Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Random Updates

Movies: War of the Worlds
Netflix Pick: Spirited Away
Books: Master & Commander, by Patrick O'Brian

I got a new laptop at work. It's very shiny. Ooh, shiny...

Preparations are coming along well at castle Amos. New tool chests have been purchased, assembled, sorted, and pressed into production. New cabinets were purchased yesterday to clean up the pantry area, and windows are on order for half of the house.

Next up is to find a concrete contractor to pave the driveway, then paint some rooms, make-over a bathroom, and start buying furniture.

There's much to be done, and just over 25 weeks to do it. Sheesh.

I think mods to the car are all but done for a while, with the exception of cleaning up some prior issues and maybe upgrading the ignition system.

Now for the downer: my great-grandmother is dying. She is 99 years old, and will (would) be 100 in early September. She has suffered pin-strokes for decades, was put into assisted-living a few years ago, and has had two serious strokes in the past few days.

Pray for me, for her, and for my family as she goes to be with God.

Lumpy: 14 weeks, 2 days

Monday, July 11, 2005


I put in my first go-fast goodie on Saturday: an Ultrik MiniMania intake. PITA to install, but the car feels much stronger.

I'm happy.

I also finally got all of my tools stored nicely in convenient tool chests.

Last Wednesday we ordered new windows for the house, and we're getting serious about finishing some very necessary work on the house. Exciting times are coming!

Lumpy: Stage 1 complete, Stage 2 + 1 day (@13w, 1d)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Showdown with Johnny

Music: Interpol, Antics
Movies: War of the Worlds
Netflix: The Butterfly Effect, The Terminal

I got my first parking ticket on Wednesday. I wasn't happy.

Anyone who knows me well will know that I attempt to live my life above reproach, which means I don't litter, I park neatly between the lines, and I give no latitude for others to hold me responsible for any illicit activity. I was devastated by my first and only speeding ticket, and felt the same way on Wednesday.

But on Thursday, I fought back.

I had a verbal show-down with the DSCR Rent-A-Cop, and he handed me a ticket and told me to take the issue up with his supervisor.

So I wrote a letter. Everyone told me not to send it; they said that I was putting my job on the line for contesting a parking ticket; they said I had no legal rights to fight a parking ticket, especially as there is no fine for it.

But I have a fundamental problem with letting issues like this go. When we decide that it's not worth our time to fight an unjust parking ticket, we give the government implicit permission to hassle us over minor legal issues. We set a precedent of acceding to bullying, and I won't stand for it. The erosion of civil liberties begins when we accept a parking ticket as "no big deal". F that.

Here's the letter:

Yesterday afternoon, as I was returning to my car, I watched as a DLA Police vehicle pulled up behind my car and began writing a citation for a parking violation. This had me utterly flummoxed, as I cannot perceive how my parking job was a violation.

My parking spot yesterday was next to 163 down by the Community Center. This is the spot that is partially inhibited by a jersey-wall, and is next to the bus-stop. I have, over the past two years, parked in this spot more times than I can remember, and have often been denied that spot by others who have also used it. Never have I seen anyone receive a citation for parking in this spot, nor had I ever received one.

Obviously, that changed yesterday. Since I got to watch the officer write the ticket, I asked him what made my choice of parking spot invalid. He replied “this is not a parking spot.” I asked him why, and he replied that the jersey-wall was inside the space, and that the second white line was obstructed. I replied to him that there are many spots on base that have only one white line, and he told me that those other spots are “different”. When I asked him how they’re different, he advised me to contact you and handed me a ticket.

No citation was issued for the car parked next to me, whose back wheel was over the line.

As you are undoubtedly aware, the past two years have seen a number of parking spaces disappear or go from being unassigned to assigned. Several spaces have been converted to non-parking use (and clearly marked as such), and a few non-parking spaces have received official recognition as parking spots.

Take, for example, the last space (17A) behind Building 34. I have seen co-workers receive citations for parking there before there was a number, under the charge that it was not a proper parking space, since there was no white line on the curb-side. Now, it is an official space, as is 1A on the same row. While it may be officially assigned (Maintenance in 17A, DSCR-D in 1A), these were previously spots that – when unlabelled – would get ticketed.

