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I just added an extra day onto my vacation…

August 19, 2005, 4:24 PM

I just added another day to my fabulous Virginia Beach vacation that’s coming up in three days. Now, instead of leaving Tuesday and coming back Thursday, I’m leaving Monday and coming back Thursday. That means that I have Friday to be back at home, and then on Saturday, back to work. So thus it’s going to be a four-day vacation instead of three. Very nice, indeed. So all in all, life is very good. Get some time away from work and home, in order to kind of, like, chill out in a different setting for a few days. And maybe get a nice tan or something.

Of course, getting a tan kind of reminds me of what Strong Bad said in Email #77 about the suggestion that he should turn over to cook evenly: “What? Who wants a tan on their back? There’s no abs to accentuate.”

And if nothing else, maybe I can get something like what happened last year: a sunburn with a blank spot on my chest shaped exactly like Big Mavica.

I lost my Breda sticker… very sad.

August 6, 2005, 7:29 PM

How sad, indeed. I lost my “My other car is a Breda” bumper sticker magnet. I think I know how I lost it, though. I believe I lost it when I took my car through the car wash on Friday with the magnet still in place. I noticed it after work on Saturday, after Mom and I went to Home Depot (she met me after work), when I finally got a good look at the back of my car when she drove me back to it, and noticed it was missing – showing an outline of dirt around where the sticker used to be. Mom said that next time I go through a car wash, I need to remove the magnets first. Good idea.

And it’s not like the sticker is irreplaceable. I still have the pattern for it, so I’ll just have a new one made up. This would also be an opportune time for me to get the “Stand to the right” bumper sticker that I designed, to add to the right side of the car, similar to the Breda sticker. The Breda sticker being on the left was a coincidence. The “stand to the right” sticker being on the right is deliberate. After all, that would be a little hypocritical otherwise, no? The “stand to the right” sticker magnet standing on the left side of my car? No. Still, check it out:

"On Metro escalators, please... STAND TO THE RIGHT"

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Categories: Arlington, Toyota Previa, WMATA

I did go out, and I certainly covered some distance!

July 30, 2005, 10:59 PM

Yes, I did go out on Thursday, and it was quite a road trip, for that matter. I drove up to Pennsylvania and back via I-81.

I left the house at around 10:30 AM. The outfit was black shirt, blue shorts, and flip flops. Also unshaven for that matter, but the last time the razor and I had spent some quality time together was Tuesday morning. So I could almost pass it off as one of those thin beards that some men wear. Moving along, though, one look from Mom at how I looked leaving the house got this reaction: “You’re wearing flip-flops?” I’m like, “Yes…”

I still don’t understand what Mom’s obsession is with my shoes. After all, I’m an adult, and I can wear what I want, and look as sharp or as dumpy as I want. I decided to go for “casual”, thus no shave and the flip-flops. Still, the objection to it was weird, but expected. But it’s rare that I’ll wear flip-flops. Normally, I’ll wear my chucks or my real sandals (with socks, of course). Never flip-flops with otherwise bare feet. So that was a surprise for Mom, but lately on my off-days when I’m not doing anything too important, I’ll wear that. It’s quick and easy.

Moving along, though, I ran this like DC to an extent. But obviously, the destination was not DC this time around. The 10:30 departure, for one thing. Still, I went to Mt. Jackson on the way up and enjoyed some grub at the Sheetz there, which I do on the way up to DC. It was busier there, though, since it was around 11:30 when I got there, vs. 7 AM or so when I go on my DC trips.

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I went to Singles Shopping… or at least tried.

July 23, 2005, 5:38 AM

I went down to Roanoke on Friday evening after work to visit the Wal-Mart on US 220, where, you may recall, I wrote in this space about “Singles Shopping”, the place for desperate singles to tie a red ribbon onto their cart and try to find true love.

