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“Oh, it’s terrible! The King has been transformed! Please find the Magic Wand so we can change him back.”

November 27, 2010, 4:31 PM

First of all, I admit – the title doesn’t mean much in relation to this entry, except that it perhaps reflects that I’ve been playing too much Super Mario Bros. 3 on my Super Nintendo lately. Regardless, this Journal entry has been a long time in coming, since this is about a trip I took to Stuarts Draft two weeks ago. All I have to say is, hey, I’ve been busy. But it’s also somewhat fitting that I post this entry this weekend, since this was “Thanksgiving” with the parents a couple of weeks ahead of the holiday. Traffic is a real pain, you see, and this obviates the need to mess with it. Have you ever driven US 29 in Virginia on Thanksgiving weekend? It’s no walk in the park.

On Friday the 12th, after driving perhaps a shade too fast the whole way down, I arrived at Stuarts Draft Middle School. After all, Mom was there, and I hadn’t seen her new classroom yet. Mom was recently switched from sixth to eighth grade, and so she moved rooms as a result, from Room 24 to Room 1. And here it is:

Mom's new classroom, Room 1

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Make a happy face out of cooking oil, and then light ‘er up!

November 13, 2010, 9:02 PM

Tonight’s dinner experience was certainly a bit more exciting than most when eating out. I went with my parents to Massaki, a Japanese steakhouse and sushi bar in Staunton. That was a cool experience.

See, Massaki is one of those places where they cook the food right in front of you, and put extra emphasis on showmanship. And the food was good, for that matter. But yeah, they put the whole cooking thing on display. First the server takes your drink order, and then after they bring you the drinks, they take your order. The soup comes out, the salad comes out, and then while you’re eating the salad, the chef comes out.

The chef came out with a little cart containing all the raw ingredients for the table. I had the swordfish and mahi mahi, others had a chicken dish, and someone else had steak. First thing the chef did was get started. After doing a little thing with his spatula, he made a happy face on the grill out of cooking oil, and then lit that sucker on fire. Big flame-up right there (and you can feel the heat from the individual flame-ups several tables away). Then he put the rice down, and got to work chopping up the vegetables. Then he did the side dishes. Dad and I had chicken livers, and Mom had sauteed mushrooms. The chef made a big to-do of the cooking, that’s for sure. It was quite fun to watch, as he placed this sauce on this, and this on that, and moved stuff around and flipped stuff.

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“And every Friday, he calls me a bastard!”

July 9, 2010, 9:23 AM

And he will again, because… it’s Friday, ya bastards!

Of course, yesterday is what really felt like Friday for me, because I took the day off today. See, I’m going down to Stuarts Draft today, because then on Saturday, Mom and I are going to Buena Vista for my friend Patrick Jarrett’s wedding. Pretty cool, if you ask me. I’ve known Patrick for around ten years, and I’m really excited and happy for him that he’s getting married. And of all the places for Anna (his bride) to be from, she’s from Stuarts Draft! How cool is that.

Of course, that means I have to drive down, which I’m not particularly looking forward to. It’s just a dull drive is all. I try to alternate taking I-81 and US 29 down and back, and so since I took 29 down and 81 up last time, I’m taking 81 down and 29 back this time. So I get to deal with a sea of tractor-trailers early on this time, and then deal with traffic lights on the way back.

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Categories: Friends, Stuarts Draft

A fun time was had by all…

April 7, 2010, 9:06 PM

So I got back from Stuarts Draft last night, and all in all, it was a pretty good trip. First of all, on the way down, I visited my friend Bergit, who I first met at the National Equality March back in October. We had a good time, chatting it up, and visiting a few stores in Charlottesville’s Corner district. Perhaps the most amusing part of the whole trip was the discovery that UVA sold a Snuggie with their logo on it, which Bergit modeled for the camera:

Bergit models the UVA Snuggie

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See, don’t tell the allergies that it’s their season, because maybe they’ll forget and it will be too late then…

April 3, 2010, 10:10 PM

First of all, hello from my parents’ house in Stuarts Draft. This ought to be a fun weekend. I saw my friend Bergit in Charlottesville on the way down (that was a lot of fun), and then I’m spending tomorrow with the parents, then Monday I’m spending with Katie, and then Tuesday, back to DC.

The drive down here was kind of interesting. Usually I don’t hit traffic on a Saturday, but this time, the Beltway was awful. Almost as soon as we crossed into Virginia, pow. Slowed to a 10 mph crawl. Once I hit I-66, though, no problems, and except for some moderate congestion on US 29 through Gainesville, we were good. Smooth sailing right down 29 to Charlottesville. I noticed that they were expanding the Charlottesville Wal-Mart, and also noticed that an Exxon station at the corner of US 29 and Barracks Road had been demolished and seeded. Very strange seeing a vacant corner lot like that…

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“ZOID”?

