The Schumin Web http://www.schuminweb.com w  w  w  .  s  c  h  u  m  i  n  w  e  b  .  c  o  m Tue, 16 Dec 2014 03:16:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 I made the mistake of commenting intelligently on a thread populated by very ignorant people… http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/12/12/i-made-the-mistake-of-commenting-intelligently-on-a-thread-populated-by-very-ignorant-people/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/12/12/i-made-the-mistake-of-commenting-intelligently-on-a-thread-populated-by-very-ignorant-people/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 16:07:05 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=24038 …and for that, I am filled with regret.  I thought that perhaps these people would be able to respond to some level of reason.  I was quite wrong on that point.  This time, it was on the “Wilson Memorial Hornets Football” page on Facebook.  I don’t remember how I ended up landing on this page, since I don’t really care about Augusta County high school sports, but somehow, there I was.

For those not familiar, Wilson Memorial High School is located in Fishersville, Virginia.  The school was built at the same time as Stuarts Draft High School, i.e. where I went to high school, and is identical to Stuarts Draft architecturally.  The two schools are traditionally rivals, and play each other every year in football, though now, I believe, as an exhibition game, since the two schools are now in different conferences.

This Facebook page for Wilson football, however, has been a bit controversial.  On December 6, the page’s owner made the following post:

"What a Game!! Faith. Family. Football. We Are... ...WILSON!"

In the comments for this post, someone named Rebekah Johnson said this:

"Rather than double down on your flagrant defiance of the Constitution and its separation clause, you might think about the consequences it will have on the students that you are paid by the state to be entrusted with. Deleting the warning does not negate Federal Law. We have the screen capture so think about taking the time to fix your verbiage rather than trying to censor and cover up."

The gist of it all is that Johnson was responding to the “faith” part of the post.  Wilson is a public school, and is thus funded primarily by tax dollars.  So an explicit endorsement of religion from the school would be a major no-no.  On its face, whether or not the page owner intended the inclusion of “faith” in the original post to be a religious statement is debatable, but Johnson took it as such, which I consider a reasonable interpretation, though not the only one that I can think of.  Taking it as she did, her argument was reasonable enough, though I probably would have phrased it a bit more politely than that.  That comment generated some responses, first from the page:

So now it comes out: this is not, in fact, a page operated by or otherwise affiliated with the school.  That does change things.  Interesting.  Then the other responses mostly came out like these two:

"Faith, Family, Football, the constitution says freedom of religion not freedom from religion. If you don't like it, go troll another page."

"From what I've gathered Rebekah Johnson this page nor this post was shoved down your throat. And for you to go out of your way to cause trouble over such a simple and harmless phrase. The only thing Faith, Family & Football was trying to accomplish is to put your beliefs (whether Christian in nature or not) first, your family second and football third. It was created to remind people that while football is a way of life, it should not rule your life. If you don't care to see such a phrase feel free to unlike this Wilson Memorial Football fan page. I, like many others will not miss your presence."

On the first note, the First Amendment, which Chris Robinson cites, reads as such:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The key word here is “Congress”.  Therefore, we’re speaking about governmental bodies (applied to state law in 1947 with Everson v. Board of Education) when it comes to the First Amendment.  But since this page is not affiliated with the school or any other governmental organization, the First Amendment doesn’t apply since we’re dealing with private entities here.  The government is not going to get involved in this discussion, but I, as another private entity, have every right to call them an idiot if I choose.

Then regarding the second comment by Erin L. Jones, that posits an alternate interpretation of the faith-family-football wording.  Note, however, the unnecessarily confrontational tone, along with the “get lost” type of sentiment conveyed by both Jones and Robinson, as well as the page owner.

One would think, however, that the discussion would stay within the confines of the faith-family-football post and die out on its own.  And if you thought that, you would be incorrect.  The page owner then decided to fan the flames a little bit more, posting this along with a screenshot of Johnson’s post:

"Dear Friends of the Wilson Memorial Hornets Football page, This page was originally created to provide game updates and highlights for fans of The Wilson Hornets Football team. I am not employed by WMHS or act as an agent of WMHS, VHSL or any official body. I am a parent and a fan of The Wilson Hornets who wanted to provide a site to update game information to those unable to attend those initial road contests. I found that I enjoyed providing the play and scoring updates, so this page has continued throughout the season. Over the recent weeks the number of friends of the page has grown beyond my original intent. With that growth in fans the page has also caught the attention of individuals merely trolling for trouble. A post after the game containing "Faith, Family, Football" has resulted in an attempt of intimidation and threat from an individual. While it was never the purpose of this page to express religious or political views, as the creator and administrator of this page I will not be forced into hiding my personal beliefs. This individual would prefer the choice of another word as "Faith" has religious connotation. My page will continue to use "Faith" because it specifically has religious connotation. I will continue to post positive expressions and share pictures and updates for the remainder of this special season. I invite fans to continue sharing positive posts as well. I trust that anyone offended by any post made or shared by this page simply "unlike" the page and troll elsewhere. Thank you to those who choose to stay. Who am I... Simply a Christian and a fan of Wilson and unapologetic for both. FAITH! FAMILY! FOOTBALL!"

What drives people to make these sorts of posts that fan the flames over a discussion that was contained within a single thread?  The discussion would have died out on its own in a day or so, but why should that stop the drama train?  At this point, I felt compelled to add my two cents about the whole thing:

"See, here's your problem: prior to this post, you appear to have made little effort to indicate prior to this post that the page is not, in fact, operated by Wilson Memorial High School, but rather is just a page by a fan. Therefore a reasonable person would think that it is operated by the school itself. As a public school, they are barred from endorsing any religion for reasons of separation of church and state. As a fan page, say whatever you want. I strongly recommend making your page's "unofficial" status a bit more prominent (like in the page title) to indicate that you're just a fan like everyone else, and not speaking on behalf of the school."
(And yes, that first sentence received the stamp of approval from the Department of Redundancy Department.)

If this sort of advice sounds familiar, it’s because I discussed it in this space back in January, at that time framing it in terms of the infamous “my opinions are my own” social media disclaimer.  In this case, the same concept of branding yourself properly still holds, but it’s about indicating that you’re a fan-made page vs. anything official.  When people would make fansites on the Web back in the day, it was fairly clear that they were fansites, mostly due to rather amateurish design.  But with Facebook, pages get a pretty standardized look, making it harder to tell who is who.  In this case, I came to the conclusion that a reasonable person would confuse this for an official school-endorsed page.  I know that I, for one, did.

When I made my post, I was trying to help explain and offer advice going forward.  The replies made it abundantly clear that I had wasted my time.  The first comment came from the page owner:

"The fact the title doesn't say Wilson Memorial High School should lead a reasonable individual to conclude that this is not an official page."

Apparently “high school” is a magic word that denotes that a page is official?  That’s news to me.  It’s not like I’ve never seen schools drop the type of institution that they are when referring to their athletic teams in an official capacity.  “Stuarts Draft Cougars” and “James Madison Dukes” have both been used officially by those entities.  Therefore, would it not seem reasonable that a page titled “Wilson Memorial Hornets Football” would be an official page?  Brand yourself accordingly.

Then Scott Wakefield had this to say:

"Schools need more God and less government. You don't need to say you are not affiliated with the school, as long as you do not enforce people to pray or believe a certain way, schools have every right to allow prayer and encourage prayer. That was the way it was intended by the founding fathers. The written documents of history prove that. People actually should read them and the Constitution."

Considering that we’re talking about a public school here, I’m going to read “public schools” into this, even though Wakefield did not say this explicitly.  That said, wow.  Just wow.  Kind of reminds me of the “keep your government hands off my Medicare” bit from a few years ago, where someone didn’t recognize that Medicare is a government program to begin with.  Likewise, the public school system is an arm of the local government, and as such is not allowed to officially sanction any religion or religious activities.

On that note, I always find it interesting that the people who advocate for these sorts of things always conveniently forget that nothing is stopping anyone from being religious in a public school on their own.  The school can’t lead a prayer or conduct other religious activities in an official capacity, but nothing is stopping someone from individually praying at the beginning of the school day, at lunch, or whenever they feel they need supernatural assistance.  Likewise, someone can bring a Bible to school and read it during whatever downtime they might have.  And students can start a student-led religious club at school.  My high school had a Bible club that prayed around the flagpole on some mornings before school, and if not mistaken, Fellowship of Christian Athletes also existed at my high school.  This was all “above board” and out in the open.  The school had nothing to do with them other than approving them as student organizations, the same way that they did with any other student group.

Likewise, it is possible to have religious functions on a school’s property.  When I was in middle school, the sanctuary and fellowship hall at the church that we attended underwent a major renovation, which rendered both spaces unusable for a period of about eight months while the construction was underway.  The church made arrangements to use the cafeteria at the nearby Stuarts Draft Elementary School for Sunday services.  I don’t know what the specific contractual arrangements were, but it was done, and apparently, it was good.

Then Michael Todd Plecker said this:

"Why don't you try lifting people up rather than crusing for opportunities to tear them down. On another note you are completely wrong about Separation of Church and State and why it was instituted. You and others like you cherry picked the first few sentences without reading the entire clause."

Was I not trying to help?  All I suggested was stronger branding on the page to indicate its unofficial nature.  After all, a public entity can’t formally endorse a religion, and this entire dust-up was caused by a lack of clarity as to who was operating the page.

After reading that, I had to question whether Plecker understood the Establishment Clause as written in the Constitution, as it is not a few sentences, but rather, it is part of one sentence.  However, the wall of text that Plecker then proceeded to post (which I cut after the first paragraph – I will never get the time back that I spent reading that much larger wall of text) confirmed that a civics lesson is in order:

"Ben Schumin, I noticed on your home page that you called us all ignorant. I see you're practicing your enlightened acceptance of other view points. Before you call others ignorant maybe you should pick up a history book. I'll save you some time. Please read below and have a Merry CHRSTmas. There are two mistakes that are made when opponents of religion make this reference. First, they neglect to continue quoting the First Amendment that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It seems, then, that the federal government wanted to remain neutral on this issue. But what about the states? The First Amendment makes a qualification that, “Congress shall…”, while the Tenth Amendment of the federal constitution leaves that possibility of politico-religious matters to the states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  As Steven Waldman, author of Founding Faith wrote, “[James] Madison reluctantly had to concede that the First Amendment would only apply to the federal government, not to state or local governments, which could aid—or even oppress—religion as much as they wanted.” And historically speaking, this is exactly what they did (as we will see in the next paragraph)."

This response was apparently prompted by a Facebook post that I made, which is where the title of this post came from.  And from what he wrote following that, “very ignorant people” seems to have been an accurate assessment.  As originally written, the First Amendment only applied to the federal government.  However, a number of court cases in the 20th century, taken together, apply the entire First Amendment to the states.

Then Jones returns:

"Nowhere in Faith, Family & Football is God mentioned. Faith is simply where your personal beliefs are rooted. Looking at the situation that way, it wouldn't matter whether this was an official or unofficial fan page instituted by WMHS or just a loyal fan. By all means Ben Schumin go ahead and have faith in goats or fairies or the color red. Frankly it is whatever floats your boat as long as for your own person it gives you something to believe in and rely on when you need it. Where is your right to tell us to not have faith of our own variety. Shame on you for trying to belittle our team and our team's faith in whatever power. Maybe you need to learn to have faith in something other than trying to bring other people down."

