Minor Fender Bender, 1/5/2012

Poor Fats had a minor fender bender this past Thursday morning. Nothing too serious, certainly not as serious as the orbital fracture and broken nose he had back in 2010. But still enough to warrant a visit to the body repair shop this coming Monday.

Google Map of the location of the accident.

I was heading north on North Lynn Street and made a left to get onto the George Washington Memorial Expressway when the van in front of me stopped suddenly, right at the intersection of the on-ramp with North Fort Myers Drive, thus preventing me from proceeding onto the expressway. A young woman walking her dog was at the corner, and I assumed that the driver had stopped to allow the pedestrian to cross even though it was his right of way. The van backed up some and stopped, and I was wondering what was going on; was the driver trying to be REALLY polite and give the pedestrian more room to cross the road? Meanwhile, I’m stuck behind the van, and I’m worrying that when the traffic light changes I’ll be blocking the traffic going south on North Fort Myers Drive.

Then the van backed up and hit me. I immediately got out of Fats with my gas mileage notebook and a pen. The driver (an older Asian man) and his three passengers (young women, all) get out of the van; I assume from their looks that they’re Korean. The pedestrian said something to me like “What a nice way to start your morning, huh?” and apologized even though it wasn’t her fault, saying that she should have waved the van on more insistently. I told her that I saw the accident about to happen but was not able to back up out of the way in time. The pedestrian volunteers her information as a witness, and writes her contact information in my notebook; I give her my own, tearing a sheet out of the notebook. Similarly, the front seat passenger gives me her contact information, and I give her mine. I notice that her last name sounds Chinese rather than Korean. I ask the pedestrian whether her dog is a Shih tzu, and she says yes.

We then went our separate ways. The two passengers from the rear seat removed luggage from the back of the van and started walking south on North Fort Myers drive, perhaps to the Key Bridge Marriott. The van proceeded onto the GW Memorial Expressway, and I follow.

Later that day, I got a call from the front seat passenger’s insurance company, who will cover my damages. We arranged for me to meet their adjuster at an automobile repair shop this coming Monday morning. I’ll pick up a car from a nearby rental company, and will drive the rental car while Fats is being repaired. Also that same day, I went out to lunch with my co-worker and lunch buddy, A.B., and told him about the car accident. He noted with some amusement that I had come away from the accident with the contact information of two young women.

In thinking it over, I now realize that the driver wasn’t trying to be overly chivalrous to the woman walking her dog. Instead, I think that he was driving the two passengers in the rear seat to the Key Bridge Marriott, and was heading north on North Lynn Street. But instead of making a U-turn just before the Key Bridge to get to the Marriott, he went straight to the ramp leading to the GW Memorial Expressway. His passengers must have said, “No! No! Don’t go onto the Expressway! Turn left to go to the Marriott!”, causing him to stop. But unfortunately it was too late, he was too far onto the ramp, and I was behind him, preventing him from backing up and making the U-turn that he should have made. And I think that he knew I was behind him, but backed up into me anyway out of sheer frustration and anger!

Monster Slipper

Customer Tom Boddingham received this size 1,450 monster foot after a ‘clerical error’.

Makes me wonder how it got paid for. If I were to see such a thing in a department store, perhaps as a novelty sleeping bag, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it costing several hundred dollars. But surely Mr. Boddingham wouldn’t agree to pay several hundred dollars for a slipper. (Or maybe he would, if it were a customized orthopedic job?) Maybe he’d agree to pay around, say, the equivalent of fifty dollars U.S.

But I would think that the factory in Hong Kong wouldn’t agree to making something worth several hundred dollars and be paid only fifty dollars.

So, how did this slipper get made?

And, can I have one too?

Someone should alert the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization.

Million-dollar typos cause worldwide losses

We mustn’t fail to mention Fats’ take on the matter.

There were four of us: me, your big feet, and YOU.

(Previous post in which I referenced this Waller performance.)

OK, this is stretching this thought chain to near breaking, but what about the Salish Sea human foot discoveries, in British Columbia? Some of those feet have been identified.