So after traveling 90 miles from Stuarts Draft to Roanoke, I arrived at Wally World way down in Roanoke, only to find out that Singles Shopping was cancelled, and that they wouldn’t be having it anymore. I knew something was up as soon as I got in, considering there was no signage for the event, and saw no red-ribbon carts. I asked the greeter, who, after enthusiastically greeting me with a hearty “Welcome to Wal-Mart!” (major plus points there), told me it was cancelled. Turns out that earlier in the day, the store received a directive from Home Office in Bentonville: Do not have Singles Shopping tonight, and do not have it again. Drat. And I was looking forward to it, too. I, along with several others, put in comment cards about how we traveled distances to see this, only to find it was cancelled. Some even came from West Virginia, though from Roanoke to West Virginia isn’t as far as from Roanoke to here. All the store associates I spoke to were very apologetic about it, from the managers and right on down, since this was their great idea, and Bentonville nixed it (though I was told that some associates absolutely HATED the concept). After all, it got such wonderful press in the Roanoke Times (linked in the first entry I posted on this topic), and via the Associated Press to other papers. Jay Leno even made fun of it on his show.

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Categories: Roanoke, Walmart

Wal-Mart in Roanoke – the place for desperate singles to meet and greet?

July 17, 2005, 5:58 PM

You know what’s so special about this store?

Wal-Mart on US 220 in Roanoke

This is the Wal-Mart on US 220 near Tanglewood Mall in Roanoke, Virginia. They have introduced Singles Shopping, which, according to The Roanoke Times, is “an opportunity for singles to meet while stocking up on milk, underwear, snacks and small appliances.”

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What a wonderful two days off I had, and now back to the salt mines…

July 15, 2005, 5:35 PM

Wednesday and Thursday were such wonderful days off. I ran some errands, ran around a bit, and also got a lot of work done on the computer.

On Wednesday, I spent much of the day out. I first went to the RadioShack store in Waynesboro to return that RF switch that I ended up not needing to hook up my Super Nintendo. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the switch that was the problem, but rather where along the line I was hooking it up. So no problem. The Super Nintendo works, and I got my thirteen bucks back.

Then I went over to Staunton. Since the Harley-Davidson shop moved to its new location in Staunton, I’d heard a lot about it. Add to that the fact that they had their first annual “Rally in the Valley” about a month or so ago, and that generated a bit more buzz about it. So I went over to take a look. Now I’d never been to the old Harley place when it was in Waynesboro, so I had nothing to compare this to. Still, I was favorably impressed, even though biker stuff isn’t exactly my thing. First of all, the sense of space really gets you. The place is huge. And that’s not even the whole place. That’s just the main salesfloor. And on the salesfloor, there are bikes on display, there are sections for parts and accessories for one’s motorcycle, sections for men’s, women’s, and kids’ apparel, a section for shoes, a section with hats, helmets, sunglasses, and goggles, and even more. Then on the other side of the building, there’s a service area, and a well-appointed waiting area for people whose bikes are being serviced. And then outside the building, down a hill, is a course for people to take on their motorcycles. With it being down a hill from the main building, it makes for a great viewing area. As I said, I was favorably impressed with the place, even with biker stuff not being my thing. The place is very high-visibility (it rises high above the VA 262 loop), but actually getting to it is a little weird, since you have to go south on US 11, turn left onto Rolling Thunder Lane, which is almost right after you get onto Route 11. Then Rolling Thunder Lane is a longish, slightly-curving road with the Harley place looming up at the end.

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The combination of things people buy sometimes…

July 11, 2005, 12:08 AM

I saw what was perhaps the funniest thing on the self-checkout register today. A person bought a pack of condoms, and two different kinds of sandpaper. I’m just like, hmmmmmmm. You have to wonder about that. It leaves lots to the imagination. But if they like to sand in bed, that’s their business. Still, what cracks me up the most is the line I came up with. The couple is in bed together. He says, “So honey, do you want medium grit or fine grit tonight?”

Priceless.

Of course, the reason people buy condoms through the self-checkout in the first place is to be discreet. They don’t want anyone to know that they’re buying condoms in the first place.

