Friday, November 29, 2013

Arrival by Anne Arundel County Water Tower Spaceship -OR- 11,689 Days of Giving Thanks

A large sky-blue water tower located off East West Blvd. at Maxwell Frye Road in Millersville, Md., 1:47PM Nov. 28, 2013. I've posted a picture before of this particular water tower during Christmas 2011 on a previous visit to see my mom and Ray.

**The pictures in this entry were taken mostly yesterday (Thursday / Thanksgiving) and today (Friday) in northern Anne Arundel County, Maryland. The ones yestrday were taken while riding between Millersville, Pasadena, Severna Park, and Glen Burnie and today on the ride to and while inside Arundel Mills Mall, which is technically located in a Hanover, another Census-designated non-place. The pictures mostly DO NOT go with the text.**

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There are few more distinctive things about northern Anne Arundel County, Maryland (for me) then the plethora of water towers that dot the gentle, rolling, beguilingly tree-cloaked but actually sprawl covered landscape of the southern and southwestern suburbs of Baltimore.

The water towers tend to be those giant ellipsoidal shaped ones raised on a large central "serated" trunk (I'll avoid the word "shaft") and supported by multiple legs along the periphery that give them the appearance of spaceships. Furthermore, many of them are painted so as to be the same color as the blue of the sky on the fairest of spring days when the sky is a particularly gentle (cerulean? azure? powder?) blue.

The water tower off Crain Highway on the south side of Glen Burnie, Md., 3:32PM Nov. 29, 2013. It used to be painted a checkered red and white pattern.

This is located very close to the house at 603 Old Stage Road (pictured farther below) where my mom and Ray once lived in Glen Burnie (and where I stayed for short periods, usually in the summer, although by that time (1993 - 1997), I had already moved to College Park (see entry below for explanation).

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Google aerial image of the one along Crain Highway back when it was painted checked red and white. Indeed, if you go to the Anne Arundel Co. Fire Department's Company 26 South Glen Burnie Fire Station website, you can still see it in the background still red and white.

However, there are some water towers in northern Anne Arundel County that even today are still checkered red and white . There is one in Ferndale and another even fatter and larger one located in Hanover just off Teague Road near the massive Arundel Mills Mall. In addition, there is at least one (in Linthicum) that is shaped more like a beer can (and is still checkered red and white ).

This is the view from the top parking garage at the Arundel Mills Mall, Hanover, Md., 4:03PM Nov. 29, 2013 with aforementioned water tower off Teague Road in the distance. I think it's next to a hotel. This area is far more developed than it was back in the mid-to-late 1980s.

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Google aerial view of the same water tower off Teague Road (as seen on a summer day). It looks like it's ready to launch into orbit. I suspect the next paint job on it will be SKY BLUE.

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Non-Anne Arundel County Water Tower / Thanksgiving Visit Ruminations

The remainder of this entry is a brief overview of my Thanksgiving visit to see my mom and features mostly (but not entirely) features pictures that I took on Thursday and Friday (today).

Thanksgiving was a pleasant, quiet, and relaxing one with my mom and Ray (stepfather). We went to the Thanksgiving dinner at the American Legion in Severna Park (post #175 -- not to be confused with post #276 in Severn where we went last Thanksgiving). We didn't actually stay that long and were back home by about 430PM.

Riding along Ritchie Highway in Pasadena, Md., 1:52PM Nov. 28, 2013.

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As for today (Friday), the three of us went to Medieval Times at Arundel Mills Mall. On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. The show was quite a spectacle, but I'm not going to discuss it here since it would introduce an entirely new topic for this entry. I took pictures that I will try to post in an subsequent entry. I will say that the mall itself -- at once time the largest in Maryland, but now apparently the second largest after the Annapolis Mall was expaned -- is just overwhelming and the mobs of people (literally tens of thousands of people had to have gone there today).

Java Diva coffee truck, Severna Park, Md., 2:03PM Nov. 28, 2013.

