Measure for Measure

A Painting Report

Measure for Measure
As you know, we're pressing hard trying to get enough paintings done for our first ever show in January. Since we only started painting the past January, we're a bit behind the curve. Last week, I completed my fourth painting. I think that only three are viewable, actually. The Brunette has finished five or six. It's hard to keep up.

This picture shows the evolution of my Measure for Measure painting.

For the Record

I missed putting out the recycling container in time for the recyclers to grab it. Our bin was a bit full, so I drove it over to the lakeside center to drop off the stuff. Next to the long row of paper containers, someone has left a bunch of old records.

Yup, real vinyl and everything.

There must be at least 75 LPs stacked neatly in five or six rows. (For you young'uns, LP stands for long-playing. LPs designate full albums as opposed to singles. Singles were smaller vinyl records that usually had two songs. Weird, huh?)

Hurry over there if you're dying for a copy of Hall and Oates, John Stewart, or the Crusaders. (Oh, and there's a copy of "Jimmy Swaggert Sings the Great Hymns of the Church." Anybody up for an old-fashioned record burning?)

What Did Taleswapper Forget Today/1:20

What didn't I forget today? I nearly forgot these things (that is, I walked out of the house without them, then remembered and went back for them - not all at the same time):

  • bandana The bandana helps to keep my helmet steady (what with my lack of hair and all). It also helps keep my helmet fresh.
  • water It's important all the time, but in the summer it is vital to keep hydrated.
  • badge Ugh.
  • bike lock I use a KryptoLok that Kryptonite had so generously replaced during the recall. But they never sent me a new mounting bracket, so I had the lock in my house.
Luckily, I remembered in time and had a chance to go back to pick them up. I got to work and discovered that I had forgotten other things:

  • belt I brought in clothes earlier, you see, so that I didn't have to carry anything on the bike. But I didn't bring in a belt. I forgot to take a belt when we went to the volcano in Hawaii, too. With all the weight I'd lost, I needed something to keep my jeans up while climbing over broken lava. I bought a bungee cord from the volcano hardware store. I don't think a bungee cord would count as even business casual. Luckily, these trousers were bought closer to my current weight, so we'll have to risk it.
  • notebook I suppose I can get by without it, but I feel naked without my notebook. It's funny: I carry it around everywhere, but it seems like I never write anything in it. It's sort of like a pacifier, I guess. Or that ratty old blanket.
It didn't feel nearly as hot this morning as I had expected. It was no ride in the park (well, actually, sometimes it was a ride in the park - several parks), but it didn't kill me. Now, I understand that the bike trails are really walking and biking shared use trails, and I don't mind sharing. But my idea of sharing seems to be different from those people who walk four abreast across the trail so you cannot pass and those people who block the trail with a triple wide stroller and screaming children running unpredictably loose and those people who walk side by side with dogs on opposite sides of the trail, leashes crossing the trail like webs.

Oh, those people!

At any rate, the bike bridge just north of the hospital on the Sligo Creek trail is open again, but the Sligo Creek Parkway is still closed from there up to Piney Branch Parkway. It looks like they're shoring up one side of the road and repaving patches. It was a nice stretch of ride. The walkers seemed to enjoy it, too. Of course, at one point I came upon these two walkers weaving back and forth kicking rocks. One in the northbound lane, one in the southbound. Sheesh.

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Is It Shark Week Already?

Is It Shark Week Already?
Looks like sharks don't know how to fly. Well, they know how to fly, but not how to steer. This one went right through the Discovery building in Silver Spring, Maryland.

G&M Fire

A Reader Report

I'm not sure why I pop up so early on the list, but I was looking at my StatCounter statistics this morning and noticed that a lot of people are being directed to my site looking for "G&M fire". I supposed it must be because I mentioned the restaurant last January.

G&M is a restaurant north of the Baltimore Washington International Airport in a town called Linthicum, Maryland. I'm told it serves very good crab cakes. I'm not a seafood eater, but I did try the crab cakes as part of my birthday ritual.

I see over at WBAL that the restaurant was damaged by a fire. Not to worry, they will re-open. The fire was caused by "careless smoking". I'm not sure what careless smoking is. Did the smoker get his face too close to a gas pipe with a cigarette still in his mouth? Maybe it was more of something like the cabbies in my 48-Hour story. (Oh, yeah, love that self-linking.) Isn't smoking by definition 'careless'?

A Bit of Biking

Bicycle Drill
So, in the week before our vacation, I reported that I flattened my rear tire on the commute home. I've been a little slow about fixing that. No, not just because fixing it would mean I have to get back on the thing in this heat.

I wandered down to the garage today to pull the back tire off so I could fix the flat. I was pretty sure that I'd have to get a new tire and tube because I had run across pretty big chunks of glass from a broken bottle. Imagine my surprise, then, when I pulled the wheel off to find there are no slashes through the tire. There's one puncture through the sidewall, and resting in the puncture is a length of rusty drill bit.

