Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I Know K Street Isn't a Dressing Room, but I Don't Care

With the blazing weather today, it's about time I quell those gawkers who look at me when I'm either walking to the metro or from the metro to my carpool ride home. For reasons unbeknownst to me, I seem to be very warm blooded. This allows me to (luckily) stay warmer than most people in the winter, but also allows me to (unluckily) become warmer than most people once it gets over 65 degrees. Once things get that warm, I will perspire at least a little if I'm walking outside for a few minutes. If it's a cooler day, I'll actually perspire more once I get inside. Relax, I'm not as sweaty as if I just ran 5 miles in my dress shirt, but it's still uncomfortable.

I've never been this bad, but I'm sure some people walking around were today.

To avoid gigantic dry cleaning bills each week because I'd only get to wear a dress shirt once before it needed a good scrubbing, I have started removing my shirt after I reach Rosslyn, if not the second I leave the office. Walking with shirt and tie in-hand isn't the issue with onlookers. What is an issue is when I remove my dress shirt (don't worry, I wear a white undershirt). Is it so strange for someone to take a layer of clothing off? I'm not some exhinbitionist so (luckily for us all) there isn't more to see. I'm just a person who gets mini-hot flashes like a menopausal woman and then can't cool down because I keep thinking about how hot I am. Gotta love DC in the summer!

Even Ed is all about the sweat glands.

Despite this April to October dillema, I have mastered the skill of removing my shirt without having to put down my backpack nor losing any walking speed. I think it's akin to a woman removing her bra without taking off her shirt - an incredible feat of human engineering and evoluation. First I undo my tie, unbutton my shirt, and then remove my right backpack strap, followed by removing my right arm out of the sleeve. I quickly swivel my backpack around my front until I may replace my right arm back into the right strap. I then complete the removal of my shirt by taking my left arm out of the sleeve and replacing it in the left backpack strap. Just like Superman I too change from a mild mannered worker, except I become Joe Comfortable in a white undershirt.

Look at how far sweating has gotten MD's coach.

So please don't stare like it's a freak show. I'm just someone who gets a little overheated and looks for any relief I can get. I bet the other sidewalkers around me are just jealous that they haven't done the same because you just know they're feeling the heat too. I will never be that stubborn guy still wearing his entire wool suit in this heat while walking around downtown. If it's okay with you, I'd rather not test my deodorant while diminishing the lifetime of my work clothes with too much dry cleaning.

Monday, May 22, 2006

About That Guy Wearing a Sports Illustrated Sweatshirt During Happy Hour

I made an appearance on Friday with some peeps out in Arlington at Whitlow's on Wilson. It was a good time (which is always ensured when someone pays for 90% of the expenses including tons of games of pool over the 5 hours we were out). I will never be confused with someone who has a sense of style or even what clothes match without getting assistance, but while I was watching some folks play biliards, I saw this guy walk in wearing his free Sports Illustrated (SI) sweatshirt.

Mow the lawn instead.

Even I know that sweatshirts like that (and all in general) shouldn't be worn at evening social functions like a generic happy hour. Now if we're going to watch a sporting event, go ahead and show your team pride with a sweatshirt, but don't wear it when everyone is, at the very least, wearing clothes you'd find at Old Navy. By wearing that sweatshirt (which we all know he got for free with his subscription), it just says he's either lazy, doesn't have common sense, severly needed to do laundry, or is such a fan of SI that he takes baths with cover pages strewn on top. If he falls into the latter group, I'm actually disappointed he wasn't wearing matching sweatpants. I bet he has a football phone connected to each jack.

I've never seen anyone use this, but I bet SI Sweatshirt guy owns a few of them.

I love SI and can't wait to read every issue, but I'm not going to wear the free sweatshirt unless I'm running Saturday morning errands. It's clearly in that category of clothes. Ya know those clothes you just throw on because you're mowing the lawn or food shoppping. It isn't so bad that it falls into the category of only worn while lounging around the house, but that's also difficult to define sometimes. He had enough sense not to wear sweatpants, but I think that's because they were all in the washing machine. I'm due to renew my subscription and get a free SI Fleece, but I will only wear it when I'm doing something very casual like running errands - not when I'm out for a night on the town. Even I know this and that's sad.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

How Do You Say Not Funny in chinese?