Jones basically reiterated what she said to Johnson, now directed at me.  Honestly, knowing that the page is unofficial and run by an individual, my stance is that they can say whatever they want, and I said as much.  My only concern was in the branding.  I’m not saying that anyone should or should not say something, or is or is not allowed to say something.  I’m just suggesting that it is worthwhile to make it clear about who is speaking.

And finally, from Sandy Marshall Shifflett:

"If he was paid to do this what business is it of yours . Get a life and worry about your own problem. Go Big Green!!!"

This is a viewpoint that I wasn’t expecting, because I don’t believe that this has anything to do with money, and whether or not one is getting paid to post, or doing so for free.  It has more to do with who the person at the other end of the connection is speaking for.

So all in all, my lesson from January on how to brand yourself properly rings true in a real-life example.  This entire incident could have been avoided if the page owner had branded the page as unofficial right out of the gate.  Don’t get me wrong – unofficial fan pages are great.  Because they’re a labor of love rather than the official marketing arm of the entity, the content is often much richer and more detailed than one would find in the official materials.  However, fan pages should always do their best to keep their status as unofficial pages prominent, in order to avoid confusion.

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A splash photo that’s open to some interpretation… http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/11/25/a-splash-photo-thats-open-to-some-interpretation/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/11/25/a-splash-photo-thats-open-to-some-interpretation/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 18:38:41 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=24020 This past Saturday, I got together with my friend Elyse, and we spent the day seeing what we could see, mostly in Rosslyn and Ballston.  While we were in Rosslyn, we checked out the open-air patio on the fourth floor at the Le Méridien hotel (formerly Hotel Palomar) at the Waterview complex.  The patio had decent enough views, but we ended up spending more time taking photos of the fire alarms, and as a result of that, got December’s splash photo:

Two conflicted lovers?

This photo is scheduled to go live at the top of all the pages at midnight on December 1.  I don’t know about you, but it reminded Elyse and me of those images that they show of conflicted lovers in media, where the people aren’t smiling because of whatever the story is about.  Loving and potentially losing, perhaps.  “Darling, I don’t want to lose you!  But you’re about to be upgraded, and they’re replacing you with… a Simplex system!”  (And you have to read that in an overly dramatic tone.)  But with a fire alarm device as the other “lover” and my expression, we both couldn’t stop giggling about it for some time.  And for those of you who don’t know, Simplex is my least favorite kind of fire alarm, since, in most cases, Simplex systems are too predictable.  Once you see “Simplex” on something, you usually know exactly what you’re going to get in the rest of the system.  Interestingly enough, however, this building had a Simplex system, but all of the notification appliances that Elyse and I could find were Wheelock.  Go figure.

In reality, the photo’s a selfie, and I don’t quite know why I wasn’t smiling for this pic.  When I posted it to Facebook at the time, the number one question was about why the fire alarm was so low on the wall.  As it turned out, the fire alarm wasn’t low down, but rather, I was high up.  Here’s the setting in context:

The same alarm, in context

To get the other photo, I climbed up onto that counter and got up at eye level with that speaker/strobe.  Funny how modern technology works, though.  People asked on Facebook about the positioning, so I ran out, took this photo, ran back in, and sent it out.

And if you have a different interpretation of the photo above, please leave a comment and share!

We also had fun getting other photos.  Elsewhere on the patio, we found a Wheelock ET-1010:

Wheelock ET-1010

We found a Wheelock RSSWP:

Wheelock RSSWP

By the way, the easiest way to tell an RSS from an RSSWP is the screws through the front.  The normal RSS conceals the screws behind a faceplate, while the weatherproof version does not.

And then another photo of my “lover”:

Wheelock speaker/strobe

We also did a little bit of planespotting while we were there.  For those not familiar, Rosslyn is along the flight path for planes coming into National Airport (don’t call it “Reagan”), and so we tried to get a few photos.  I like to make sure that the tail number is visible, so that I can look them up later on Airliners.net.  Here’s what I got:

N805MD, an Embraer ERJ-170-100SU for US Airways Express, and likely to be repainted for American Eagle before too long.
N805MD, an Embraer ERJ-170-100SU for US Airways Express, and likely to be repainted for American Eagle before too long.

N908NN, a Boeing 737-823, and the first plane in the American Airlines fleet to wear the company's new livery.
N908NN, a Boeing 737-823, and the first plane in the American Airlines fleet to wear the company’s new livery.

N462AW, a Bombardier CRJ-200LR for US Airways Express.
N462AW, a Bombardier CRJ-200LR for US Airways Express.

One of these days, Elyse and I are going to make a proper trip over to Gravelly Point, and do some planespotting like we mean it.  Should be a fun exercise doing something new, photography-wise.

And lastly, Elyse and I had some fun with the model of future development at Rosslyn, and created a traffic incident with the cars that weren’t stuck down:

A four-car pileup on Route 29.  I blame it on texting and driving.

Now I wonder how long it will take for someone to notice the major accident on Route 29 and correct it.  This is something that could potentially go unnoticed for a long time because it’s so small and in an obscure spot on the model.  Who knows.

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Here’s a blast from the Internet past… http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/11/20/heres-a-blast-from-the-internet-past/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/11/20/heres-a-blast-from-the-internet-past/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 01:28:24 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=24008 So for Throwback Thursday, here’s a little blast from the Internet past: my old AOL Instant Messenger away messages!  Yes, AOL Instant Messenger, otherwise known as AIM, i.e. this:

AIM, circa April 2000

I was recently shuffling some files around on my computer, and found these, which I had preserved as a backup in February 2007, when I moved my computer from the Gateway to the Dell.  I want to say that I used AIM for about fifteen years.  I started using it the summer after I graduated high school, and stopped using it earlier this year, telling the two people that I still talked to primarily via AIM (both in-real-life friends) that I was dropping AIM and for them to use Facebook chat to get a hold of me.

When I was in college from 1999-2003, everyone used AIM (think social media before Facebook existed), and away messages were something that you did, because if you weren’t at your computer, you set an away message telling people where you were.  I want to say that I did away messages until around 2007 or so, and then finally decided to stop posting them, having grown tired of them, and figuring that just going idle would be sufficient to indicate that I’m not around.

That said, I was such a geek with these old messages.  I laughed quite a bit when I unearthed this file.  It’s funny to think about what I considered to be humorous back when I was in college, what I considered to be important, and what my tastes were.

First, my “idle” message, which went on automatically if I hadn’t set an away message before getting up:

Well, [recipient’s screen name], since you’re reading this message, it means I forgot to set an “away” message, so there’s no telling what I’m up to…

Then the away messages themselves:

Place your sand sculptures of famous renaissance statues right over here, and then pick up your wine bottles here.  Doesn’t that deserve an Arbor Mist?

We’re sorry, but the away message you have requested is not in service. Please close your window, and send your message again.  Error code 3265.  [And some people occasionally really did retry their message.]

DON’T TOUCH THAT DIAL! SchuminWeb will be right back.

Take a whole bunch of fruit flavors, mash them all together into a red-colored concoction, then reduce it to a powdered form, and then THROW IT ON THE BARBECUE!  Makes for some neat-colored flames.  Warning: Don’t try this at home.  (If not painfully obvious already, I’m out finding somewhere to burn a punch)  [This refers to dining plan meal punches, which had a cash equivalent at certain campus facilities.]

I’m kinda busy at the moment…

What is our society’s biggest energy source? I’d hazard a guess that we as a society probably use more caffeine in a day than fossil fuels or whatever else. Yes, our society is running on pure caffeine. And think – caffeine is a renewable resource! Yay!

Out filling my mind with wisdom and knowledge gained from professors and textbooks.

Nice days make great fire drill weather, don’t you think?  [This got a bit of response when I first used it, and I also wrote about it at the time.]

This is your friend: “Of course I’ll go to the prom with you! You’re a dork, and I totally dig it!” This is your foe: “Well, I know you have that important message to send, but I’m not here and don’t know when I’ll be back, but I’ll get back to you… eventually…”

Good morning/afternoon/evening, dear friend/family member/random person. I am currently away/busy/out/sleeping/working. Please leave me some darts/pats/love/messages.

Invite the neighbors! I have feed!  [Pretty sure that this was a “having dinner” message.]

Nature’s calling. Be right back.

Duty, once again… another fun-filled night in the Potomac Hall office, where they occasionally let me out to make rounds, but otherwise, not much happens, for the most part. Come visit me!

It’s another day… places to go, things to see, and people to do…

If you’re reading this, you are obviously not doing anything productive. Talking to me while I’m not here is not productive. Go do something productive! I’ll be back soon enough!

I’m over by the quad taking classes for my Public Administration major!

A quick reminder of the rules…
Rule #1: Schumin is always right
Rule #2: If Schumin is wrong, read #1

I am out doing secret RA stuff…

I’m out hitting up Sheetz for some stuff. Gotta love those Pepsi slushes…

Shiver me timbers! SchuminWeb’s not here right now!

I’m in the shower, making myself smell nice and clean, so pretty ladies will go, “Wow, he smells good! I wonder if he’s available…” [For the record, no one ever said that, but I could dream, right?]

Sleep. Sleep is good.

I am sleeping until at least noon… go ahead – TRY and wake me up! Five bucks says you can’t. (Warning: All bets will not be honored)

I’m studying… reading textbooks, writing papers… isn’t college grand?

Timber me shivers! SchuminWeb’s… wait a second… what am I saying here?

I am out partying, smoking, drinking, and having wild, unprotected sex. Catch you later!

So there you are.  It is most definitely the product of a younger man, and taken in context, Schumin Web also came off at that time as the work of a much younger man as well.  Compare Journal entries from a decade ago to now, and you’ll see a marked difference.

And now, of course, I believe that the away message has been replaced by the Facebook status.  My Facebook statuses these days are much wittier than my away messages ever were…

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“Not fooling anybody” in DC… http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/10/31/not-fooling-anybody-in-dc/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/10/31/not-fooling-anybody-in-dc/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:50:08 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=23966 This past Saturday, I did some photography in Washington DC, but not the usual sort of photography that I do when I head into DC.  This time, I photographed repurposed commercial buildings, i.e. buildings constructed with the standard architecture for a specific chain, and now operated by a business other than the one that the architecture would suggest.  “Not Fooling Anybody” on Reddit, where people share photos of such conversions, describes it as “former chain businesses that have been converted to other uses, yet still strongly resemble their former use.”  Some people might call these bad conversions, but I prefer to call them “obvious conversions”.  After all, some conversions can look quite elegant, such as Italiano’s in Baltimore, which is a former KFC, but nonetheless still resemble the former tenant’s distinctive style.

It’s also worth noting that these sorts of buildings have no historical value of any kind, so they’re worth photographing while they’re still there, because they will be demolished when someone comes up with a more lucrative use for the land.

For this trip, I did my research.  I had assembled a list of some places that I had spotted over the course of going wherever over the years, and then augmented that with some others that the folks on the DC subreddit brought to my attention, particularly on some corridors that I had never had any reason to travel under normal circumstances, such as Bladensburg Road and Benning Road.  I then used Google Street View to visually verify all of the suggestions so that I knew what to look for in the field, plus I also did a virtual drive down a few roads using Street View to see if there were any others, as some corridors tend to be just teeming with them.

When all of the research was done, I had about twenty places that I planned to visit.  I mapped them all out, and then determined a travel order, going through the city mostly in a north-south order, with some zigzagging at times.  My route took me down Georgia Avenue, then through Brookland, along the Rhode Island Avenue corridor, through NoMa, down Bladensburg Road, along the Benning Road corridor, down Pennsylvania Avenue SE, and then back to Benning Road, before reaching Southern Avenue, which forms DC’s southern border with PG County.  Then from there, I went out to Waldorf to see what all was out there, sort of giving myself an endpoint rather than just looping back around DC when I was done.

