Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Sunday Trip Through Time to the University of Maryland, College Park

**Noted 2:48AM 10/2/2014: I updated this entry on June 13, 2014 and again today (Oct. 2, 2014) to remove some content. I also continue to have no end of formatting issues owing to the browser and computer I used to compose the entry back in Feb. 2011. I have partially corrected them. Oh, and I was about 45 pounds fatter in the "selfies" of my self that I should have never posted.**

The University of Maryland Memorial Chapel as seen from the Univ. of Maryland, College Park campus on a rather mild late winter's day, 1:48PM, Feb. 27, 2011.


'allo, all.

This entry is being posted from a computer in the McKeldin Library at the University of Maryland, College Park as my home computer is still not operational (more on that in a bit).

I actually trekked up to College Park on the Metrorail today to post this entry. I discovered that non-students must have a guest account to use the library computers, but these are readily and freely attainable from the circulation desk.

The exterior of the McKeldin Library (left) and Jimenez Hall (right) as the west end of the McKeldin Mall, Univ. of Md., College Park, 2:11PM, Feb. 27, 2011.


I've not been to the University of Maryland and College Park in a quite some time. In fact, I've really not been on campus for about a year (!). But how well do I know this campus and College Park -- a place I spent the bulk of the period from Sept. 1992 - 2009 through FOUR degrees including THREE masters degress (two of which I should have never gotten).

This is why I owe a cool quarter mil in forever un-pay-off-able student loan debt. (Cue Lee Greenwood: "And I'm proud to be an American --")

It is so strange coming back here to campus ...

It's not exactly The Trip to Bountiful but I kept thinking of that 1985 movie, itself based on a television play from 1953.

As for College Park, well, the college students just get younger and younger, which of course really means I'm getting older and older. I long ago stopped looking like a college aged person.

Yours Truly (from not the most flattering angle) on the Metrorail Green Line train heading to College Park earlier this afternoon, 1:29PM, Feb. 27, 2011.

Back then I was truly a nerdy and neurotic nebbish on a sprawling campus such as this. Now I probably stick out a bit precisely becuase I am so much older and just perhaps look like a professor.

Or maybe I just look like a homeless person drifting around the campus. You see that here occasionally.

I've always loved this particular house at 4710 College Avenue (at the corner of Dartmouth Avenue) on the backstreets of College Park, Md. (This was taken at 1:38PM Feb. 27, 2011.)


I first came to UMCP (and thus to the D.C. area) in a lightning fast transfer on Sept. 8, 1992 following a "voluntary mandatory" medical withdrawal from that horrible St. Mary's College of Maryland (in southern Maryland) as a result of the Mason episode that resulted in my being in a mental hospital -- the old Psychiatric Institute of Montgomery County (PIMC) next to the Shadey Grove Adventist Hospital -- in July 1992.

The Prince George's Plaza Metrorail station platform as seen from a Green Line train, 1:28PM, Feb. 27, 2011.


**Updated 2:48AM 10/2/2014: Content removed.**

It had mostly occurred in the previous spring semester but it was in the summer that there was a terrible explosion. I had been living in Rockville that long ago summer but after the pysch hospitalization went back to New Jersey, where my dad was still living at the time.

I ended up at UMCP because it was quite clear I would not be able to remain at SMC with Mason on campus. Long story short, I left SMC on Sept. 5, 1992 and stayed at Quill's parents' house in Silver Spring for two weeks. The most traumatic were those first three days over the Labor Day holiday weekend waiting ... hoping ... that I could get into UMCP. (I was lucky Labor Day was so late that year.)

I actually lived on campus while I finished my undergraduate degree -- a sort of wussy physical science BS with a primary focus in mathematics and a secondary focus in physics and meteorology.

My first resident on campus was in Harford Hall.

This is Harford Hall with its lower level mail and laundry room, Univ. of Md., College Park, 1:49PM, Feb. 27, 2011.