I drove up to New (or "Dirty" or "Smelly") Jersey this weekend for Mother's Day because I'm a good son like that. I was only there for 24 hours so I had zero time to swing by any local friends and was constantly on the move. We did our B and T Crowd required visit to the city and went into Chinatown on Saturday night for dinner. While I was washing my hands in the restaurant's bathroom, I read the obligatory "Employees must wash hands before returning to work."

As the ever off beat thinker I am, I thought since we were in a chinese restaurant in Chinatown, the sign should have naturally read:

Employees must wash hands before returning to wok.

Hello? Anybody? As with all of my jokes, I always seem to find them the funniest, and couldn't stop laughing the entire weekend. When you own a comedy club, sometimes you are the only performer and have to be the only paying customer cracking a smile.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Metro Slides Into a Ball Pit - What Fun!

On page 33 in today's Washington Post Express (print edition), there was some letter traffic about an idea for Metro to replace its escalators with stairs. A letter on Monday apparently said that replacing escalators with stairs would be inconsiderate to riders with special needs. In response to that letter, a woman wrote, "I suggest slides instead of stairs. It would be faster and it would free up the escalators and elevators for those with special needs."

I wouldn't mind landing in a ball pit before boarding the metro...as long as what happens in children's ball pits doesn't happen with the Metro's.

I would like to think the writer meant to suggest ramps like those at major sports arenas that wind back and forth for a while. I think the slide/ramp idea won't work because of space issues and the fact that stairs/escalators are quicker for those that can take advantage of them. Nevertheless, I wouldn't mind having the writer's idea of slides implemented when going down to the tracks. I'm not talking about arena ramps (as she may have). I'm talking about those great slides we used to ride at the playground. Some slides could go in spirals to control the speed. Otherwise, a direct slide at my favorite Rosslyn station would cause people to reach terminal velocity before even making it to the platform.

Now that's what I'm talking about!

Maybe a direct slide would be a viable option if you're really in a rush - you'd just finish your slide in a big ball pit like at Chuck E. Cheese. If you're worried about getting your suit dirty from the slide, you could grab a specially designed cloth that not only protects you from the slide, akin to toilet seat covers, but also decreases your friction to gain more speed. I actually think the downhill-only slides would work. I guess I do agree with the writer's suggestion of Metro slides afterall.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

King's Dominion Is Way Better Than Your Local Carnival Rides

3/4 of a fortnight ago, I went to Paramount's King's Dominion (PKD) in bumble-f Virginia, also know as Doswell. Which sounds like Roswell (New Mexico) but probably doesn't have the aliens. We considered Six Flags in Maryland, but heard bad things about it and I didn't want to give Napolean (Daniel Snyder) and the Redskins any money. After an unentertaining drive south, we arrived a few minutes before the park's opening. I wanted to drive the (new for me) 495 flyover to 95 south, but word of an accident around that way means it'll just have to wait. My SO and I (it's obvious at this point that "we" implies that for all blog entries) bought our tickets online and chose to pay what is the regular price at the gate for one admission instead of the discounted single admission internet price because PKD's online deal gave you a second admission free when paying the regular full price. Are you confused yet?

The 10-story 495/95 flyover was one ride that'll have to wait for my next trip.