And so I began my journey on Georgia Avenue, just south of Silver Spring:

First up was Eddie's Soul Food, which is near the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Kalmia Street NW, near the border with Montgomery County.  This is a former KFC, where the roof was painted and the cupola was removed after KFC vacated.  The building would have looked something like this as a KFC, though this one is smaller, and of a somewhat unorthodox shape.  Considering that there is a KFC/Taco Bell a block away, this location was most likely vacated due to a move.
First up was Eddie’s Soul Food, which is near the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Kalmia Street NW, near the border with Montgomery County.  This is a former KFC, where the roof was painted and the cupola was removed after KFC vacated.  The building would have looked something like this as a KFC, though this one is smaller, and of a somewhat unorthodox shape.  Considering that there is a KFC/Taco Bell a block away, this location was most likely vacated due to a move.

The sign at Eddie's Soul Food is the standard KFC design, minus the chicken bucket on top.
The sign at Eddie’s Soul Food is the standard KFC design, minus the chicken bucket on top.

Two or three blocks south on Georgia Avenue NW is Ledo Pizza, a local chain of pizza restaurants, in this case housed in a former Pizza Hut building.
Two or three blocks south on Georgia Avenue NW is Ledo Pizza, a local chain of pizza restaurants, in this case housed in a former Pizza Hut building.  It would have looked similar to this, complete with roof hump, when it was Pizza Hut.

Further down on Georgia Avenue is a Pizza Hut, housed in a former KFC.
Further down on Georgia Avenue is a Pizza Hut, housed in a former KFC.  It would have looked like this (and this) as a KFC, with a large cupola on the roof.  According to historical Street View imagery, this building had most of its cupola in September 2007, but the cupola had disappeared by July 2009.  The sign, however, is still quite vintage.

Further down Georgia Avenue, this Enterprise Rent-A-Car facility is housed in a former Burger King.
Further down Georgia Avenue, this Enterprise Rent-A-Car facility is housed in a former Burger King.

And if the building wasn't enough of a clue, the sign is the classic Burger King shape, with Enterprise's sign replacing the bun-halves logo.
And if the building wasn’t enough of a clue, the sign is the classic Burger King shape, with Enterprise’s sign replacing the bun-halves logo.

Enterprise was my last stop on Georgia Avenue.  From here, I headed into Northeast, near Brookland:

Most people should recognize the shape of the building that now houses Bennett Babies.  It used to be a Pizza Hut, though this one did not have the trapezoidal windows like the one that's now Ledo Pizza.
Most people should recognize the shape of the building that now houses Bennett Babies on Michigan Avenue NE.  It used to be a Pizza Hut, though this one did not have the trapezoidal windows like the one that’s now Ledo Pizza.

This one is a little unusual, and does not really fall under the same category as the rest.  This is the former Newton Theatre, which began life as a movie theater, became a music performance venue, and now is a CVS.
This one is a little unusual, and does not really fall under the same category as the rest.  This is the former Newton Theatre, which began life as a movie theater, became a music performance venue, and now is a CVS.  While the building still resembles a theater on the outside, and there’s a bit of exterior detail to give a nod to the former usage, the interior is entirely unremarkable, and looks like a regular CVS.  I wonder what interesting features this building is hiding, though.

From there, I made my way to Rhode Island Avenue NE:

This building is a former Church's Chicken, and would have looked like this as Church's.  The oval-shaped sign is also from it's time as Church's, and would have looked like this back then.  The building took on its current form between July 2009 and June 2011.  Prior to that, it was split between the mobile store and a clothing store.  I don't know when the building stopped being a Church's.
This building is a former Church’s Chicken, and would have looked like this as Church’s.  The oval-shaped sign is also from it’s time as Church’s, and would have looked like this back then.  The building took on its current form between July 2009 and June 2011.  Prior to that, it was split between the mobile store and a clothing store.  I don’t know when the building stopped being a Church’s.

Up the street from the former Church's is the Golden Skillet, which is housed in a former Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins.
Up the street from the former Church’s is the Golden Skillet, which is housed in a former Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins.  According to Street View imagery, the Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins closed between November 2007 and July 2009, as the November 2007 image shows it in its original form, while the July 2009 image shows it in its present form.

A little bit down the road from the previous two, Flip-It II is another former Pizza Hut.  It's been at least two different places since it stopped being Pizza Hut, as it was a seafood and steak place as of July 2007, it was up for lease in July 2009, and then Street View imagery in June 2011 shows it in its current form.
A little bit down the road from the previous two, Flip-It II is another former Pizza Hut.  It’s been at least two different places since it stopped being Pizza Hut, as it was a seafood and steak place as of July 2007, it was up for lease in July 2009, and then Street View imagery in June 2011 shows it in its current form.

This 7-Eleven is a former 1980s-style Burger King.  It would have looked similar to this when it was Burger King.  According to Street View imagery, this housed a branch of the DC DMV until some time between July 2009 and July 2011.  The only imagery that shows the building as a 7-Eleven is from this year, which makes me think that this was a recent change.

This 7-Eleven is a former 1980s-style Burger King.  It would have looked similar to this when it was Burger King.  According to Street View imagery, this housed a branch of the DC DMV until some time between July 2009 and July 2011.  The only imagery that shows the building as a 7-Eleven is from this year, which makes me think that this was a recent change.
This 7-Eleven is a former 1980s-style Burger King.  It would have looked similar to this when it was Burger King.  According to Street View imagery, this housed a branch of the DC DMV until some time between July 2009 and July 2011.  The only imagery that shows the building as a 7-Eleven is from this year, which makes me think that this was a recent change.

Further down Rhode Island Avenue, this Big Lots and Save a Lot together were formerly a Safeway.
Further down Rhode Island Avenue, this Big Lots and Save a Lot together were formerly a Safeway.

Next to that, this building that now houses Forman Mills began life as a Zayre store.
Next to that, this building that now houses Forman Mills began life as a Zayre store.

This building, formerly a KFC, seen above in Google Street View imagery, is what sometimes happens to these older retail and restaurant buildings.  I first spotted this building when I was down this way in March.  When I went to photograph it on Saturday, it had been demolished, as I found a hole in the ground where I had expected to see Pizza Mart.  Such is the fate of these buildings, after all.  They have zero historic value in most cases, and are subject to demolition when the next new idea comes along.
Photo: Google Street View
This building, formerly a KFC, seen above in Google Street View imagery, is what sometimes happens to these older retail and restaurant buildings.  I first spotted this building when I was down this way in March.  When I went to photograph it on Saturday, it had been demolished, as I found a hole in the ground where I had expected to see Pizza Mart.  Such is the fate of these buildings, after all.  They have zero historic value in most cases, and are subject to demolition when the next new idea comes along.

After this, I left the Rhode Island Avenue corridor and headed over to NoMa:

This McDonald's on New York Avenue is not a conversion as far as I know.  It appears to have been built as McDonald's, however, the architecture is interesting.  I don't know about you, but I've never seen a two-story McDonald's with a mansard roof before.  Most two-story McDonald's locations that I've seen have fairly plain exteriors.  That made this one somewhat remarkable to me.
This McDonald’s on New York Avenue is not a conversion as far as I know.  It appears to have been built as McDonald’s, however, the architecture is interesting.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a two-story McDonald’s with a mansard roof before.  Most two-story McDonald’s locations that I’ve seen have fairly plain exteriors.  That made this one somewhat remarkable to me.

Up the street and around the corner from the McDonald's is New York Pizza, housed in a former KFC.  Street View shows this location as being KFC as late as November 2007.  It was vacant for a few years, and then first appears as New York Pizza in imagery from June 2011.
Up the street and around the corner from the McDonald’s is New York Pizza, housed in a former KFC.  Street View shows this location as being KFC as late as November 2007.  It was vacant for a few years, and then first appears as New York Pizza in imagery from June 2011.

From here, I headed over to Bladensburg Road:


Dolphins Fish and Chicken, located across the street from Metro’s Bladensburg bus garage, is housed in a former Wendy’s.  This is apparently a very recent opening, as the current Street View imagery (August 2014) shows grand opening signage on it.  All Street View imagery prior to this shows an abandoned building.  It most likely would have looked like this when it was Wendy’s.

This building, now a 7-Eleven, at the intersection of Bladensburg Road and Neal Street NE, has me stumped.  I spent far too long trying to figure out what this was built as.  It looks like a chain built it, I couldn't figure out what that chain was.  There appears to have once been an entrance on the Bladensburg Road side, but I can't figure out the architecture.  The sign appears to have been reused, but I don't know what company that sign shape belonged to.  Historical Street View imagery shows that it became a 7-Eleven in 2012.  Before that, it was a nail place, and the mansard was shingle.  If you recognize it, let me know.
This building, now a 7-Eleven, at the intersection of Bladensburg Road and Neal Street NE, has me stumped.  I spent far too long trying to figure out what this was built as.  It looks like a chain built it, I couldn’t figure out what that chain was.  There appears to have once been an entrance on the Bladensburg Road side, but I can’t figure out the architecture.  The sign appears to have been reused, but I don’t know what company that sign shape belonged to.  Historical Street View imagery shows that it became a 7-Eleven in 2012.  Before that, it was a nail place, and the mansard was shingle.  If you recognize it, let me know (leave a comment!).

[Note: I was informed on December 13, 2014 that this location was constructed as a Holly Farms Fried Chicken, and would have looked similar to this in that guise.]

Then I made a left turn onto Benning Road:

This 7-Eleven on Benning Road NE is housed in a former KFC.
This 7-Eleven on Benning Road NE is housed in a former KFC.

This building, which now houses HipHop Fish & Chicken, was the one that I was most looking forward to when planning this trip.  It's very much a mutant at this point.  The building began life as a Hardee's, and the standard architecture for Hardee's is clearly visible in the back part of the building.  Then the building became a Popeyes.

This building, which now houses HipHop Fish & Chicken, was the one that I was most looking forward to when planning this trip.  It's very much a mutant at this point.  The building began life as a Hardee's, and the standard architecture for Hardee's is clearly visible in the back part of the building.  Then the building became a Popeyes.
This building, which now houses HipHop Fish & Chicken, was the one that I was most looking forward to when planning this trip.  It’s very much a mutant at this point.  The building began life as a Hardee’s, and the standard architecture for Hardee’s is clearly visible in the back part of the building.  Then the building became a Popeyes.  When Popeyes takes over a building, they usually make some heavy modifications to the building to introduce their own standard architecture.  Thus the front was heavily modified during the conversion to Popeyes, though some of the sloping from Hardee’s remains.  The building was Popeyes until at least August 2011, but by May 2014, they were gone.  I don’t know if the white color of the building was done by the current owners, or if that’s a paintout by Popeyes.

From here, I detoured off of Benning Road and headed down Pennsylvania Avenue SE:

This former Pizza Hut on Pennsylvania Avenue SE is now another New York Pizza location.  Inside, it still looks very much like a Pizza Hut as well.
This former Pizza Hut on Pennsylvania Avenue SE is now another New York Pizza location.  Inside, it still looks very much like a Pizza Hut as well.

Then I went down to Benning Road SE:

This is another former Church's Chicken, now housing America's Best Wings.
This is another former Church’s Chicken, now housing America’s Best Wings.