My room was directly above this door for that first academic year, Sept. 1992 - May 1993. My bed actually was actually right next to that window. I had two roommates during that period (since neither wanted to live with me).


I lived with a few fraternity guys and that really didn't go well. They were mostly just incredible slobs. Their fraternity (Pi Kappa Alpha or "Pike" or "Pika") was actually thrown off campus for a year or so and the original house torn down before they came back -- living in the house directly on the side of my Princeton Avenue one for a period of time. By then they were much nicer looking ...

College Avenue as seen from Columbia Avenue, College Park, Md., 1:36PM, Feb. 27, 2011.


I also lived in the old Leonardtown graduate housing section of campus during the early part of my meteorology MS before moving into wee little upstairs room in a house on Princeton Avenue in "old town" College Park between the campus (separated by awful Rt. 1) and the Metro station and MARC/CSX train line.

When I first got here, the College Park Metro station wasn't even open as what was then called the "outer Green Line" had yet to be completed (and the final connection between Fort Totten and U Street/Cardozo was 7 years in the future).

Whenever I would go into D.C. -- as I started to do in earnest by 1994 -- I had to transfer at Fort Totten from Green to Red Lines.

I was always fascinated by the University of Maryland Memorial Chapel -- pictured here on a summer day -- in particular the chapel steeple and the light that used to be on it. That top light has since been replaced by some LED type fixture. I even used to call maintenance when the old "bulb" (or whatever it was) blew out.

I used to be able to see it prominently from my Harford Hall window and would stare at it often. The ecumenical Chapel is a popular place for weddings and it has a lovely sweeping view to the east from its high spot. (There is a long-lived campus rumor that the waiting list to get married there is 4+ years but that's just a rumor.)

Well do I remember that time in fall 1994 when I actually got to climb up the steeple into the little glass window enclosed space. I went up there with the then-rector of the chapel. He was some big, burly Greek American guy.

It was near sunset on a fall day -- not unlike in this image at left I found online linked from here -- and the view was as stunning as I had hoped it would be. The setting Sun shone brilliantly while casting elongated shadows across the miles.

Of course you could easily see most of the 8-mile-distant Washington Monument, but the U.S. Capitol Building was prominently visible, as was the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (basilica dome and bell tower) and the more distant, hulking Gothic structure of the Washington National Cathedral.

And the Hughes Memorial "Eiffel Tower" transmitter tower off Georgia Avenue, NW, in a bad part of D.C. was dramatically visible, as was the NOAA complex in downtown Silver Spring.

As Washington, D.C., itself doesn't really have a central skyline, there isn't much of "downtown" to see. But Rosslyn's towers were easily visible, as was the Skyline Towers complex along Leesburg Pike about 14 miles away at the boundary of Arlington and Fairfax Counties, Virginia.

Here is an aerial view of the UMCP campus looking southwest with nearby Washington, D.C., easily visible. This view is somewhat higher than what you see from the Chapel steeple but it is the same idea. Obviously, I didn't take this image but found in the same link as above.

This is actually an old image because the twin light blue flattened cylindrical tanks in the distance near the West Hyattsville Metro were taken down about 10 years ago.


I mention all this because it has always been a fixation of mine has been whether and where from campus you can see the Washington Monument, which is just about 8 miles away but mostly blocked from view by the relatively hilly terrain in University Park, Hyattsville, and the Brookland / Fort Totten sections of D.C.

The top of the Washington Monument. I live about 1.5 miles from the Washington Monument but cannot see it from my apartment because my view is to the west northwest.

Yes, this is the actual aluminum capstone of the Washington Monument with its copper points that serve as lightning rods (pictured in 1934).

You can see the Monument poking up from the top of Morrill Hall -- the oldest building on UMCP campus in continuous use and the only one that survived a great conflagration in 1912 -- and from the top stairwell landing looking west / southwest in adjacent Millard Tydings Hall.