Deer Strike, November 21, 2010

A week ago, Sunday, November 21, 2010, around 6:00 PM, I hit a deer! I had spent the weekend at my sister’s new house out in Loudoun County to help her and her husband with moving and unpacking boxes. That Sunday, I excused myself to attend a 2 PM ragtime piano concert, hosted by the Northern Virginia Ragtime Society, with Perfessor Bill Edwards performing. After the concert, the plan was for me to return to my sister’s house.

I had been driving back to my sister’s new house and was just about to get off Route 7 when I hit the deer. At that point, Route 7 is two lanes going east and two going west, and I had been headed west in the right lane. There was another car in the left lane right next to me, and we were about head-to-head. Suddenly, the deer appeared just to my right, appearing to be moving from left to right. There was no time to react. I clipped it with the right front corner of my CRV; I believed I saw a spray of stuff upon impact, but I’m not sure whether the stuff was plastic material from the car or organic material from the deer. I suspect that the car to my left was lucky, and the deer had gotten out of the left lane into my lane.

For about a second I thought of just driving all the way to my sister’s house and inspecting the damage there, but within a second or two I realized that I didn’t have brakes; when I tried mashing on the brakes, there was strong resistance and no response with the brakes. Then I realized I didn’t have acceleration either! I was just coasting. So the only thing left to do was to maneuver the car to the side of the road before it lost momentum (mass times velocity). I brought the car to a stop at the intersection between West Loudoun Road and Route 7, facing west.

Here’s a street-level view of that intersection; it’s from the perspective of the Google Van in the street, but I was off the road, on the shoulder. Looking up through my windshield, I could see a street sign labeled “W LOUDOUN ST”, which is not seen in Google’s street-level view. Perhaps the street sign is a relatively new addition.

I didn’t see the deer after that; maybe it hobbled off into the woods. I myself was uninjured. No other cars or people were involved, so this was thankfully a relatively simple case.

I used my cell phone to telephone my sister to let her know what had happened. I was then fumbling about with my wallet, looking for my AAA card when the blue flashing lights of a police car show up in my rear view mirror. I would estimate that barely five minutes had elapsed between hitting the deer and the police showing up.

The policeman, a deputy sheriff, took my driver’s license and insurance information, and filed an accident report. He then kindly offered to summon a towing truck for me, explaining that if I did it myself (e.g., perhaps through AAA) it might take longer. I guess towing companies are a little more responsive when the request comes from the sheriff! I took him up on the offer. And indeed, the towing truck appeared extremely promptly, probably within ten minutes. To my amusement, the towing truck’s license plate was REPO GOD. The deputy sheriff then gave me a ride to my sister’s new house; with a chuckle, he said that if it helped me feel any better, I had made it almost all of the way to my destination before hitting the deer. And as he dropped me off, he gave another chuckle — he told me that the neighbors are now wondering about this new family that just moved into town, and that are now having a police car show up on their driveway. (There go the property values!)

Monday morning, I telephoned my insurance company, State Farm, and gave them information regarding the accident, including the accident case number. I also had to give the approval to have the towing company bring my car to Craftsman Auto Body in Purcellville. I could have had them tow it to Arlington so that if/when my car was repaired it would be close by, but I thought that towing my car all the way from the Purcellville area to Arlington wasn’t such a good idea.

Most everything went surprisingly smoothly, from the appearance of the deputy sheriff and the towing truck to State Farm’s handling of the matter. I think it’s because deer collisions are very common in Loudoun County, at this time of year. Indeed, this very timely article appeared in the Loudoun-Times-Mirror on November 24. Maybe if my case weren’t so cut-and-dry, e.g., if a second automobile were involved, things wouldn’t have gone so smoothly.

