It’s time to discuss this neurotic fascination of some people in trying to force their beliefs on everyone else about how one should spend a holiday.  This year, I have just about had my fill of hearing people insist that all of the stores should be closed on [insert holiday here] so that people can spend time with their families.  It starts around Thanksgiving when the stores announce the hours for their sales.  This is when you hear people say, “What?  They’re open on Thanksgiving?  Why aren’t these people spending time with their families?” or, “You’re taking these people away from their families!”  Recall that there was a story this year about a Pizza Hut manager who lost his job because he refused to open the restaurant that he managed on Thanksgiving.  Then the whole discussion comes around again near Christmas when places make the announcement as to whether or not they’re going to be open on that day.

The thing that these people who raise such a fuss on television, radio, and the Internet tend to forget is that holidays are personal affairs.  Everyone celebrates holidays a little bit differently than the next person.  And not everyone celebrates the same holidays.  For some people, December 25 is “Christmas”.  For other people, December 25 is “Wednesday”.  And the specific dates of many holidays actually have no significance.  The celebration may have significance, but the date itself is usually not directly tied to that celebration.  Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States.  It’s that day because Congress set the formal observance on that day, i.e. that day on which the federal government is closed in observance.  Christmas is normally observed on December 25, near the date of the winter solstice.  Why?  Because Christians hijacked some pagan celebrations and made them into their own holiday.  In fact, we don’t know when “Jesus” was born, or if “Jesus” even existed at all.  The dates of some holidays have significance, like Martin Luther King Day (observance of King’s birthday), Washington’s Birthday (I don’t really have to explain this, do I?), Independence Day (marking the date of the Declaration of Independence), and Veterans’ Day (honoring our veterans, on the date that the armistice with Germany took effect, ending World War I), but most of the other holidays’ dates are not significant in and of themselves.  For instance, Labor Day could be the last Monday in August instead of the first Monday in September, and the observance would be unchanged.

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Categories: Christmas, Religion

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:


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Categories: Annapolis, Christmas, Melissa


December 23, 2012, 2:10 PM

You can tell that my life has been busy lately.  This happened a week ago and only now am I finally getting a chance to write about it.  Nonetheless, though, I had fun last weekend.  I got together with my friend Melissa, who I know through a few Anons, and who I first met at the Silver Spring Zombie Walk in 2011.  We went around the mall in Wheaton a bit, and then headed into DC for ZooLights at the National Zoo.  That was a lot of fun.

First of all, I had not been to the National Zoo in ages.  I think that the last time I was at the zoo was, I believe, the summer of 1996.  Back then, Mom and Sis and I went on a weekday, and I remember its being my first time ever making any sort of Metro transfer, and my first time on the Red Line.  Prior to that trip, we had been to Washington a few times, but never before had we done anything other than one train.  I took the Blue Line on my first trip, and several Orange Line rides.  That first transfer was interesting, because I had never been to Metro Center before, nor had I ever transferred.  It had never crossed my mind that one line crossed over the other.  Then when we got to the zoo, I recall our being not so impressed with it at that time.  But at the same time, it was also really hot out and I was not doing well on the hill that the zoo is built on due to my being somewhat out of shape.

Back in the present, though, I’m in really good shape, and it’s time to see Christmas-themed lighting.  I will admit that I had some fun (in a mean way) with the identity of the main sponsor for ZooLights: Pepco.  Pepco, you may recall, is the for-profit utility that has the notoriously unreliable power grid in DC, Montgomery County, and PG County, and that keeps asking for permission to raise rates.  My comment was that with Pepco sponsoring it, I was somewhat surprised that the lights were even on, considering that they often have problems with that.

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Now that Christmas is over, can we talk about the decor for a moment?

December 27, 2011, 11:42 PM

Well, Christmas is over. Now only 363 more shopping days until next Christmas. *rolls eyes*

As mentioned, I did manage to keep Christmas and myself a safe distance apart this year. I did, however, not understand the Christmas decor that I saw this year. Specifically, purple. There was purple Christmas decor in the lobby of my office building, at my doctor’s office, and in a number of places out and about.

Now I understand the whole idea of liturgical colors, and how Advent = purple. But that doesn’t explain what seems like purple’s explosion into secular Christmas decorations. Seriously, all of the places where I saw the purple Christmas decor made no indication of any sort of religion in the decor. Even my office building, which always decorates the first floor lobbies in December and normally also includes a menorah and a Kwanzaa candle holder on the front desk, omitted the menorah and the Kwanzaa candle holder this year. Go fig. And they went all out on purple.