December 30, 2009, 11:01 PM

Mom and I went to Roanoke today to get my outfit for Sis’s wedding that’s coming up in a few weeks. I’m the photographer, and we got a really cool black-on-black-on-black outfit for me. We got black dress pants, we got a black shirt, and the surprise: a black vest as well. Mom saw it and wanted to see it on me, and it actually looked pretty good. So we got it. Excellent. I’m covered for the wedding, and at less cost than renting a tux. Oh, and unlike the rest of the boys, I get to keep my new threads after the big “I do”. Plus I’ve got my Metrobus tie that Sis is letting me wear, and we’ve got it all covered.

Then afterwards, we went to Panera Bread for lunch, where the food was good, but a little pricey. Fun stuff, if you ask me. Then after that, we went over to Valley View Mall, mainly just to wander around for a bit. We spent most of our time in three stores.

First, we hit up Bath and Body Works, where Mom got various treatments to mask stinky air in the bathroom. There, they had these giant rubber duckies. I, of course couldn’t resist picking one up. I wondered if they were functional or for looks. So I squeezed it. It let out a squeak that just made my face light up. This was fun! Then I got Mom to take a photo of me with the duck. And here we are:

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Categories: Family, Mercury Sable, Roanoke

So it seems to be the case that the Waynesboro Wal-Mart is that special place where managers’ careers go to die…

November 27, 2009, 11:03 PM

So Katie and I had fun today, running around Staunton and Waynesboro doing part trolling and part shopping. After I picked Katie up, we first went over to troll the Waynesboro Wal-Mart, where we used to work. After saying hello to some of the people we used to work with, we also ran into the new store manager. The manager is now a guy named Nathan, and he looks like he should be wearing a pinstriped suit and a fedora rather than a Wal-Mart name badge. Seriously, he looked like a prohibition-era gangster.

So with Al Capone as the new manager, the question becomes, what happened to the previous manager, who was there when I was still there? Turns out that he is “no longer with the company”. In other words, he probably got canned, because when management types say that someone is no longer with the company and leave it at that, you know that someone’s career had a “fiery” end. Otherwise, if they left on good terms, people will generally say something like, “Bob left to take a new position at Company XYZ.” When I visited my ex-store not long after getting hired at my current job, I found out that the management at the store was saying that I was “no longer with the company”. I personally wish they would have just said that they fired me. Let’s be honest now, since I’m pretty open about it. Especially since in my case, they made stuff up and rammed it through a coaching process. Really ethical people over at Wal-Mart.

But anyway, that means that the Waynesboro Wal-Mart is three for three. Their current manager is number four, and the last three all did not leave the Waynesboro Wal-Mart with their Wal-Mart career intact. Thus the Waynesboro Wal-Mart seems to be the place where management careers go to die. No one’s career leaves there alive, it seems.

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The parking lot known as Interstate 66…

November 25, 2009, 10:07 PM

First of all, greetings from Stuarts Draft, where I’ve not been in six months. I’m here until Sunday, and left straight from work, which was interesting.

I tried something new this time around. I drove into work, worked a half day, and then left for Stuarts Draft straight from the office. For that, I took 16th Street from P Street to K Street, and then took K Street to I-66. Then I took 66 to the end, where I caught I-81 down to Staunton, and then from there, moseyed around a few back roads to Stuarts Draft and my parents’ house.

Driving into work and then leaving straight from work certainly has its ups and downs. On one hand, I can load up in the morning and then go, and not have to go back home to pick up the car, i.e. go north from the office back to Maryland just to immediately turn south again to go to Virginia. Then the drop-at-Vienna-the-night-before bit is a shade complicated. Recall that the drop-at-Vienna method involves positioning the car with most of the luggage in Virginia the night before, taking Metro and a bus back to Maryland, and then going to work like normal the next day. Then after work, take Metro to Vienna rather than Glenmont, grab the car, and zing off to Stuarts Draft. The idea there was to avoid the inside-the-beltway traffic by putting the car ahead of that and taking Metro to meet the car, but it’s just a bit too much trouble, and involves a lot of advance planning and coordination of what needs to be where. Plus it’s weird stashing the car and one’s luggage in another state for a night.

The whole idea is dealing with the traffic most effciently when there’s a workday involved. See, going into work precludes use of the Beltway for the trip out, since work is in Dupont Circle, near downtown Washington. One would think that it would have been less congested, but I-66 was slow all the way to Vienna. Seriously, I was on the phone with Mom part of the way, and was like, “I’m going eight miles per hour. Oh, wait, now ten. Wait… five.” Yeah, that slow. On the freeway. At least I had people on the phone, plus Randi Rhodes when I didn’t have anyone on the phone.

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I’ll bet no one realized that the headstone image was not randomly chosen…

November 13, 2009, 11:11 PM

This was the photo feature that I ran to coincide with Veterans’ Day:

Headstone of Jason Redifer

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Categories: Arlington, Holidays

Okay, I’m calling it – Staunton Mall is toast.

May 2, 2009, 1:36 PM

Okay, I’m calling it. Staunton Mall is a dying mall, if not already basically a dead mall. I was in there on Friday with Katie, and I believe there are now more empty locations than there are full ones. Steve and Barry’s, in an anchor spot, is gone. Books-A-Million is gone, in another large spot. KB Toys is gone, as part of the chain’s complete closure earlier this year. The former Piece Goods location has never been filled for any appreciable length of time since Piece Goods left. The old CVS/Pharmacy location is still empty after more than two years since CVS moved to a freestanding location nearby.

