This was the first time we were all together in a long time…

March 17, 2008, 10:48 PM

Stuarts Draft was, as always, a lot of fun. And note, that is one sentence I never thought I’d find myself saying. But anyways…

So the whole dump-the-car-at-Vienna plan went according to plan, though it did take longer than I had planned to get out of the exit ramp. Of course, look what I had to contend with:

Traffic on I-66 at Nutley Street

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“Prince George’s Pizza”?

February 10, 2008, 12:40 PM

My parents – both of them this time – came up to visit this weekend. They arrived Saturday morning, and left midday Sunday. What a fun time we had! We went to IKEA in College Park, and bought stuff. Mom got a new computer chair for her classroom (replacing one I got for free at Potomac Hall), and I got some mirrors that I’m planning to mount on the wall above my bed. I was also interested in getting some picture frames, but as they didn’t have the kind I wanted, we skipped on that.

These little mirrors are really cool. I got the idea after visiting my cousin Kate and her husband Nathan, and seeing these same mirrors over their fireplace arranged 3×3. The whole mirror unit is one square foot, and about four inches square in the center is mirror, and the rest is a wide wood frame. I think it will look great in the bedroom, after I stain the wood to match the bed. The style is called Malma.

Also, a surprise at IKEA: In those little “Living in [whatever] square feet” displays they have where they show an entire house, they of course show the bathroom. The surprise came when, being silly, I lifted up the toilet seat to make it look more “lived in”:

The display toilet at IKEA

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Categories: Family, IKEA, Shopping

One starts to question one’s own sanity…

January 6, 2008, 12:40 PM

One starts to question one’s own sanity when one spends a Saturday night… in the office. One of these days, I am going to realize that spending time in the Resources and Conservation Center in DC on a day that starts with “S” is an inherently BAD IDEA. I originally came in to drop off some stuff that I’d purchased for the office. This was stuff that I wasn’t about to take on the Metro, so I drove down and brought it in that way. But then since I had to wait on a process to complete anyway once I was in there, I turned on my office Mac (bad idea) and started doing other work, and then it was two hours later and I realized I still hadn’t gone to Pentagon City, which was Objective Number Two on this trip. The idea was to drop the stuff off, then go to Pentagon City to buy a neck warmer.

At Pentagon City, I bought a neck warmer by The North Face. The intention is for it to replace my gray scarf, which isn’t quite working out for me, as it’s too floppy and prone to twisting up at inconvenient times, letting all kinds of coldness in. We’ll see how the neck warmer works out on Monday, when I’m waiting for the bus once it gets cold again. It’s going to be warm around here this week, being in the 50s and such. And this is January

Now here is where I start to realize there’s a problem: I go back to the office after Pentagon City. I took time to set some stuff up in my own individual office, and do a lot of stuff all around the place that I’d been meaning to do. And I put all the stuff away that I bought. Oh, dear…

I didn’t get out until almost 1 AM, but at least I got a lot done. I was productive! And then arriving back home, I came back to discover that the pilot light had gone out on my heater, and so I had to place an emergency maintenance call to get that re-lit at two in the morning. But at least I got to watch the pilot light get relit.

Categories: Shopping, Work

Every time I see one of these…

October 19, 2007, 11:01 AM

…I just want to run it off the road. What am I referring to? Take a look:

Hummer limousine

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Categories: Products

And I still haven’t gone grocery shopping…

September 4, 2007, 11:10 PM

I meant to go grocery shopping when… Sunday? And now it’s Tuesday night, and I still haven’t been. Shoppers is probably wondering where I’ve been. But yeah, this is what I get for hanging out late at the Infoshop. I didn’t get home until 9:00. So that shoots shopping for tonight…

So, yeah, the place is starting to look barren. I made my sandwich for tomorrow at work on regular bread (vs. my usual bagel), and packed the last peach for tomorrow. I have plenty of turkey, though.

Maybe Wednesday will be the day, though I could probably go all the way to Thursday if I really tried, before I really have to restock. But think about it. If I can squeeze out another week before I have to buy groceries again, this means I’m saving money. And saving money is good.

