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I don’t know what happened, but it definitely looked unpleasant

June 12, 2004, 11:59 PM

On my way back from Charlottesville, where I spent the day today (somehow I got a Saturday off without asking for it – go figure), on US 340 right before the intersection of 340 and 608, I had to slow down considerably. It was the only smart thing to do considering that there were northbound cars traveling in the left southbound lane. I’m like, what in the heck and slowed down and got in the right lane. Once I got closer, it all made some sense. First thing I saw was lots of shattered glass strewn across four of the five lanes of US 340 right where Stuart Avenue meets 340. I looked left, and I see two cars in some poor innocent person’s front yard at a weird angle. Looks like they didn’t go there on purpose. Some other cars were parked nearby. Then there was a guy putting out flares. I don’t know any details other than what I saw, and don’t know how bad the damage was or whether anyone was hurt or not. But I can tell you this. It definitely doesn’t look pleasant.

Otherwise, I had fun in Charlottesville. First, though, I got the Previa’s front end aligned at Eavers Tire in Stuarts Draft. That was related to the blowout I had two weeks ago. While I was waiting, I worked on my phone some, downloading a new version of Mobile IM (remember that my AIM screen name on my phone is Schumin Wireless), plus downloaded Tetris and Ms. Pac Man onto my phone.

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It seems that carbohydrates have become the new fat…

June 11, 2004, 1:24 AM

After having just seen two commercials in a row about low-carbohydrate foods, I have to believe that we’ve officially gone off the deep end.

The first commercial was for Special K, which acted as though people were just crushed to death, showing people sitting on the ground with their head buried in their knees and crying if that tells you anything, about not being able to use their cereal bowl due to their low-carbohydrate diet. That’s why this new version of Special K is supposedly so great, because it’s only nine net carbohydrates per serving.

The other commercial was for CarbWell salad dressing, which promotes having no carbohydrates. Not nearly as bad as the first, but still pretty bad…

I’m just amazed, really. I grew up with something else, and it wasn’t long ago when it was the case that fat was the enemy. We counted our fat grams, and counted our calories. And food manufacturers announced how low in calories they were and how low in fat they were.

Now it’s carbohydrates. Sugars. All of a sudden, fat and calories are left by the wayside. The key to slimmer thighs is to lose the sugars now! The way it’s come around, it seems like a huge national fad.

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“WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS!”

June 8, 2004, 2:04 AM

It’s been a few days since I last posted, and so I thought I’d fill you in on what’s happened in my life.

Biggest event was on June 5, where I attended an International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) protest in Washington DC. That was FUN. We went from Lafayette Park in front of the White House to Donald Rumsfeld’s house at 2206 Kalorama Road NW. To get there we left Lafayette Park and took H Street to 14th Street. From there we went several blocks up to U Street, where we caught Florida Avenue to Connecticut Avenue, and finally to Kalorama Road.

I ended up connecting with a group of relative strangers from Chicago who drove a long way to come to this event. It was a very diverse group, too. One of the women had their hair colored purple. Another carried a bucket being used as a makeshift drum. Another was dressed for the weather (cool and wet) and were ready to follow the protest. The two men in the group appeared to be my age or slightly older, and were dressed for a Black Bloc, wearing all black and masks over their faces. Considering that I came to the protest alone, I was very pleased about how well this group from Chicago that I never met before and will probably never meet again accepted and welcomed me into their group. Very friendly folks. Me from two hours away, and them from half a continent away.

Chants at this protest ranged from “Occupation is a crime from Iraq to Palestine”, “Ain’t no power like the power of the people ’cause the power of the people won’t stop!”, chants about Mumia Al-Jamal (Free Mumia), “Whose streets? Our streets!” and others I can’t remember off the top of my head.

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“Arlington Cemetery station is closed! Please get back onto the train and go to the next station!”

May 31, 2004, 9:36 PM

Well… my birthday trip to Washington DC that I took a day early (my birthday is the 30th, and I went on the 29th) went very well. A friend of mine actually put it this way…

Um, do you realize what is going on in DC this weekend? I’d leave Transit Deprived Town in the Middle of Nowhere, VA now if you want parking at Vienna come Saturday morning.

I do not take offense to “Transit Deprived Town in Middle of Nowhere, VA”. I am both transit-deprived locally, and also in the middle of nowhere. And Staunton’s trolley-bus system, the closest thing to transit around here, doesn’t even follow a schedule, but rather, they just say that they run a 20-minute loop, and so a trolley-bus should be there about every 20 minutes or so when service is running. They do call their two services “Green Line” and “Red Line”, which amuses me, though.

But anyway, though, the main concern in the comment was that DC was supposed to be swamped with tourists for the World War II Memorial dedication, which I was already aware about. The concern, of course, was that I would not be able to get parking at Vienna. Hadn’t planned for that, but after thinking about it, I determined that if I didn’t get parking at Vienna, I would head over to Franconia-Springfield on the Blue Line and park over there.

