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A question about what is okay to critique…

September 19, 2022, 12:04 PM

This is something that happened back in November of last year, and it’s something that I still question because it leaves something unsettled that I had previously considered to not be a question at all.  My understanding was, when it comes to a person’s appearance, the only things that are okay to to critique are hair and clothing, because those are choices that the person made, and that they can readily change.  That comes with a lot of caveats, though.  You don’t critique things about hair if it’s something that they can’t change, like baldness, though anything that they can still change is fair game.  Likewise, with clothing, you wouldn’t criticize the fashion choices of someone who clearly can’t afford anything else.

So, with that said, here’s why I ask.  Last year, I was off on Black Friday, and Elyse had planned an adventure for us on that day.  She planned a shopping adventure that day, and she wanted to go out and check out the “doorbuster” events.  Me, having spent four Christmases working in retail, I wanted nothing to do with any of it and would have preferred to just sleep in and work on the website or Flickr, but I wouldn’t have gotten a moment of peace if I stayed home – so out I went.  We chose to go to Annapolis so that I would have something to do, with the idea of my going out to Sandy Point State Park to fly the drone over the water while Elyse shopped.  Unfortunately, however, when I got to the park, I judged the wind to be far too strong to fly, so the drone never even came out of its carrier.  After sitting in the car for a while feeling annoyed about the circumstances, having driven out to the bay for nothing, I headed back to the mall, feeling somewhat defeated, and met back up with Elyse and joined her on her shopping adventure, because nothing was going up into the sky other than my frustration.

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A trip to New Jersey with Elyse and Woomy…

August 14, 2022, 7:57 PM

On Thursday, July 28, Elyse and I took a trip up to New Jersey.  The main purpose of the trip was to visit the Scrub Daddy headquarters in Pennsauken, where the company has a retail store.  Then we built a day around this in order to justify the trip.  We were no stranger to Scrub Daddy by any means, as we had previously stopped by their facility on the last day of our Atlantic City trip back in January, just to see where it was.  I remember how excited Elyse was during that visit to Scrub Daddy’s headquarters, and on that occasion, we just photographed the outside of the building, since the retail store wasn’t ready yet.  I could only imagine how excited Elyse would be going in and actually seeing the place.

We left the house around 10:00 AM, and got as far as Delaware House by noon.  This was to be our potty stop on the way up.  Elyse noticed an Edwards Integrity on the outside of the facility, and got some photos of it:

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Some sad looking retail…

August 9, 2020, 11:44 AM

On Saturday, Elyse, Aaron and Evan Stone, and I went out and visited the Kmart store in Aspen Hill, and the Sears store in White Oak.  The last time that I had been to either of these stores was in 2017, well before the Sears bankruptcy.  I had heard on social media about the way that the remaining non-closing Sears and Kmart stores were being merchandised, and I felt like it was time to see it for myself.  What I saw was what I more or less expected based on what I saw online, but definitely not what someone might expect for a retail business that is still a going concern.

We first visited the Kmart on Connecticut Avenue, which is located less than a mile away from my old apartment on Hewitt Avenue.  I knew this Kmart well enough, though I was never a regular there by any means.  This is also the last Kmart in Maryland to remain a going concern, as the store in Edgewater is currently conducting a store-closing sale, and all of the other Kmart stores in Maryland are gone.

This is the state that the Aspen Hill store was in:

The exterior of the store.
The exterior of the store.

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Elyse goes to Build-A-Bear…

June 27, 2019, 11:47 AM

On Tuesday, June 26, Elyse, my friend Matthew, and I went to Build-A-Bear at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Virginia, where Elyse got herself a stuffed bear.  This was part of a larger adventure which took us to Manassas and a few other places in that general area.  In the case of Build-A-Bear, Elyse had entered into the sweepstakes for the “pay your age” promotion and got selected, receiving a ticket with a date window to visit a store and redeem it for a bear.

First, we had to find a suitable character.  Elyse briefly considered this flamingo.
First, we had to find a suitable character.  Elyse briefly considered this flamingo.