However, the sign for Church's Chicken didn't go with the wings place.  Rather, it's now advertising a laundromat at the end of the shopping center.
However, the sign for Church’s Chicken didn’t go with the wings place.  Rather, it’s now advertising a laundromat at the end of the shopping center.

I found Smile Center Dental in this former KFC by accident after making a wrong turn.  According to Street View, it was still KFC as of December 2007 (and the 7-Eleven next door, much to my surprise, was a different business).  Still, I wonder if the dental work done here is "Finger Lickin Good"?
I found Smile Center Dental in this former KFC by accident after making a wrong turn.  According to Street View, it was still KFC as of December 2007 (and the 7-Eleven next door, much to my surprise, was a different business).  Still, I wonder if the dental work done here is “Finger Lickin Good”?

This former 7-Eleven, on Benning Road SE near the DC line, is now Nite N Day Food Store.  It's now orange, but the architecture screams "7-Eleven", with the store's apparently reusing the original 7-Eleven sign frame.
This former 7-Eleven, on Benning Road SE near the DC line, is now Nite N Day Food Store.  It’s now orange, but the architecture screams “7-Eleven”, with the store’s apparently reusing the original 7-Eleven sign frame.

And finally, one more 7-Eleven on Southern Avenue SE, though it's technically located in PG County.  This one has a different roof style than the other, but its origin as a 7-Eleven is indisputable.
And finally, one more 7-Eleven on Southern Avenue SE, though it’s technically located in PG County.  This one has a different roof style than the other, but its origin as a 7-Eleven is indisputable.

From there, I made a left turn on Branch Avenue, and headed out to Waldorf.  The purpose of going out to Waldorf was to check out this little town in Charles County that I had been to once before on a business trip.  In 2011, my then-boss, two others, and myself went down to Waldorf to visit Sheads and Associates, a company that did various direct mail caging services for the organization.  The visit led to expansion of the relationship with Sheads, but it was an in-and-out trip, so I didn’t get to see much of Waldorf other than what my GPS gave me to get to and from Sheads.  So now, I got to see Waldorf.

It was starting to get dark by the time I got down there, but I did quickly spot something that I had seen on the Internet.  Do you remember the “lumber car” photo that had made its way around the Internet around 2000?  That was taken in Waldorf, in front of IHOP.  I posed my car in the same spot.  Compare:

The original "lumber car"

My car parked in the same space and in the same orientation as the "lumber car"

Not a bad pose, if you ask me.

Otherwise, while I was in Waldorf, I went down Route 5 as far as the St. Charles Towne Center shopping mall.  It wasn’t a bad mall, though it was a bit generic.  This trip to Waldorf, even if it was a relatively short visit, left me thinking that this might be a town worth exploring further.  Seems like there could be all sorts of “mildly interesting” things in it.  Don’t know when I’m going to get down there again (and it may be a while), but it seems to be worth another look.

And then as far as converted buildings go, I’m planning another one of these sorts of field trips.  The next one would be in PG County.  Over the course of driving the bus these last few weeks, I’ve spotted quite a few converted commercial buildings – enough to make another day out of it, both in the Landover area and along Indian Head Highway.  One is a Marina-style Safeway that’s been converted to an AutoZone.  Look for that one of these days, though with the days’ getting shorter and the time change, I’m not entirely sure when it’s going to happen.  But we’ll see.

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“I am always so thrilled when people realize how much better a place can look with just a few simple changes!” http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/10/12/i-am-always-so-thrilled-when-people-realize-how-much-better-a-place-can-look-with-just-a-few-simple-changes/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/10/12/i-am-always-so-thrilled-when-people-realize-how-much-better-a-place-can-look-with-just-a-few-simple-changes/#comments Sun, 12 Oct 2014 16:07:05 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=23933 This past week, I finally finished the work that I’d been doing at my house for the past two months.  The way I figured, since there was a period of time while the various processes related to onboarding at the new job were still coming together, I might as well take the time to finish a few things on my to-do list.  It’s funny, however, what inspires a person to decorate.  Back in July or so, my friend Suzie described my house as “a hot mess”.  I thought about that over the next week or so, and came to the conclusion that she was right.  And I admit – it was looking a little bit too “lived in” at the time, with a lot of unfinished business all over the place.  The closets were not being used to their full potential, I had a pile of stuff on the counter between the kitchen and the living room, the table was full of junk, and there were things in visible locations when they should have been in closets.

I started out on August 5, doing what I called the “demolition” phase.  This was where I cleaned out the closets and determined what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to get rid of.  It’s amazing how much junk can fit in a one-bedroom apartment.  I ended up getting rid of a ton of stuff.  I had long-outdated information about the 2008 Democratic National Convention from the Unconventional Action consulta that occurred in January 2008.  I had the banner from the black bloc at the National Equality March from October 2009.  I had an expired bottle of generic Solarcaine from the time when I got sunburned at Splash Down Waterpark in June 2008.  I also had a carton of fabric softener from 2007 that I had never opened, where all the liquid had been absorbed by the carton itself, leaving a blob of whatever solids were in the softener at the bottom.  No, seriously.  Take a look:

Yeah, I believe that the light parts of the carton were supposed to be white...  The blob of fabric softener solids in the bottom of the carton.

I believe that those light parts on the carton were supposed to be white, not a celadon green.  And yes, the solids in the bottom had collected and then pulled away from the sides.  Pretty crazy.  Then this was the pile of stuff that I pulled out of the bedroom closet and the hall closet:

The pile, stacked on my bed.

That’s a lot of stuff.  And because of this, I inadvertently evicted myself from the bed for a few days, and thus was sleeping on the couch while this part of the project was going on.  Next time I clean, I’m not putting all of the junk on top of the bed unless I can have it cleared the same day.

Then once the closets were empty, and various other pockets of junk were cleaned out, including the kitchen table, the counter, and whatever else, it was time to sort, organize, and then start returning stuff to the storage spaces.  I got rid of a whole lot of junk, gave a lot of stuff away, and found new homes in the house for the rest.  I also rearranged the shelves and the cabinets to make everything fit more nicely.  I actually ended up with a few empty shelves in the closet when I was done.

With the cleaning done, the next step was to look at decor.  I had been meaning to decorate in here since I moved in back in 2007, and never made much headway on it.  I hung up a bulletin board and a whiteboard fairly soon after moving in here, I hung the Metro map on the wall within the first few months, and then I did the threatening letter from Scientology and the mirrors in 2008.  I bought picture frames from IKEA in 2008, but then I didn’t bother to do anything with them after that.  Thus the living room looked pretty spare for the last several years (and note the frames against the wall).  The plan had always been to hang my own photos in the frames, but that was pretty low on the list of priorities.  I had come up with a plan in 2008 for how I wanted to arrange the photos and bought the frames based on that, but since then, I had forgotten what that plan was.  So I ended up coming up with a new one.  Then I also had to pick the photos.  I went through the website and my Flickr to come up with the stuff that I wanted to put in the frames, and came up with what I thought were good selections.

In printing the pix, I found out pretty that haste makes waste.  I wanted to get the photos done quickly so I could get them framed, and so I submitted the pictures online for one-hour processing.  I got this back:

One of my photos from the Washington Monument set after one-hour processing.  The color was very much off, and the photo had vertical lines down it.
One of my photos from the Washington Monument set after one-hour processing. The color was very much off, and the photo had vertical lines down it.

Photo of a disguised cell tower near the Intercounty Connector off of Bonifant Road a few miles from my house.  This was the photo feature for the week of December 22.  The color on this one was right, but the vertical lines were there.
Photo of a disguised cell tower near the Intercounty Connector off of Bonifant Road a few miles from my house.  This was the photo feature for the week of December 22, 2013.  The color on this one was right, but the vertical lines were there.

The Richmond skyline, which I ran as the photo feature on March 31, 2013, and later featured in the Richmond 2013 photo set.  Again with the bad color and vertical lines.
The Richmond skyline, which I ran as the photo feature on March 31, 2013, and later featured in the Richmond 2013 photo set.  Again with the bad color and vertical lines.

The color issue was unfortunate, but the lines were inexcusable.  The fact that they actually let a photo with those lines on it get out just astounded me.  After I brought the photos back to the counter to show the employee the problems, the employee actually tried to blame me for the problems.  Yeah, that’s good customer service for you.  Blame the customer for problems with your equipment.  Needless to say, I got a manager over, and I got every penny of my money back.

After that incident, I ended up reevaluating my photo selections, swapping out a few photos (including all three of these), and then, on the advice of my friend Suzie, ordered prints through Shutterfly and had them shipped to the house.  Those prints came out perfectly.  If you want to get digital photos printed, use Shutterfly.  It is well worth it.  Then I put them all in frames as I planned.

I also stained the remaining four Malma mirrors from IKEA that I got in 2008.  The original plan was to stain two of them in a wood color to match the furniture in the living room and put them on the wall over the aforementioned counter between the kitchen and the living room.  That color didn’t look right facing the living room, but it looked great facing the kitchen.  I ended up staining the other two mirrors with the same black stain that I used on the bedroom mirrors, and they looked just fine on the living room side.  This was how that project looked midway through:

Staining the Malma mirrors.

Not too shabby.  And you can kind of see how the brown color harmonizes with the kitchen cabinets (in the background).

I also reframed the “Dinosaur Canyon” picture, as well as a painting that I did in 1996, to match the other frames, took down the bulletin board and whiteboard, took down the Scientology letter, patched all of the old nail holes, and then started putting things up again.  The plan was for the living room to mostly feature my photography, the bedroom was going to be a little more whimsical, and then I was going to put up some stuff in the bedroom closet that I didn’t necessarily want to prominently display, but wanted to look at regardless.  Plus I put up an empty fire alarm shell in the living room.

Lastly, I did a deep cleaning of the whole house.  I even rented a carpet shampooer and gave the carpets a once-over, as I had not deep cleaned the carpets since December 27, 2008, so it was well past time for that again.

And after all that, I now present to you the results of my labor.  Let me give you the tour:

This is the living room, facing the front door.  The three frames on the wall are themed.  The far left one features material from the Sandy Point State Park photo set from February 2013.  The middle one features the Asbury Park Casino, from when I went up there in October 2013.  The right one contains photos from the Chicagoland area that I took in 2012 and 2013.
This is the living room, facing the front door.  The three frames on the wall are themed.  The far left one features material from the Sandy Point State Park photo set from February 2013.  The middle one features the Asbury Park Casino, from when I went up there in October 2013.  The right one contains photos from the Chicagoland area that I took in 2012 and 2013.

These are the photos that I used:

The other side of this wing of the living room, where my desk is.  The photos over my desk are of Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and a bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola.  The unifying theme between these two photos was "commercial".  The frame over the printer and fire alarm contains the original for the "sick copier" drawing that I drew in 2009.
The other side of this wing of the living room, where my desk is.  The photos over my desk are of Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and a bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola.  The unifying theme between these two photos was “commercial”.  The frame over the printer and fire alarm contains the original for the “sick copier” drawing that I drew in 2009.

This is the other end of the same wall that the front door is on.  The theme here was "monumental", as I have a photo of the Washington Monument in scaffolding and the Roanoke Star on the wall.
This is the other end of the same wall that the front door is on.  The theme here was “monumental”, as I have a photo of the Washington Monument in scaffolding and the Roanoke Star on the wall.