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“I am thunder and nothing can happen till I bellow, and I rumble, and wake everybody with my roar!”

May 27, 2004, 9:32 PM

After Tuesday’s disaster, I went to Covington for a soak in Lake Moomaw on Wednesday. At least that was my intention. Let me tell you what happened.

I got all the way down to Lake Moomaw and parked and all that at the swimming beach. Changed into my swimsuit, and got into the lake. Fast forward about ten minutes. Thunder! Lots of it. And lightning. Regardless, it’s enough to send me to shore, and seeking some cover, and in a place that is designed for outdoor recreation, there’s some cover, but not a lot.

So I had to find something to do until the storm passed. Going back to Covington, the nearest town, was not really feasible, as Lake Moomaw is a ways from Covington. So I basically hung around. I drove back to the dam for a little while. I drove up to the picnic shelters. I sat in the car and pondered my thoughts. I walked a few times around the bath house.

Meanwhile, it was doing just about everything outside. Rain. Lots of it. Wind. Lots of it. Thunder. Lots of it. Lightning. Amazing amounts of it. I’d never seen lightning like this. It was like a strobe light the way it flashed. Filled up the whole sky (this was during the day, by the way), and really lit up everything.

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Categories: Lake Moomaw, Weather

Strange group of people with weed eaters in the neighborhood…

May 25, 2004, 9:20 PM

Yes, Sis and I encountered a strange group of people across the street from the house today. They were using weed eaters to weed-eat the area around the creek that runs near our house. Still, we were trying to figure out what this group was. Most of the people were wearing blue pants with a red stripe down the leg. These same people also wore bright orange T-shirts, the official don’t-run-me-down color.

Then there was also a person there in a blue work shirt, and a uniformed officer from somewhere. I couldn’t make out the uniform, and I wasn’t going to break out the binoculars.

We figured it was likely that these people were inmates of somewhere, considering the bright orange shirts plus the uniformed officer. But then I thought that the sign of inmates was the that the guy supervising was always very obviously holding a large shotgun. Plus, think of the children! This is a residential neighborhood, and I didn’t think they could use inmates in a residential neighborhood.

Still, it was definitely an odd sight seeing all these people running weed eaters at once.

Categories: Stuarts Draft

Let me tell you about Lake Moomaw…

May 21, 2004, 2:25 AM

What a wonderful day on Wednesday! I admittedly got a late start, not leaving for Covington until 1 PM. But I still had fun. Stopped at Wal-Mart in Covington to grab some cheap flip-flop sandals (palm tree print!) and some sunscreen, and then went off to the lake.

I found the swimming beach, and the little bath house next to it, and changed into my suit, and went to soak for a while. It was fun. Very cool and refreshing. Very quiet, with the Interstate and the city of Covington far away. It’s really a great place to let your mind just go. Way out in the mountains, where you can just let your mind relax. I do love Lake Moomaw. I need to go out there again some time.

Meanwhile, the Covington Wal-Mart is amusing. I think it’s perhaps the smallest Wal-Mart Supercenter I’ve ever seen. It’s also what I’d describe as a “transitional” store. On the outside, it looks like the older-style Supercenters, like Staunton. But on the inside, it’s just like the Dayton Wal-Mart, which is a newer-style Supercenter (the ones with “Always” over the entrances). But it’s painted gray inside like the older Supercenters. It’s also amusing about the signage. You know how practically every Wal-Mart says “Thank you for choosing your (city name) Wal-Mart”? Well, in Covington, over the Grocery entrance, it says, “Thank you for choosing your Covington Wal-Mart” (right over the doors, mind you, vs. over the cart area). Over the General Merchandise entrance, there’s nothing at all. My semi-humorous interpretation is, thanks for shopping at Wal-Mart if you’re buying groceries, but if you’re not, thanks for nothing. We realize that this is probably an omission rather than something done intentionally, but it’s amusing.

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What a rube…

April 18, 2004, 9:13 AM

I love using words that have generally fallen out of use sometimes, and rube is a favorite of mine.

And I certainly did run into quite a rube today after work. I went up to the Blue Ridge Parkway after work to kind of gather my thoughts and such on one of the overlooks. It’s nice up there. It’s dark, it’s peaceful, and it’s quiet.

Then this fellow showed up at the overlook. God knows how many tattoos this guy had, plus he’s driving an old beat-up Ford Bronco (big thing). And he’s got the radio cranked up loud. He parks his car at my overlook. That radio is still turned up loud.

What a rube. How unsophisticated could he be? We came up to the parkway in part for the quiet! You could just tell by how flamboyant tattoo-man was with his music that he wouldn’t understand the idea of turning it down, so that unfortunately was the end of my night on the parkway, since his music was that much of a disturbance. A shame, indeed.

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And a “Happy New Year” to you, too.

January 1, 2004, 1:06 AM

It’s 2004! That’s a frightening thought.

I spent my New Year’s up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, taking an hour or so to myself in the quiet. This is the first time in at least twelve years that I did NOT do like most people do – sitting and watching the TV, watching the ball drop at Times Square. Instead, I spent the time deep in thought, allowing my mind to completely release itself with a view of the Shenandoah Valley below.