The only glitch in the whole process, and it is a very minor one, really, was with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I had telephoned them on Monday to reserve a mid-sized car, which I wanted pick up on Tuesday morning. I didn’t want too large a car because the parking spaces at River Place are rather narrow, and because the $900 that my insurance covers towards rental cars might last long with a larger vehicle (which incur a higher daily rate). When I showed up to Enterprise on Tuesday morning, there had been a small error — they thought I had wanted the car on Wednesday morning. The car they assigned to me was a Chevy Impala, which I don’t think is mid-sized; actually, it seems rather full-sized. I suspect that I wasn’t given a true mid-sized car because of the clerical error. Again, this was really a very minor error (in case you’re wondering, I am not being charged the rate of a larger vehicle). In fact, sometimes I enjoy using these minor errors in life to try something different. For example, if the waitress at a restaurant accidentally gives me the wrong dish and it isn’t a totally ridiculous error, I accept the dish anyway use it as an opportunity to try something that I might not otherwise have ordered. Here, I was given the opportunity to try driving a Chevy Impala, and am currently greatly enjoying this car.

Wednesday morning, November 24, I stopped by the auto body shop to get some things out of my CRV, including the parking hang tag for my parking garage, as well as some of my favorite CDs. While there, I took a few photos of the CRV with my cell phone camera.

Poor Fats Waller Has A Black Eye and a Broken Nose

Oblique View of Fats' Black Eye

Green Goop Dribbling Out Of Fat's Broken Nose (Probably Radiator Fluid)

Green Slime! Don’t Touch It! It is Certain Death! Look Out! It’s Dripping!
Green Slime — the movie
Ex-Nickelodeon Stars Relate Horrors Of Green Slime Syndrome

Deer Fur Stuck To Fats' Chin

En Face View of Fats' Broken Nose

Close-Up Of Black Eye

Fats' Profile, from Right

Right Superior Oblique View Of Fats' Forehead

Rental Car, a Chevy Impala

At the time of this writing/typing (Sunday afternoon, November 28, 2010), I haven’t yet heard from State Farm about their assessment of the damages. I think everybody was off on vacation for the Thanksgiving Holiday. So, I think I’ll hear about the damage assessment maybe tomorrow or Tuesday.

A final note on the Chevy Impala. The four previous cars that I have driven, a Mitsubishi Colt, a Nissan Sentra, a Nissan Maxima, and my current Honda CRV, have all been Japanese. All had a techy, perhaps slightly geeky engineerish feel to them. NOT SO with this Impala. In contrast, this car has a very masculine, very American, bold, brash, confident, expansive, romantic, optimistic, adventurous feel to it. It’s the kind of car that a wealthy older retired couple (probably named Marge and Herbie) would take on a cross-country tour, going through the Great Plains and the West and the Grand Canyon. It’s the kind of car that a teen-ager might commandeer without his parents’ approval and go drag racing with, and maybe he’d fool around with his girlfriend in the back seat on prom night. It’s the kind of car that a big fish in a small pond (maybe a small-town judge or a small business owner) might drive. This car is a cowboy! I can imagine a cool twenty-something dude buying such a car second-hand, and souping it up into a muscle car, a la Greased Lightnin’.

(As an aside, ragtime composer Joseph Lamb wrote a piece entitled Greased Lightening [sic].)

While the musical Grease evokes the 1950’s, this Impala evokes nostalgia for the Seventies and the big cars that you’d see on TV shows and movies of that era. Even the fonts on the dashboard (sans serif, italicized) feel 70-ish. It is no accident that the legendary JATO Rocket Car is traditionally said to have been a Chevy Impala. From page 4 of the Rocket Car story:

One aspect of the Rocket Car legend that always tickles me is that no matter how much the story varies, the make, model and year of the car is always specified. Sure this is a nice detail to have on hand, but considering the details left out of the description, it looks… sorta silly. In the Darwin Award version, there’s no mention of which highway the car was on, or even whereabouts in Arizona the story took place. And Arizona is a pretty big place. There’s also no mention of any investigation that took place afterwards. But despite all these oversights, the story did specify that the car was a 1967 Chevy Impala. I think the reason this detail is always supplied is because it’s critical to make the listener think the test pilot at least looked cool when he flew into the cliff. You’ll never hear someone tell a story about a guy in a rocket-powered K-car or a Volkswagen Beetle. It has to be a car that deserves to have a rocket attached to it.

