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And then we visited Winchester…

July 8, 2013, 11:50 PM

So in our last episode, I was discussing a trip that my friend Pete and I made to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and to Winchester, Virginia on July 4.  I got as far as the end of Harpers Ferry, when I realized that the Journal entry was running quite long, so I cut it off and promised to continue at a later time.  And now for part two.

Leaving Harpers Ferry, we soon came to Charles Town (not to be confused with Charleston, the state capital).  For those not familiar, Charles Town is the place where people in Harpers Ferry go to go grocery shopping.  For out of town folks, it’s also the home of the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.  I’ve never been gambling before, but it might be fun to do one time.  But in this case, Pete and only stopped for lunch, and then it was at a Martin’s grocery store, where we each got salad.  Funny how you can get pretty decent food on the go from grocery stores these days.  But we did just fine at Martin’s.  They had a decent-sized salad bar, and there was also an eating area.  All in all, not bad.

Then from there, we continued along to Winchester.  That took us on Route 340 to its intersection with Route 7, and then we took Route 7 the rest of the way into Winchester.  When I first made a close pass to Winchester some time in the 1990s, I was a little bit underwhelmed by the size of the town.  Understand that Winchester is listed as a control city for I-81 for quite some ways – more than 100 miles when traveling northbound.  In my experience up to that time, I had only seen bigger cities as control cities for highways, like Little Rock or Richmond.  Thus I figured that Winchester was a really big city.  Surprise: Winchester is, while by no means tiny, also not a big city by most measures.  It’s comparable in population to Staunton.

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Here’s a tip for you: don’t go hiking in flip-flops.

July 7, 2013, 11:58 PM

First of all, I hope everyone had a lovely July 4.  I know I did.  I got together with my friend Pete (whom you may remember from the Confirmation Demonstration and White House to Quantico photo sets), and we went on something of a road trip.  We both figured that with living in the Washington DC area, and considering how July 4 is in DC, that was a good day to get out of town.

So we decided to go on a trip to Harpers Ferry and Winchester.  Prior to this trip, I had only been to Harpers Ferry by train, and then only passing through.  As far as Winchester went, I had only been to Winchester once prior, and that consisted of driving around at night trying to find the downtown area, and a stop at the Apple Blossom Mall and the local Walmart.  So this was going to be fun.

I met up with Pete at Glenmont Metro, and then we were off.  To get from the Aspen Hill area where I live to Harpers Ferry, you drive up I-270 to Frederick, and then from there, you take I-70 for about a mile, and then take US 340 (yes, that 340) the rest of the way to Harpers Ferry.  The drive is beautiful.  The first bit of beauty is just outside Frederick, where there is a “Scenic View” wayside on 270.  We wouldn’t ordinarily have stopped there, except that was a good place to stop and put the phone into GPS mode for the remainder of the distance to Harpers Ferry, since we were both kind of fuzzy on the exact way to get there.  While we were stopped, I got a few photos of the area:

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One of my worst bowling performances ever?

June 20, 2013, 6:22 PM

So I finally got around to posting the videos of when my friend Matthew and I went bowling on March 3.  It’s only what, three months late, but, hey.  Matthew and I went to Bowl America in Dranesville (Reston/Sterling area), and we did two games of ten-pin bowling.  Matthew was feeling a little camera shy on this particular occasion (it happens), but he was more than happy to film me hamming it up for the camera.

Take a look:


Welcome to bowling, and, in my own words, I can throw gutter balls like a pro.

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Nothing like a relaxing day on the river…

June 9, 2013, 10:08 PM

A week ago, my friend Melissa and I went down to Luray to go tubing on the Shenandoah River.  This was the same place I went in 2009 with my coworkers, documented in the Tubing the Shenandoah River set in Life and Times.  This time, it was just the two of us, and we had a blast.