This, by the way, is how retail employees have lots of fun doing their jobs. We are completely following established procedure, and laughing like heck on the inside the whole time. Person rings up condoms on the self-checkout. They put it in the bag. The self checkout machine goes off: “Item not recognized! Remove last item and try again!” So I come over. Me: “Hi, let me fix you up so you can continue.” I look into the bag (so as to visually verify that the items match their ticket). I see the condoms. I don’t say anything, but you can tell that they’re completely embarrassed by it. I’m laughing on the inside.

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Malcolm X Park: Mission Accomplished

July 7, 2005, 9:48 PM

Yes, I had a very productive time in Washington DC. Though I did get a touch of a late start. But we recovered. I ended up making up the time by hurrying along my Sheetz stop on the way up, plus traffic was lighter than usual going in. Usually I hit a considerable bottleneck from mile 41-45 on eastbound I-66, and this time, while I did encounter traffic (slowed due to construction vehicle movements), it was not as bad as I’ve seen it. So I was able to breeze right through. I still got to Vienna a touch late, but no problem.

I also finally found some background information on the I-66 construction.

At Vienna, I got a pleasant surprise – a parking spot on the top level, close to the elevator. Usually, and especially since the garage rehabilitation project began, I can only get a parking spot in the North Garage after 10:00, when the guaranteed spaces open up. So that was handy. Also, the rehabilitation work has moved once again, now encompassing the western ramp between levels. How strange it is to have that section closed off now, since that’s the ramp I usually use going up and down.

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Breezewood?

July 3, 2005, 10:00 PM

Yes, Breezewood. Specifically, Breezewood, Pennsylvania, which is known as the “town of motels”. I’m considering going up to Breezewood to do a photo set on the abandoned alignment of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which is now owned by the Southern Alleghenies Conservancy and being turned into the “Superhighway Trail”. This alignment includes the old Rays Hill and Sideling Hill tunnels, among other things.

You may recall that I traveled through Breezewood in 2003, as part of an LPCM trip. Photos and movies here. At that time, we used Breezewood as many others do, which is as a connection between the free I-70 and tolled I-76 (there is no direct connection between the two highways). In fact, that’s how Breezewood came into its modern existence.

According to this article, “…Breezewood is the unintended consequence of decisions having nothing to do with it.” Basically, to build a direct interchange between I-70 and I-76 at Breezewood, if federal funding was to be used to build a direct connection, then the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission would have to stop collecting tolls when the bonds funding the connection were retired. To quote the article again:

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Categories: Places, Roads

When I did the photo set, I never thought I was going to be documenting the last days of the complex…

June 19, 2005, 4:27 AM

When I shot the photos that comprised the two-part photo set Afton Mountain: Victim of Progress, I never really thought that what I was documenting would disappear so quickly. The focus of the photo set was threefold, if you recall:

Howard Johnson's Restaurant
Howard Johnson’s Restaurant

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My adventure in College Park…

May 26, 2005, 7:51 PM

I went up to the DC area today, and, in an unusual twist of things, spent NO time above ground in downtown Washington DC.

Arriving at Vienna, one thing I quickly noticed in the North Garage was that the contractor had completed work on the first section of the garage to undergo rehabilitation, and had moved to the second section. I’m not quite sure what they did in rehabilitating it, since it looked exactly the same as it did before. Who knows. On the top level, a pickup truck was parked so badly in its space so as to make the opening for the space next to it a little too close for comfort. Thus there was this very attractive looking empty space, but it was a little too tight of a squeeze to get in there. I ended up having to wait for the guaranteed spaces to open up at 10:00, and then parked on the third level.

Getting on the train at Vienna, I rode a mixed consist of Breda 4000-series cars and CAF cars. Leaving the station, the 4000s were in front, and the four CAFs followed behind. The operator out of Vienna knew me from a previous trip.

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What’s up? The ceiling.

May 22, 2005, 4:22 PM

Sometimes the “usual” greeting becomes part of the relationship. Other times, it just gets annoying. So goes it sometimes. I have officially had it with people responding to my “what’s up” with “the sky” or “the ceiling”. It’s gotten old, and it’s time to move on to something new.