This is what the first floor decor in my office building looked like this season:


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Categories: Christmas

I’d say I was pretty successful in avoiding it all this year…

December 24, 2011, 4:02 PM

Yes, this is the annual I-hate-Christmas Journal entry. Just saying.

But I do believe I was pretty successful in insulating myself from Christmas this year. Seriously, I even managed to go so far as to forget that Christmas was on a Sunday this year. Think about it: I don’t decorate my apartment, because I can’t be bothered. The extent of the decor at work was some poinsettias. And about the only store I’ve been in this month has been Giant. And you don’t need to decorate a grocery store for Christmas because people have to eat all the time, and not just in late December. And then the pool didn’t decorate, either, and that is fine by me, too. Then my activities outside of work and swimming can be mostly summed up in one word: Falcon. Yes, I’ve been thoroughly wrapped up in working on my Schumin Web work this month. I even gave up Wikipedia for a while in order to concentrate on it. So basically, my life has been home, work, pool, and Falcon. No room for Christmas this year, and that’s suited me fine.

And so owing to the fact that I was pretty successful in insulating myself from Christmas all season, it’s actually left me in a pretty good mood. Thus this year, I can say the following, in the words of Sam Crenshaw from Today’s Special, without grumbling:

"Merry Christmas to you, everybody."
“Merry Christmas to you, everybody.”

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Categories: Christmas

Happy Generic Capitalist Holiday to you…

December 25, 2010, 4:20 AM

Yes, a happy Generic Capitalist Holiday to you. I will be glad to see another one of these pass, that’s for sure. This year, I was just totally not into the whole Christmas thing, and almost outright opposing it, as evidenced by my many comments about it on the Twitter in the past month:

People need to boycott WASH-FM until after New Years when they stop playing that annoying #Christmas music!

Wishing that “criminally bad lighting displays” was a citable offense: #xmas #christmas

My idea of Christmas spirit this year: #scrooge #christmas #holidays

After all, “#Christmas” is really just a celebration of #capitalism and materialism, and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves.

@Slate Considering #Christmas has no meaning whatsoever, why not? Just one more thing for retailers to sucker you into buying. (Note: This tweet was in response to a question from Slate about whether Jews should own Christmas trees)

How much would I have to pay the man playing #Christmas music on his trumpet to get him to stop?

Why don’t we just refer to #Christmas as “Shameless #Capitalism Day” and get it over with already?

Is it rude to refer to people who post “Happy birthday Jesus” status messages as delusional? #christmas #birthday #jesus

Happy Generic Capitalist Holiday to all.

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It’s not even Thanksgiving yet…

November 25, 2009, 6:31 AM

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and I’m already ready for Christmas to go stick itself where the sun don’t shine. I think this is the earliest I’ve ever written the annual I-hate-Christmas Journal entry. And they haven’t even decorated the lobby of my office building yet.

But yes, I’m already tired of it. And mind you, I have good reason to already be tired of it. My local Target in Wheaton had an aisle of Christmas crap set up in early October. Then on Monday, while I was getting lunch at Metro Cafe, the radio in there was blasting Christmas music – “Frosty the Snowman” to be specific. Then at the dentist’s office yesterday, they were playing WASH-FM, which was belting out the Christmas music like it was going out of style. Though at least the receptionist was commenting that they should change the radio station, since I think he didn’t like the idea of the Christmas music coming through that early, either.

All in all, it makes me want to take a blowtorch to Frosty the Snowman, or at least threaten him with a hair dryer. Imagine this happy little snowman, with the corncob pipe, button nose, and those two eyes made out of coal, right? Then I pull up in my car, brandishing a blowtorch. “Say your prayers, snowman!” And then a few minutes later, only a puddle remains.

Meanwhile, I’m surprised that the retailers haven’t figured out how to turn Christmas into an all-year thing yet. After all, they count down the number of shopping days until Christmas, and so one would think that they’d just roll it over and on December 26, say “364 more shopping days until Christmas”, and keep the Santa Claus music going all year long.

Somehow, I think that the Grinch had it right.

