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I’m not even going to try to recall how many times I made Elyse cross the street…

October 31, 2017, 2:30 PM

Here’s some “new old stock” for you.  Back in March 2016, I had the idea of writing about a fatal pedestrian accident that happened in December 2015 at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road (MD 586) and the Matthew Henson Trail in Rockville.  It was an area that I was very familiar with, as one of the routes that I did on the bus went through this area.  I did the field work for that planned Journal entry, photographing the area in question, as well as a few other pedestrian control devices in Montgomery County, in order to have a discussion similar to the one I did in March 2012 about an intersection on Georgia Avenue.  Unfortunately, however, life got in the way, as I got a promotion at work, and the several-months-long training program that came with that promotion took precedence over the planned Journal entry.  The post eventually got shelved, and now it’s a moot point, as the intersection was initially upgraded with yellow warning signals directly over the crossing (vs. 500 feet ahead of it as before), and then after a second fatal accident in the same location, the crossing was upgraded again with signals that actually require traffic to stop vs. only warning drivers of the presence of pedestrians.

I was always a bit disappointed that an entire afternoon’s work never got used.  Like the Breezewood photo shoot in 2006, evidence of the shoot showed up fairly soon after the work was done – in this case, a single photo feature – but the intended final product never got made.  In hindsight, I’m not too worried about it, because what I would have advocated for in the intended Journal entry came to pass, though I wish that it hadn’t happened as a result of a second fatal accident.

The shoot itself was pretty fun.  I brought Elyse with me, and we made a good team.  The way we did it was that I set the camera up on my tripod and pointed it at whatever I needed, started filming, and then signaled to Elyse to activate the signal.  She then crossed the street, in order to give some legitimacy to the signal activation.  After all, I knew that I was stopping traffic on some fairly busy roads for a photo shoot.  I had Elyse cross the street so that I didn’t look like a complete dick, stopping traffic for no reason.  Someone needed to cross the street, so that it didn’t look like I was stopping traffic just to film the signals.  I imagine that Elyse probably did about a mile going back and forth across several intersections in Montgomery County and DC.  After all, every single take (and I did multiple takes) required activating a signal, and that meant sending Elyse across the street

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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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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

Something tells me that they’re closed.

December 27, 2009, 11:50 PM

First of all, hello from Stuarts Draft, Virginia, where I’m writing to you from the Lappy at my parents’ kitchen table instead of my real computer.

On the way down to Stuarts Draft, I stopped to photograph the Safeway in Wheaton. The Safeway in Wheaton recently closed due to a pending redevelopment. They’re supposed to be tearing down the existing store and replacing it with a mixed-use development, including a new modern Safeway store at street level. The store closed on the 19th (the day of the snowstorm), and, to my surprise, was completely boarded up following the closure. I saw it boarded up on Christmas Eve, and was like, whoa! when I saw it.

First of all, here’s the store as it appeared when open, courtesy of Google Earth:

Safeway in Wheaton while open
Image: Google Earth

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Categories: Safeway, Wheaton

I actually got compliments on my bathroom…

August 2, 2009, 3:25 PM

My parents came by as planned, and we had a great time. I actually got compliments on the cleanliness of my bathroom, believe it or not. It certainly pays to really give the place a once-over. Of course, my parents got advance warning that I had cleaned. I posted a status message on Facebook indicating that I was cleaning, and my Aunt Mary, whom, along with Uncle Bruce, my parents visited before leaving New Jersey, saw the status message and commented on it. And Mom noticed that I had missed dusting my printer, and wrote “MOM” in the dust, and then dusted it with a paper towel.

So we got together, and went out for lunch. We originally planned to eat at Umbertos in Wheaton, but much to our dismay, they were closed. I don’t know what was going on, because they were supposed to have been open based on their posted hours, and the restaurant was in a bit of disarray, with the chairs missing, and the tables arranged in a way like they’re doing something or other. So who knows what’s going on. This merits further investigation, but a phone call to the restaurant a few hours later got no answer, and a call to the other Umbertos in Potomac got nowhere. I hope they’re not closed for good, because that would be a disappointment. That’s a favorite of mine for entertaining, and it’s really a diamond in the rough as far as Wheaton is concerned.

So we went to downtown Silver Spring, and had lunch there instead. We went to Austin Grill, which also serves Tex-Mex cuisine, though not as authentic as Umbertos. At Umbertos, the staff consists of mostly native speakers of Spanish and converse amongst each other in Spanish, while at Austin Grill, the employees definitely speak English as a first language. But the food was good. I had the grilled chicken burrito, my father had the burger, and Mom had enchiladas. I also got a hat from the Don Strock Diabetes Classic golf tournament, which Uncle Bruce’s company sponsored.

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Wheaton Plaza is starting to look kind of sad…

January 19, 2009, 12:25 PM

My local shopping mall, Wheaton Plaza, otherwise known as Westfield Wheaton, is starting to look kind of sad with the poor economy taking its toll. Currently, Office Depot and Circuit City are holding going-out-of-business sales. Office Depot is doing a round of store closings to stave off bankruptcy, and for Circuit City, the Wheaton location survived an initial round of closings, and only started its closing sale after the company announced it was shuttering all locations. Combined with the closing of the family-owned Montgomery Cinema and Drafthouse (a movie theater outfitted with tables and chairs so people could dine and enjoy a beer while watching movies on the big screen), the outparcels on the south side of Wheaton are going to be looking really empty in short order.