Addendum (11/30/10):
It could have been worse: Road fatalities involving animals (USA Today)

Addendum (12/18/10): Stayed overnight at R. & K.’s. This morning, helped them move boxes from their garage to the basement. Then I drove the rental Impala — which K.C. dubbed “Jerry” — to Craftsman Auto Body, while R. & K. (& S.) followed in their van. I picked up the key for Fats, and then R. and I transfered stuff from Jerry to Fats. Fats looked good as new!

Then I drove Jerry to an Enterprise location very nearby, and again R. & K. followed. I surrendered Jerry’s keys to Enterprise, and discovered that I didn’t have Fats’ key, even though I just had it back at Craftsman. After checking with R., my hunch was that I had accidentally left it in Fats’s trunk along with stuff had transfered there from Jerry. We returned to Fats in Craftsman’s lot and indeed the key was there, in Fats’ trunk!

We then drove to Ford’s Fish Shack in Ashburn and had lunch. I had their root beer float, a cup of New England style clam chowder, and their Ipswich clam dinner. (The New England theme — how about a Dunwich or Innsmouth clam dinner? — and the current Christmas season made me think of this Lovecraft-inspired video.) R. and I also split an order of deviled eggs. From there, R. & K. had to split off to do an errand, while I went home. On my way home, I stopped by a Trader Joe’s in Falls Church and bought their macaroni and cheese (because it was highly rated here), as well as a bottle of cherry juice. Then I stopped by a Dunkin Donuts to pick up a medium coffee, and then stopped at a gas station to refuel Fats.

Addendum (09/03/11): Deer ‘pill’ curbs aggressive mating. “The aggressive mating causes an estimated $1bn (£600m) in damage to property each year and an upsurge in collisions with cars.”

Garage Renovations

Photos of the renovations in my parking garage, acquired using my cell phone. Renovations were started May 3 and are being done in sections; they are already doing section #2.

May 25, 2010; 9:16 PM

May 25, 2010; 9:17 PM

May 25, 2010; 9:17 PM

May 26, 2010; 8:44 AM

May 26, 2010; 8:44 AM

May 26, 2010; 8:44 AM

Published in: on 8 June 2010 at 9:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

4th Of July On The Mall

For R.M.B.

How long it take to get home?

If you’re talking about having to navigate the metro, it wasn’t too bad, despite the crush of the madding crowd. We used the L’Enfant Plaza metro station, which has three entrances. The entrance nearest the Mall was mobbed. But we walked about four more blocks to another entrance (the one that I used to leave the metro station earlier that day), which was much less crowded. I was able to get onto the orange line without problem, and from there it was a straight shot to Rosslyn with no transfers. I’d estimate that walking to the metro took 15 minutes and then getting to Rosslyn took another 15 minutes.

But the metro car was packed, and when we stopped at other metro stations (Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Metro Center) people were pushing to get into the car. Even when I got off at Rosslyn, people were pushing to get into the car. I guess at Rosslyn, people had been watching fireworks from the Iwo Jima Memorial.

I don’t know how I.K. and E.N. fared because they took the yellow line to Pentagon City, but I suspect that they were able to catch a train even before I did. They were running to catch a train that had just pulled in.

I.K. brought some stuff to eat: baguette, multi-grain bread, spreadable goat cheese, roast beef, smoked salmon, seedless green grapes, cherries, olives. I brought cherries, chunks of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (which unfortunately neither I.K. nor E.N. ventured to try), chips, and some cookies from Switzerland that K.C. had given me. E.N. brought lychees (I.K. thought she had said “light cheese”) and ate only one; I ate all the rest! I.K. also brought a game named Loaded Questions, which we played after eating and before the fireworks started.