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Last night, while working on this computer, I used the severely old, severely slow, and probably severely infected computer -- which today was "decommissioned" by my mom -- as a "television" to tune into full-screen The Golden Girls on YouTube, specifically, all the episodes that I like. (That computer is severely old, severely slow, and probably severely infected with God-knows-what (Norton anti-viral this-or-that notwithstanding) and on Friday was "decommissioned" by my mom.)

Screenshot of "The Golden Girls" -- "Bringing Up Baby" episode.

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As an aside, full versions of The Golden Girls have been periodically avialable on YouTube only to vanish in a copyright enfringement cloud (the kind of thing that excites Wall-P, a.k.a., Pitty Shil). Presently full episodes are available via the user "goldengirlpalace".

Screenshot of "The Golden Girls" - "A Piece of Cake" episode. I really like the look of Rose's kitchen back in her house in (the fictitious town of) St. Olaf, Minnesota. I also love the scene for many reasons.

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All it all, it is very cozy and pleasant here, especially late at night.Needless to say, it is a far, far better experience than visiting -- or attempting to visit -- my screaming crazy father in Flagler Beach, Florida, who after all that insanity doesn't even particularly like me that much anymore (and certainly doesn't give a flying flip about what goes on in my life).

Outside the American Legion Post 175, Severna Park, Md., 2:06PM Nov. 28, 2013.

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The only problem for me in being here is EXERCISE -- as in the COMPLETE AND TOTAL LACK THERE OF and instead just either remaining motionless while in front of the computer or walking the short distance to the little kitchen to eat or drink something.

As for my mom and Ray, they watch a lot of television, although Ray watches far more -- typically movies, football games, home shopping channels, occasional religious shows or (as he did late tonight), Netflix documentaries, etc. (the one tonight on how three missiles really brought down TWA Flight 800).

My mom tends to watch much gentler things -- cooking, home and gardening and real estate / home improvement (HGTV stuff), more genteel and happy-ending movies, interesting nature documentaries, and the like. Indeed, as I type this on Friday night at 1049PM, I'm in the little living room watching TV with her (something on HGTV) as Ray went to sleep, though his oxygen machine is purring loudly.

My mom and Ray entering the American Legion Post 175, Severna Park, Md., 2:06PM Nov. 28, 2013.

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My point is that if I stayed here for any amount of time, I would zoom back up the 45 pounds to 188 pounds -- and probably higher. However, tomorrow I should be back in D.C. by Saturday afternoon, whereupon it is my intention to go straightaway to the Anthony Bowen YMCA.

Thanksgiving, American Legion Post 175, Severna Park, Md., 2:55PM Nov. 28, 2013.

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While I am returning tomorrow to D.C. and it is the weekend, unfortunately, it looks as though I'm going to have to spend a significant amount of time in front of the computer on Sunday working on an editing assignment for work involving the Smart Grid report. (I knew this weekend work was coming so it's not a surprise.)

I also have to finish the edits on the permitting and regulatory consultation section on the Hawaii project by the middle of next week. As a result, I will likely not be blogging between Sunday and possibly until Wednesday. As a result, other than a planned jukebox Saturday night entry, I likely will not be able to post any blog entries until Wednesday or Thursday night. However, do I plan to go to the gym on Monday and Wednesday as well.

Tent and American flag (actually, two -- there is a small one as well), American Legion Post 175, Severna Park, Md., 3:36PM Nov. 28, 2013.

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11,689 Days of Thanks and Counting

OK, the remainder of this entry contains an extended / more detailed version what I wrote in my previous entry that today, November 29th, 2013, is the 32nd anniversary of our arrival in Maryland. If you include Nov. 29th on both ends -- 1981 and 2013 -- it is 11,689 days ago.

Another sky-blue ellipsoidal water tower with central trunk and peripheral support columns located at the corner of Oakwood and Elvaton Roads in Millersville, Md., 4:28PM Nov. 28, 2013. (I've told Chris H. before -- I just don't see him having ever lived in this area, but apparently he did back in the mid to late 1990s.)