Combine that with the fact that one of the two-story anchor buildings in the mall itself has been empty for more than a year, and things are really starting to look sad. That empty anchor location appears to have been built as a Hecht’s (see photo), and closed when the merger with Macy’s was completed (Wheaton Plaza already had a Macy’s).

When I moved to the area in mid-2007, that anchor location housed a store called IFL Furniture, selling overpriced furniture. That location closed in the fall of 2007, and it’s been empty since. There were rumblings that a Kohl’s and a Steve and Barry’s would be taking over that space, but something tells me that’s not happening any time soon. Steve and Barry’s is closing all its locations, and so the Wheaton location is presumably stillborn. Then with Kohl’s, I don’t know what to think. When IFL vacated the location, work started on that building. Trailers came in, black coverings were put on all the doors so you couldn’t see in, and an area in front of the south entrance was fenced off for various construction stuff. That whole fenced off area is now gone, and it looks like nothing’s happening there anymore. Inside the mall, the entrance to the former Hecht’s/IFL space has been walled off, and it’s as if they’re pretending that there is no building behind that wall. The wall is being used to promote DSW Shoe Warehouse, which recently opened in the former Hecht’s wing, and made for a small reshuffling of tenants as locally-owned Wheaton News was moved elsewhere in the mall, and a Payless Shoes was relocated as well.

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Categories: Wheaton

What a lovely day with Mom today…

June 16, 2007, 11:58 PM

Mom came to visit this weekend, and we had a wonderful time. She came up on Friday, and took the Metro down to Dupont Circle to meet me right after work. We rode back to Wheaton station, where Mom parked, and then went back to my place, where we brought some stuff in. She brought me my computer chair (yay!) and also a coffee table. Mom replaced the coffee table in the family room last year, and so now I have the old coffee table. I love it. It looks so good in my living room, and it will certainly enhance the way things look.

Once we brought everything in, we ordered pizza from Papa John’s. There’s a Papa John’s not far from here – in the same shopping center as H-Mart. We got a pizza that could best be described as unconventional – their spinach alfredo pizza, which has an alfredo base rather than a tomato base. We also got mushrooms on it. I don’t even want to think about how many calories that thing had, but it was good. After dinner, we watched TV, and then went to bed. Mom became the first to sleep in my bedroom on a cot that she brought, and then I slept in the living room on the futon (as always).

Then on Saturday, we went to Ikea in College Park, where I finally got that new bed. I got their Hemnes brown-black bed with a nice, comfortable mattress. Queen-size, and all for me. We’re getting that delivered. Mom got some furniture as well, and we also got a chance to look all over their showroom. The place was not nearly as busy as it was on Memorial Day, and so we got a chance to stroll around a bit. Plus, considering that this was my second trip to Ikea, I was not nearly so overwhelmed.

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So far, I like living up this way…

May 15, 2007, 5:28 PM

I’ve been up in the DC area continuously now since Saturday, and I have to say, so far, I seem to like it. I won’t get Internet service until next Tuesday, the 22nd, however, so I’m writing you from the Infoshop, though I’m using the Lappy. The Infoshop is seven blocks straight east on P Street from the building where I work, through Logan Circle.

Speaking of Logan Circle, I had a little accident there on the walk from work to the Infoshop. I was turning to cross the circle, stepped on a curb wrong, lost my balance, took one very unstable step to try to regain my balance, and then splat. I hit the asphalt. I skinned my elbow (ouch!) and tore a few small holes in my pants pocket where my keys are – enough to consider the pair wrecked. So now I have to buy a new pair of pants. Not my idea of fun. But at least it was nothing major – I got right up and continued on my way.

Otherwise, since last we spoke, I got to go grocery shopping for the first time on my own. That was interesting. I went to Giant in Wheaton, and did my best. I think I did all right, but I was going through this store and basically thinking to myself, I used to work in a grocery store, and I still have no idea what the hell I’m doing! But I think I did well enough.

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A little housing update for you…

May 11, 2007, 8:24 PM

Just so you know, I am now partly moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland. It’s nice, too. It’s right up the road from Glenmont station, and also close to shopping. Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton is very close to where I live, and it’s home to a two-story Target store.

By the way, shopping with a cart across two levels is interesting. There are two escalators. One for you, and one for your cart. Basically, you put your cart in the special cart escalator, and then you ride (roughly) next to it on a conventional escalator. Shopping in a two-story Target is certainly something, but it’s kind of fun. Target is also so much cleaner than Wal-Mart, which always impresses me when I shop there. They also trust that their customers will do such simple things as flush the toilet and turn off the sinks, which Wal-Mart does not. Wal-Mart has automatic sinks and flushers which don’t work half the time. Target has faucets with handles, and flush handles on the toilets.

By the way, I outfitted much of my apartment on my first trip to this Target in Wheaton. I blew $300-some on stuff for the apartment, across two shopping carts. That’s the most I’ve ever spent at Target. Prior to this, I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $20 in a visit to Target.

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