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Going to show that you never know what you’ll find at the thrift store…

July 30, 2017, 2:39 AM

It’s amazing what you find sometimes when you hit the thrift store.  Case in point, at Unique Thrift Store/Value Village in Hillandale Shopping Center, Elyse and I found this:

Elyse holds a "Big Mavica" type camera

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Saying goodbye to Landmark Mall…

February 23, 2017, 9:21 AM

About a month ago, Elyse, Brian, Aaron, and I took a field trip to Landmark Mall in Alexandria, visiting it for the last time.  Landmark was slated to close permanently on January 31, and so we came by to get photos before it all shut down.  This trip took a similar form to when Elyse and I visited Owings Mills Mall in September 2015, though in the case of Owings Mills, we didn’t know that in less than two weeks from our visit, the mall would close permanently.  With Landmark, the mall was closing at the end of January in preparation for a redevelopment that would replace the mall with a mixed-use “town center” style development.  The Macy’s and Sears stores would remain through the redevelopment, however, I suspect that may change.  The Landmark Macy’s was included in the round of store closings that Macy’s was doing in early 2017, and I’d suggest that the long-term prospects for Sears’ survival are looking pretty grim, so the plan to include those two buildings in the new development might change, as one of those stores is vacating, and the second may not be far behind.

And then here are photos:

Escalators in the mall's northeast corner, viewed from the lower level.
Escalators in the mall’s northeast corner, viewed from the lower level.

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Categories: Alexandria, Elyse, Friends, Shopping

I always thought that an important rule of retail was not to get into arguments with your customers…

August 2, 2016, 12:32 PM

Do you ever have those days where some people’s behaviors defy logic?  Such is what happened to me at the Giant Food store in Leisure World yesterday.  Generally speaking, if someone is handing you money, it’s generally not a good idea to start arguing with them over something minor to the point of losing the sale.  It was one of those occasions where I was bothered enough by the treatment to write the company about it.  This is what I wrote:

While I was shopping at the Leisure World Giant store, I was very surprised about the treatment that I received from an employee wearing a purple shirt named Ken.  I was buying a single item, and, after seeing an older woman go through the Solution Center for checkout with a single item, I followed suit.  I was very surprised to hear Ken absolutely refuse to check me out for my one item, citing a policy, for which I was unable to locate signage anywhere in the store, that you can’t check out at the solution center.  Ken then proceeded to argue with me over this alleged policy, when it would have taken less time to not argue and just complete the sale.  The store ultimately lost the sale on account of Ken, as the item was not worth getting into an argument over.  Even more surprising was that, with the checkout lines backed up into the aisle, the solution center does not help relieve the pressure on the regular checkouts when they are backed up, such as was the case today.  I have always praised Giant in the past for its level of good customer service, which is generally higher than its peers in the market.  I hope that this sort of behavior, with employees who get into arguments with customers over extremely minor things, is not a “new normal” for Giant.

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Getting a “big boy” camera…

January 20, 2016, 1:44 PM

Last Thursday was a lot of fun.  I got together with Elyse, with the intent of getting some sample material to evaluate for the future purchase of a new camera.  This new camera will be a digital SLR, as I am quite confident that I have outgrown the “prosumer” level of camera that I have operated on since Big Mavica in 2002.  I discovered that in 2014 when I photographed Brighton Dam and Triadelphia Reservoir with a borrowed Nikon Coolpix P510.  The photos with that camera came out well enough, but other than a few extra pixels because of the higher resolution on that camera, I didn’t get any better features than my existing camera.

But first, after Elyse and I got together, we had lunch at Jimmy John’s.  I had a sandwich, and Elyse just had one of the day-old rolls that they sell:

Elyse eats one of the day-old rolls.

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Hello… Roanoke?

September 16, 2015, 5:46 PM

This past Friday, I was out with my friend Elyse checking out a few interesting shopping centers in the Baltimore area.  We weren’t so much interested in shopping as we were in seeing the centers themselves, and their various eccentricities.  We first visited Owings Mills Mall, which is a large. two-story facility in Owings Mills, Maryland that contains only six tenants: Bath & Body Works, DTLR, Gymboree, JCPenney, Macy’s, and Victoria’s Secret.  Needless to say, this was a dead mall.  Then we visited the Centre at Glen Burnie, which is a small and well-hidden single-level indoor mall off of Route 2 in Glen Burnie.  This was no dead mall by any means, but its being an enclosed mall surprised me.  I’d been by this shopping center many times in the past, and shopped at the Target store there, and never would have guessed that this was an enclosed mall.  Then our third and final mall was Security Square, a mid-sized single-level mall in Woodlawn.  Security Square was interesting for its former JCPenney building, which, after Penney’s closed, was converted to “Seoul Plaza”, a mall-within-a-mall consisting mostly of Korean businesses, though now approaching dead mall status (though the rest of the mall is doing well).

However, the biggest surprise of the day came as Elyse and I were walking through the Sears wing of Security Square.  Does this remind you of anywhere in particular?

