A different twist on a game we’re all familiar with makes for an interesting evening…

4 minute read

August 30, 2009, 11:25 AM

On Saturday, Matthew Tilley and I went duckpin bowling in College Park. You may recall that we have bowled together before, having played three games of ten-pin bowling (i.e. what most consider bowling) in July.

This was exciting, because neither one of us had done duckpin before, and the rules and the equipment are slightly different. First of all, the pins are shorter and squatter than ten-pin. Secondly, the ball is smaller and lighter, and without any finger holes. The play is different as well, as you roll three balls per frame, and the scoring is slightly different. It’s the same as ten-pin, with the exception of knocking down all ten pins on the third roll. If you knock down all the pins on the third roll, no bonus is awarded.

And one thing that neither one of us was used to was that this was a very low-tech operation. This was a totally manual game. There was no automatic scoring equipment, and you pressed buttons to operate the pinsetter. There were two buttons – one was to reset the pins, and another just to clear the pins that had been knocked down (“deadwood”). This was one of those do-your-best moments. On Matthew’s first frame, we didn’t realize that there was a “deadwood” button, and so we bowled that frame in something of candlepin style, not clearing the pins between shots. On my first frame, I figured that there had to be something to clear the downed pins, and so I wondered if the reset button would do that. So I rolled one shot, knocked down a few pins, and then pressed reset. That killed all the pins, and laid out a fresh set. Oops. Good thing I didn’t do too well on that roll, since I essentially forced a do-over. That’s when we discovered the “deadwood” button, and we were good to go. Now we knew what we were doing.

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So the fun in the water and the sun went quite well…

3 minute read

July 28, 2009, 7:54 PM

Let me tell you something… I had fun this past weekend, spending plenty of time outdoors and in the water. Saturday involved a tubing trip along the Shenandoah River with my coworkers, and then Sunday I went to Splashdown Waterpark with a few Anons. Not a bad time. And no horrible sunburn, either.

Saturday was an honest to goodness road trip, since we went out to Luray. And I managed to do just fine crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains at Thornton Gap. And then the water was awesome, though the river was a lot shallower than I expected. Previously, I had always gone tubing on the James River in Rockbridge County, and it was always at least four feet deep, if not mistaken. The Shenandoah River at its shallowest was less than a foot deep. Kinda hard for the tubes to go over, but somehow, we managed. And the water shoes problem was taken care of by my wearing my Crocs. They worked well enough, though I did manage to kick one off at one point. But thankfully, Crocs float, so I retrieved it with little difficulty.

Meanwhile, my coworkers amused me. Usually, when we go for drinks as coworkers, we get, you know, good beer. However, for the river, most of my coworkers had Pabst Blue Ribbon, which, if I’m not mistaken, is like one of the cheapest beers on the face of the Earth. So there you go, I suppose.

And then while on the river, we encountered a storm. That storm is actually what’s depicted in the photo feature right now. It seemed to come up from out of nowhere, as all of a sudden, we heard some very mild thunder and got significant wind and rain. Some people actually got out of the water briefly to ride it out, but most just continued on. After all, the storm would pass, and it did, and just in case more came up later, the best way to avoid it was to just finish the course. And so we did.

And just to give you an idea of how the wind and rain was, observe:

As you can see, the rain is coming down at a 55-degree angle due to the wind. Not the most fun, but it passed.

As you can see, the rain is coming down at a 55-degree angle due to the wind. Not the most fun, but it passed.

Then on the way home, we were treated to lots of lightning, as storms were brewing along Route 211. I took Meredith and Jorge back from the river, and we were witness to a good amount of it. The most memorable lightning was not long after we crossed Thornton Gap. Never before had I seen lightning go up. This lightning, which appeared yellow-orange in color, started at the ground, rose up to the clouds, and then spread outwards in the clouds. My reaction to the spectacle was unprintable, but it was quite a sight.

And we eventually made it back. Look for a Life and Times photo set a little later on that more completely documents the tubing trip.

Then Sunday, a few Anons and I got together for a trip to Splashdown Waterpark in Manassas. That was a lot of fun, as we hit every slide in the park at least once, spent plenty of time in the lazy river, and also swam around the pool. Splashdown is kind of unique as waterparks go for having, along with everything else, a conventional swimming pool. The reason can be traced back to the park’s history, though. See, Splashdown Waterpark started out as a conventional community pool. Then the facility was later expanded into a full waterpark. And I’m glad they did, because it’s nice to be able to hit up a good waterpark fairly nearby and not have to drive for hours and hours. And the price is quite nice for what you get.

And I came out unscathed, save for a very mild sunburn, and a little road rash from striking the bottom of the splash pool at the end of one of the water slides due to my losing the tube mid-slide. Basically, I fell off the tube on a hard curve, and decided that rather than fight to get back on the tube while sliding down at high speed, I’d just let go. Thus I went first, and the tube followed. And at the end of the slide, without the tube, I scraped the bottom of the pool with my elbow. That hurt, but it will heal.

So all in all, I had a fun weekend. Next weekend is a little calmer, though I am going railfanning on Metro with my friend Patrick on Sunday. That ought to be fun, since I don’t believe Patrick’s seen all that much of the system, and certainly hasn’t been to all the terminals yet, though I’m not sure yet what parts of the system we’ll cover.

First time bowling in almost seven years…

3 minute read

July 5, 2009, 9:38 AM

So I went bowling for the first time in seven years on Friday with Matthew Tilley at Bowl America in Sterling, and we had FUN. We each bowled three games. Matthew, who used to bowl in a bowling league, scored way better than me, but that wasn’t the point. The point was having fun.

