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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:

Selfie.
Selfie.

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Categories: Annapolis, Christmas, Melissa

And once again, braaaaaaaaaaains…

October 31, 2013, 10:27 PM

One of the things I enjoy about Silver Spring is the annual zombie walk.  Last year’s zombie event was kind of ho-hum, considering that, for a number of reasons, it wasn’t a formal zombie walk, but rather, more a night for people to go out and drink while dressed up as zombies.  The zombie walk in 2011, which followed the usual model of a meetup, a walk, and then a movie, was much more fun.  This year’s zombie event followed the 2011 model, since as I believe that everyone realized that zombies without a walk was not nearly as fun (even if a lot of it was due to circumstances outside the organizers’ control).

That said, I had a lot of fun, as expected.  The zombie costumes were pretty gruesome, and there were also a few zombie hunters out there, too.  The surprise of the night, though, was that the zombie walk was rerouted at the last minute.  Turns out that someone made a bomb threat at the Majestic, a movie theater at the corner of Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street in Silver Spring.  The theater was evacuated, and since it was along the zombie walk’s route, the undead needed to be rerouted, which took the walk further east than originally planned, and approached the AFI Silver Theater, where a horror movie would be shown, from the east rather than from the west.

I also discovered that, in the hands of the right person, clowns can be made to look very scary.  I had always laughed about the “clowns are scary” bit, but some of the people playing undead clowns on this particular evening created fuel for nightmares.  And yes, you’re going to see them.

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Categories: Halloween, Silver Spring

Can’t believe that I forgot this…

July 9, 2013, 10:46 PM

I can’t believe that I completely forgot to mention this in the last entry discussing the July 4 trip to Harpers Ferry and Winchester.  Pete and I spotted this scene along Route 7 in Clarke County on the way back to DC, and had to stop for photos:

Angry Birds at Wayside Farm

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And then we visited Winchester…

July 8, 2013, 11:50 PM

So in our last episode, I was discussing a trip that my friend Pete and I made to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and to Winchester, Virginia on July 4.  I got as far as the end of Harpers Ferry, when I realized that the Journal entry was running quite long, so I cut it off and promised to continue at a later time.  And now for part two.

Leaving Harpers Ferry, we soon came to Charles Town (not to be confused with Charleston, the state capital).  For those not familiar, Charles Town is the place where people in Harpers Ferry go to go grocery shopping.  For out of town folks, it’s also the home of the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.  I’ve never been gambling before, but it might be fun to do one time.  But in this case, Pete and only stopped for lunch, and then it was at a Martin’s grocery store, where we each got salad.  Funny how you can get pretty decent food on the go from grocery stores these days.  But we did just fine at Martin’s.  They had a decent-sized salad bar, and there was also an eating area.  All in all, not bad.

Then from there, we continued along to Winchester.  That took us on Route 340 to its intersection with Route 7, and then we took Route 7 the rest of the way into Winchester.  When I first made a close pass to Winchester some time in the 1990s, I was a little bit underwhelmed by the size of the town.  Understand that Winchester is listed as a control city for I-81 for quite some ways – more than 100 miles when traveling northbound.  In my experience up to that time, I had only seen bigger cities as control cities for highways, like Little Rock or Richmond.  Thus I figured that Winchester was a really big city.  Surprise: Winchester is, while by no means tiny, also not a big city by most measures.  It’s comparable in population to Staunton.

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Here’s a tip for you: don’t go hiking in flip-flops.

July 7, 2013, 11:58 PM

First of all, I hope everyone had a lovely July 4.  I know I did.  I got together with my friend Pete (whom you may remember from the Confirmation Demonstration and White House to Quantico photo sets), and we went on something of a road trip.  We both figured that with living in the Washington DC area, and considering how July 4 is in DC, that was a good day to get out of town.

So we decided to go on a trip to Harpers Ferry and Winchester.  Prior to this trip, I had only been to Harpers Ferry by train, and then only passing through.  As far as Winchester went, I had only been to Winchester once prior, and that consisted of driving around at night trying to find the downtown area, and a stop at the Apple Blossom Mall and the local Walmart.  So this was going to be fun.

I met up with Pete at Glenmont Metro, and then we were off.  To get from the Aspen Hill area where I live to Harpers Ferry, you drive up I-270 to Frederick, and then from there, you take I-70 for about a mile, and then take US 340 (yes, that 340) the rest of the way to Harpers Ferry.  The drive is beautiful.  The first bit of beauty is just outside Frederick, where there is a “Scenic View” wayside on 270.  We wouldn’t ordinarily have stopped there, except that was a good place to stop and put the phone into GPS mode for the remainder of the distance to Harpers Ferry, since we were both kind of fuzzy on the exact way to get there.  While we were stopped, I got a few photos of the area:

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ZooLights!