Additionally, Peebles, while open, is in deplorable shape, with visibly worn tiles, stained and worn carpet, and stained ceiling tiles. That location needs to be renovated badly, but I doubt that Stage Stores (which owns Peebles) will invest in it, considering that all they did when it changed to Peebles from Stone and Thomas was change the nameplate, change some interior signage, and wall in a gift-wrapping counter. Meanwhile, the Belk store in Staunton Mall has never been remodeled since I’ve been there, aside from changes related to when the store changed its nameplate from Leggett to Belk in 1997 or so. It, however, looks to be in better shape than Peebles, but partly because the lighting is somewhat darker in there, and thus it hides the aging. Still, it certainly says a lot about what a company thinks about certain locations when they don’t bother to ever remodel or update them, while remodeling and updating other locations, sometimes multiple times.

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Categories: Shopping, Staunton

GENTLEMEN!

April 12, 2009, 10:19 PM

No one expects the Inquisition. And this time, Anonymous, as part of Operation Inquisition, raided the Scientology “Mission” in Richmond, under the theme of “Operation GENTLEMEN”.

Richmond was a little different than most, because in Virginia, wearing a mask is illegal. Seriously – it’s a class 6 felony. Thus Anonymous went unmasked. That’s not to say, however, that people didn’t go to this raid completely out in the open. While some people didn’t care about being seen and photographed completely unmasked, others used fake facial hair to disguise themselves. One Anon wore a set of “Groucho glasses” with a fake nose and mustache, while the women used spirit gum to attach fake mustaches and goatees to their faces. And so here we are, raiding in Richmond:

Raiding in Richmond

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And once again, I’m on the receiving end of an Amtrak transaction, this time in Staunton, however…

December 31, 2008, 8:23 PM

Yay, Sis is here! Mom, Dad, and I met up with Chris’s mother, and we all went to greet Sis and her fiance Chris as they got off the train in Staunton. We took the Sable. They took the Cardinal from Chicago, and we were there to meet them. So we all got to the train station around 3 PM, and in came an Amtrak train. We thought it was us, but the conductor then announced that this train was going to Chicago, and thus not the train we were waiting for. So we went into the tiny little waiting room to wait. Interestingly enough, the Cardinal has to single-track through Staunton, as the station is only served by one track. Sis actually got caught up in the single-tracking, as they had to wait for the westbound Cardinal to clear the single-track area before they could proceed. Let me also comment that I will never take Union Station for granted again, since that station’s all nice and indoors and heated and has things to do while you wait. It was very cold and windy in Staunton today, and so waiting outside was not fun. And then waiting in the little waiting room is dull because there’s nothing to do. Just some benches.

Then Katie texted me. As it turns out, my cell phone’s text message chime, which is four bell rings (think the out-of-time bell on Wheel of Fortune), sounds exactly like the bell on the Amtrak trains when they make a station stop. Thus my text tone got everyone’s attention, thinking that the train had arrived. After it was brought to my attention that lots of people were reacting every time I got a text, I explained to everyone that it was my phone. But eventually, the eastbound Cardinal arrived.

First, a photo of the locomotive, for the railfan in me. I left without my real camera totally without thinking, unfortunately, and didn't realize it until too late.
First, a photo of the locomotive, for the railfan in me. I left without my real camera totally without thinking, unfortunately, and didn’t realize it until too late.

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Categories: Amtrak, Family, Staunton

Gas went down eighteen cents in three days?

November 26, 2008, 8:25 PM

Yes, it’s true! If you look about two Journal entries back, you’ll see that gas at the Martin’s in Waynesboro was $1.59 per gallon on Sunday. Now, three days later, on Wednesday, look:

Gas prices at Martin's, November 26, 2008

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So Katie and I had fun yesterday…

November 26, 2008, 5:23 PM

Katie and I went out and about in Staunton and Waynesboro yesterday, and we had fun. I can’t believe it had been three months since last I saw Katie, but indeed that was the case. But of course, that doesn’t mean we had any less fun.

First thing we did was go over to the nTelos store, since it was just about time to upgrade Katie’s cell phone, and so we were seeing what the scene looked like. I think Katie’s going to get a really good phone this time around – one with an on-board camera, and one that can do all of the cool things that cell phones can do nowadays. And I demonstrated the picture feature on one of the demo phones:

Katie at the nTelos store

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So maybe someone wants us to just believe that $4.00 per gallon was just a bad dream or something?

November 23, 2008, 7:50 PM

First of all, hello from my parents’ house in Stuarts Draft, where I’ll be for the better part of a week. I’ve set up a little Lappy workstation in the kitchen, which is where I write you today.

And with all the price speculation on oil having subsided with the economy in the dumper, look at these numbers:

Gas prices at Martin's in Waynesboro, November 23, 2008

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Categories: Afton Mountain, Gas prices