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The speed van…

July 29, 2015, 9:04 PM

While I was out yesterday, I spotted this van parked on the side of Bonifant Road in Greater Silver Spring (Colesville) near the Trolley Museum and the Intercounty Connector bridge:

White Ford Transit Connect van with "Safe Speed" on the door

This is a white Ford Transit Connect van, with the “Montgomery County Safe Speed” logo on the driver’s side door.  This struck me as something that merited further investigation, because the county has been using Bonifant Road to raise revenue through speed enforcement for years.  I’ve seen police sitting on the road, and there have been fixed speed camera boxes in various places along this road over the years.

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Categories: Driving, Silver Spring

This is a message that I can get behind…

May 6, 2015, 4:58 PM

This message recently went up on the sign for the church up the street from me:

"Be someone that makes you happy."

Couldn’t have said it any better than that.  No religious overtones, and nothing cheesy.  Just a nice message to help put things in perspective.  Be someone that makes you happy.  After all, we only have one life to live, and it’s far too short to spend it being miserable about yourself.  Be the person that you want to be.

That is all.

Categories: Religion, Silver Spring

“Not fooling anybody” in DC…

October 31, 2014, 11:50 AM

This past Saturday, I did some photography in Washington DC, but not the usual sort of photography that I do when I head into DC.  This time, I photographed repurposed commercial buildings, i.e. buildings constructed with the standard architecture for a specific chain, and now operated by a business other than the one that the architecture would suggest.  “Not Fooling Anybody” on Reddit, where people share photos of such conversions, describes it as “former chain businesses that have been converted to other uses, yet still strongly resemble their former use.”  Some people might call these bad conversions, but I prefer to call them “obvious conversions”.  After all, some conversions can look quite elegant, such as Italiano’s in Baltimore, which is a former KFC, but nonetheless still resemble the former tenant’s distinctive style.

It’s also worth noting that these sorts of buildings have no historical value of any kind, so they’re worth photographing while they’re still there, because they will be demolished when someone comes up with a more lucrative use for the land.

For this trip, I did my research.  I had assembled a list of some places that I had spotted over the course of going wherever over the years, and then augmented that with some others that the folks on the DC subreddit brought to my attention, particularly on some corridors that I had never had any reason to travel under normal circumstances, such as Bladensburg Road and Benning Road.  I then used Google Street View to visually verify all of the suggestions so that I knew what to look for in the field, plus I also did a virtual drive down a few roads using Street View to see if there were any others, as some corridors tend to be just teeming with them.

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Back to Cumberland…

October 11, 2014, 7:56 PM

On October 2, exactly a year and a half after my first road trip to Cumberland (where I produced a photography set), I was back out that way again.  The purpose of this trip was to explore the downtown area a little bit more deeply, make some photo spheres, and check out a few things that I had missed the last time I was out there for one reason or another.

I had two planned stops on the way out.  The first was at the westbound South Mountain rest area and welcome center on Interstate 70.  Besides its being a logical spot to take a break, I wanted to get some photo spheres while there, plus I wanted to get updated photos of something that really bothered me on the last trip to Cumberland.  In the Journal entry for the April 2013 trip, I discussed an errant apostrophe on the signage directing motorists to parking, where “RV” was pluralized using an apostrophe.  The rule of thumb when it comes to pluralization in English, by the way, is that an apostrophe is never used to form a plural.  Ever.  I filed a request about this with SHA, which became case #SR-0198410, in early May of this year, to get it fixed, referencing the photo from 2013.  I heard back from SHA a few days later, where they promised that they would have the apostrophes removed by the end of the month.  When I was through that area again in mid-June, I swung by the eastbound rest area (opposite side) to check to see if they kept their promise.  They did, as they scraped the apostrophe off of the sign.  This left a somewhat inelegant result:

The apostrophe is gone, though there was still some odd spacing, but I could live with this.

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Categories: Cumberland, Photography

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

So I found an app that lets you take stereo photos…

July 16, 2014, 10:24 PM

Last night, I found an app called 3D Camera for my Android phone.  The idea behind the app is that you take two photos a few inches apart from each other, you line them up, and then the app makes a stereo image for you to look at.  Depending on how you shoot them, they can come out as either crossview or parallel.  I tested it out late last night on a Wheelock 7002T, and came up with this:

Wheelock 7002T, taken on top of my computer
(By the way, I strongly recommend clicking each of the images on this entry to view them at full size in the lightbox)

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I completely nerded out on Sunday, and it was awesome…

June 24, 2014, 10:21 PM

I went out on a miniature road trip on Sunday, and I had a blast, taking photos of anything that vaguely interested me.  It was more or less spur of the moment, when you consider that for what ended up being a photography trip, I only had my cell phone, and then, I didn’t bring my spare battery along.  Thus it was a bit of a continual battle to keep a sufficient charge on the phone with only the car charger, but somehow, I managed, and the results came out pretty well despite my leaving my real camera at home.  The way this trip came about is that I wanted to go up to and explore Westminster, Maryland.  I’ve been wanting to explore Westminster for a while, ever since my father took an overnight business trip to Westminster a few years ago and I didn’t find out about it until it was too late in the day to go up and visit, because Dad didn’t realize that Westminster was as close to me as it was.  That sucked, because I would have totally gone up if I had known.  I’ll gladly travel an hour or so on relatively short notice to hang out with family.

So early Sunday morning, I just decided to go up and see what there was.  I like doing these sorts of trips, because it’s basically a scouting trip, seeing if there’s anything that I want to explore and photograph in more detail in the future.  Getting to Westminster is pretty easy: turn onto Georgia Avenue (MD 97) and take it all the way to Westminster.  Seriously, it’s that easy.  I got to Westminster just as the sun was coming up.  After a quick drive through the main commercial area along Route 140, I located the downtown area.

The downtown area in Westminster has what I consider an unusual feature: a single-track rail line for the Maryland Midland Railway running diagonally through the main intersection in downtown.  Main Street goes one way, and Liberty Street and Railroad Avenue (both MD 27) go the other way, and the rail line runs diagonally across the intersection.  I would have loved to have seen a train come through here while I was in the area, but unfortunately, I did not get to see that this time.

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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

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

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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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

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