It was apparently a slow day at Shenandoah River Outfitters, as there were only nine people going tubing.  There was a group of five girls, then there was Melissa and me, and then another two people.  But then again, June 2 is fairly early in the season, so it’s okay.  It wasn’t amazingly hot out, and the day was mostly overcast.  That made the water feel a little cold getting in, but that cold feeling only lasted a few minutes, until we got used to the temperature.

Once we got over to the dropoff site at mile 16, we got photos.  First, the group of five wanted us to get photos of them with their phone.  Once we got that, we got the same shot with my camera, Duckie:

The group of five, with their tubes arranged in a star pattern.

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So I finally have an outfit for running…

February 26, 2013, 12:17 AM

At last, I have an outfit to go running in.  Check it out:

New running/jogging outfit!  Just the epitome of fashion, aren't I?

So there you have it, I suppose.  For around half the cost of a pair of compression tights at Sports Authority, I am outfitted.  I got this snazzy pair of jogging tights at TJ Maxx for $15, and then I got the wicking shirt at Target for $20.  Not bad, if you ask me.  And, it all holds my stomach in place quite well.

And yes, I will wear shoes when I actually use this outfit for exercising.  I was trying it on for the camera at home in this case, and so, yeah, I didn’t bother to put on shoes for the photo.

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Trying some new training activities in the pool this week…

February 13, 2013, 11:01 PM

So life at the pool has been interesting lately.  Interesting in a good way, though.  I’ve gotten into a nice routine at the pool.  I know who’s in on which days, we’ve all gotten to know each other, and life is good like that.  And we all laugh about when we accidentally run into/hit each other in the lanes, or other odd strikes like the one time when I accidentally whacked one of the ladies in the aqua aerobics class in the butt as I was going by doing backstroke (embarrassing!) or today, where one of the kids in the swim class in the lane next to me accidentally kicked me in the funnybone (yes, in the elbow – very odd feeling).

And I know how my swimming jives with the others’ swimming, i.e. faster, slower, about the same, etc.  I most enjoy swimming with people that swim at a similar speed to me, or are faster than me.  With slower folks, when we’re swimming three or more in a lane, passing gets old after a while.  Folks I swim about the same speed as are folks that I know I’m not going to run into, and then faster folks are a challenge!  See, when I have a faster swimmer in the lane with me, I try to keep up with them.  I am up to that challenge, though my success varies.  Lately, there has been a small group of 17-year-old girls that come on Monday nights.  They also swim competitively, and so they go really fast.  If I can, I try to get a lane with them.  My goal is to see how long I can stay in front of them.  And I push myself to stay in that spot.  They usually pass me a few times over the course of a workout, but seeing how long I can stay ahead of them before the inevitable occurs is the challenge.  And with the goal of my swims’ being to get physical activity, push myself, and keep things interesting for me, their speed provides me with a good workout and also is something to aspire to.  I would love to be that fast one day.  Will it happen?  We’ll see, I suppose.

This past Monday, they were doing “dolphin drills”.  As I understand it, a dolphin drill is a training technique for improving one’s performance in doing the butterfly.  I don’t have any particular interest in swimming the butterfly, but the training technique intrigues me.  I observed the process in action and then discussed it with them, and got something of a handle on the process.  What you do for a dolphin drill, in a nutshell, is go down to the bottom, push off the bottom, come up, do butterfly arms, and then repeat.  In other words, this:

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Categories: Swimming

How to stop the bounce…

February 4, 2013, 10:54 PM

Remember back in September when I walked over to get that haircut and then ran back?  I realized one thing after that exercise: I could run now.  And I could cover some pretty good distance, too!  I am, as they say, in pretty decent shape now.  A far cry from the little butterball that I was two years ago.  I’m also more than 100 pounds smaller than I was two years ago.

