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And it goes from an Edwards to a Fire-Lite…

May 12, 2014, 11:12 PM

And there you have it.  I figured that, when Herb, three firefighters, and I had trouble resetting the pull station during that accidental fire alarm at the pool last Thursday, the Edwards 270A-SPO that had recently been installed at the pool and was the center of the action in this alarm would not be long for this world.  And I was right.  This is what greeted me when I arrived for today’s workout:

Fire-Lite BG-12

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Categories: Fire alarms, Olney, Swimming

Well, tonight’s workout was fun…

May 8, 2014, 10:19 PM

I think this describes my workout at the pool tonight:

SO YOU'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SWIM WORKOUT?  LET ME SING YOU THE SONG OF MY PEOPLE.

Yes, I got interrupted by a fire alarm.  I was simultaneously annoyed and delighted about the situation.  On the one hand, Olney Indoor Swim Center has a Notifier voice evacuation system, and I had never heard it go off in the three years that I have been swimming at Olney.  So I was delighted that I finally got to see and hear it in action.  On the other hand, though, I take my swimming quite seriously.  I find interruptions to my workout to be quite a bother, like the time that a storm-related power outage ended my workout early back in August 2012.  So a fire alarm during my workout annoyed me, because it knocked me out of my groove.

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Categories: Fire alarms, Olney, Swimming

Driving around Montgomery County…

March 9, 2014, 1:25 PM

For my commercial driving class, I had to watch others’ driving to identify distracted and at-risk driving behaviors and document them.  Normally one would do this while another student was driving the bus, but since I’m the only student in the class, I am doing this as homework.  Since I had some issue with making the arrangements for someone else to drive me around so that I could write, I decided to take matters into my own hands and attach my cell phone to the visor to make a movie of my own driving for later analysis.  In other words, something like this:

Driving along Georgia Avenue in the Soul

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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

Amazing how much difference some light makes…

August 26, 2013, 10:59 PM

So today was the first day that my regular pool, Olney Indoor Swim Center, was open following the two week annual maintenance period.  This maintenance period usually involves completely draining the pool and scrubbing it down and deep cleaning the building.  They also tackle any other maintenance work that would be too disruptive to do while the pool is open, like lighting repairs, resurfacing the water umbrella in the kiddie pool, and welding some pieces back together on the pool that had come apart over the years.  They also replaced all of the lane ropes, which introduced a touch of red into the pool (the previous ropes were blue and white – the new ones are red, white, and blue).

But by far, the most striking change was the lighting.  For the past several months, the pool has looked like this:

Olney Indoor Swim Center on Thursday, August 8, 2013

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Categories: Olney, Swimming

My newest piece of fitness equipment…

August 4, 2013, 12:47 AM

So I have a new piece of fitness equipment:

A bicycle.

Yep… it’s a bicycle.  Specifically, it’s my sister’s old bicycle – thus why it’s a female bicycle.  But no worries.  I’m secure enough in my masculinity to use a women’s bicycle, and besides, the only difference is one bar, and that lower bar means it’s easier to get on and off since I don’t have to lift my leg as high to get over the horizontal bar on a male bicycle (so there).  When I wanted to get a bicycle for myself, I asked my parents, thinking that all of the old bikes were still in the shed in Stuarts Draft.  Thus I was hoping to get my hands on my old bicycle (the “baby elephant“, as it was), which was a green Huffy mountain bike that cost $110 at Walmart’s “Sample Store” in Bentonville, which I got in 1992.  It was a very nice bike, though as one of my childhood friends mentioned, that bike was too big for me at first (I later grew into it).  Surprise: my parents got rid of my old bike.  I guess that’s what happens when you don’t ride a bicycle for more than a decade.  Don’t know what happened to it, but it’s gone.  However, Sis’s bike was available, so when Mom came up recently for our trip to Chicago (more on that in another entry), the bike came up with her.  This is a Mongoose Threshold mountain bike.  Not bad.

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Categories: Bicycle, Olney

Your Montgomery County tax dollars at work…

May 30, 2013, 6:42 PM

Yes, fellow Montgomery County residents, your tax dollars pay for what I’m about to describe here.  First of all, let me show you what the original problem was:

Solid green light out on left turn signal out at Veirs Mill Road and Edmonston Drive in Rockville.

Yep… a bulb on a traffic light is out.  This is the corner of Veirs Mill Road and Edmonston Drive in Rockville.  It’s the solid green light on the left turn signal for northbound Veirs Mill drivers turning left onto Edmonston (right here).  I consider a light out on a left turn signal to be a very serious matter, because in many cases, there’s only one of them, and it has many different combinations that can be displayed that all mean different things.  It can be a very dangerous situation if part of that light isn’t working, and therefore unable to signal drivers on how to proceed, since its operation is more complicated than a conventional signal.  Plus, there are usually at least two conventional signals at an intersection anyway, so if one is not working, the other one picks up the slack.  But when there’s only one left turn signal, it has to be running at 100% all of the time.

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Categories: Rockville, Some people

This is a problem where the biggest step towards a solution is not police, but signage and paint…

March 12, 2013, 10:16 PM

According to an article on Patch.com, since January 22, four pedestrians and one cyclist have died in collisions with cars in the eastern part of Montgomery County.  The cyclist was struck in downtown Silver Spring.  The pedestrian fatalities all occurred outside the Beltway.  One involved a woman’s being struck while on the sidewalk, and the other three were struck and killed while attempting to cross major arterial roads in the county – specifically, Columbia Pike (US 29), Connecticut Avenue (MD 185), and Georgia Avenue (MD 97).  Ken Silverman, an analyst for county councilwoman Nancy Navarro, created a map showing the location of the accidents.

