Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Maybe Now Wasn't the Best Time to Open an Iranian Deli

I noticed this about a week or two ago, but the store next to Carpool Herndon -- the place where the Dunkin' Donuts used to be -- appears to be out of business:


I hadn't ever been inside; it was called the HI-N-BUY Tehran Mart, and it lasted for almost precisely a year.

As to why it went under? I have no specific knowledge, but would suggest three contributing factors:
  1. Economic downturn. (Damn this sluggish so-called recovery!)
  2. Anti-Iranian sentiment running at highest levels since the hostage crisis due to concerns over nuclear weapons program.
  3. Location -- it is, after all located in the Dunkin' Donuts Death spot.
I await the replacement tenant. Perhaps a "Pyongyang Mart."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Just About All the New Jersey I Can Handle

This Thanksgiving, I've pretty much done nothing except eat, sleep, take up space in my parents' house and produce copious amounts of mucus. It's basically like college break all over again.

Against my better judgment, though, Friday night, I did join my sister for an impromptu ALJ Class of '90 get-together at one of the fun-ish bar/restaurants that decided to pop up here in town, long after we left.

The parking lot was full, so I had to park at the Rite-Aid next door. Not a huge hassle, but it was a warning that the place was going to be pretty packed. And it was.

After paying the $10 cover, we also discovered that the crowd was pretty... old.

I mean, we were there to see the Class of '90, and we were surrounded by the Class of '72 (or thereabouts).

That did not stop the place and patrons from smelling like an Axe factory explosion, or looking and sounding disturbingly like a scene from Jersey Shore (note that most of dem douchebags aree from NY).

The fact that I'd just seen the Jersey Shore-themed South Park episode probably didn't help, but then again, neither did the Bruce Springsteen cover band at the tent outside, nor the selection of Jersey-themed hits and club anthems from the DJ inside. Or the disturbing amount of leopard-print.

Anyway, we did eventually catch up with my sister's Class of '90 cohorts and we hung out for a while. Afterwards, as we were leaving, we had the option to cross Central Avenue for the other Clark hotspot that didn't exist when we were around, and perhaps find a greater chance of running into other, younger high school alums, but I'd had enough New Jersey for a while, and we decided to call it a night.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Yet Another Thrilling I-95 Thanksgiving Travelogue

I've been in bed most of the day, laid up with laziness and mild cold, so while I'm being singularly unambitious, thought I'd catch up.


After hearing about the horrorshow of the Delaware Toll Plaza on Wednesday night (a state whose sole purpose is extracting tolls from drivers on their 10-mile stretch of I-95 actually stopped collecting the toll because it was so jammed up), I decided to spend Wednesday night drinking at Carpool and then playing Left4Dead until I passed out.

I woke up on Thanksgiving morning with not just a hangover, but a sore throat that was the harbinger of that annoying cold. So I got a late start, not getting out the door until about 10:30am.

It was pretty smooth sailing straight around the Beltway and up past Baltimore. I still have no way to play my iPod through the stereo, so I brought a pile of CDs, occasionally scanning local radio to see who started playing Christmas music already.

Things started slowing down about 30 miles from the Maryland/Delaware border; I started getting antsy, and not wanting to put up with I-95 through Delaware, got off and took Route 40.

It's tempting to try to romanticize driving through small towns on smaller roads, but in reality, the stores and fast food joints in the shopping centers are all the same everywhere, and the places you haven't heard of are just regional franchises you don't know.

The only mom & pop stores left are the adult bookstores.

And there are traffic lights. I don't think seeing the occasional "Where's the Birth Certificate" billboard makes up for that.

I stayed on Route 40 the whole way. There were some slow spots, mostly due to traffic lights, but it moved the whole time. Getting back onto I-295 at the Delaware Memorial Bridge, though, I saw that there wasn't very much traffic, so I'm thinking my fears were overblown.

I got on the Turnpike, and saw the warnings of slowdowns at Exits 6 and 8, so I got back onto 295, then onto a really slow route 1/9, going through Princeton, New Brunswick, and the like, passing the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, the notional Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, and of course, the ever-present on public radio Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Anyway, it took about four-and-a-half hours, all told, not too bad. And there was this on the other end of it:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oops, We Did It Again

We won another kickball trophy. Apparently, it comes with some sort of championship:


We had a game on Wednesday, and playoffs were Thursday.

It gets cold after the sun goes down:


The team we played in the semis was the same team we played the night before, Saved by the Ball -- we barely edged them out then (they were understrength, but they players who showed up were good, which evens things out). and in the semis, we had to come from behind to win it in the sixth.

I'm not sure how we did it (outside of the big, booming foot of Jeff which scored the winning run).