Turn around from the last photo, and there are two more frames that together took the theme of "infrastructural".  The left photo is of the Asbury Park Heating Plant, and the other is the Maryland Midland Railway in Westminster.  I put the old computer down behind the television to use as a backup server.  It is there to back up the network drive, and has its own monitor, though if I need to access it, I normally do so remotely.  Then the other wall has my Metro map (that didn't change), and the fire alarm.
Turn around from the last photo, and there are two more frames that together took the theme of “infrastructural”.  The left photo is of the Asbury Park Heating Plant, and the other is the Maryland Midland Railway in Westminster.  I put the old computer down behind the television to use as a backup server.  It is there to back up the network drive, and has its own monitor, though if I need to access it, I normally do so remotely.  Then the other wall has my Metro map (that didn’t change), and the fire alarm.

The empty Wheelock 7002T.  Still one of the coolest things to have as part of the decor.
The empty Wheelock 7002T.  Still one of the coolest things to have as part of the decor.

The Malma mirrors from IKEA that I stained black, over the kitchen counter on the living room side.
The Malma mirrors from IKEA that I stained black, over the kitchen counter on the living room side.

The Malma mirrors from IKEA on the kitchen side, stained brown.
The Malma mirrors from IKEA on the kitchen side, stained brown.

The bulletin board is now in the kitchen.  It makes far more sense to have this in the kitchen than in the living room.
The bulletin board is now in the kitchen.  It makes far more sense to have this in the kitchen than in the living room.

This is a painting that I did in June 1996 during a weeklong arts program that Augusta County did.  This is the corridor at Stuarts Draft High School that was right in front of where my locker was located, and where I used to enter and exit the building every day.
This is a painting that I did in June 1996 during a weeklong arts program that Augusta County did.  This is the corridor at Stuarts Draft High School that was right in front of where my locker was located, and where I used to enter and exit the building every day.  The walls were two-toned back then: blue-gray on bottom, white on top.  The floors were terrazzo.  The door frames were green (but not that bright of green).  The fire alarm horn was a Simplex 4040, and the pull station was a large-size Couch pull station, branded Simplex (I have the coded version of it).  The guy is in the picture because part of the project was to paste an image from a magazine in, and so I picked this guy out of an issue of National Geographic.  I have no idea who that person is.  If you know who he is, let me know in the comments.

I have a photo of what this corridor looks like today in the Stuarts Draft High School photo set in Life and Times.

This view of the bedroom is unchanged from before.  The mirrors and everything are the same.
This view of the bedroom is unchanged from before.  The mirrors and everything are the same.

This way, too.  Nothing changed.
This way, too.  Nothing changed.

Over here, besides neatening up quite a bit, I added a lamp filled with shells from a trip to the Outer Banks that I made with my friend Pete back in June, and I hung Dinosaur Canyon up on the wall over the dresser in its new black frame.  My degree from JMU remains on the left wall.  On top of the bookshelf is a photo from the National Equality March that I took of one of the people in the black bloc.  I always wanted to frame this photo because it looked awesome, but I didn't want to emphasize it as much, content-wise, so it ended up here.
Over here, besides neatening up quite a bit, I added a lamp filled with shells from a trip to the Outer Banks that I made with my friend Pete back in June, and I hung Dinosaur Canyon up on the wall over the dresser in its new black frame.  My degree from JMU remains on the left wall.  On top of the bookshelf is a photo from the National Equality March that I took of one of the people in the black bloc.  I always wanted to frame this photo because it looked awesome, but I didn’t want to emphasize it as much, content-wise, so it ended up here.

On the other side of Dinosaur Canyon is the Scientology letter, now in the bedroom.  On the other side of the lamp, next to the window, is an autographed picture of Jason David Frank (i.e. the original Green Ranger) that my sister got me.
On the other side of Dinosaur Canyon is the Scientology letter, now in the bedroom.  On the other side of the lamp, next to the window, is an autographed picture of Jason David Frank (i.e. Tommy Oliver, the original Green Ranger) that my sister got me.

On the back wall in the closet, this is the original grille from the Sable (which I knocked out as a result of hitting a deer), as well as an illustration of a shoe that I drew in October 1996 while in detention after school one day.
On the back wall in the closet, this is the original grille from the Sable, which I knocked out as a result of hitting a deer, as well as an illustration of a shoe that I drew in October 1996 while in after-school detention (probably for running my mouth).

The "CITY PLEASE" sign is one that I carved in an art class in 11th grade.  It was based around my job at that time as a directory assistance operator, where we used to answer calls, "City, please?"  Yeah, I was a geek back then, too.  Then beneath it are two drawings that I did of Power Rangers settings.  One is of a Purple Ranger character that my sister came up with, done in the Mighty Morphin and Zeo costume styles.  I'm really pleased about how that Command Center (the Brandeis-Bardin House of the Book in real life) came out.  The other picture is one that I drew of Lord Zedd in his palace, with his throne behind him, and Z-Putties on either side.  I scanned both of these drawings back in 2012.
The “CITY PLEASE” sign is one that I carved in an art class in 11th grade.  It was based around my job at that time as a directory assistance operator, where we used to answer calls, “City, please?”  Yeah, I was a geek back then, too.  Then beneath it are two drawings that I did of Power Rangers settings.  One is of a Purple Ranger character that my sister came up with, done in the Mighty Morphin and Zeo costume styles.  I’m really pleased about how that Command Center (the Brandeis-Bardin House of the Book in real life) came out.  The other picture is one that I drew of Lord Zedd in his palace, with his throne behind him, and Z-Putties on either side.  I scanned both of these drawings back in 2012.

So that’s the place.  What do you think?  I think that it goes to show that what Madame Melba said in “Changes” from Today’s Special is true: “I am always so thrilled when people realize how much better a place can look with just a few simple changes!”

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Back to Cumberland… http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/10/11/back-to-cumberland/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/10/11/back-to-cumberland/#comments Sat, 11 Oct 2014 23:56:54 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=23923 On October 2, exactly a year and a half after my first road trip to Cumberland (where I produced a photography set), I was back out that way again.  The purpose of this trip was to explore the downtown area a little bit more deeply, make some photo spheres, and check out a few things that I had missed the last time I was out there for one reason or another.

I had two planned stops on the way out.  The first was at the westbound South Mountain rest area and welcome center on Interstate 70.  Besides its being a logical spot to take a break, I wanted to get some photo spheres while there, plus I wanted to get updated photos of something that really bothered me on the last trip to Cumberland.  In the Journal entry for the April 2013 trip, I discussed an errant apostrophe on the signage directing motorists to parking, where “RV” was pluralized using an apostrophe.  The rule of thumb when it comes to pluralization in English, by the way, is that an apostrophe is never used to form a plural.  Ever.  I filed a request about this with SHA, which became case #SR-0198410, in early May of this year, to get it fixed, referencing the photo from 2013.  I heard back from SHA a few days later, where they promised that they would have the apostrophes removed by the end of the month.  When I was through that area again in mid-June, I swung by the eastbound rest area (opposite side) to check to see if they kept their promise.  They did, as they scraped the apostrophe off of the sign.  This left a somewhat inelegant result:

The apostrophe is gone, though there was still some odd spacing, but I could live with this.

The apostrophe was gone, though the awkward spacing, as well as a labelscar, made it apparent that an errant apostrophe was once there.  But I could live with that result.  Still, I was quite pleased to be greeted by this when I stopped by on this trip:

A plate with a new "s" corrected the spacing after the apostrophe's removal.  This is a good permanent solution.

Turns out that the scraped-off apostrophe was a temporary fix while they made a more permanent solution, i.e. a plate with a new “s” on it to correct the awkward spacing and hide the labelscar.  This was a far more satisfactory solution than the original fix.

Continuing on down the road, the next stop was the rest area on I-68 in the cut through Sideling Hill.  This rest area was of interest to me because it had a pedestrian bridge over the Interstate, as well as another observation platform higher up, which offer spectacular views of the cut.  I would have stopped and viewed this the last time, but it was still closed for the winter at that time.  Now it was time to take in that view:

The cut through Sideling Hill, viewed from the pedestrian bridge, facing east.
The cut through Sideling Hill, viewed from the pedestrian bridge, facing east.

Same location as above, but showing more of the north side of the cut.
Same location as above, but showing more of the north side of the cut.

I spotted an escort vehicle for an oversized truck, and was ready to go.  I was surprised to see that the load in question was a car wash.  This is, as it turns out, a Genesis modular car wash.  Based on the appearance, this looks like it is probably destined for a Sheetz location.  This is reinforced by the fact that a Sheetz car wash appears on their website.
I spotted an escort vehicle for an oversized truck, and was ready to go.  I was surprised to see that the load in question was a car wash.  This is, as it turns out, a Genesis modular car wash.  Based on the appearance, this looks like it is probably destined for a Sheetz location.  This is reinforced by the fact that a Sheetz car wash appears on their website.

Pedestrian bridge over the highway, viewed from the path to the upper observation deck.
Pedestrian bridge over the highway, viewed from the path to the upper observation deck.

View of the Sideling Hill cut from the observation deck over the eastbound side.
View of the Sideling Hill cut from the observation deck over the eastbound side.

Syncline visible in the Sideling Hill cut.
Syncline visible in the Sideling Hill cut.

What a gorgeous view, even with the cloudy skies and light fog.  I need to come back out here on a nice day around midday and photograph this again when the sun is shining straight down on it.  That would look awesome.

From here, I traveled the remaining 30-some miles to Cumberland (you wondered when I was going to get there, weren’t you?).  Arriving in Cumberland, I got off the highway at the downtown exit, and got my bearings.  On my last trip out this way, I stayed fairly close to the CSX tracks, and didn’t go any further west than Centre Street.  Therefore, I missed a good chunk of the downtown area, as well as an historic train station.  That station is the Cumberland station for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad.  When I learned some time after my 2013 trip about the existence of the other station, I was amazed that I had missed it last time, as I had come within three blocks of it but never saw it.  Considering how train-centric my last visit was, you would think I would have seen a train station, right?

In figuring out the lay of the land west of downtown, mainly to determine where I could park the car, I drove into Ridgeley, West Virginia.  Of Ridgeley, let me say this: the town itself is pretty uninteresting, but it’s got some halfway decent views near the river.  It did, however, have an interesting sign at the town border:

Ridgeley, West Virginia: Town License Required.
“Town license required”?

When I inquired via email to Ridgeley Town Clerk Renee Martz about the town license, she indicated in her response that anyone who wants to do business in Ridgeley needs to have a license, and that having a West Virginia license is a prerequisite for the Ridgeley license.  Doing a little bit more research on this, it would appear that this is a common practice in West Virginia, primarily as a revenue measure.

I eventually found parking in a row of metered spaces off of Greene Street in Cumberland, near the bridge to Ridgeley.  The first thing I did after parking was to walk back over the bridge to Ridgeley, where I got a few pix of the river, and things along it:

The bridge from Cumberland to Ridgeley, and the area of the Potomac River immediately downstream from it.  There is a waterfall, presumably manmade, directly beneath the bridge.
The bridge from Cumberland to Ridgeley, and the area of the Potomac River immediately downstream from it.  There is a waterfall, presumably manmade, directly beneath the bridge.

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad bridge, carrying two tracks over the river from Cumberland to Ridgeley.  Based on what I observed, only the track on the right side sees regular use, and it is not used for revenue service.
Western Maryland Scenic Railroad bridge, carrying two tracks over the river from Cumberland to Ridgeley.  Based on what I observed, only the track on the right side sees regular use, and it is not used for revenue service.