How the heck did I do that while riding along?

The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)

The first thing I notice when I board the train at Greenbelt Station is that all of the passengers are involved in excited conversation. Typically, morning commuters in DC approach the train ride like sated zombies between brain-eating binges -- sullenly staring into space and hoping to go unnoticed.

*** A Note About Zombies ***
Of course, I mean regular zombies, not the zombies next door. The neighbor zombies are nice and friendly. They don't eat brains.
As far as I know they don't, at any rate.

The second thing I notice is that each and every person in the car has a copy of The Book Thief, and that makes me smile. It's so very good to see a large number of people reading a book of quality instead of the typical slight commuter fare. The Book Thief is an excellent work of art that is also as entertaining as the junk that passes for popular these days.

*** Good Books ***
I don't mean to denigrate any particular works, of course.

"That's a great book!" I exclaim to the crowd. "Especially for a children's novel."

"What do you mean?" says the guy I sat down next to. "I do not believe this is something that should be shunted off into the kid lit ghetto."

"It's true stuff, man," says another.

"I suppose it is a bit sad for children," I admit.

*** About the Book ***
People die in it.
In fact, the narrator is death.

A woman in a straw hat waggles her finger at me. "Now, children can handle a lot more than you think they can," she says. "If the container is well-constructed enough, then they'll eat the soup. And, in this case, I think it's important enough for them to consume this chunk of a book."


"It does an excellent job," I say, because it occurs to me that it would be good to do some explication, "of describing ordinary people caught in the machinations of government, hatred, and fear. These fairly ordinary Germans experience poverty, hide a Jew, and are bombed by the Allies. It's so amazing that 'normal' people let society get that way; I'd call it 'cautionary' if that wasn't such a buzzword."

"The author definitely tip-toes through a mine field," says the guy next to me.

*** About this Tale ***
None of these people is real.

"Yeah, I hated the Germans and cared about them at the same time," I say.

*** Another Note ***
Well, I'm real. Sort of.

"No. No, you didn't," says the guy next to me. He immediately interrupts himself. "What did the driver just say?"

"'The next station is Fort Totten; First stop in the District of Columbia.' I've never understood why they always tell us when we're going into Maryland or leaving DC."

"Oh, no no no," says my seat companion. "That's not good."

"What's wrong?"

"I'm not allowed to leave Maryland." He jumps up and starts pacing. "Do you think we've crossed the line, yet?"

"I don't know."

"What do I do?" he shouts.

"Hush, now," says the woman in the straw hat. "What's so bad about being in DC?"

"It's not being in DC," he says. "It's hard to explain. I'm just not allowed to leave Maryland. If I get caught..." He trails off as he starts beating his forehead on the rail behind his seat.

"Can you stop that?" I say. "The clinking sound puts my teeth on edge."

"Ok," the straw hatted woman takes charge. "Let's get you out at Fort Totten."

The train arrives at the Fort Totten platform. We push the guy out and follow. He looks about wildly.

"I'm in DC. I'm in DC. Oh, Lord."

"Here," says the woman as she throws her bag over his head. "Nobody will recognize you now."

We try to talk loudly about The Book Thief while navigating the escalators to move up to the Red Line platform. Our raised voices nearly drown out the whimpering coming from the National Aquarium tote bag. The bag has a giant fish who looks back and forth at the upside-down world as our charge shakes his head nervously. We reach the top platform. The board tells us that the Red Line train is two minutes away.

"If we can get to the train, we're only two stops from Maryland at Silver Spring," our leader tells us.

"Why not just go back on the next train toward Greenbelt?" I ask, but she shushes me.

"There's a Metro cop," she hisses. "Take these." She thrusts candy bars into my hand and the hand of the gentleman next to me. He's wearing a bowler hat. Everybody has a hat, now, but me. I wish I hadn't lost my Tilley Hat. She pushes us down the platform toward the fuzz.

"What are we supposed to do with these?" I want to know.

"I'm not sure," says the man in the bowler hat, "that The Book Thief can really talk to this generation. I mean, now we have a government that we can trust implicitly and that protects us from things like that, right?" He looks at the ingredients of his candy bar. "Even if our government wasn't so darn good at looking after our interests, I don't know anybody who would stand up against authority like that."

"You're probably right," I say as I unwrap the candy bar. It tastes grand. "But maybe through reading it -- hey!"

I'm interrupted by a tug on my arm. The Metro cop had spotted us eating our candy bars. I stuff the rest of the bar into my mouth.

"Do you like see food?" I ask the Metro cop.

*** A Final Note ***
Metro cops don't like see-food.

Wouldn't It Be Nice?