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By "our arrival" I refer to my mom, Ray, and myself and our arrival in Baltimore on November 29, 1981 after a three-day drive from Killeen, Texas. We were living there because Ray had been stationed at Fort Hood for a little under two years. It followed a nearly 4 year stint from Jan. 1976 to Dec. 1979 at SHAPE, Belgium, although I personally only was there less than six months of that time (on three different occasions) and instead lived for the most part with my dad and paternal grandparents in Long Branch, N.J. To be clear, I was 6 to 10 years old during that time.

Benfield Village Shopping Center and with STILL ANOTHER sky-blue ellipsodal water tower / space ship adjacent to it, Severna Park, Md., 3:59PM Nov. 28, 2013.

(I think part of the reason for the plethora of these water towers is the lack of a central major river water supply in the Baltimore area -- such as the Potomac in the D.C. area -- and instead the network of small-to-medium-sized reservoirs. But that's just a hunch on my part.)

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By 1981, I was living with my mom and Ray (except during the summer) and we departed Killeen on Nov. 26, 1981, the day of my 12th birthday. As planned, we stopped in Dallas and stayed overnight, visiting the well-known WFAA Channel 8 TV weatherman Troy Dungan at the news station and having dinner nextdz door at what was then the revolving Antares restaurant atop Reunion Tower (it's now called Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck and is part of the Dallas Hyatt Regency).

Driving along Oakwood Road, Glen Burnie, Md., 4:20PM Nov. 28, 2013. Sometimes in my dreams I am back in this area -- along with coastal New Jersey, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Seattle, Washington in various combinations in space and time (including what I imagine to be the "far future").

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Anyway, we drove back to Maryland -- stopping overnight at motels in Jackson, Tenn., and Roanoke, Va. -- by Nov. 29, 1981 (on the day of the drowning death of actress Natalie Wood). Oddly enough, I remember the movie I watched the night in the motel in Jackson, Tenn. -- Dream House starring the then-21 year old actor John Schneider, one half of The Dukes of Hazzard famous duo.

A cluster of pine trees at the corner of Aquahart Rd. and Ritchie Highway, Glen Burnie, Md., 4:21PM Nov. 28, 2013.

I very nearly made this the lead image. Why? Because these pine trees are much older than they look. They -- or rather a more tangled grove of them-- were just like this back in the early 1980s when I arrived in Glen Burnie. There used to be a movie theatre sign and the large plastic letters used to fall off it -- and I had a collection of them at one point in the Colonial Village Square apartment where I first lived. (I remember it said "E.T" for the longest time.) This is back when the Harundale Mall used to be there.

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Upon our arrival in Maryland back in Nov. 1981, we initially stayed in Baltimore at Ray's parents' house in a truly disastrous situation for a few months. If you want to know what it was like, refer to this gargantuan entry "A Postmodern Quest: In Search of Baltimore's Corner and Inflection Points, Past and Present", specifically, the "Dinner and (Side) Show in Baltimore: Prole-feed off Potee Street" section.

A nice picture of Baltimore's skyline and some of its rowhouses on a nice early fall day.

But actually, here is where we went ...

24 Bristol Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland.

The house looked rather different back in the late 1970s and early 1980s with an open-screen porch and different siding. It was better looking back then -- though not by much.

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I went to live with my dad and grandparents in New Jersey in Jan. or maybe Feb. 1982 (I can't recall the month but I know it was winter / early 1982). My mom sent me there becuase things were so bad. By that point, my dad was living at his house in the woods in Upper Freehold Townnship near a place called Cream Ridge while my grandparents were in their Ocean Pointe Towers in Long Branch.
Though that was a bad time, things were better in the spring and summer of 1982 -- spent in Long Branch and at Tradewinds Beach Club in Sea Bright. In the meantime, my mom and Ray moved to Glen Burnie in March or April 1982. I didn't actually move to Glen Burnie, Md., until Aug. 1982 when it was time to start school (7th grade).

Aerial view of the old Tradewinds Beach Club in Sea Bright, N.J., on a postcard that my grandma sent me back in the mid-1980s. I've written a lot about Tradewinds Beach Club on this blog. .

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Fun fact: My 6th grade year started in Aug. 1981 at Peebles Elementary School in Killeen, Texas; it ran through P.S. 203 in Baltimore City for a few months; and ended at Upper Freehold Regional Elementary in Allentown, N.J., in late June 1982. Thus, that school year lasted approximately 300 days. That was one hell of a school year.