We timed our trip perfectly thanks to an overcast day before the summer crowds. Our brochure advertised a new "Italian Job" rollercoaster so we planned to get that and some of the other very popular rides out of the way before (we lost our) lunch and more people entered the park. We started at "Volcano" and waited about 25 minutes or so before getting on the ride. I didn't mind the wait since we didn't have to walk through any of those carrals that go back and forth before making much headway. While we waited, we got a great view of the "Tomb Raider" (guarenteed regurgitation) ride. It looked rough so I just take a raincheck on that ride, which of course I'll never use. Volcano was fun with lots of corkscrews while it shoots you out of the main volcano set. As with most coasters, I always fear my head or feet will hit the track or overhead bar as we go by, which of course would never happen. Nevertheless, since this was a suspended coaster, I kept my feet as far off the ground as possible. Ever sinceI rode the Great American Scream Machine at the great Six Flags great Adventure in the great state of New Jersey, I've enjoyed being scared on coasters and yelling.

If it's okay with you, I'd rather see my breakfast once each day...when I eat it.
After getting pumped from that ride we went to the Italian Job coaster. It was a cool movie and while sitting in a mini cooper might be too mini for me, it'd still be a fun ride. We saw the faux parking garage that our coaster would drive through. We saw the helicopters that would shoot at us as we passed by. We saw the LA Aqueduct and tunnel recreation. We saw the ride's entrance sign. What we didn't see was a way to get in. The ride hadn't opened yet! We felt ripped off. All this talk about the ride yet it's not ready to go. We took solace in knowing we could return later in the season with our tickets, but it still sucked. To make us feel better, we rode the kiddie swing ride (no line) which made me feel worse than I did after Volcano because I let myself get a little dizzy.

I swear I wasn't scared. I swear I wasn't scared.

After some mighty negiating and discussion, I got my SO to go on Drop Zone. It's just like the well documented Tower of Terror at Disneyworld, only this drops you from 272 feet (more than twice the height) without any fake drops. This ride was really fun. Sure, I screamed at the start, but after that I just enjoyed the ride. It gave a great view of nobody-lives-around-these-parts Virginia with lots of trees. Of course, just as I was enjoying the view, I wondered when I'd get dropped. Then, just after the moment passed when I expected the drop to happen, we fell. Just watching people before and after the ride was funny. After reorienting ourselves with earth, we took it easy and rode the carousel.

272 feet? Whatever, even Micky Mouse has that beat.

Hunger began to eat away at us so we figured our best choice were burgers and fries. We had gotten the reversal of fortune inducing rides out of the so it was a good time to put food in that wasn't coming out at the park. We got two burgers, large fries, two sodas and a whole lot of fixin's (I can't stop myself with sliced pickles) all for the low low price of $22. It's an amusement park so you can't be surprised by the prices, but wow, they might as well have taken my car for collateral. The food was passable and hit the spot. We thought our minds were losing it from too many rides because we kept feeling like our seats and table were vibrating. If that bothers you, don't sit in any window seats. We survived this secret PKD ride, but could have done without it.

Backward was a little intimidating for me.

We watched some folks do the "Xtreme Flyover" and considered the "Hypersonic XLC" ride, but passed for the chiropractor inviting wooden rollercoasters. I think someone should open a chiropractic office next to a wooden rollercoaster. We went on the "Rebel Yell" twice. It has a mini tunnel which of course I feared would decapitate me, but I made it. It has two sets of cars - one forward and one backward - but we didn't feel like upsetting our stomachs enough to go backward. Sitting in the front on this ride is worth the wait (which wasn't more than 10 minutes when we went). We also rode the auspiciously named "Hurler". It wasn't as fun as the Rebel Yell and probably misaligned some parts of every rider's back, but that's expected on wooden coasters.

Shockwave's sit/stand position didn't look so comfortable...yea, that's why I didn't want to go on it.

"Riccochet" looked boring and Hypersonic's line was long and we already had experienced its sensations, but would try it next visit. Perhaps we'll ride Grizzly, the other wooden coaster, next time as well. Shockwave looked a bit rough for me since you sort of stand/sit and go in a circle parallel to the ground, as well complete a loop and experience the usual rollerocoaster drop at the end. I also understand we just missed out on a fun ride about space that was completely in the dark and was the first of the electromagnetic-powered tracks. There weren't any real annoying people or things going on while we got around the park. I didn't try any of the carnival games since none looked too appealing and I don't really need a MD basketball that'll just get warped in a month (if I played again of course). I will get some cotton candy next time and definitely get on the Italian Job coaster - if it's actually running.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Do you ever wonder what some pedestrians are thinking when they cross the street?