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad tracks in Ridgeley, leading to a rail yard.  This photo is a 180-degree turn from the previous one, thus the track on the left side in this photo is the one used for train movements.
Western Maryland Scenic Railroad tracks in Ridgeley, leading to a rail yard.  This photo is a 180-degree turn from the previous one, thus the track on the left side in this photo is the one used for train movements.

Sign warning would-be adventurers away from the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad bridge.  The scare quotes, though, amused me.  Why the scare quotes around "danger" and "no public access"?  Is that code for something else, like the entrance to a villain's secret lair or something?
Sign warning would-be adventurers away from the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad bridge.  The scare quotes, though, amused me.  Why the scare quotes around “danger” and “no public access”?  Is that code for something else, like the entrance to a villain’s secret lair or something?  (In any case, though, I wouldn’t go out on the bridge.  There are large gaps on both sides of the bridge, and a few missing boards, which made me think that other boards might suddenly and unexpectedly give out if walked on, sending a would-be adventurer on a one-way trip down to the river below.)

After a few photos in this area, I returned to Cumberland.  After crossing the bridge back into Maryland, I made my way over towards the Western Maryland station, via a footbridge over Wills Creek, with the intention of photographing along the way.  Then I saw a train arriving at the station.  Forget taking photos from the bridge.  Train.  Must photograph train.  After all, it’s not every day that you get to see this:

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad locomotive #734

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad locomotive #734

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad locomotive #734

Western Maryland Scenic Railroad locomotive #734

Yes, it’s definitely not every day that you get to see a vintage 2-8-0 steam locomotive in action.  Seeing #734 was a very unexpected surprise.

Then after the train departed, I got a few photos of the station:

Station for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, built in 1913.

Station for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, built in 1913.

Station for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, built in 1913.

Station for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, built in 1913.

When I first saw photos of this station, my first thought was that it was a shame that Amtrak can’t use this station for passenger service with the Capitol Limited.  After all, this is a beautiful historic station that looks like a train station should look.  The Amtrak station, on the other hand, is old – and not in that nice, historic way – and kind of dumpy, with the scent of old cigarette smoke in the air.  There’s a very simple reason that Amtrak can’t use this station, though: no track connection to the CSX mainline west of the station.  There is a track connection to CSX to the south of the station, though based on Street View imagery, it appears to be disused.  West of the station, while the CSX and Western Maryland tracks run parallel to each other for some distance, there is no connection between them before they diverge.

After finishing up the photography at the station, I checked out more of downtown.  Unfortunately, the parts of downtown that I explored this time were about as exciting as the parts that I explored last time, that is to say, they weren’t so exciting.  I got a few photo spheres (look for them on Google Street View at some point), but other than that, not too much, save for this sign:

The sign at the New Embassy Theatre

This is the New Embassy Theatre, a theater that opened as a movie theater in 1931, served for a period as a drapery store, and then eventually was turned into a performance theater.  I’m left wondering about that sign, though.  It looks like a temporary reproduction of an earlier vintage sign while the real sign is pending restoration or what have you, but it clearly needs attention.

From there, I started to head back towards the car, as my meter was ready to expire.  On the way back, however, I noticed one of the signals and crossbucks for the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad:

Signal and crossbuck with button copy on the crossbuck's letters

Signal and crossbuck with button copy on the crossbuck's letters

Builder's plate on the signal

I don’t know what kind of geek this makes me, but the reason I was drawn to this signal was the button copy lettering on the crossbuck.  Normally, button copy is found on older road signs (but such signs are slowly disappearing), but I’ve never seen it on a crossbuck before.  Interesting.

After I got back to the car, I drove around town some more, and soon found a converted restaurant building:

LabCorp in Cumberland, in a converted Dunkin Donuts building

That’s a former Dunkin Donuts right there!

Then after stopping off for something to eat, I headed up to WTBO to get some new sign photos.  I was in the “golden hour” for photography, and it would look quite nice on that sign.  And unlike last time, when the station was totally unmanned and I just helped myself, I got permission from station staff on site this time.  Take a look at the result:

The WTBO sign, photographed during the "golden hour"

The WTBO sign, photographed during the "golden hour"

The WTBO sign, photographed during the "golden hour"

Not bad, but I’m annoyed that the top of the “W” is cut off in that last photo, and I only got the one shot from that angle.  But those are the breaks sometimes, I suppose.  I did, however, get a really dirty look from the woman who lives in the house right next door to this sign.  Apparently she didn’t appreciate my being there photographing the sign, even though I was very careful to stay on the radio station’s property.  I wonder how often people come up to photograph the sign, though.  This could be a common occurrence for her.  Who knows.  I don’t feel much sympathy for her, though, because the sign’s been there for decades, and I’d bet she’s been there for less time than the sign, thus she knew exactly what she was getting into.

Then from there, I had to make a decision: did I want to stay in Cumberland and wait around for an hour for the Capitol Limited to come through, or did I want to go over to La Vale (the next town over) to check out the Country Club Mall, i.e. the local shopping mall?  I ended up choosing the mall, figuring that I had photographed both the westbound and eastbound Capitol Limited in Martinsburg with Elyse the week before, plus it would likely be darker than I would like by the time the train rolled in, and thus not conducive for photographing trains.

The mall wasn’t much to write home about, as it was a relatively small mall with typical mall stores (i.e. nothing that interesting) though I did spot this in the parking lot:

A Volkswagen Bug with pink eyelashes on the headlights.  Okay, then.

Yes, that is a Volkswagen Bug with pink eyelashes on the headlights.  I always feel like I need to question the sanity of people who put eyelashes on their car, because they never look good.  Not even on a Kia Soul.

And that was my trip to Cumberland!  You won’t see a photography set from this trip, but I believe I got a few winners in there.  Look for them to turn up as the photo feature, and on my Flickr.  And as with the last time I was in Cumberland, I have ideas for things that I want to photograph and do on a future trip out there.  I definitely enjoy my time out in this little western Maryland town, as it’s a nice change of scenery from what I’m used to.

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Single-stream recycling has come to my home at last… http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/09/29/single-stream-recycling-has-come-to-my-home-at-last/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/09/29/single-stream-recycling-has-come-to-my-home-at-last/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 22:54:30 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=23870 So I went to take out the recycling after I got home from work today, and encountered this:

A dumpster marked "SINGLE STREAM"

Now I know what you’re thinking: it’s a dumpster.  And yes, it is, in fact, a dumpster.  This particular dumpster, however, is for recycling, and replaced a row of plastic garbage bins that previously served the same purpose.  The old bins were marked for what one should put in them.  Half were marked for mixed paper, and half were marked “commingled”, i.e. for cans, glass, and plastic items.  Now we’re using single-stream recycling, which does away with all of the categories, and therefore you put all of your recycling into one big container.

And therein lies the beauty of single-stream recycling.  It’s highly user-friendly, because it’s all a matter of yes and no.  If it’s able to be recycled, then it goes into the recycling bin, regardless of what sort of recyclable item it is.  If it’s not able to be recycled, then it goes in the trash.  The idea is that it’s more effective for all of the different recycling to be sorted out downstream from the user, so just put all of the recyclables in a single container, and let the company handle it from there.

Back when I managed an office for a nonprofit organization, I was responsible for implementing a single-stream program in the office when it became available at our building in 2009.  Along with emails explaining the program to the staff, I made the following handy-dandy guide that went up at various locations in the office:

My guide for recycling in the office  My guide for recycling in the office

And then this is what our trash cans looked like at the office after the program began:

The trash can and recycling bin for the single-stream program

Note the relative sizes.  The recycling bin was the standard seven gallon (28 quart) recycling bin that you would expect to see at an office.  The trash can was a tiny 0.75 gallon container that hung inside the recycling bin.  That ought to give you an idea about how much recycling there was compared to trash.  And it held true: I almost never filled the little black container.  Most stuff was recycled.

Now here’s the kicker, though, when it comes to these things: single-stream recycling only works when everyone follows the guidelines, since we all put our recyclables into the same dumpster, and someone who is sloppy with their recycling could contaminate the load with nonrecyclables.  As I was told when the program was implemented at my office building, if the load is contaminated beyond a certain percentage threshold, none of it is recycled, and instead treated as trash.  Basically, the company says “the hell with it” when that threshold is reached because it becomes more effort than it is worth to try to rectify it.  It’s sad but true.  My recycling could be perfect, but if my neighbors throw just anything into the recycling dumpster, my efforts at good recycling will be wasted, because the whole thing will get trashed for going over the contamination threshold.

And on top of everything else, the new dumpster is big and cavernous.  That means that I now can handle my recycling exactly the same way that I do my trash, i.e. bag it up in a big garbage bag, and then hurl it into the dumpster.  No more emptying bags into the little containers, and messing with the lids on said containers to get them to go back down.

So all in all, I’m pleased with this development.  I just hope that my neighbors do single-stream correctly along with me by making sure that their recyclables and their trash are kept separate.

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No longer a Baltimore transit virgin… http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/09/28/no-longer-a-baltimore-transit-virgin/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/09/28/no-longer-a-baltimore-transit-virgin/#comments Sun, 28 Sep 2014 17:58:37 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=23864 Two weeks ago, I went up to Baltimore with my friend Elyse.  We went for the Star Spangled 200 celebration, and wandered around the city a bit.  And most importantly, I rode public transportation in Baltimore for the first time.  MTA Maryland is a very different beast from Metro.  MTA has buses, and MTA has trains, and there’s also a Circulator-type service.  But the details are quite different.  Elyse and I started out at Cromwell station in Glen Burnie, which is out by BWI.  That’s light rail.  DC doesn’t have light rail, as you know.  There’s a streetcar system coming in DC, but it’s not here yet.  Then there’s a heavy rail system, i.e. the Metro Subway, which we also rode.  That’s more like what I’m used to.  We also rode the Charm City Circulator, which is a free bus service that travels around the city, separate from the regular MTA buses (which we didn’t get to ride).  And owing to cooperation between MTA Maryland and Metro, my SmarTrip card worked in Baltimore.

Most surprising was that the fares for the light rail were basically on the honor system.  You bought your ticket at the machine, and then you just got on.  No faregates, no fareboxes, no nothing.  In my case, I loaded an MTA pass onto my SmarTrip.

So this was what I saw on my first ride on the Baltimore Light Rail:

Baltimore LRV 5011

The car emptied out near the Inner Harbor, as a lot of the activities were at the Inner Harbor, plus there was an Orioles game later.

An empty LRV

This is LRV 5011, an articulated light rail vehicle.  We rode up to Lexington Market, where we transferred to the Metro Subway.

Our LRV departs Lexington Market, photographed from the wheelchair access platform.
Our LRV departs Lexington Market, photographed from the wheelchair access platform.

Sign for Lexington Market on the Metro Subway.  An "M" at the top of a sign is something that I'm used to.
Sign for Lexington Market on the Metro Subway.  An “M” at the top of a sign is something that I’m used to.  We rode the train from here to Penn-North.


Our train departs Penn-North.  I hadn’t heard DC choppers like that in several years, since Metro sent the last of the 3000-Series railcars out for rehab in 2008.


We then turned around and took another train to Charles Center, where we exited the system.


Our train departs Charles Center. Elyse has no cell phone service (neither did I).


Exit sign at Charles Center.  That’s certainly an unusual shape.