Then on the day after Thanksgiving, Katie and I are getting together, and having a whole lot of fun that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. We’re going to basically do what we often do – run around town and basically troll a few places. Will we buy anything? Probably not. After all, we’re doing our thing for the lulz…

Categories: Christmas

There’s nothing like an evening of anti-consumerism Christmas caroling to really get you in the spirit…

December 21, 2008, 12:15 AM

Yes, there’s nothing like an evening of anti-consumerism Christmas caroling to really get you in the spirit of things this time of year. From 7 to 10 PM on Friday night, I, along with other like-minded DC area activists, did just that. We had our caroling session in Georgetown, at the intersection of M Street NW and Wisconsin Avenue NW, with The Shops at Georgetown Park on the southwest corner, and the PNC Bank building (former Riggs Bank building) on the northeast corner. What better place to protest consumerism and the current economic crisis than outside an upscale three-story shopping mall and a large bank, no?

I left work at 5 PM as usual, and took Metro to Foggy Bottom. There, I walked west along Pennsylvania Avenue, crossing the bridge over Rock Creek Parkway and passing the Lukoil station to arrive in Georgetown. Then it was a few more blocks down M Street before I reached The Shops at Georgetown Park.

There, I found a woman wearing a Santa hat, and so I took off my Gatsby cap, and put on the long Santa hat that I had previously worn to the Anon raid. Then the woman passed me a songbook, and we got busy singing.

The songs were very creative, taking popular Christmas carols and writing new lyrics to fit our anti-consumerism theme. The words mostly fit the tunes, though a few parts here and there required us to think on our feet and be creative to make them fit properly. All in all, we did our best, and had fun.

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Categories: Activism, Christmas

If I hear “O Holy Night” one more time, I’m going to scream…

December 8, 2008, 11:06 PM

I am officially designating my apartment a “Christmas-Free Zone”, because in going out anywhere, I’m bombarded with Christmas cheer, and it’s already gotten on my nerves. After all, it’s basically a holiday that celebrates capitalism at its worst, as people go to all this trouble to show how materialistic they are. After having worked four Christmases at Wal-Mart, I’ve found that the season really brings out the worst in people, as people buy their children’s presents right in front of them, and then turn around and lie to their children, telling them that it’s from “Santa Claus”. Give me a break.

I can’t even go to Chipotle without getting blasted with Christmas music, either. Aspen Hill Shopping Center, which is where my local Chipotle is located, is piping Christmas music into their outdoor shopping center – loudly. It’s enough to really get on one’s nerves.

The best example of what’s wrong with this season of rampant materialism is what happened at the Wal-Mart store on Long Island, where a worker was trampled to death while guarding the door. That’s just sad, really. It’s sad for the family of the employee for their loss, and it’s a sad commentary on our society that people value a person’s safety less than saving a few extra bucks on cheap Chinese-made crap. And the fact that Wal-Mart put this person – a temporary worker, no less – in that position primarily because he was larger in stature, makes me all the more annoyed. It demonstrates what I’ve known for some time – Wal-Mart doesn’t give a crap about their employees, and they will stop at nothing, and step on as many toes as necessary, to get to people’s wallets. That death was absolutely preventable, and I hope that the family of the trampled worker comes out well in court. I’d love to see Wal-Mart try to defend themselves on this one.

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Categories: Christmas

I’d like to take a moment to thank my relatives for the lovely Christmas gifts…

December 31, 2006, 1:39 AM

I went to Charlottesville after work today to redeem the gift cards I received for Christmas. I received a gift card to Circuit City from Uncle Johnny and crew, and a gift card to Best Buy from Uncle Bruce and crew. I was quite pleased.

So in the end, the Schumins of New Jersey ended up getting me the second season of The Cosby Show at Best Buy, and the Bowmans of Connecticut ended up getting me the third season of The Golden Girls and also Trading Places starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy at Circuit City. Needless to say, that worked out really well, and it will provide me with entertainment for hours on end.

And for The Golden Girls, that’s three seasons down, and four more to go.

Plus I had fun in the process. For some reason, I enjoy running around through those stores, though I admit that the help is not exactly helpful in either one of those stores. Not once was I approached by a salesperson in either place asking if all was well, and the one I approached at Best Buy didn’t even speak to me – he just pointed at the movies. I know how customer service ought to be, and I deliver it in my own workplace. I could customer service circles around those salespeople.

Along with the other DVD sets, add to this what my parents got me – the fourth season of Roseanne, which means I now have two seasons (the other being the first), with seven more to go. Not too shabby, if you ask me.

So all in all, I was pleased, and thank you to all involved for the great gifts.

Categories: Christmas