When I ran home, I was giving running a spin to see how I liked it.  And I did like it.  However, one thing has kept me from doing it again since then: the bouncing of a certain part of the body (not that part – nor that one).  The problem is my stomach.  My stomach has hung over a little bit for a very long time.  I don’t remember when it started, but it has.  It never hung that low, even though it hangs less than before.  But it still hangs over.  However, despite having lost around 30% of my original body weight in the last two years, the “spare tire” hasn’t gone away.  And when I run, it really starts bouncing around.  And I hate that.  I don’t like that it’s there, and I hate it even more than it bounces around like it does, since it makes a smacking sound as it moves.  I realize that this is probably going into “oversharing” territory here, but you know, I don’t think I’m that special here.  I’m sure that other people have had a similar problem.  Thus I discuss this in the hopes that someone else will leave a comment below (hint hint) and explain what they did in this same situation.  All I can find is information about pregnant women’s stomachs bouncing, and there are two problems with that: I’m not pregnant, and I think I can safely say that I never will be.  There is no baby inside of me.  Just excess body fat.  Then if I use the term “spare tire” to describe it, I get car articles.  Big help.  Not.

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New fins means new things to try in the pool…

December 3, 2012, 11:40 PM

Look what came today:

New swim fins!

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Categories: Swimming

A whole bunch of bowling videos…

October 22, 2012, 10:09 PM

I realized tonight that I had never shown you some funny bowling videos that my friend Matthew and I had made a while back.  Matthew and I will, as I’ve demonstrated before, go bowling from time to time.  We always have a lot of fun, but considering that Matthew is a far better bowler than I am, the object of the game for me is to see how close I can come to matching his score.  I’ve discussed our first time doing ten-pin together and our first time doing duckpins together before, but I never showed you our second run of each style.

Now on the first time for each, I wasn’t sure how the various bowling alley operators viewed photography, plus I was concentrating a bit more on what I was doing.  After all, I had not done ten-pin in seven years before our first time bowling together in 2009, and then neither one of us had ever done duckpins before when we did that in August 2009.  Now, I have come to realize that the operators of these bowling alleys really don’t care if you’re taking videos and stills of yourself (plus I’m just using my phone here rather than my real camera), plus I’ve gotten a bit more comfortable with the whole bowling thing overall.  Additionally, there’s a certain fun part of acting in front of the camera in these sorts of situations.  After all, there’s a certain bit of structure to these things, because you know the general idea of the afternoon, i.e. throw the ball and knock down some pins.  But how one gets from A to B is where the fun comes in.

This first bunch of videos was from December 3, 2011, when Matthew and I were doing ten-pin at Bowl America in Reston.

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“I’ve gotta get up and move around!”

September 17, 2012, 10:42 PM

I think this describes this past Saturday quite well:

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Categories: Music, Recreation/Exercise

Taking the swimming outside for a week…

August 16, 2012, 10:52 PM

So this week and next week are when Olney Indoor Swim Center, the place where I normally swim four days a week, is closed for its annual maintenance.  During that time, as I understand it, they drain the pool and acid clean the pool sides, do maintenance on whatever systems, change any lights that need replacement, deep clean the entire building, and then fill the pools back up.  I’m told it takes four days to properly drain the main pool so as not to overload the wastewater system by letting too much water come through at once.

In the meantime, I am continuing to swim.  This year, I know what I’m doing in the pool, and so the annual maintenance period does not coincide with a nasty case of swimmer’s ear.  Last year, you see, the where-to-swim problem resolved itself with the whole ear infection thing, since that kept me out of the pool entirely for that time.  This year, I decided I wanted to try an outdoor pool.  I’ve been to the other county indoor pools, and each of them had various qualities that made me pick an outdoor pool over them.  MLK Swim Center is really old and closes kind of early.  Montgomery Aquatic Center (pardon – “Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center”) is of reasonable distance away, but the staff there really gets on my nerves because they’re so uptight about everything and act like they’re doing me a favor for stuff that the staff at the other pools would do without all the whining.  That and aside from late night laps (i.e. 9-10 PM) on Mondays and Wednesdays, the pool is so booked up with other programs that there is no room for evening lap swimming anyway.  Now Germantown Indoor Swim Center is a gorgeous facility, which I’ve been to once before.  I love Germantown indoor pool, but Germantown is just too far away, being in the northern part of Montgomery County and all of that.  It’s a bit of a hike from my house, and if I left right from work, that would be double the distance and in rush hour traffic to boot.