It seems that people are greater risk-takers than myself. These risk-taking folk cross the street without recognizing the two crosswalks equidistant from their intended path. In other words, they'll cross wherever they want whenever they want, nevermind the fact that drivers, though observant every second behind the wheel, may not be looking for pedestrians crossing outside of the crosswalk. It's called a crosswalk for a reason.

Is it that hard to walk between the lines?

I wish drivers could get little tags to pin on obtrusively jaywalking folks. Sort of like farmers sorting out cows, the pins would mark the person as a dangerous object that could very easily get stuck in your car's grill so be careful of them. Of course I'm not saying everyone must always use the crosswalk everytime because all streets eventually have low periods of car activity. When that happens, cross wherever your little heart desires. But please, if it's, oh I don't know, rush hour on a Friday and everyone is racing to get home, maybe it's in a pedestrian's best interest (to stay uninjured/alive) to use the crosswalk.

"Oncoming traffic does not yield" in any metropolitan city.

If a street looks quiet, here's a tip to make it to the other side without using a crosswalk...keep looking both ways (that's left and right people, not up and down) over and over and over again until you make it to the other curb. If you have to sprint to make it across and the oncoming car would pass a second after you step on the opposite side...then it's not worth the risk. Suppose you fall? Then you just become a speed bump on Glebe Road or Georgia Avenue. (Was that too graphic?) If you sprint and won't cut it that close, then take your chances, but watch your step. It's certainly better if you can make it across without having to run. If you safely crossed 30 seconds later when traffic was quieter, I'm sure you'd have been just fine.

Playing Grand Theft Auto makes it seem so easy.

One other thing, if you do cross a busy street outside of the crosswalk and you see a car approaching, please don't stop in the middle of my lane to stare at me. I'm not the one who doesn't want to live to see what the opposite sidewalk feels like. Just remember, a moving car almost always beats (both competatively and physically) a live target.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A New Runner's Tale of a Fast Addiction

I've been running for the last few weeks (and months if you count treadmill time). I've never liked running. In fact I used to despise it. When I participated in track it pained me to do 2 laps of jog-stride just because of the distance. Sure I made it through, but since the first mile of a long run is the worst, I only knew any distance over sprinting distances meant pain and suffering. It should be noted again that I wrote "participated" instead of "competing" since I sucked and also didn't try too hard at practice so there really was little chance I would improve. At practice, I positioned myself into sprint races, not because I was fast, but because they were so short. I ran everything from the 400 M (sprint) to the 110M high hurdles and even threw some discus and javelin. I was just happy getting credit on my high school transcript.

Ahhhh!!! Where's the rest of his right leg???

For the next 8 years, I could count on my hand the number of times I ran for more than a mile without stopping. Sure, I played tons of basketball, football, and (you know all too well) occasional ultimate frisbee so I still did plenty of running of over a mile, but not a constant run. Only ultimate comes closest to making me run the entire time, and even then I can walk or jog between points. I guess I should always be running in every sport, but pickup games don't expect such effort. After tearing a ligament in my right knee, I was hesitant to try any sudden-stopping sports because I feared my leg wouldn't be there for me. I still wanted to exercise and got frustrated when I had to place my bicycle in the car. This only left me with long distance running...to my significant other's delight.

Philly has Rocky and the art museum...well DC has Abraham Lincoln!

My SO was a high school running phenom who was a two-event long distance state champion before the end of her sophomore year. Just great. Here I am hating running while she can't run enough. I had been told by others with like mindsets of my own that it's hard at the start, but once you get going, you can't stop. Whatever. The 1st mile hurts too much anyway so I might as well go lift weights or something.

Does this only apply to cars?