Categories: Shopping

For seven bucks, who cares what the pattern is!

September 2, 2007, 2:53 PM

I went shopping on Saturday, and I had a blast. I went down to Potomac Mills, where I did some furniture shopping for work at Ikea, shuffled over to Casual Male for some odds and ends, and then went perusing the Outlets at the mall itself.

I have now been to Ikea enough times that I know what’s going on. Not like that Memorial Day trip where I was totally overwhelmed. I’ve got it down, yo. And the Woodbridge store is an exact duplicate of the one in College Park.

This time, though, I was going by myself. No problem. So I picked out the stuff for the office in the showroom, crossed through the “marketplace” without looking, and arrived at the big warehouse where you actually grab your furniture. Yippee. I had no difficulty with the boxes, but then steering was a problem. Usually, when I go to Ikea with someone, I drive the flat-cart from the back, and they steer. Since it was just me, I had to push and steer all at once, from the back. So imagine this if you will. All four wheels turn on this thing. Thus it can move in any direction or spin on the spot. Personally, I think they should have welded the back wheels to make them non-turnable, since that would make it far easier to control, though some maneuverability would be sacrificed. But it would be worth it. Still, I can’t drive these things. The weight of the furniture and my inability to get a good handle on steering would have made it a difficult move to the checkout. Thankfully, I was able to flag down an employee, who helped me get to the checkout.

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Categories: IKEA, Shopping

I never thought I’d be cheering a tropical system, but…

June 3, 2007, 3:55 PM

I never thought I’d be cheering a tropical storm system, but Tropical Storm Barry is working out for me. It’s giving the area a much-needed soaking, plus, for me, it cleared the air for those of us who suffer from springtime allergies. These last few days have been rough for me. I was running some work-related errands around Dupont Circle on Thursday, and my eyes got all swelled up. It was not fun, needless to say. This clears out all that junk from the air, and makes it much more pleasant for springtime allergy sufferers like me. I’m just glad that we’re now in the final month of allergy season, because once it’s past, life will be normal again for about ten months.

Meanwhile, yesterday, I went out to find the local Wal-Mart to see where it was, and to do a little shopping. I found it, and it’s in Germantown, store #2357. And it’s not likely I’ll be going back any time soon. It’s also stores like this that help explain why the DC area has generally shunned Wal-Mart. I was not impressed with this store. Let’s just say this: It makes the Wal-Mart where I used to work at in Waynesboro look like an upscale department store.

First of all, the place was dirty. The floors were gross, and there was trash everywhere. Additionally, the shelves were a mess. I don’t think that these people had ever heard of the concept of “zone defense”, which, in Wal-Mart terminology, is where associates basically get their departments in order – straightening the shelves, cleaning up debris, etc. This store looked like it hadn’t been zoned in weeks. The shoe department was especially a disaster – all the flip-flops were just thrown in there, and a lot were just sitting scattered on the floor. Then let’s talk safety, which is a place where Wal-Mart puts a big emphasis (or at least is supposed to). I stepped on a piece of loose cardboard in their main action alley, and nearly went flying. That’s not my idea of a good time. Meanwhile, the associates, where I actually could find some, were kind of rude.

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Trust me when I say that carrying a large desk up three flights of stairs is not my idea of fun.

May 19, 2007, 11:44 PM

First of all, hello from my parents’ house in Stuarts Draft.

In continuing to outfit my apartment in Silver Spring, I’m bringing my real computer up with me this time, and it will get set up in a little corner of my apartment. And then I’m going to have Internet service on Tuesday, so all in all, life is good. And the first week with my new employer was awesome. Now I’ve kind of caught onto how this whole thing works, and I feel confident. It’s not like the first day anymore, where my level of anxiety was so high that I could barely eat my cereal in the morning, and forgot the lunch that I’d packed.