So with that all said, I decided to give an outdoor pool a spin while Olney was closed.

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Categories: Swimming

The world’s loudest swim jammer…

June 14, 2012, 11:08 PM

I believe that I have found the world’s loudest swim jammer.  Take a look at this:

My Dolfin Winners jammer in "Firefly Blue"

Oh, yeah.  I’ve been going swimming in this suit all week.  Dolfin Winners, “Firefly Blue“.  The way I figure, swimming ought to be fun.  And companies like Speedo and Tyr will make exciting suits for women, but the equivalent jammer suits for men are decidedly blah.

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Categories: Clothing, Swimming

Day tripping it to Stuarts Draft…

May 29, 2012, 8:46 PM

I certainly had fun on Monday!  I went with Isis and Cubby to Stuarts Draft and surrounding areas.  First I picked them up, and then we headed down to Augusta County, Virginia.

Our first stop was the old DeJarnette Center in Staunton.  For those not familiar, DeJarnette Center was constructed in 1932 as a privately funded mental institution named for Dr. Joseph DeJarnette.  The facility became a state-operated children’s mental institution in 1975, and was abandoned in 1996 when the DeJarnette Center moved to a new facility across Route 250 from the original.  The facility was renamed the “Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents” in 2001 due to Joseph DeJarnette’s strong support of eugenics.  The facility was boarded up in 2009.

On our visit, we stopped the car nearby, and then took a walk around the outside of the building.  We didn’t go inside for a few reasons.  First, due to the board-up, there was no light inside.  Second, asbestos.  And lastly, snakes.  I’m told that the building is infested with snakes on all levels of the building.  And snakes creep me out.  Speaking of snakes, while walking around the grounds, we found a snake, laying on the ground partly in our path as we walked behind the building.  It was a long black snake.  It wasn’t interested in us, but still, snakes creep me out, especially so when Cubby indicated that it could either be a black king snake (not poisonous), or a cottonmouth (very poisonous).  In any case, I didn’t really want to find out for sure which one it was.

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Car shopping, and getting in shape!

November 8, 2011, 11:55 PM

It’s a Video Journal! Enjoy:

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And tomorrow, I’ll be treated to a lovely view of Virginia from the inside of an Amfleet coach…

September 20, 2011, 10:57 PM

Indeed, tomorrow is going to be fun. I’m going down to Stuarts Draft to visit the family, and unlike every past trip I’ve ever made between DC and Stuarts Draft, I’m doing it via public transportation. Specifically, I’m taking the Cardinal, Amtrak train 51. Since it’s only a four-hour train trip, I’m going in coach. That will be a new experience, because aside from like ten minutes in coach on the Capitol Limited in 2007, I’ve always traveled in a class higher than coach, being in the sleepers on the Capitol Limited, and then traveling business class on the Acela and the Downeaster (though it should be noted that the Acela does not have a coachclass section – business class is the lowest class of service).

The reason I’m taking the train is because I will be hosting a visitor as soon as I get back to DC. Specifically, Mom! The reason it worked out like this is because of a perfect storm of events. Sis and Chris are going to be in Virginia to attend a wedding in Blacksburg, stopping by to say hello and have lunch with all of us on Thursday. And of course, I just won’t pass up a chance to see my sister and my brother-in-law, since they live so far away and I don’t get to see them often. Then there’s the National Book Festival in DC, which Mom has attended for a number of years. So because of the timing, it seemed silly to drive down to Stuarts Draft in the Sable, and then take two cars back to DC. So the Sable is staying in Maryland (and it’s likely already parked where it’s going to stay for about four days), and Mom’s Scion is making the trip up and back. But we’re going to be leaving at 4 AM – yecch. I’m not going to the Book Festival, though. I’m just going home. So while Mom’s out meeting authors, I’m going home and taking a nap, getting the rest of the sleep I won’t be able to get on Friday night.

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