Category Archives: Maryland

University of Maryland Women’s Basketball and 2015 NCAA tournament

The University of Maryland women’s basketball team are seeded #1 in their region, and began the 2015 NCAA tournament with a game against New Mexico State University at Xfinity Center in College Park, Maryland. It is unclear why Comcast decided to rename Comcast Center as Xfinity Center; we know who you are, we know you are opposed to Net Neutrality, bills that make sense, reasonable charges, etc., and renaming the building fools nobody.

On the first day, March 21, 2015, two games were played at Xfinity Center. The first featured Princeton University against the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. President Obama’s niece is a forward for Princeton, and he attended the game, along with Malia Obama, his eldest daughter, Marian Robinson, his mother-in-law, Craig Robertson, his brother-in-law (and father of Princeton forward Leslie Robinson) and various other friends and relatives.

Outside Xfinity Center we found this fan enjoying the pleasant spring weather:

Maryland fan enjoying the pleasant spring weather
Fan enjoying the pleasant spring weather outside of Xfinity Center prior to the opening round of the 2015 Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. Click on the image for a larger view.

Inside Xfinity Center, security was unusually tight. The men operating the security scanners were from TSA (Transportation Security Administration), but the scanners themselves came in boxes stenciled USSS (United States Secret Service). Note both the Maryland scarf and Maryland socks of the woman on the left. I bet she also has a Maryland jacket worn over a Maryland shirt, too.

Security provided by TSA and Secret Service
Security at the game was provided by the Transportation Security Administration and the Secret Service, with dozens of campus, state and local police outside. Click on the image for a larger view.

During the game, I sat directly across from the President of the United States, as clearly shown in this photo.

President of the United States at Princeton-Green Bay game
The President of the United States, his eldest daughter, his brother-in-law and his mother-in-law, plus other friends and relatives, attended the Princeton-Green Bay game. Craig Robinson, the President’s brother-in-law, is the father of Princeton forward Leslie Robinson. Click on the image for a larger view.

If that image isn’t clear enough, try this one. And yes, I know: mobile phone cameras are not designed for this:

President and family members sit across from me
I ask you: why can’t I put a two-foot long 600 mm zoom lens on a phone? What’s so hard about that? Click on the image for a larger view.

At one point, the Princeton fans chanted “Four more years! Four more years!” The President and his family (and most of the rest of the crowd) found this funny; the Green Bay fans, less so.

Princeton won the first game, overcoming a feisty Green Bay team 80-70. Princeton thus continues a perfect season with a 31-0 record.

During the second game, the University of Maryland took on New Mexico State University. As with most matches between #1 seeds and #16 seeds, the outcome was not in doubt, and Maryland won 75-57. Maryland will play Princeton on Monday, March 23.

Maryland team lines up after win
As the Maryland team lines up for photographs after defeating New Mexico 75-57, coach Brenda Frese is interviewed by ESPN at the edge of the court, and the scoreboard overhead announces the forthcoming Maryland-Princeton game. Click on the image for a larger view.
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Sights on the way to Washington, DC

Traveling to the nation’s capital from distant Silver Spring, Maryland, was a journey through a single timezone and a distance measured in subway stops. Along the way there were many wonders, such as this Transformer attempting to sneak toward the capital disguised as, ah, a Transformer?

Rare CSX Transformer
Transformers may have originated in Japan, but this one seems to have mastered at least a few letters of the Roman alphabet.

It isn’t clear if this is a good Transformer or one of those bad ones that appear to be pawns of developers, laying waste to urban areas in order to promote redevelopment.

Once in the District of Columbia, there were many unusual sights, such as this orchard of bollards, part of the vast bollard forest that is expanding to cover every spare inch of Washington, DC:

Small orchard of bollards
A small orchard of bollards, an offshoot of the vast bollard forest that seems to have engulfed the capital of the United States.

Bollards were developed to tie up ships to shore facilities, but one thing Washington does not have is an accompanying fleet of ships tied to the forest of bollards. As the bollard population is constantly growing, we can only conclude this is proof positive that global climate change is real, the oceans are rising, and the government is preparing for a massive rescue fleet.

Finally, just two blocks from the Capitol (with an “o”) in the capital (with an “a”) you can find this luxurious vehicle, showing what separates the movers and shakers in government from the rest of the masses. Note the unique customizations to this relatively late model car:

Custom ride, DC style
This highly customized car features the latest in capital innovations, from the oddly pink floor sealant (or ceiling spackle, or silly putty) on the split-skirted bumper to the abstract tape artwork on side panel. The rusted wheel, sans wheel cover, is a bonus.

People in the capital aren’t like you or I; they’ve got custom rides!

Codes, cyphers and the National Cryptologic Museum

Located at the edge of Fort Meade, Maryland, in an old, nondescript motel, is the National Cryptologic Museum. Admission is free, and with that admission you can explore how the worlds of communications, mathematics, and security intersect in cryptology.

Photos from the National Cryptologic Museum.

Rosetta Stone
Outside the National Cryptologic Museum gift store is this replica of the Rosetta Stone. Created around 196 BC, it displays a decree from an Egyptian king, written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, Demotic script and ancient Greek. Discovered by a French soldier during France’s invasion of Egypt in 1799, it provided the key to unlocking Egyptian hieroglyphs, much as modern code breakers look for keys in breaking coded texts. The real Rosetta Stone is on display at the British Museum in London.

National Aquarium in Baltimore

Perched at the end of two piers in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the National Aquarium opened in 1981 as part of the city’s massive downtown redevelopment. At one time, the National Aquarium in Baltimore was associated with the older National Aquarium in Washington, DC (established in 1873), but the Washington aquarium closed in 2013 during a major renovation project to the Herbert C. Hoover Building, where it had been housed, in the basement, since 1932. Many of the exhibits and animals from the Washington aquarium were transferred to Baltimore.

Photos of the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

Real jellyfish
Yes, these are real jellyfish.