Now in looking at all of this, I latched onto the fatalities related to crossing the arterials.  I am on each side of the pedestrian-driver coin in Montgomery County at various times, and so I am familiar with both driving around pedestrians, and walking around cars.  I have also crossed Georgia Avenue on foot many times.  In these instances, the Columbia Pike incident happened in the southbound lanes at the intersection with Oak Leaf Drive in White Oak.  The Connecticut Avenue incident happened at the intersection with Everton Street, in the Wheaton area.  The Georgia Avenue incident occurred at the intersection with Heathfield Road in Aspen Hill.  I looked at these areas, and there are some common factors in all of them:

  • All three incidents occurred after dark
  • All three incidents occurred at unmarked crosswalks (any intersection is considered a legal crosswalk in Maryland whether it’s marked or not)
  • The main roadway in all three locations is a six-lane divided highway with three lanes on each side
  • There are bus stops on both sides of the road at all three locations
  • There is street lighting on the side of the road where the incidents occurred (Columbia Pike and Georgia Avenue have lighting on only one side in these areas, and Connecticut Avenue has lighting on both sides)

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This really isn’t rocket science, I promise…

January 10, 2013, 1:28 AM

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the act of placing groceries in bags and giving them back to the customer is really not rocket science.  And in Montgomery County, Maryland, a jurisdiction where there is an excise tax on disposable shopping bags, i.e. a financial incentive to use reusable shopping bags, I don’t believe that it is unreasonable of me to think that a grocery store cashier should know how to handle reusable shopping bags.  Apparently this is an unreasonable expectation.  I went to the Safeway store in Olney this evening after I went swimming, and the cashier did not understand how to handle reusable bags.

This what I bought:

My haul from Safeway in Olney

(And for those of you who are wondering, I took this photo in the store with the intention of posting on Instagram.)

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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

A whole bunch of bowling videos…

October 22, 2012, 10:09 PM

I realized tonight that I had never shown you some funny bowling videos that my friend Matthew and I had made a while back.  Matthew and I will, as I’ve demonstrated before, go bowling from time to time.  We always have a lot of fun, but considering that Matthew is a far better bowler than I am, the object of the game for me is to see how close I can come to matching his score.  I’ve discussed our first time doing ten-pin together and our first time doing duckpins together before, but I never showed you our second run of each style.

Now on the first time for each, I wasn’t sure how the various bowling alley operators viewed photography, plus I was concentrating a bit more on what I was doing.  After all, I had not done ten-pin in seven years before our first time bowling together in 2009, and then neither one of us had ever done duckpins before when we did that in August 2009.  Now, I have come to realize that the operators of these bowling alleys really don’t care if you’re taking videos and stills of yourself (plus I’m just using my phone here rather than my real camera), plus I’ve gotten a bit more comfortable with the whole bowling thing overall.  Additionally, there’s a certain fun part of acting in front of the camera in these sorts of situations.  After all, there’s a certain bit of structure to these things, because you know the general idea of the afternoon, i.e. throw the ball and knock down some pins.  But how one gets from A to B is where the fun comes in.

This first bunch of videos was from December 3, 2011, when Matthew and I were doing ten-pin at Bowl America in Reston.

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Montgomery County is definitely not itself right now…

June 30, 2012, 5:06 PM

And that’s putting it lightly.  A very big storm blew through the DC area on Friday night, and the results were not pretty.  As I understand it, the weather event was called a derecho, and the effects of such a phenomenon were painfully obvious for those of us in Montgomery County.  Remember back in 2010, when that big storm came up out of nowhere and left much of Montgomery County without power?  It seems that history has repeated itself.  This storm blew through, and took out trees all over the place, and with that came power lines, and that left Montgomery County in the dark.  According to WUSA, out of 305,000 Pepco customers in Montgomery County, 210,000 of them currently don’t have electricity, and out of 800 traffic lights in the county, 500 of them don’t work on account of power outages.  And unfortunately, I am part of the two-thirds of Montgomery County that doesn’t have power.  I lost power on Friday night.  The lights went on and off a few times, and then went out for good.  And they’re still out.

And with so much of the county in the dark, people’s patterns changed.  First of all, getting around is a real pain.  With five out of eight traffic lights down (and no rhyme or reason about which lights are dead), we have been told all over to treat dark traffic signals like four-way stops, which slows things down.  From what I can tell, there are four ways that intersections with traffic lights are treated in these sorts of situations.  First are the lights that work.  Those function as they always do.  Then there are the really big intersections, which have police officers directing traffic through them.  Then the bigger intersections but that aren’t as big as the others get these little portable stop signs between the lanes to remind drivers that they are supposed to treat the intersection as a four-way stop.  And then finally, most intersections with dark lights are just left dark without any signage or personnel on scene, and drivers are expected to be courteous to each other and stop before proceeding.

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Safeway photo set update for you…

November 7, 2011, 11:17 PM

Remember my “Abandoned Grocery Store” photo set, where I took photos of the board-up on the Safeway store in Wheaton, Maryland? They’re finally tearing the building down. Let the record show that I did the photo set on December 27, 2009. The store had closed eight days prior to this. They’re just now getting around to demolishing the building – nearly two years later. Admittedly, it didn’t look quite as rough as it looked in my photo set the whole time. The board-up was painted gray by spring 2010, and then a “Coming soon your new SAFEWAY” banner was hung from the front of it for a year and a half. It looked like this:

The board-up on Safeway in Wheaton, seen here on January 25, 2011

Of course, that banner was none too reassuring, because the closed store was still there, and the new building replacing it couldn’t go up until this one was gone.

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Categories: Safeway, Wheaton