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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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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Zombie night in Silver Spring!

October 28, 2012, 11:00 PM

So October 27 was the night of the annual Silver Spring Zombie Walk.  Except this year, for various reasons, there was no actual zombie walk through the downtown area of Silver Spring.  It was just zombie night, where there were a bunch of events for kids and adults, but no single, unifying event like in years past.  I knew this going in, and knowing there was no specific zombie walk but rather just a night of zombie-related fun and festivities, I decided to just see what I could see.

Not surprisingly, it was a little bit underwhelming.  I wasn’t about to hit the bars and take pictures of adults drinking in zombie costumes.  The best players in last year’s zombie walk were the kids, and so I tried to stick to the areas where most of the family entertainment would be held, around Ellsworth Drive, while still getting around the full downtown area a bit.

On Ellsworth Drive, in the “Downtown Silver Spring” development, the younger set was out and about.  Some of them were remarkably scary/creepy specifically because they were kids and looked a little too wholesome to be spattered with blood and looking all undead.  Like these two:

Two children dressed as zombies, looking far too wholesome to be covered in blood.  And the blank expressions add to the scary effect.
Add the blank expressions to the mix, and you have nightmare fuel right there.  Great costumes, great playing of the part, but still creepy.  Good work.

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Categories: Halloween, Silver Spring

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

Braaaaaaaaaaains…

October 26, 2011, 12:24 AM

First of all, I can’t believe that Halloween is almost upon us again! Feels like just yesterday that it was Labor Day, no?

In the spirit of Halloween, I got together with some friends last Saturday night, and attended the fourth annual Silver Spring Zombie Walk in downtown Silver Spring. For those who don’t know, a zombie walk is an event where people dress up like the undead as commonly portrayed in works of fiction, and then walk through an area as a group, in character. In addition to people dressed as zombies, you also have people dressed as “zombie hunters”, who dress up like commandos and carry Nerf weapons and other similar faux-artillery.

In Silver Spring, my friends went dressed as zombies. I went straight and had my camera out. My goal was to get some photos and have a good time. I’d dare say that both goals were accomplished. The zombie walk gathered at approximately the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Sligo Avenue outside Jackie’s, just north of the point where the Red Line crosses Georgia Avenue (you know, that bright pink bridge). Once we got going, we walked north on Georgia Avenue as far as Ellsworth Drive. Then we made a right turn, walked east on Ellsworth Drive through the “Downtown” development, made a left turn, walked north on Fenton Street for two blocks, and then turned left and walked west on Colesville Road to the AFI Silver theater. There, the theater was showing two horror movies, and was the formal end of the zombie walk. We didn’t go to the movies, and instead continued on to Georgia Avenue, and then went back to the “Downtown” development on Ellsworth Drive, where we got to hang out for a while. Not bad!

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My birthday, swimming, and losing weight…

May 30, 2011, 9:18 PM

Yes, it’s Video Journal time again, on my birthday as I turn 30. And here it is:

This is a 20-minute video, but trust me, it’s worth every second of it. Here’s the video in a nutshell…

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Categories: Birthdays, Friends, Weight loss

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: http://twitpic.com/3egpdi #xmas #christmas

My idea of Christmas spirit this year: http://twitpic.com/3f3suv #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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Greetings from CAF 5109…

November 17, 2010, 7:29 PM

First of all, hello from CAF 5109. I am riding the Red Line home from the Tenleytown area, having just had a wonderful time enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend. Always good to see friends, and nothing beats a hot cup of coffee on a cool fall evening.

Meanwhile, this is my first time actually writing a Journal entry on my netbook while on the Metro. The train is not crowded by any means, so I’m sitting sideways in a row and typing with the computer on one leg. And it seems to work. I’m listening to Randi Rhodes on podcast, and just tapping away on the keyboard. For those wondering, I don’t have Internet on here right now, but instead, I will post this when I get home. I’m too late for the 51, so I figure, I’m either going to take the Y9 bus or walk. Follow me on the Twitter and find out, I suppose. Meanwhile, this train did not service Farragut North, strangely enough. When we went through (without stopping), there was caution tape on the platform and a bunch of people in safety vests at the outbound end, but a lot of regular people on the inbound end. Go fig. I know that the L Street entrance was closed, but who knows if that’s related.

Then this weekend is raid weekend. It’s always fun to troll Scientology, and this ought to be good, though I’m concerned that our numbers will be down due to its being so close to Thanksgiving. This is, after all, the weekend before Thanksgiving, and I’m sure that many people will be taking off early for the holiday. However, Scientology is not above scamming people out of large sums of their money on the weekend before Thanksgiving, and thus we will be outside to troll. It’s this Saturday from 1-5 PM. Hope to see you there. Should be fun. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong on the numbers, and we’ll have a good number of (masked) faces out there trolling Scientology.

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