However, “fun” required having the correct ball. I know I use a 16-pound bowling ball, but the fingering was wrong on the first ball I picked up, and after hitting zero pins my first two frames, I realized that I couldn’t be that bad – it had to be the ball. So it was back to the ball racks for me, and I found a different ball. With a different ball, my game greatly improved immediately. Thus it was the ball.

We also came up with fun train names to put into the scoring system. I was Breda 3287AC, and Matthew was Rohr 1299.

In playing the three games, you could tell that I was getting back into it slowly but surely. At the end of the first game, my score was pretty bad, like 50-something. Then on the second game, I did a little better, knocking down a few spares, and then in the last game, I finally nailed a strike (yaaaaay!), though I still didn’t break 100.

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So the last day with the coworkers before vacation went well…

2 minute read

August 23, 2008, 4:21 PM

Indeed, I a fun time was had by all at our all-staff retreat. One of the fun parts of it is that I maintained an open-Kodak policy. Anyone who wanted to fire off some photos on my camera was welcome to do so, and so we had a number of photographers over the course of the day. We had a catered lunch together, we hung out and socialized a bit, and we went on a three-mile-or-so hike. Check it out…

A number of us, including myself, played a few hands of Spades out on the deck.
A number of us, including myself, played a few hands of Spades out on the deck.

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Categories: Recreation/Exercise, Work

I am soooooooooo sunburned.

2 minute read

June 9, 2008, 3:06 PM

I went to Splashdown Waterpark on Sunday to beat the heat. And at that I was successful. I spent five hours in their Lazy River, and I didn’t give a moment’s thought to how hot of a day it was. I’d guess I put a lot of miles on one of their inner tubes, and had a great time doing absoluely nothing but lounging around in the water. But oh, let me tell you… I am so sunburned.

Of course, it’s not like I didn’t put sunscreen on. I did. But I think it was part a poor initial application of the sunscreen, plus the fact that I didn’t reapply at all over the course of the day. The reason I believe I put the sunscreen on poorly is because it was such a hot day. I drove down to Manassas with the A/C on, but then once I got out in the heat, I started sweating. And that made the sunscreen quite difficult to apply. Then of course, I knew I would get a sunburn on part of my back – there was a section that I couldn’t reach, and so I figured that would get burned, and took that into account.

But I didn’t expect what I got – burned on my face, both arms all the way up, my entire back, my shoulders, and part of my legs. There’s also a line on my arm where I had the key to the rental locker. And I got the classic swimsuit tan – burned except for the area that the suit was covering. I knew I should have thought better about wearing that thong (kidding!). But seriously, I am burned. And it hurts like hell. I need to go get some Solarcaine and some aloe and go to town on it.

Was the sunburn worth it? It might hurt a bit, but you know, I had a great time, so, yeah, it was worth it. At least it’s not like the burn I got on my head when we protested the Nazis. That time, I got cooked so well that it was oozing something. Nothing’s oozing this time. But the burned area is a lot bigger. But it was still worthwhile. Ah, yeah.

Hopefully it will be mostly better by Thursday, because that’s the day my mother and sister show up. My sister is back from Chicago for a week, and we’re going to have a great Thursday and Friday in DC. And I’m being a wonderful host, agreeing to suffer through being dragged through all these little designer clothing boutiques, because that’s what she wants to do. I much prefer going through Georgetown with a rowdy black bloc, but for my sister, we’ll shop. I’ll find the chair in these stores where the men sit looking miserable and park myself there. Seriously, in Chicago at the Talbots store on the Magnificent Mile, there was a cluster of chairs in the corner where all the men were sitting, and all of them looked absolutely miserable. Poor men.

Categories: Recreation/Exercise

Not a bad deal for seven bucks…

2 minute read

August 26, 2007, 10:49 PM

I went to Splashdown Waterpark in Manassas today, and took advantage of their after-3:00 pricing, where rather than spend $13.00 for all day, I spent $7.00 for about four hours’ worth of time there. And that’s fine by me, since I really just needed a little while to play in the water. And it’s not like this is a huge production to go, either. It’s close enough to where I can go about any time I want.

Not like when I would go to Water Country USA, where I would have to leave the house early and drive three-plus hours to go to Williamsburg, including going through Richmond. Then more than $30 to get through the gate, and another $10 or so to park the car. And all that just to spend more time in line than in the water.

So Splashdown is close, it’s cheap, and so what has it got inside? Well, it’s a relatively small waterpark, but it’s got that lazy-river feature that I like so much. Seriously, give me an inner tube, stick me in that lazy river, and I’m happy. And for only seven bucks this close by, I don’t feel guilty for skipping the big slides, which are okay, but aren’t really my thing. And parking is free. Big plus. So I’m happy with the place, and they’ll probably see me there again, though it probably won’t be this season, because their last day before closing for the season is Labor Day. I regret not checking out Splashdown Waterpark earlier, because this was fun.

The only major downside is that I leave there smelling like sunscreen and chlorine, but it’s unavoidable, as it comes with the turf.

Then afterwards, I took a more circuitous route back than I normally would, in order to surprise my friend Matthew Tilley at the place where he works. It was a slow day there, and he was putting back returns, so we got a chance to, like, talk about whatever for a few minutes. That was fun. He was so surprised to see me.

So all in all, I guess you can say I had a fun weekend. And I got the rest of the main body of the Web site finished.