There is nothing that marks my ticketed spot as invalid. There is no yellow paint, no white paint on the curb, and no sign (although there is a sign-post, like there are at many valid parking spots). Motorcycles, however, regularly park in clearly illegal spaces, and long trucks and SUV’s regularly double-park, all without fear of citation.

So my questions are thus: what, according to DSCR (or DLA), explicitly defines a parking spot? Did my parking job yesterday explicitly violate any standing statute, or is it up to the discretion of the officer to determine what is proper vs. improper parking? Can I get a copy of the directive that defines legal, valid parking spots, so that I can educate my coworkers and prevent any further infractions?

If I did not violate any explicitly defined statute, I request that my citation be revoked.
The reply I got was astonishing. I got a call from the Captain, who told me not to worry about the ticket, that it had been "taken care of". She also APOLOGIZED for the officer's actions, which was completely unexpected, and her boss told me to bring him the ticket so that it could be rescinded.

So how about that? The little guy comes through, every once in a while, and Truth, Justice, and the American Way still hold.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

My Fabulous Weekend

So I had a great 4th.

The weekend started normally enough, with a couple hours of shooting near Beaverdam, VA. Mr. Stanley’s grandmother lets us take guns out in her backyard, and we went to town on some paper plates.

I took my great-grandfather’s 22-Long Rifle out for the first time, and really enjoyed squeezing off 15 semi-automatic shots at a time. Man, that thing is accurate, and there’s no kick at all.

The .45, on the other hand, was putting rounds all over the place. I couldn’t tell if it was my nerves or the gun, but I couldn’t hit crap with it. The first shot would usually be good, but the rest were uncontrollable.

But it was fun, and now Amanda and I are going to take a class to get a concealed-carry permit.

Sunday, after Church (which was far more entertaining than usual), we packed up and headed to the Northern Neck.

First stop was the Kimmelshue lake house, where – shock of shocks – Amanda got in the river. She was brave enough to walk out past the pier, up to her stomach. Then we put her on a sailboat! I swear, this is not the same woman I married – that woman was an aquaphobe. This woman got out on a 16” Hobie-Cat and smiled all the way.

I was delighted to work the jib, and felt like I was starting to get the hang of capturing the wind for some serious speed. However, our speed on the cat was nothing compared to the speed of Chris’s JetSki. Holy crap. I’d never ridden one before, so this was a new experience for me. And of course I have to start with one that’s been modified for performance…

But was it ever fun! I can see how people eagerly throw their money into watercrafts and go-fast toys.

Anyway, after an afternoon of playing on the Rappahannock, we packed up again and headed to Irvington for dinner with Dad, Randy, and some of their friends. We had a good time there, too, but were exhausted from the day, so we crashed rather early.

July 4th, we got up and watched the “3 minute parade”, which took about 30 minutes, involved a seemingly unending line of classic cars (from ‘20’s Model A’s to a 1940 Cadillac to a 1965 Cobra to…), floats, kids on bikes, motorcycles, fire-trucks, and all manner of parade-worthy goodness. The participants were throwing candy, handing out free museum tickets, coupons, and it was a real hoot. I took about 40 pictures (mostly of the classic cars) and was really impressed at how well they came out.

Monday evening, we headed down to West Point for dinner with Chad and Shana at their new house. I’m so excited for them that they have a house. It’s a huge step in anyone’s life, and they’re really excited about it, too. Chad has already screened in a porch, and has some big plans for the place. Given his enthusiasm, I don’t doubt any of it will come to pass.

After dinner, we took Rte 30 to 360 to come home, and were entertained by the occasional fireworks rising over 360. Upon reaching Richmond, we got to watch the Grand Finale of some fireworks display over Rte 1, so we didn’t miss out on the local ‘splosions entirely.

What a good weekend. Time spent with friends and family; water-sports, driving and shooting; and my darling wife by my side the whole time. Life is great.