Lo and behold, we had some warm days in January and my SO gets me to run a few times. She always wanted someone to run with and I'm not about to let her run on her own without my (not so) brave-self protecting her from our (not at all) dangerous neighborhood. After our first run, it became apparent my beatup sneakers and uncoming soles don't have what it takes to even run a mile (a built-in excuse for the first run). We buy some New Balance shoes and New Balance socks made for flatfooted folks like me and I immediately feel a difference - Part physical from better shoes and part mental knowing I have better shoes so I should run better...damnit! We keep running and slowly, but surely, I run more often and further while complaining less and less. She gave me the pace courtesy by running at my slower speed when I knew she could zoom by me at anytime.

She'll be coming the mountain when she comes...

I still hate the first mile and a half, but so does everyone. Once you get past that mark, you reach that nirvana known as runner's high. It's not so much a euphoric feeling as it is a lack of feeling in your lower extremities that prevents you from feeling any pain or discomfort while running. Since March, temperatures have been plenty warm for the regular running I now do about 3 times a week. I never thought I'd enjoy running long distances, but now I can't help myself. It helps when there are several good running routes around DC and the Potomac River, but more than that, it just feels good.

Here's how you build your own running shoes...let me know when you finish.

I may even sell my thrice-used and much heralded bike, but let's not walk that plank just yet. I've even entered the Race For the Cure, my first race since high school. It's a 5k or about 3.1 miles (who knew running would teach you measurement conversion?). I might even post my time if it's halfway decent. Until then, here's to few shin splints, twisted ankles, and hoping traffic starts to acknowledge runners in crosswalks by the Memorial Bridge.

Monday, May 08, 2006

I Have Finally Counted Rosslyn's Metro Steps

Thanks to the Metro escalator gods and perhaps buoyed by a mention in the Post's online Express edition (thanks to From DC to Jerusalem for pointing it out), it finally happened for me. As I approached the Rosslyn station's down escalators this morning, the middle stairway was completely empty...and not moving! As the ever intrepid explorer, I began my stepdown, counting the whole way, and realizing that my elementary school teachers were right when they told me one day I'd need to know how to count above 100. The first 10 steps in my counting may have been a little off as I tried to control my giddyness and went from the flat steps to descending steps, but I quickly recovered and was on my way.

As if fighting the Friday 5 PM crowds wasn't hard enough.

Counting on the even step, I had no trouble until steps 40-42-44 when I started counting too quickly. Nevertheless, I pressed on because I'm tough like that and finished with a total step count of....drum roll please....158! Of course this is +/- 5 for miscounting, to cover myself until someone else gets stepping, and because it's tricky counting the flat (non-descending) steps. If I wasn't pressed to get to work on time, I would have rode up the working escalator and walked down again to give myself another counting. And no, I wasn't about to walk up the escalator before work because I'd rather not break a sweat and deal with that all day at my desk. Considering my first Rosslyn stair count, it's safe to say it's equal to the Washington Post's Express count of the Woodley Park/Adams Morgan stairwell at 160 steps.

If you want to join the Super Terrific Escalator People Sessions (STEPS), you should start by studying how it works.

Technically, there are more stairs to consider at Rosslyn because of the escalators that take you to orange and blue line trains headed toward Vienna/Fairfax-GMU and Franconia-Springfield. They've been working well the last few weeks so another counting session is in order. You should know that I'm not addicted to counting escalator steps or have some weird staircounting hobby, but it's hard not to think about it when you walk up them everyday. By the way, today's celebrity lookalikes included Rene Russo (but I couldn't see how close she was to Rene's obnoxious tooth to gum ratio) and a 200 lbs lighter William "Refridgerator" Perry. Imagine that kid.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

My First Attempt At Rock Climbing Didn't Get Off The Ground

On Saturday, I went back to UMD to checkout Maryland Day and see if I'm still the BMOC. I learned (quickly) that I'm not the BMOC (having been removed from the scene almost four years earlier), I learned that you need to arrive early if you want the best freebies at Maryland Day, and I also learned not to try one of the more difficult rock climbing walls for my first rock climb.

