Recently in Maryland Category

As I'm sure you have heard, John Allen Muhammad, the DC Sniper, was executed yesterday.  And frankly, I'm glad.  Before some of you think I'm a death penalty supporter, let me tell you I'm not.  Indifference is the best description for me.  I have not supported it, nor am I against it.

In the case of Muhammad however, I feel this is justice deserved.  Crime occurs every day, every minute.  Many times there is a reason, a motive.  Then sometimes, like here, there isn't a real explanation.  Crimes happen because of opportunity, need, emotion.  Only opportunity applied in the DC Sniper case and that's a stretch, since the opportunity was that anyone who went out in public was a target.

This series of crimes paralyzed the DC region for weeks.  While I did not personally know any of the victims, the locations of most of the crimes occurred in or near the neighborhood I grew up, worked, or frequented.  Most disturbing for me was October 14, 2002 when Linda Franklin was killed outside the Home Depot in the Seven Corners area of Falls Church, Virginia.  I was at work nearby and drove by there just an hour before she was killed.  During the spree, I had co-workers from the Philadelphia area ask me the best way to drive to avoid the sniper when they were headed to Virginia.  I worried for my parents, brother, and sister who still lived in my childhood neighborhood.

When Muhammad, and his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, were finally captured, we could all rest a little better.  With his execution last night, it seems we can all rest even smoother now.  Sometimes the death penalty may feel right, even if you have no opinion.
2Amys.jpgOn a recent weekend, I had dinner at three very different establishments.

First on Friday night, The Sports Freak and I went to 2 Amy's.  We wanted to see what the fuss was all about.  The lauded restaurant is off Wisconsin Ave, just north of the National Cathedral.  The lines were long and we had ot wait about half an hour.  During that time, we saw a few carryout orders, including a woman who had 8-12 boxes of pizza, so we thought we were in for a treat.

Unfortunately, things did not turn out so well.  We wanted to start with an appetizer of smoked salmon bruschetta or something like that.  I'm not sure exactly what was ordered because we never received it.  The pizzas came surprisingly quickly, so we decided not to question the missing plate until it showed up on our bill.

I had ordered the Abruzesse, which might have been a mistake.  No mozzarella, but pecorino cheese, the pizza seemed oversalted.  Not to the extreme, but a bit too much.  The meatballs seemed very dry.  The best part of the pizza was the crust.  Light and chewy, it is what I look for in pizza.  TSF had a traditional Neapolitan and reported he was not impressed.  He did not go into details, but said that he had had better Neapolitan elsewhere.

The best part of my meal might have been the pint of Wehenstephan Dunkel beer.  It was crisp and refreshing.  At least I got a little buzz before my disappointing dinner.  Maybe we got to 2 Amy's on an off night.

On to Saturday, I went to Z-Burger again with the Sports Freak. We hit the Tenleytown location at around 8:30 PM and it was virtually empty. We each ordered a burger and shared some fries and onion rings. Like all the "burger only" joints in the area, they only cook their burgers well-done. And because of that, it tastes much like the rest of them. If I was looking for a burger, I might not stop at Z-Burger unless I was in the neighborhood. Five Guys does just as good of a job, and I can find them in most neighborhoods now.

The fries also mimicked their competition, offering little difference. Where they win are onion rings. The rings appeared to be fresh made, not frozen. My only complaint on them would be that the onions were a bit too soft and so was the batter coating. I prefer my onions crisp. The coating might have been an issue because they were the last of the 3 items I tasted. Also on the menu, which we did not try were cheesesteaks and milkshakes. The Sports Freak is a freak about cheesesteaks and vowed he'd be back to try them. I thought about a milkshake but I didn't want a heart attack that night and just didn't want one at 9 PM.
OK, no not really.  First, apologies for the long time between posts.  From work and other obligations, I've only been able to use Twitter too much.  But now on to this story.

Like many men, I'm a big sports fan.  Hockey is not at the top of my list, but playoff hockey is some pretty good stuff, that I'll actually watch on TV or in person.  As I turned on Game 6 of the Washington Capitals vs the New York Rangers on Sunday, I saw the Caps Donald Brashear take a penalty on a hit against a Ranger.  It was determined he elbowed him and Brashear was suspended for 5 games for that incident.  More about that on the other blog I write for, The DC SportsPage.

That incident reminded me of one I had years ago.  Coincidentally, yet again at CVS, but not at the one with the dumbest person, nor the one with my TMI story.  I have to ask myself, why did I leave that job?  So many good stories I could have for blog entries.  Anyways, the reason why I was gainfully employed at CVS from senior year in high school until a few months after getting my college degree (and even PT for another 4 years), was that my bosses liked my loss prevention skills.  I had both the accounting background to detect paperwork errors, as well as the "gut" feelings and hunches on detecting shoplifters.  Easily in one week, I could catch a shoplifter every other day.  On great weeks, a daily shoplifter was not unusual.