And you could tell exactly when the ball dropped anyway, based on what happened in the valley below. From my vantage point on an overlook in the mountains, I saw a bunch of fireworks going off all across the valley. All kinds of illegal (in Virginia) fireworks blasting high up in the air, to ring in the new year. And that’s another thing – they really did appear small from my vantage point. Sure, they probably seemed huge from below, but since I was above the people’s fireworks looking down on them, they really seemed kind of diminutive.

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This time, I met all my goals without any problems…

December 29, 2003, 3:46 AM

I went down to Roanoke on Sunday to take the new tripod out for a spin and get accustomed to how it operates. I consider the mission a success.

I also didn’t have anyone call the police on me this time thinking I was a peeper or something. Of course, my location was different. Still all public places, but this time, the park was different, being up on top of a mountain (I visited Mill Mountain Park again). I also photographed some of downtown Roanoke at night after the park.

I also was recognized from the Web site by a Taco Bell employee at a combination Taco Bell/Pizza Hut restaurant on US 220 in the same shopping center as a Wal-Mart. I thought that was rather interesting, if I do say so myself.

So all in all, that went well. Will I make a photo set out of it? I don’t know yet. I’ll have to let the images “cook” in my mind before I’ll know for sure.

I also lost a headlight on my trip, as my drivers-side headlight bulb burned out at some point. This is when we’re glad that my father is a “car guy”, as he knows what he’s doing. And a bulb is probably cheap. Compare this to me, where I can stare at it like an idiot all day, and then get bored and more likely break it before ever doing anything like fixing it.

And so that’s my day… all told, I’d mark it off as a success.

Categories: Roanoke

“That’s not a telescope!”

December 28, 2003, 1:40 AM

It’s amusing what happens when you try to take photos sometimes. Let me explain what I mean…

For Christmas, I got a new, heavy-duty tripod, that is MUCH better than my old one. It’s taller, has more features, and a lot of other things that I haven’t figured out how to best use yet.

So on Christmas night (the night of December 25), I took the tripod for a spin to try it out. I went over the mountain to Charlottesville, where I headed to McIntire Park (where I’ve previously photographed on a few other occasions). I chose McIntire Park because it was relatively safe, open until 10 PM based on signage, and a public park (meaning public property).

So I have Big Mavica hooked up to the tripod and I’m doing my thing. A Jeep comes into the park, parks in the lot, powers off, sits for a few minutes, then starts up again and leaves.

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I saw a falling star tonight

December 2, 2003, 12:29 AM

After work I went up on the Blue Ridge Parkway to kind of have a moment to myself, which I’ve found to be a great way to unwind after work, and I saw a falling star (actually a meteor) right ahead of me. It made a lovely streak over rural Nelson and Albemarle Counties, and was a greenish color as it appeared to fall straight down from my vantage point on Afton Mountain.

After the meteor burned up in our atmosphere, as most tend to do, someone else drove up to the overlook where I was standing and commented on how neat it was. I agreed, and he said that maybe we’d see another one.

I didn’t see another one in my time up on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I did get to spend a great hour to myself up there on the Parkway, in the quiet, in the dark, just kind of taking a moment to let my mind wander as I reflect on whatever I want to reflect on, think about whatever I want to think about, and basically just relax as I look up at the stars above and down on the valley below. Very nice, very calming.

Categories: Blue Ridge Parkway

“And if you can hear the wind, you should be able to feel it! Wa-haa!”

October 15, 2003, 8:32 AM

What a windy day out today! It hasn’t been this windy since Hurricane Isabel. However, it’s not nearly that windy. According to Weatherbug, winds are about 20-30 MPH, with gusts up to 50 MPH. Nothing to sneeze at nonetheless. You can definitely hear it outside. Who knows… maybe I’ll lose my other screen now. I lost the first one during Hurricane Isabel, and it’s now in the garage awaiting reinstallation.

Otherwise, tomorrow I’m going to Pittsburgh! I’m going with LPCM, and we’re going to be cleaning rugs at Sojourner House, which is basically a halfway house for mothers who are recovering from drug addictions.

And lastly, I’ve hung an image that my father grew up with on my door. Basically, I hung up a picture of the Palace Amusements character “Tillie” (named for George Tilyou), which graces one side of Palace Amusements in Asbury Park, New Jersey. I’ve actually been to Asbury Park, but was too young to remember seeing Tillie in person. But the reason I hung Tillie up in here is because I’ve been studying vintage roadside architecture lately, and Palace Amusements ranks high up there, but has suffered tremendous decay since they closed in the late 1980s. There’s now a group trying to save the place and have it restored. Plus I think it would be a pleasant surprise for Dad to see Tillie again.

(Although if I had a better ink cartridge, maybe Tillie would look more normal instead of having purple hair due to my lack of yellow ink)

Categories: Asbury Park, LPCM, Weather