The unhappy house at 268 Oakwood Village Court, Glen Burnie, Md., 4:17PM Nov. 28, 2013 (it's the end unit). As explained below in this entry, I lived here with my mom and Ray in the period 1986 - 1988 -- including when I graduated high school -- and again intermittently from 1989 - 1991 and eventually moved out to go to school and then settle in College Park. They lived there for a few more years until about 1993. It was the worst time of our lives -- this was a nightmare place for many reasons financial and familial.

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I stayed with them for about six years uninterrupted (except for summer visits to New Jersey) until I graduated high school in June 1988. We moved from an initial place at Colonial Village Square apartment complex, then into the Harundale section of Glen Burnie on Little Road, then 268 Oakwood Village Court (a truly disastrous time), and then finally onto Old Stage Road (by which point I had moved away).

A blurry image of the house at 603 Old Stage Road, Glen Burnie, Md., 3:334PM Nov. 29, 2013.

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I moved out of 268 Oakwood Village Court to go to the Univ. of Washington in Seattle, which I did in Sept. 1988, except that didn't really work out, and I returned in Dec. 1988 to live again in Glen Burnie (still at Oakwood Village Court). I then went to St. Mary's College in southern Maryland -- a place I detested -- and during that time, I was in what turned out to be a wasted semester exchange program at this little place called the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies that is "affiliated" with Keeble College, Oxford University. The program itself was fine (we read interesting things on Arthurian literature -- The Mabinogion anyone? Sir Arthur and the Green Knight? -- than I ever would have otherwise learned and we took bus tours to all kinds of castles within 100 miles of Oxford).

The only issues I will relate regarding the CMRS "Oxford" experience is that while the place is centrally located in the ancient city of Oxford, it really isn't "Oxford University" (keep that in mind, although there are those other less reputable programs for dumb American teenagers and their clueless parents) and the credits never transferred beyond St. Mary's College, so it's as though the semester never happened. This was January - April 1991 and including the height of the Gulf War.

Crowded food court at Arundel Mills Mall, 4:10PM Nov. 29, 2013.

Sometimes I get the feeling that we are approaching a Blade Runner sort of future -- super-oversaturated commercialized on everything, mind numbing, blandly police state fascistic, lacking any refinement or "culture," with absolutely nothing real, authentic, or socially cohesive. But I don't want to be negative.

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My St. Mary's College situation collapsed into a visit to a psychiatric hospital during the summer of 1992 when I was actually on summer break and living in Rockville, Md. I was made to leave there by this horrible dean of students of a woman who ended up being kicked out herself -- and not just there but other places as well. (This topic could at some point be worth a separate entry as a cautionary tale for any idiot liberal arts college looking to increase its senior administration "diversity" by hiring this woman. At this time, I won't go into additional details.)

By September 1992, I had a lightning fast transfer to the then-Univ. of Maryland at College Park (the "at" has since been dropped, replaced by a comma). That was the start of that 16 year, nearly $200,000, mostly-a-scam part of my life. But higher education in general in America is a sky-trillion dollar scam. But, again, I don't want to be too negative. Besides, at the time in 1992, UMCP was just what I needed.

Compressing this story to the present, I didn't move into D.C. proper until Feb. 2001 (and have been there continuously with a 9-month interlude in Silver Spring in 2004 / early 2005). The last time I actually lived in this area was in the summer of 1995. Ray and my mom remained in Glen Burnie (in various places following 603 Old Stage Road) until about 2003, whereupon when they moved to this place in Millersville. I occasionally visit.

Nightview from the top of the parking garage overlooking the massive Arundel Mills Mall, Hanover, Md., 7:09PM Nov. 29, 2013. Oh, yes, from the top of the garage looking to the NE, you can see the Baltimore skyline. This view is looking south. .

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And there you have my life journey so far.

Sigh.

Again, while I intend to post a quick jukebox Saturday night entry, thereafter I will not be posting anything until either Wednesday or Thursday.

Phew.

--Regulus

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