On my way to the Mall, I picked up a hard copy of The Onion outside the L’Enfant Plaza metro, and chuckled when I read this story: Area Grandmother Tries Indian Food. I showed it to E.N. and told her that it reminded me very much of her. I.K. agreed; he had independently read it and said that he, too, had thought of her. E.N. got halfway through the article, thinking it was for real, before realizing it was The Onion. She said that she had been asking herself, “What newspaper would print a story like this?” before looking at the name of the newspaper. She then read it, now with the understanding that it was a joke, and was chuckling, saying that it really did sound like her. (I’ll note that she declined to eat the salmon that I.K. brought, and the goat cheese was too sour for her. And when she tried Thai iced tea at Sala Thai this past Thursday, she recoiled, saying “No no no no no no…”)

Watching the fireworks on the Mall was surprisingly pleasant this time. In years past, I didn’t have such a good experience — it had been muggy and crowded, and might have even rained. But yesterday, we got there earlier, around 7 PM, and were able to find a good spot on the Mall half-way between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument. And the weather was excellent — cool, not humid.

A girl sitting near us had a shirt with this written across the front:
How Do You Catch A Unique Rabbit? We asked her to take our picture (below), and also asked her to explain the saying on her shirt. She had to admit she didn’t know what it meant, but she hoped it wasn’t something “bad”.

The motivation behind such a shirt is that it would make a good conversation starter. If a guy had wanted to flirt with this girl, he could ask her to explain the saying on her shirt, and she could deliver the punchline; and the two could share a chuckle over a silly, clean joke. The joke even has a follow-up joke, so if the conversation faltered the girl could bring up the second joke. So, the shirt is a device offering an easy way to break the ice.

Some of my answers in the Loaded Questions game:

Jessie Owens

The Singularity


Other answers (not necessarily mine): neck (body part currently aching), cytomegalovirus and zoology (longest English word you can think of), panda and emu (animal you most enjoy seeing in the zoo), two (number of fights one got into), six and fifteen (number of books read in the past year), Catcher in the Rye and The Canterbury Tales (book read in school), bad salty lassi (drink that makes you nauseous), a gun and a certain hamburger (product you wouldn’t endorse), McDonald’s and KFC (favorite fast-food chain), orange and coconut (favorite jelly bean flavor).

Eight Orphan Ducklings

This past April 29, my mother telephoned from Fort Myers. Earlier that day, she had heard a racket coming from the small retention lake that borders property where she and my father live. She went out to the lake shore and saw feathers, but no dead body. And she saw eight little ducklings. She figured that some carnivore had caught the mother duck, and now the eight ducklings were orphaned. She tried to feed them (I think with crackers or bread crumbs), but the ducklings didn’t let her come very close.

The next day, after a few calls, she obtained a consult from the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW). A volunteer couple from Maine arrived with binoculars and a camera, and they documented the orphaned baby ducklings, still very young and fluffy. An adult Muscovy duck appeared for a few minutes, but then left; later, another duck appeared, as well as two immature tricolored blue herons.

The CROW volunteers said that a mature duck might adopt the orphan ducklings, but otherwise their advice was to leave the ducklings alone; the ducklings would fend for themselves, finding food among the wild grasses. The CROW volunteers warned that only 40% of these orphans will survive. The water in the retention lake is receding, and soon the water will be too shallow for the ducklings; and then predator birds will come for them. This is what happens in nature.

Later that evening, my mother met some neighbors who said they had seen a 200-lb (“small”) black/brown bear only a few feet from their car. My mother has seen unfamiliar animal droppings in the back outside the lanai, and now thinks that it was a bear that attacked and killed the mother duck.

The ducklings are dark brown with a yellow breast; it remains to be determined what species of duck they are. They “peep” loudly, are beginning to separate into smaller groups, and sometimes walk onto the embankment. They look like they’re doing well, so my mother will let them look for food themselves.

Her camera is currently malfunctioning, so she has no pictures yet.

Blue Men

Dr. Manhattan in The Watchmen.

Blue Man Group.

A. Bettik, the android in Dan Simmons’ Hyperion series.

Argyrics (people with chronic silver poisoning, e.g. Stan Jones).

Published in: on 7 March 2009 at 7:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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