So on a Friday off one day, I went to my store to do some shopping and pick up my pay stub.   I did have direct deposit, but back then I really wanted to pick up my pay stub for some odd reason, even though I was salary and not hourly.  I was in the upstairs security office with one of our supervisors, a woman we'll call Elle.  Elle was a woman I'd be scared to meet in a dark alley because she'd beat the crap out of me.  Even though I was higher on the food chain than her, I generally let her have her say because I didn't want to be on the wrong side. In any case, we looked out at the store, which we could see about 75% of from the office.  We noticed this teenager in the personal appliances section who appeared to be a crack addict.  I say appear because I don't know if it was true or not.  He slipped a hair cutting set into his backpack and proceeded to the back of the store and turned back up to head out the front doors.

Elle and I decided to take action.  She would go to the front of the aisle and block him from exiting, while I would come up from behind and grab his backpack.  Our intention was to take the bag and let him go.  As I walked up behind him and grabbed it, he screamed out.  Then I felt a sharp pain in the right side of my face.  The asshole elbowed me.  Back then I was wearing glasses only and they flew off my face onto a shelf.  By then Elle had caught up to us and she blocked his exit.  Through it, I held onto the bag, and apparently it was important enough to him for him to hold onto it, even though I was yelling "Just let it go!".

Since he would not, I for some stupid reason decided putting him in a headlock was the next logical step.  So the crackhead started yelling at me, "Let me go!", as I dragged his ass from nearly the front of the store to the back.  I had to think of the customers...we couldn't let them witness the beatdown I was going to inflict on him.  Apparently adrenaline kicked in as crackhead bit down on my wrist while he was in the headlock.  I never felt it, but Elle told me that I was bleeding.  He managed to cut through the skin and caused me to bleed.  So with my free arm, I gave him non-stop elbows to the head until he stopped.

What seemed like hours later, the cops finally arrived and dragged crackhead off to jail.  I found out later that crackhead pled guilty so we didn't have to go testify.  I proceeded to go to the ER to get checked out.  Asked for an HIV test, which they gave me, even though they said that unless I got it elsewhere, this incident would not show HIV immediately.  The cut they said was minor, but since I had not had a tetanus shot in awhile, the nurse gave me one right in the waiting room, which pleased a bunch of sick waiting patients there.

So I may not be able to skate or take on steroid raging behemoths in the squared circle, but I felt like a hockey player or wrestler that day.

Dumb People

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So JP twittered (tweeted?, twitted?) about Blast Monday, where " up certain people that really deserve to have their spot blown up."  That reminded me of the dumbest person I have ever met.

So this was years ago, in a far, far land.  OK, Montgomery County, MD.  At the time, I was either a senior in high school or an underclassman at Maryland.  To help pay for tuition and have some spending money, I was working for CVS as a quasi-supervisor.  Now we all know, CVS may not hire the best and the brightest.  Some of us were intelligent thinking people.  But not A.  I don't remember A's name, but I remember she was dumb.  Dumber than a bag of bricks.

A had her moments.  The managers and I thought she was stupid.  There is a difference between stupid and dumb.  Stupid is unintelligent.  Dumb is unintelligent to the point of ridiculousness.  A couldn't count.  Lucky we had cash registers.  A didn't know where anything was in the store.  We were a busy store, so we always had more than one cashier at the front.

The store I worked at banked at Sovran Bank, now part of Bank of America.  They knew all of our staff because many of them banked there.  One day the manager called and asked if A was in.  We sent A down to the branch, which was in the same strip center.  She was back 10 minutes later.  We dared to ask her and she said that there was a problem with her account, but it was taken care of.  Later, one of the managers and I headed to the branch to take our deposit.  The bank manager asked my boss why we hired such a dumb employee.  We knew who she was talking about.

Apparently A had written checks on her account and overdrawn it.  That happens to alot of people.  What was odd was she continued to do it, that's why they needed to speak with her.

A: I want to close the account, but I still have checks.
Bank: But you know you don't have money in the account.
A: But I still have checks.
Bank: But you are not depositing anymore money.
A: (blank stare)
Bank: (jaw drops)
CVS Manager and me: (jaws drop after hearing this)

Remember, we always knew A was stupid.  There are stupid people out there and I feel for them.  But A moved into dumb territory.  I don't usually like to blast people.  OK, I like to, but only in the privacy of friends confidences, but this kind of needs an open outlet.
The first one.  The Maryland State Senate passed a bill that would ban texting while driving.  It heads to the House of Delegates soon.  While forms of this bill have been killed in committee in recent years, there appears to be a better chance of passing it this time.

I have mixed feelings about this.  I will admit, I've read a text message while driving.  I have probably written one as well.  But it is bad for attention.  I do have however think there are a million other things that could be as distracting.  Still probably a step in the right direction.  Let's hope they don't go the route DC took of banning use of mobile phones without a headset.  I know I see it everyday I'm in the city where someone is driving with their phone in one hand.  I have even seen a very well known technology writer for a national newspaper do it on the Whitehurst Freeway in afternoon rush hour.

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