However, one thing that a coworker and I do is really clever. We each say “hi”, then I say “What’s up?” and she says, “Ain’t nothin’.” That had been going on for months. Recently, we switched it up. I said “hi”, then she said “What’s up?” and I replied, “Ain’t nothin’.” It was clever since we switched our normal responses and it just came off so naturally that we both got a kick out of it. Life is interesting sometimes.

Speaking of interesting days, I went to Lake Moomaw on Thursday as planned. I got there via Lexington and Covington. It’s not the most direct way to get there, but it’s the only way I know (but if you do know of a shorter way to get to the Coles Mountain recreational area, let me know).

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Categories: Lake Moomaw

There was some unexpected excitement when I went to Washington DC this time…

May 12, 2005, 10:10 PM

Yeah, this was not your average Washington DC trip on Wednesday, though not like I noticed anything different aside from the buzz of the people throughout the city.

Normal start, though. Get up, go on up to DC, and find a parking space at Vienna. This time, I actually found a pretty good one, though. As luck would have it, a woman was leaving the parking garage as I was hunting, and so I got a parking space on the top level of the garage, no more than fifty feet from the elevator. Very nice parking. I saw her walking towards the cars, and I said, “Where are you heading?” She pointed to the car, and I positioned myself to get into place. She pulls her car out, and mine goes in.

Then from there, I did my usual Rosslyn thing, and then went back into the Metro right around noon or so.

Meanwhile, in DC, the fun began, as air controllers noticed a small Cessna plane flying into restricted air space over the White House and such. This led to evacuations of the Capitol, the White House, the Supreme Court, and a few other government buildings.

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A proposed new high-rise in Rosslyn, making a dramatic new skyline, and eliminating a frightfully ugly building… and right next to my Rosslyn hangout!

April 14, 2005, 12:40 AM

In the April 13, 2005 issue of the Washington Post, I found this article about a new high-rise proposed for Rosslyn. This high-rise is significant because it would rise to 484 feet, which is an unknown height for Rosslyn. Currently, the tallest towers in Rosslyn top out at around 300 feet. So this one would certainly be a head above the rest. The proposed location, based on artists’ conceptions, places the building right next to Rosslyn Center.

Here’s an artists’ conception as seen in Thursday’s Washington Post:

Proposed building in Rosslyn at 1812 North Moore Street

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Categories: Arlington

Stand to the right!

April 11, 2005, 11:55 PM

Interestingly enough, a post made on Metroriders made me think about something that I noticed when Katie and I went to Lynchburg and Roanoke last Wednesday.

First of all, the post is here.

Now… so you know the background information, the unwritten rule of etiquette on Metro escalators is to stand to the right, and walk to the left. Tourists in DC are the biggest violators of this bit of Metro etiquette, though we will cut them a little (very little) bit of slack for being from out of town and not knowing DC Metro etiquette. But if you ride Metro, if you’re just riding the escalators, stand on the right side so that those walking the escalators can pass you.

I realized that I had internalized the unwritten “stand to the right” rule when Katie and I were at Valley View Mall in Roanoke. Valley View Mall is a two-story mall, and several sets of escalators link the two levels. I got on the escalator first, and immediately found the right side of the escalator without even thinking about it. Katie, on the other hand, kind of stood wherever. She’s never ridden the Metro before, so she’s never needed to put “stand to the right” into practice. Still, when I saw Katie standing in the middle-to-left part of the escalator, I encouraged her to stand to the right because that’s what you’re supposed to do on the escalator. Then I realized where I was. I wasn’t in Washington. I was in Roanoke, and more than 300 miles from a Metro station.

Still, I stood to the right nonetheless. It made me feel better.

And remember – if ever you go to Washington DC, stand to the right and walk to the left on the escalators, or you’ll leave some very aggravated Metro riders in your wake.

Categories: Katie, Roanoke, WMATA