So what does this have to do with the desk? Well, the original plan would have had me returning to Maryland with the computer in the Sable, and the desk in either the truck or the Sienna, depending on who went with me. Then in looking at the cost of gas to take a second car back and forth to bring this large piece of furniture to Maryland, we realized that it wasn’t exactly a worthwhile proposition. Thus we had a slight change of plans. My parents will put my computer desk of nine years to work for them. Translation: It’s staying. Meanwhile, I went to Staples and ordered a new desk. It’s identical to my original desk in almost every way, except that it’s a lighter shade of brown (I don’t know what you call the original desk’s color, but the new one is “natural oak”). And it’s getting delivered to Silver Spring. That satisfies everyone. No one, including me, really wanted to drag that thing up three flights of stairs. However, I liked the desk. It was sturdy and well-designed. I’ll happily put a new desk together on site after it’s delivered to my door, and I’m sure my parents will like the old desk.

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A little housing update for you…

May 11, 2007, 8:24 PM

Just so you know, I am now partly moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland. It’s nice, too. It’s right up the road from Glenmont station, and also close to shopping. Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton is very close to where I live, and it’s home to a two-story Target store.

By the way, shopping with a cart across two levels is interesting. There are two escalators. One for you, and one for your cart. Basically, you put your cart in the special cart escalator, and then you ride (roughly) next to it on a conventional escalator. Shopping in a two-story Target is certainly something, but it’s kind of fun. Target is also so much cleaner than Wal-Mart, which always impresses me when I shop there. They also trust that their customers will do such simple things as flush the toilet and turn off the sinks, which Wal-Mart does not. Wal-Mart has automatic sinks and flushers which don’t work half the time. Target has faucets with handles, and flush handles on the toilets.

By the way, I outfitted much of my apartment on my first trip to this Target in Wheaton. I blew $300-some on stuff for the apartment, across two shopping carts. That’s the most I’ve ever spent at Target. Prior to this, I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $20 in a visit to Target.

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I got that new winter coat, and did some serious driving…

November 16, 2006, 1:41 AM

First of all, I had fun on my latest Richmond-to-DC trip, where I go up to Washington DC via Richmond, which takes me east on I-64, onto US 250 near Richmond, through downtown Richmond, and then north on I-95. While on I-95, I take US 1 through Fredericksburg before returning to I-95, then continue on I-95 to Potomac Mills.

Potomac Mills put me a hair behind where I wanted to be on this trip, but it was worth it. I went to the Casual Male store, and got a new winter coat. This one is similar to the one I used from 2001 up until last winter, but is a little bit longer, has different sleeve cuffs, and has a detachable hood, which my other coat lacked. The only thing that I didn’t like was the price tag: $99.99. Ouch. Then add another $5.00 in sales tax, and it starts to hurt a bit. But I like the coat, and it feels really good on me. Now I just want a really cold day so I can give it a whirl for the first time.

I also tried on a number of other coats to see what I liked. I even tried on a black trenchcoat to see how it fits. It was interesting, but it was a bit longer than I felt comfortable with, plus buttons to keep it closed seemed kind of cumbersome. Plus I just couldn’t imagine it as a “me” kind of coat. I made the Chuck Taylors very much “me”, but I wasn’t able to pull that same feat off again with the coat. Still, I know what I like, and that wasn’t it. But the coat I did pick is just going to be a dream.

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Categories: DC trips, Shopping

It seems that we did it…

November 13, 2006, 10:12 PM

I got my strap, and I got a battery for the Lappy…

October 21, 2006, 6:21 PM

My strap and the Lappy’s battery came on the same day. First of all, thank you to everyone who made suggestions regarding both items.

Interestingly, Mom intercepted the package for the strap before I got home, and was wondering about the fact that I’d ordered from a scuba company. After all, I’ve never expressed an interest in scuba diving, nor have I even so much as mentioned it in passage. And then Mom sees this package, a nondescript brown box, addressed to me, with “” as the return address. So it caught her interest. And so I explained the whole story, as I already explained to you here, ending with, “And no, I’m not planning on taking up scuba diving.”

I still find it amusing, though, that the only place where I could find a replacement strap was through a scuba place. Of all places, a scuba place. That just doesn’t make sense, but I’m like, sure. At least I got a new strap. And the bag rides like two inches higher with the new strap than it used to, and I have no problem with that. So all is well on that front.