Leaving Charles Center, we wandered around the Inner Harbor a bit.  We stopped by the Transamerica Tower, the grounds of which were one of the designated viewing areas for the Blue Angels‘ show, which was occurring over Baltimore.  I took a moment to photograph the building, in what seemed like perfect lighting:

On that note, I had never seen a rainbow on a mostly clear day like this.  It was short and high up in the sky.
On that note, I had never seen a rainbow on a mostly clear day like this.  It was short and high up in the sky.

Then we took the Charm City Circulator up to Fells Point, where the HMS Argyll was open for public tours:

The phrasing of this sign, cable-tied to the gangway railing, struck Elyse and me as being very British.
The phrasing of this sign, cable-tied to the gangway railing, struck Elyse and me as being very British.

Elyse poses for a photo with one of the fire extinguishers on the deck.
Elyse poses for a photo with one of the fire extinguishers on the deck.

Two Chubb-brand fire extinguishers.  The larger extinguisher on the left uses foam, while the smaller extinguisher uses carbon dioxide.
Two Chubb-brand fire extinguishers.  The larger extinguisher on the left uses foam, while the smaller extinguisher uses carbon dioxide.

According to the sign, this is an outfit GWS 60 warning rattler, used to notify sailors that a missile is about to be fired.
According to the sign, this is an outfit GWS 60 warning rattler, used to notify sailors that a missile is about to be fired.

Closer view of the rattler (I would call it a horn).
Closer view of the rattler (I would call it a horn).

Label on the warning rattler, which is an IS-A105N sounder.
Label on the warning rattler, which is an E2S IS-A105N sounder.

UK-style electrical plug.
UK-style electrical plug.

Plate for the swimmer of watch gantry, this one apparently replacing an earlier one.
Plate for the swimmer of watch gantry, this one apparently replacing an earlier one.

After we left the Argyll, we went up to the top of the Admiral Fell Inn, where was a roof deck.  There, we watched the Blue Angels for a few minutes:

The Blue Angels over Baltimore

The Blue Angels over Baltimore

Next to the Admiral Fell, Elyse and I spotted this:

"VOTE AGAINST PROHIBITION"

This sign reads “VOTE AGAINST PROHIBITION” and is located on the side of a building at Shakespeare and Broadway, a sign that Fells Point has been a bar district for a very long time.

Leaving the Admiral Fells, we headed up Broadway, encountering a man playing a saxophone made out of PVC pipe:

Elyse and I were both quite impressed.  In doing some research later, I found out that this man is William Emerson, better known as “Abu the Flutemaker”, who makes many musical instruments out of various found objects.

We had lunch at Hot Tomatoes, which is on Broadway in Fells Point, which sells New York-style pizza.  We each had a slice, which was big and greasy – to the point where I couldn’t handle it manually.  I used a fork.  It was great pizza, and it’s definitely worth going to again, but for takeout, as I’m not sure if I’d want to eat in again.  They had several stand-up tables around, but only one chair, which, after walking around for several hours, was not enough, as we both wanted to sit.  The restrooms were also quite cramped.  I’d recommend that they invest in a couple more chairs for the low table that you can’t stand up at so that patrons can sit.

After lunch, Elyse wanted to show me Johns Hopkins Hospital.  I’d never been there, and I was told that the architecture of the older section was quite striking.  However, getting there was something of a challenge.  We first waited at a Charm City Circulator stop on Broadway, and were surprised to find out that despite the existence of a sign, and a bunch of us waiting for the bus there, that was no longer an active Charm City Circulator stop.  Veolia, get on top of this and pull that sign down if it’s no longer an active stop.  Then the next bus to come by, after we found an active stop, was full.  And the Charm City Circulator was not on the list of routes that the Transit App showed, possibly because it was privately operated, rather than being run by MTA Maryland.  So after waiting for a while, we ended up walking towards Shot Tower station via President Street.  We ended up finally catching up with a Green Route bus for Charm City Connector on the way there, and so we took that out to Johns Hopkins.  Good.

And for those of you who are wondering, no, I don’t know my way around Baltimore very well.  I can get some places without difficulty, but for most places, I still need navigation.  And that’s just because I don’t go up to Baltimore very much.

We arrived at Johns Hopkins during the “Golden Hour”, where the sun hits the buildings just so, and so I saw this:

Johns Hopkins Hospital

Johns Hopkins Hospital

Johns Hopkins Hospital

Then Elyse took me inside, showing me the area where she once stayed for something or other.  From that high location, we had a great view of the sunset over Baltimore:

The sunset over Baltimore as viewed from Johns Hopkins

Then from there, we headed back into the Metro Subway at its eastern terminus, and rode to State Center, and I got one more train video:

From there, we walked two blocks to the Cultural Center light rail stop, and rode that to Convention Center (the train was short-turning).  Then we got another train to take us the rest of the way back to Cromwell.

Arriving at Cromwell, we were in the mood for food, as it was now 9:00 in the evening.  The only food that we could find right around Cromwell station was a McDonald’s, which can be summed up in one word: yuck.  We ended up taking something of the driving tour around parts of Baltimore that I’d never been in before, eventually Route 40 and taking that into Catonsville, where we had dinner at the Double T Diner, which is a diner chain in the Baltimore area.  Not a bad meal.  I’d go back there again.

And then after dinner, we were done.  I dropped Elyse off at her house, and then headed home.  Now that I’ve seen  and ridden on Baltimore transit, though, I think I need to explore this system, which is relatively close to me, some more.  Should be fun.

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“Fire drill in three, two, one…” http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/09/15/fire-drill-in-three-two-one/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/09/15/fire-drill-in-three-two-one/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 02:09:24 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=23768 Back on August 1, I got together with my friend Elyse and we tested a number of different fire alarm notification appliances at her house.  We had to take it to her house, because I live in an apartment, and, out of respect for my neighbors, I have a visual-only policy at my house, i.e. as many strobes as you want, but no horns.  Most of the alarms that we tested were hers, though we did run a couple of mine, plus I provided the power, i.e. my Wheelock RPS-2440 24-volt power supply.

The first alarm up was a Gentex smoke alarm.  I’ve seen these in person before, most notably when I stayed at the Bolger Center in Potomac for an event with a company that shall remain nameless, where there was a Gentex smoke detector in my room, next to a Wheelock ET speaker/strobe.  At the time, I commented about the alarm system, “I thought about how neat it would be to see both devices in action, but the thing is, if both devices are going, you’re really screwed.”  While I had since seen a Wheelock ET in action, I hadn’t seen a Gentex smoke alarm in action until this day.  And here it is:

The tone on this one surprised me.  I was expecting Code-3, not the high-pitched beeping that I got.  After all, my home smoke alarm does Code-3, and so I would have thought that a Gentex product would do likewise.

Then we did a SpectrAlert Advance by System Sensor:

This particular specimen was made for use by alarm vendors displaying the Advance with some advertising literature, with the intent of selling to installers.  Elyse managed to get this from one of those vendors.

After that, we moved on to Elyse’s white Edwards Integrity 757-5A-TW horn/strobe:

This was pretty cool for me, because I had never heard an Edwards Integrity in person before.  I’ve seen them out and about many times before, but I’ve never seen or heard one in action.

Then the next alarm was a Wheelock Exceder LED:

Wheelock Exceder LED

For those not familiar, Exceder is the current line of fire alarm notification appliances produced by Cooper Notification under the Wheelock brand.  It comes in a version that uses a conventional xenon strobe (which you’ve probably seen before), and there’s another version that uses an LED for the visual component rather than a xenon strobe.  I had never heard either version of the Wheelock Exceder before, though in seeing clips online, I learned that it sounds almost exactly like an NS.  The LED was exciting for me, because it’s new in the fire alarm world, and I’d never seen an Exceder LED in person at all, let alone seen it in action.

And unfortunately, this would be a disappointment.  While the audible functioned properly, the LED part of it was, unfortunately, dead.  That was unfortunate, but somewhat expected, considering that a previous owner of this horn had disassembled it to see what it was like inside.  Apparently they didn’t get it all back together correctly.

After that, we moved onto a Wheelock NS:

This version of the NS is designed to be mounted on the ceiling, and has a very different design from the wall-based NS.  This alarm was also part of a trade that Elyse and I did.  She had an extra ceiling-mounted NS, and I had an extra Wheelock 7001, and so we swapped alarms.  Look for this ceiling NS, along with a few others, in the Fire Alarm Collection pages before too long.

Next up was my Edwards 881D-AW:

You may recall that this was extracted from my old middle school in 2005 when the Edwards system was replaced by a DSC Maxsys system.  This horn, unfortunately, didn’t sound when we applied power to it.  I don’t think that the horn is necessarily dead, as there was something to the wiring that confused me, specifically a white neutral wire that I didn’t know what to do with.  Thus we may have wired it up incorrectly, as I just turned this white wire up and out of the way, since I didn’t know quite what to do with it.  More research is necessary here.

Moving along, though, we hooked up Elyse’s Notifier KMS-6-24VDC/P bell, and took it for a spin:

And yes, that is a Wheelock 7002T with backbox underneath the bell.  We had to elevate the bell by a few inches, because when we originally placed the bell, with the gong touching the table on one end, the contact with the table muffled the gong.  That wouldn’t do, so we quickly found something to elevate it, after which it worked beautifully.

Then, speaking of that Wheelock 7002T, it was time to take that for a spin:

This particular 7002T also had an unusual label:

Label on the back of Elyse's 7002T

Prior to this, I had never seen a label screenprinted on the back of the strobe like that.  I’d only seen them like on mine, where the label is a sticker on the back of the strobe.  I wonder how long Wheelock labeled 7002Ts this way before switching to the sticker label.

Elyse also got the perfect photo of the 7002T in action:

Captured mid-flash

Can’t do better than that.  Then our last fire alarm horn was Elyse’s System Sensor MASS24110ADA:

This is a multitone device, and this one was set to slow whoop.  I have a similar one of these, though she has the trim plate on hers that I don’t have for mine.  I’ve seen the trim plate once before, at the Wawa on Quarterfield Road in Glen Burnie.

Then after this, we headed over to a phone line, and gave my Wheelock UTA-WH-VPS phone horn/strobe a spin:

For those of you who went to college with me, yes, this is the same phone horn that I had up in my dorm room in Potomac Hall.  It’s been a decade since I heard that horn.  I eventually want to be able to hook this up to something so that I can use it again, but I’m not getting a landline just so that I can hook my phone horn up.  One day.

So there you go.  I’m sure that we’ll eventually do this again, so if you want us to test anything specific, let me know in the comments below.  I have 12 and 24-volt power supplies, so I can test anything that takes 12 or 24 volts DC.  And if you have a working Exceder LED that you can send my way…

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Yes, that is a Wheelock 7002T up there… http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/09/10/yes-that-is-a-wheelock-7002t-up-there/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/09/10/yes-that-is-a-wheelock-7002t-up-there/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 23:03:45 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=23755 So as I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m doing a bit of cleaning/redecorating around the house.  I’ve purged the house of much junk, I’ve put pictures in the frames, and I’ve removed the bulletin board, whiteboard, and Scientology letter from the walls.  Of the items removed from the walls, the bulletin board got moved to the kitchen, and the Scientology letter is going back up somewhere else in the house, but I’m not entirely sure where yet, as I still have to figure out the master decor plan.  I gave the whiteboard away, and I’m told it ultimately ended up at the American Legion in Wheaton.