A big star on an island of rides

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So I found an app that lets you take stereo photos…

July 16, 2014, 10:24 PM

Last night, I found an app called 3D Camera for my Android phone.  The idea behind the app is that you take two photos a few inches apart from each other, you line them up, and then the app makes a stereo image for you to look at.  Depending on how you shoot them, they can come out as either crossview or parallel.  I tested it out late last night on a Wheelock 7002T, and came up with this:

Wheelock 7002T, taken on top of my computer
(By the way, I strongly recommend clicking each of the images on this entry to view them at full size in the lightbox)

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I completely nerded out on Sunday, and it was awesome…

June 24, 2014, 10:21 PM

I went out on a miniature road trip on Sunday, and I had a blast, taking photos of anything that vaguely interested me.  It was more or less spur of the moment, when you consider that for what ended up being a photography trip, I only had my cell phone, and then, I didn’t bring my spare battery along.  Thus it was a bit of a continual battle to keep a sufficient charge on the phone with only the car charger, but somehow, I managed, and the results came out pretty well despite my leaving my real camera at home.  The way this trip came about is that I wanted to go up to and explore Westminster, Maryland.  I’ve been wanting to explore Westminster for a while, ever since my father took an overnight business trip to Westminster a few years ago and I didn’t find out about it until it was too late in the day to go up and visit, because Dad didn’t realize that Westminster was as close to me as it was.  That sucked, because I would have totally gone up if I had known.  I’ll gladly travel an hour or so on relatively short notice to hang out with family.

So early Sunday morning, I just decided to go up and see what there was.  I like doing these sorts of trips, because it’s basically a scouting trip, seeing if there’s anything that I want to explore and photograph in more detail in the future.  Getting to Westminster is pretty easy: turn onto Georgia Avenue (MD 97) and take it all the way to Westminster.  Seriously, it’s that easy.  I got to Westminster just as the sun was coming up.  After a quick drive through the main commercial area along Route 140, I located the downtown area.

The downtown area in Westminster has what I consider an unusual feature: a single-track rail line for the Maryland Midland Railway running diagonally through the main intersection in downtown.  Main Street goes one way, and Liberty Street and Railroad Avenue (both MD 27) go the other way, and the rail line runs diagonally across the intersection.  I would have loved to have seen a train come through here while I was in the area, but unfortunately, I did not get to see that this time.

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The mildly interesting things that you see in a day…

March 21, 2014, 11:34 PM

So my Friday was fun.  I got together with my friend Matthew, we did some cooking, and then after Matthew and I parted company for the day, I headed over to Dulles Town Center for a bit.  Over the course of the day, I spotted a few things that I found mildly interesting.

On the way in, I stopped over at Aardvark Swim in Chantilly.  I usually go to the Rockville location, but since they were out of goggle straps (the bungee cord kind) in Rockville, and I knew I was going to be out this way sooner than Rockville would get more in stock, I swung by and here to get them.  Those of you who follow me on Instagram may remember that I was contemplating whether or not to buy this:

"Suck it up, cupcake" swim cap at Aardvark

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Could my next laptop be a tablet? Perhaps!

April 30, 2013, 5:30 PM

First of all, hello from the Microsoft Store at Pentagon City Mall:

Hiiiiiiiiiiiii!

And I am writing this on a Microsoft Surface tablet with one of those flat keyboards.  Take a look:

Surface tablet at the Microsoft Store

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Categories: Computer, Shopping

Just standing there, tapping away…

March 29, 2013, 11:38 PM

Thought I’d share.  Here’s a photo that Isis got of me at Landmark Mall in Alexandria today that I found amusing:

Tapping away on my phone at Landmark Mall
Photo: Isis

Isis found it interesting because everyone in the photo was wearing a hat in front of the “CITY CAP” sign and the mall train (both the other gentleman and I are train enthusiasts).  I found it amusing because I’m standing in a common pose for me when I’m out and about.  Holding my phone and tapping away.  After all, those amusing Facebook/Twitter/Instagram posts don’t just post themselves, right?

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Categories: Friends, Photography, Shopping

This really isn’t rocket science, I promise…

January 10, 2013, 1:28 AM

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the act of placing groceries in bags and giving them back to the customer is really not rocket science.  And in Montgomery County, Maryland, a jurisdiction where there is an excise tax on disposable shopping bags, i.e. a financial incentive to use reusable shopping bags, I don’t believe that it is unreasonable of me to think that a grocery store cashier should know how to handle reusable shopping bags.  Apparently this is an unreasonable expectation.  I went to the Safeway store in Olney this evening after I went swimming, and the cashier did not understand how to handle reusable bags.

This what I bought:

My haul from Safeway in Olney

(And for those of you who are wondering, I took this photo in the store with the intention of posting on Instagram.)

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