Angled walls that help gravity pull you down aren't a good way to start a climbing career. And no, that isn't me pictured. This guy climbed too high.

We started our time in CoPo by purchasing some clothes at the Comcast Center for the youngest Terp fans we know and made our way to the Outdoor Recreation Center for the climbing wall. I never used the wall while I attended, but I wish I did. After signing away any injury claims, I harnessed-up. Thank god for pre-made harnesses because the last one I wore was back in in high school that I made by tying rope knots to make a "Studebaker Seat". Let me tell you, that thing would ride up higher into my "alleys" than I knew was possible.

Celebrating UMD's 150th anniversary tasted great, but it would've helped if my opposable thumbs could grasp a fork.

Anyway, I had to decide on a wall. There were about 8 walls of varying difficulty and all of which went to the 55-foot (?) top. My partner in climb (PIC) (is this mic on?) suggested I try one of the harder ones because I "have some upper-body strength and it would be a good challenge". Though I had never climbed before, I (stupidly) agreed and was on my way. How bad could it be? I just watched two 10-year-olds fly up the wall and I'm sure the fact that the wall is angled away from my body won't be too much trouble.

It always makes me feel good to see kids 1/2 my age reach the top when I can't.

After I stepped off of the ground, I realized I was in trouble. The (un)funny thing about an angled wall like this is you have to keep yourself next to the wall instead of letting gravity assist as it naturally does. Suddenly the easy walls that beg you to lean on them as you climb and even the 90-degree perpendicular wall that asks for balance looked very appealing. Nevertheless, I made it about 1/4 of the way up, but couldn't get past the first angled wall (if you read into these words, it means I barely got off the ground). I was trying to use too much arms and not enough legs. Of course, it didn't help that I couldn't push off the little pegs anyway, but I wasn't going far.

I guess I really shouldn't complain about the wall after seeing this challenge.

My PIC flew up 3/4 of the 90-degree perpendicular wall while I was left to sulk because some 10-year-olds got three times as far as I did. On top of that, my fingers and forearms were sore (and still were on Tuesday). I would like to do more rock climbing, but I will start on the easier (not so vertical) walls with larger pegs and easier grips. The rest of Maryland Day was fine with the same booths as 3 years ago when I last went so it does lose its charm. Eating the world's largest strawberry shortcake sure hit the spot after the rock climb, but it was hard to hold a fork. It should be noted, to get the better freebies, like this year's IKEA bag and Business School beach ball, hit those areas right at the start. I have no regrets getting to climb with no wait, but free stuff is free stuff.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Finally, a Metro Escalator is (Almost) Broken In My Favor

Around 5:15 this afternoon (or evening if that's your fancy), I was walking toward the long Rosslyn escalators. As usual, I was sizing up the two lanes to determine the easiest and fastest one to walk up the left-side. As I inched closer, the right escalator had very few people. In fact, it had nobody in either the local (left) nor the tourist (right) lanes. I imagined myself flying up the escalator in my way-too-old sneakers that I wear to save my feet from dress shoe blisters. Oh sure, the other escalator's line was very long and nobody was approaching the right escalator, but I might as well shoot for the moon.

What Dupont (or any station's stairs) look like as you catch the last train on Saturday night.

I appoached the VIP escalator and saw a metro worker toying with it. I asked if I could still walk up the escalator (and fulfill my dream of finally counting the number of steps in the Rosslyn station (I average 88 steps when I traverse it)), but I was told he was simply trying to get it running again. Unfortunately, I had to pass on this oasis of metro stairclimbing and travel up the slower than usual left lane of the only working escalator. I probably looked like a jerk since I walked right up to the broken escalator only to cut in line of the working one at the last minute. I was no better than those cars that get over at the last minute on Cabin John Parkway. As I made my way up the moving escalator, I watched the right one with intensity, only to find it not working by the time my trip ended. If only I could have gone up the frozen escalator and found out just how many steps there are...if only I also had a brain and realized how unimportant finding that out would be.