So, for one project, we're using Subversion for our version control. Our Windows developers are using Tortoise as the client. Tortoise integrates with the Windows shell (shell...turtle...get it? get it?) so that you can right-click on a file and perform version control commands upon it.

We're also using http as our transport mechanism, so all of our repositories are identified by URL.

Wouldn't it be cool if you could modify Windows so that if I right-click on a link (say in an email or a document or something), that I could get at least the repository browser and log options for the URL? Yeah. That would be cool.

If you were a total tool dweeb who sat around and thought that things like that would be cool.

All Politics is Local

A Political Report

Now, I'm as politically savvy as the next guy. Heck, I've seen The West Wing. Sure, it was three years ago, when we had a TV and lived in the UK, but still, when I walked out of the Silver Spring Metro Station this morning, I spotted this wee man handing out political handbills and I knew that he was not at the top of the game.

  • He didn't seem comfortable speaking to anyone
  • He was having trouble getting anyone to take his literature
  • He was a candidate for office in Montgomery County handing out literature to people coming in to the County. (Maybe he should have been trying to catch people who might actually live in the County.)
Josh and company would know what to do with this guy, how to turn him into a smooth-talking representative of all that is good and decent. There was something almost sad in his campaign attempt.

As I thought about it, in fact, my heart went out to the little guy. He is trying to do something to change the world. What are you doing? What am I doing?

And I don't think whinging counts.

And, you know, I don't want him turned into some smooth-talking political operative. I think maybe we have just one or two too many of those wandering around. Some normal, shy businessman trying to make a dent in the world, perhaps that's just what we need. Good luck, Tufail Ahmad, I almost wish I lived in Montgomery County.

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (Roddy Doyle)

We are waiting for the Admiral to sail in.

--He's not really an admiral, says Rocky. Is he?

--Sure, I say. I never heard anyone say that he was an admiral, but once it came out of my mouth, I believed it. Or maybe not really. It's the middle of a release and I'm tired and the war room is getting crowded, what with all the "real" and imaginary co-workers all huddled together.

And they shut off the air conditioning on weekends.

--We should 'sink his boat', says Stan. Ha ha ha.

Stan's always making innuendos that we don't get.

--Ha ha ha, we all laugh, not wanting to look dumb.

--They're arguing again, I say.

I don't want to talk about the Admiral any more. I called him that because of his girth, which vaguely embarrasses me. His size and my mockery, both. But he is like the Titanic; huge. He moves like a cruise ship, like he's floating along. He doesn't really move up and down when he walks. He's smooth as butter. If he's coming to the conference room, he has to cut his engines somewhere near the supply room. Then he just drifts into port.

--It's quiet arguing, I say. But they are fighting.

--No, they're not, says Rocky. Are they?

Keith is outside the war room talking to the customer on the phone. His voice rises and falls like the waves. It's hot. You can feel the heat beating against you like the piston on a locomotive. Like the brick wall we keep running our heads into. It's in Keith's voice. It's in our heads. It's on the table. The table is too hot to touch.

My computer is making the table hot. I pull out a book to prop up the laptop and allow air to flow. The Admiral floats in and collects himself in the corner.

--Never fear, says the Admiral. Your DBA is here to save the day!

--Good thing it's not a 'rainy day', Stan says and wiggles his eyebrows.

--Ha ha ha, we laugh. The Admiral laughs, too. He's afraid of Stan, though Stan is easily one third his size.

--They're fighting, I tell the Admiral. He ebbs over to an outlet to plug in his laptop, then he drifts over to the table. He is as wide as the end of the conference table. The gravity in the room has changed.

--Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, the Admiral says to me, pointing at the book under my laptop. I read that. I must say it didn't agree with me.

Stan jumps up and moves behind the Admiral. He grabs the Admiral's arm and tries to hike it up the Admiral's back.

--You didn't really read that book, didya?

--Never. The Admiral doesn't even wait for it to hurt. The rest of us look at the table. Keith walks in.

--That was the customer, he says. They want a new feature.

--That's impossible; they can't want it on the day of the release, says Rocky. Can they?

Keith nods.

--I told you they were fighting, I say. And we lost.

Painting at Kitty Hawk

Painting At Kitty Hawk
Ok, after all that whinging about the travel time, we took some time to relax. Here's a picture of my painting space. It's not exactly the same kind of set up as the Community Center, but it's nice any way (well, it was 95 degrees!)


Just for the record, it took us 9.5 hours to drive from Greenbelt, Maryland, to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on Saturday. There were several hours of sitting still here and there on Interstate 95.

We left home at 9am and stopped for lunch at 12pm. At that point, we had not actually made it as far as King's Dominion. We rolled into Kitty Hawk at 6:30. I think the last hour was spent simply crossing the bridge.

Google gives it 6 hours, 1 minute. MapQuest gives it 5 hours, 6 minutes.