One of the women on the other team was apparently kind of... bitter about the game -- during the handshake, she likened our team to a special portion of the female anatomy. (It was kind of a monologue.) And not in the empowering, sex-positive, third-wave feminism kind of way.

Her parting shot was "Have fun playing another team that takes walks." We did take a walk or two (myself included), but it was pretty funny hearing that from a team that was bunting (FXA-style) like crazy.

In the finals, we played Suck My Kick. We were behind as well, but tied it up, forcing us into harrowing overtime rules in the 6th. (Basically, one pitch per batter, each one resulting in a hit, walk, or out.)

Jason slides under the throw.

Again, somehow we won.

I was pretty satisfied with my defensive performance on the night, including a few stretch-catches on first, and even deflecting two wide throws into the runner.

It's silly to take adult kickball too seriously (which is one of the reasons we switched leagues), and winning in what's essentially the less-competitive league is like lettering in JV, but I do enjoy beating teams when they're being pricks (which may or may not include anyone we played this season.)


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Buying Cheap, Buying Twice

I broke another Macbook power adapter (old-style); the original one broke at the base, where the skinny cord meets the brick. I was especially careful to wrap the cord properly to keep this from happening again, so naturally, this one broke at the tip:

The newer adapters supposedly aren't as susceptible to this problem.

The dumb thing is that, because I didn't want to pay $80 for a new OEM power adapter, I bought a this as a used replacement off of eBay.

It worked okay until about 2 months ago, when I had to start jiggling the Magsafe connector to get it to charge. Then, about 10 days ago, it broke apart completely -- the Magsafe connector stayed in the port, and the rest of the cord broke off.

The dumber thing is that it still worked, mostly. And for about a week, I used it like this, just being careful to push it together to make the connection.

After a while, the blobs of solder connecting 120V of household AC broke off, so the jiggle trick didn't work any more. At least, not without the end of the connector getting noticeably hot, and even a little... shock-y.

Fortunately, I'd ordered a replacement. And that's the dumbest thing -- I bought another used (refurb) one off eBay.

We'll see how long this one lasts. If it goes, I suppose it'll mean it's time to upgrade to a new Macbook.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I've Drifted to the Left Over the Years

[A post of no consequence to get me out of my slump.]

A month or so ago, I had a stretch where I'd be driving, maybe getting passed on my left or on the inner lane of a dual left turn lane, and I'd get honked at.

I'd be all like, "What the hell are you honking at... beeyotch?!" (Do people still say "beeyotch"?)

After it happened the second time in a few days, I finally turned my side view mirror down to see the road markers, and... yep, I was riding the line.

I think it dates back when I learned to drive in my parents Camry sedan (it was an '88; I took it down with me when I moved down, and it lasted until 2002, when the starter ring gear finally went.) I learned to maintain lane position by positioning the spot on the hood just in front of the A-pillar on the lane marker.

This worked fine, until I switched to the Mazda, which has a more tapered hood; indexing on the same spot on the hood doesn't work as well. So I think that's why I've slid over to the left.

Anyway, as bad as that is, it wasn't nearly as bad as coming into work from Tysons this morning, taking the offramp from 28 South onto Frying Pan Road, and seeing a car on the side of the offramp, facing the wrong way. 

I can't figure out how, but apparently, this person had managed to drive the wrong way up the offramp, saw incoming traffic, stopped, and was kind of stuck, since a steady stream of traffic kept him (or her) from making a U-turn.

Last I saw (thankfully, in my rear view mirror), the driver was trying to back up to a spot where he (or she) could turn around.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Doing a Drive-By on the Rally for Sanity

I didn't attend the Rally for Sanity and/or Fear on Saturday. The dumb thing is that I drove into DC, circled aimlessly looking for parking up all around the Mall, Independence, and Capitol Hill, got jammed up by street closures a few times, then gave up and left.

I'd gotten a late start on the day (hangover), and I heard that the Metro stations were jammed, so I decided to drive in:

Test sign over I-66.

I was going to park at Rosslyn and walk over the bridge, but I couldn't find a spot with more than a 2-hour meter, so I kept going.

Next, I tried to be clever and park at Arlington Cemetery, but the lot closes at 6pm, which was no good. So I headed into DC, and after all that fruitless searching, went home.

Well, I didn't actually go home: First, I stopped by the US Air Force Memorial, which I've never seen in the daytime:


In the middle of all the standard shooting-looking-up-the-spires shots that everyone takes, a helicopter flew by:

Oh, look, a shot looking up a spire. The monument is very metallic (depending how much Photoshop you use):


Then, I headed over to Gravelly Point, to watch the planes land.


There was also a rugby game, which gave people something to watch in between planes (including one that had to abort the landing and go around for another pass):




Anyway, that was Saturday afternoon.

The rest of the photos can be found here.