The top cupola on Morrill Hall, UMPC, 2:04PM, Feb. 27, 2011. The Washington Monument is clearly visible from this top cupola.

Constructed in 1898 in the "Second Empire" style, Morrill Hall has a storied history and is sometimes said to be haunted.

Here is a nicer picture of Morrill Hall cloaked in summertime leafy greenery.


Here is the southside facade of Millard Tydings Hall, Univ. of Md., College Park, 2:04PM, Feb. 27, 2011. Like so many buildings on campus, this one is named for long ago Maryland political figures.


I believe you would be able to see the Washington Monument from the ground here except the tall trees in the upscale enclave of College Heights Estates and University Park block the view. A century ago when that area was just farmland, you probably could see it from the ground.

This is a picture I took on May 7, 2009 showing the nearby tree-cloaked rise of College Heights Estates and University Park as seen from the southwestern edge of the UMCP campus. That's also a thunderstorm poking up in the distance about 30 miles away.


Conversely, you can also see the campus from Fort Totten, in particular the Fort Totten Red Line platform about 4 miles away (half way toward downtown D.C.)

During the period 1995 - 2000, I would regularly trek into D.C. on the Metro, usually to go out in Friday and Saturday nights ...and then Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays ... well, pretty much every night. And well do I remember all those nights looking at the erratic "half wink" of the UMCP Memorial Chapel top light. For a time there must have been a hole in the red glass casing because it was half white and half red.

This was pre-Mr. Sirius, so I used to go to JR's almost all the time on those nights.

If I could redo the entire 1992 - 2001 period, I would simply have gotten an undergraduate degree in physics (not physical science) and then gone straight into public policy graduate school. The meteorology MS degree was a mistake and the journalism MA was a gigantic error in judgment.


I finally moved into D.C. in February 2001 and I've lived there almost continuously since then except for a 9 month period from June 2004 - Feb. 2005 when I lived with Phil in Silver Spring (quite close to Quill's parents' house). While that started out so horribly -- coming right after the original and deeply traumatizing Mr. Sirius incident -- it actually ended up being mostly a serene and gentle time for me. And no matter what has since happened to our friendship, I'll always be deeply grateful to Phil for letting me live there -- rent free during that period.

The view of the 800 block of 7th Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 8:46PM, Feb. 25, 2011. This was taken Friday night as I was leaving the office happy hour held at RFD in the Chinatown section of D.C.


Anyway, I think that's about all for now. I should mention that when I arrived here, I walked from the Metro station. This takes you past the bulk of the fraternity and sorority houses. The fraternity boys were all up -- finally roused from their hangovers following the usual beer-fueled Saturday nights. Some of those guys are so damn hot. And because the weather is unseasonably warm (again) this end of February, there was group of them outside shirtless.

I didn't take a picture of that scene. I didn't think that was a good idea.

Well, I guess that's about all for now. My next planned update will be Wednesday or Thursday, unless something important (good or bad) happens that I should report. Hopefully, my computer will be functional by then. I'm waiting on the disk from HP to reinstall the operating system. The hard drive was repaired.

I'm really hoping we don't have a Federal shutdown but I'll refrain from any political discussions right now.

Peace Out.

BTW, This has proven to be a very difficult entry to write because I'm using IE rather than Firefox and it inserts all manner of crazy HTML symbols including trying to justify the paragraphs. I'm going to have to fix this tomorrow morning and perhaps add a few more pictures.


**Updated 11:10PM 6/13/2014: Content removed.**



к.нео.физ.де.му said...

the least he could have done was spell the words with 'ph'...


i enjoyed the trip back in time...


Regulus said...

Thanks, Mike, I enjoyed writing this entry except for the devilish time I had with the text justifications / alignments.

It's hard to believe that Sept. 1992 is now almost half my life ago in the past.

Yes, "phat" would have been better. Ha ha.