And meanwhile, we scored a direct hit with the Lappy’s battery. We got an exact replacement, and it snapped right in, and now it’s charging peacefully.

So once again, all is well!

Categories: Computer, Family, Products

I returned empty-handed, but…

October 16, 2006, 11:31 PM

Yes, I’m sad to say that I returned from Charlottesville empty-handed, having gotten no shoulder strap for my camera bag, and no battery for my Lappy. Sad times on both counts. I went all over the place, too. I went to Office Depot, to Best Buy, to Circuit City, to Ritz Camera, to Target, to JCPenney, to Belk, and even to Wal-Mart in a last-ditch effort. It turns out that no one sells replacement shoulder straps, and I looked in camera sections, luggage sections, and even the ladies’ handbags to see if I could dig up a stand-alone strap. No dice. These stores would have been more than happy to sell me a shoulder strap with a bag attached to it, but I neither want nor need a new bag. Big Mavica’s been living in its current bag for three and some years, and it’s quite happy with its living space, thank you very much. Ritz Camera came closest, selling replacement straps. However, they were designed for the camera itself, and not for the accompanying bag. Big Mavica’s strap presently has no issues, and so I wouldn’t think about replacing it at this time, though they certainly had some nice ones.

Note that I didn’t go to Batteries Plus, though, to get a battery for the Lappy. I can’t say that I didn’t try to go, but when I got there at 7:30 PM, they were already closed. So that was a wash.

And like so many times when I go out, I get recognized from my job at Wally World. You see, we get a lot of people from Charlottesville, because the Charlottesville store is not a Supercenter, and ours is. But at least when I get recognized, they always tell me how nice and helpful I was when they were patronizing the store. It would be something else if they told me I was Mr. Crabby Pants or something. I do have days at work when I get crabby, don’t get me wrong, but the customers don’t see that. The only time in recent memory that the customers could sense something wrong was the day that I ate a banana on my lunch hour that for some reason didn’t agree with me, and I was feeling really bad afterwards, and I looked like I was feeling bad, and the customers picked up on it, with one even asking me if everything was all right. I think I ended up taking like six Tums for that, in an attempt to feel better. I did end up feeling better before the day was out, though.

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Categories: Shopping

The only thing wrong with the Lappy is…

October 16, 2006, 2:45 AM

…the battery. I checked the Lappy out from top to bottom, and the only thing wrong with it is the battery. I got only ten minutes of life out of the battery before it started screaming for its AC adaptor. It went from full to zero in a very short time. I did a little research on it, and I’ve determined that during Mom’s time with it, she made good use out of the battery, and it basically won’t hold a charge anymore.

I’m going to Charlottesville on Monday anyway to get a new shoulder strap for my camera bag, and so I’ll probably swing by Batteries Plus or somewhere like that for a new battery for my Lappy while I’m at it.

Also, I’ve determined that the new notepad cover that I discussed here will be just fine for logging Metro trains. I took it with me on my most recent DC trip, set the paper up with the proper columns to be my transit log, and stuffed it in my bag. And all in all, it worked. The pad that came with it holds only ten trains per page, down from fifteen on the old notepad, but it works for me. Unless I have something like the fourth of July where I rode 23 separate trains, two pages per trip will work just fine. In my DC trips since July 4, I average 14.5 trains per trip. So in short: no problem. So my search for a notepad is over. Thank goodness.

Categories: Computer, Shopping

My kingdom for a notepad cover!

October 1, 2006, 10:20 PM

Remember back in October 2004, when I wrote this Journal entry? It was about when a company called Myron sent me a notepad with a flip-top cover as a free sample, printed with the name of my father’s consulting business, “Evolved Quality Consulting”.

I actually started using that notepad back in August 2005, and still do. I’ve actually refilled the notepad twice since I got it. I use it to log the transit vehicles that I ride in. For instance, this is what I logged in my little notepad on September 24, 2005:

Transit log, September 24, 2005

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Categories: Products