But I did put a new piece of decor up that is very relevant to my interests: a Wheelock 7002T.  This came about after my friend Elyse referred me to an eBay auction where someone was selling two Wheelock 7002T horn/strobes that had been completely gutted, marketed as wall decor.  The opening price was ridiculously low, and there were no other bidders.  In a word: mine.  The idea was to get these, dig up some trim plates, and then put them up on the wall.  This only worked because they were empty.  Without the guts, they were light enough to where if I put one up, I wouldn’t have to worry about their falling off of the wall on account of weight, and also, there was nothing protruding out of the back, which meant that it would go flat against the wall.

This is what I started with:

Two empty Wheelock 7002Ts

And there you have it, as they are stripped bare inside.  No guts.  And then when you flip them over, they look pretty normal:

The front of my empty 7002Ts

So as you can see, perfect.  And then I chose this as the site:

The site where the empty horn would go.

This wall, near my Metro map.  And then I mated the wall decor with its other half, i.e. the trim plate:

Mated with its trim plate.

Then after prepping the area, I got one side up:

My gutted fire alarm, hanging by one screw before I put the other one in.

By the way, this amused me far more than it should have.  I even sent this pic to Elyse, saying, “All done!  How’s it look?”  She got a kick out of it as well.  And then once I got the other screw in, I checked to make sure that it was level:

Perfectly level.

Perfect.  It made me think of a scene from a 1990s-era Wheelock promotional video, showing an AS:

  
Images: Wheelock Inc.

And here’s the final product, after I tightened up the screws:

Looks pretty good, doesn’t it?  I wanted this piece of decor to look like a fire alarm horn, and I think I succeeded.

And if you’re wondering what the actual fire alarm looks like where I live, here you go:

That is a 120V EllBell by Ellenco.  And these are the pull stations, which are also Ellenco.  So no confusing this for the real alarm.  And now there’s something related to fire alarms as part of the decor, right next to something transit-related.  Not too shabby.  Now to do everything else in the plan.

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Google Camera is my new favorite toy… http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/09/06/google-camera-is-my-new-favorite-toy/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/09/06/google-camera-is-my-new-favorite-toy/#comments Sat, 06 Sep 2014 16:38:21 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=23724 I recently went on a trip down to Stuarts Draft to see my parents and sister, as well as my sister’s friend Vickey, and I came armed with a new app for my Android device: Google Camera.  If you’ve never used it before, Google Camera is a camera app that will function as a regular camera plus do a few other things.  Besides shooting regular still photos and videos, it will also do a lens blur effect, it helps in shooting panoramic photos, and it also shoots “photo spheres”, also called “spherical panoramas”.  That last one is what I took for a spin on this trip.  Those are the ones that I can post on Panoramio, and I believe that they go in as Street View (but don’t quote me on that just yet, because they haven’t fully propagated to Google Maps/Earth as of this writing).

Shooting them is surprisingly easy.  Here’s a screenshot of the app in action, taking a photo sphere at my place:

Google Camera app in action

Basically, all you do is put the dot in the circle, and the dot moves after you place it, to show you where to put the camera for the next image.  And you do that all around.  Then when you’ve gotten all of the shots it needs, it makes a clicking sound, and it starts stitching it all together in the background.  A couple of minutes later, you have a completed photo sphere.  They look like this when they’re done:

Photo sphere of the westbound I-64 rest area near Ivy

This is the rest area on I-64 westbound near Ivy, at approximately milepost 112, off in a somewhat secluded area.  This is also the first photo sphere that I ever took.  Then when viewed as a sphere, it looks normal, and you can pan all around the image and it looks like Street View.

I’ve also discovered a few things about the feature.  First of all, it doesn’t work very well for items that are close to the camera.  Those get chopped up quite a bit, such as with this image taken near railings, power lines, and a telephone pole in Staunton:

Choppy photo in Staunton

Yeah.  Choppy, even when projected as intended on Panoramio.  Check out that telephone pole.  A few parts of it appear to be floating in the air.  I think it was maybe about four feet in front of me in real life.  The location is here, and I was standing in the corner of that catwalk to the bridge over the railroad track.  And as you can see, it’s not nearly as choppy in real life as it is in this photo.

Then on Labor Day, while my mother, sister, and Vickey went to Blacksburg, I took a little road trip to Roanoke and back, playing with photo spheres.  I took Route 11 down to Lexington, Route 60 through Buena Vista and up to the Blue Ridge Parkway, and then took the Parkway all the way to Roanoke.  And I got lots of panoramas:

Walmart in Lexington
Walmart in Lexington.

Sheetz in Lexington
Sheetz in Lexington.

Stonewall Square, in front of Food Lion
Stonewall Square, in front of Food Lion.

Parry McCluer High School in Buena Vista
Parry McCluer High School in Buena Vista.

Buena Vista overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Buena Vista overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

House Mountain overlook
House Mountain overlook.

Otter Lake
Otter Lake.

Standing on a picnic table near the James River Visitors' Center and the Harry Flood Byrd Memorial Bridge
Standing on a picnic table near the James River Visitors’ Center and the Harry Flood Byrd Memorial Bridge.

The Quarry overlook
The Quarry overlook.

Roanoke River overlook
Roanoke River overlook.

The Roanoke Star and overlook, while standing on a bench
The Roanoke Star and overlook, while standing on a bench.  You can definitely see that people were moving while I was taking this shot, as there are a few cases of disembodied feet, and children with no legs, as they were in a certain position as I was coming by doing one row, and then not there when I was doing another row, or walked into frame later after a row without them in it was already done.

Parking area at the Roanoke Star
Parking area at the Roanoke Star.  My Power Rangers shirt is visible in the bottom of this panorama.

Entrance to Tanglewood Mall, near JCPenney
Entrance to Tanglewood Mall, near JCPenney.

The Roanoke Star, taken from the same bench as before, at night
The Roanoke Star, taken from the same bench as before, at night.

So as you can see, I had a fun time.  I’ll update you on where and how to see my photo spheres on the map once they propagate through Google’s system.  If they show up as Street View, I’ll be delighted, because there’s nothing more infuriating than this:

No Street View here!

Nothing more infuriating than locating a road that you need to see, and there’s no Street View imagery for that area.  Shopping centers are especially a pet peeve of mine.  I’ll be trying to verify that the place that I’m looking for is what I’m mapping to, and since Street View usually doesn’t go into the shopping center (though it sometimes does), I only get a view from the road, and that’s often obstructed by landscaping.

And then on the way out to head back home, I got one more photo sphere, of the Sheetz in Fishersville in early evening:

Sheetz in Fishersville, Virginia

And here it is when projected as intended.  Not bad.  I really love the sky in this one.

So I’ll update you when I figure out how all of these panoramas display.  I’m hoping they show up as Street View, but we’ll see.  In any case, these are pretty fun to do.  I should take a day some time soon before I start driving and do a bunch of these all over Montgomery County.  Should be fun.

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Best birthday cake ever… http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/08/28/best-birthday-cake-ever/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/08/28/best-birthday-cake-ever/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 15:46:30 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=23714 My friend Elyse recently celebrated a birthday, and, as a fellow fire alarm enthusiast, she got what I consider to be the greatest cake ever.  She sent me pictures of it.  Take a look:

This is a three-layer cake, designed to resemble a fire alarm pull station.  Specifically, an Edwards 270A-SPO, i.e. the classic Edwards pull station.  The logo is different from the one that you see on my Edwards stations because they opted to use an older Edwards logo, with a more square-shaped shield, vs. the later triangular shield.  Also, notice the details in the cake.  It totally looks like you can reach in and pull the handle, and then put a flathead screwdriver in the top to reset it.  You can even see where a break rod is supposed to go.  And I’m told that all of it was done with buttercream frosting.

And here’s a cross-section after some of it had been cut:

It almost makes you sad to have to cut into it, doesn’t it?  So beautiful, but cakes don’t last forever, and are designed to be eaten.  But that’s what we have cameras for.  In any case, you can see the three layers, and you can tell that the bakery got the angle right, as an Edwards pull station is bigger at the top and very narrow at the bottom.

If you’re thinking about getting something similar, Elyse tells me that this cake came from Touché Touchet Bakery and Pastry Shoppe in Columbia.  I’m going to have to keep this place in mind, because I was definitely impressed by it.

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When is the Internet going to understand that diabetes jokes are not funny? http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/08/20/when-is-the-internet-going-to-understand-that-diabetes-jokes-are-not-funny/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/08/20/when-is-the-internet-going-to-understand-that-diabetes-jokes-are-not-funny/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 22:50:34 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=23702 So I was going around Reddit today, and saw this posted to the food subreddit:


Image: Imgur

The caption on the photo as posted to Reddit was, “Walked into work on my birthday to this :D“.  From what I can tell, the picture shows a round cake topped with icing and Reese’s Pieces, with Kit Kat bars for an outer border.  Then there are two small iced cupcakes to the left of the main cake, and a tray to the right of the main tray full of small iced cupcakes to the right with rainbows on them.

My first reaction was like that of many: that’s a lot of sugar.  I think that much sugar at once would give me a headache, or at least a massive buzz, before ultimately finding a nice place to live on my behind for a while.  I responded to the post, saying, “That is some serious sugar there.  Whose job was it to hold you and prevent you from bouncing off all of the walls?”

And then at the time of this writing, there were several comments making light of diabetes, including:

And then the person who originally posted responded in kind, which only encourages this sort of behavior.  They all get a downvote as far as I’m concerned.

Joking about chronic conditions is just not funny.  If you have diabetes, you have my sympathy.  I have family members who have diabetes, and a number of friends as well.  Greta #1 also had diabetes in the last year of her life, and we got to see the complications from that firsthand.  It is not a pleasant situation to be in, and one that requires careful management.  The idiots who make such jokes (and others like it) clearly have no understanding of what the disease is and how it develops, or, worse, they do understand, and choose to make the jokes anyway.  Remember that there are two types: type 1 is an inherited autoimmune disease that affects the pancreas, and has nothing to do with lifestyle.  Then type 2 is related to insulin resistance, and a number of factors can lead to it, including some that are lifestyle-related.  Therefore, it’s not a quick, easy cause to pin down.  And don’t forget: just because lifestyle plays a role in one version of the disease, that doesn’t mean that it’s fair game to make sport of.  And the idea that consuming a lot of sugar will, in and of itself, cause diabetes, is not nearly as simple as some will have you think.  The real answer is much more complicated, and oversimplifying it like that is not doing anyone any favors.

So bottom line: ditch the jokes that are making fun of diabetes or any other chronic condition.  The conditions being parodied are serious matters, and we don’t need to be perpetuating the misinformation that comes with these not-funny jokes and comments.

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And this is why I should never be allowed to go to Micro Center unsupervised… http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/08/14/and-this-is-why-i-should-never-be-allowed-to-go-to-micro-center-unsupervised/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/08/14/and-this-is-why-i-should-never-be-allowed-to-go-to-micro-center-unsupervised/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 05:27:22 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=23693 First of all, I apologize for my silence as of late.  I’ve been busy working on various things plus having some computer issues, and that’s caused me to neglect the website somewhat, save for changing the photo features and splash photos.

However, the good news is that I’ve received job offers from a few different area transit agencies (that I’m not naming) for the position of bus operator.  I should be starting training with one of them soon, once all of the various onboarding processes are completed.  From what I’ve seen, these are not quick processes, but they’re done correctly the first time, and I’m fine with that.  In deciding to become a bus driver, I realized over the course of the job hunt that my heart just wasn’t in it for more nonprofit work.  I also realized that I wanted a career, and not just another job, and I didn’t really have a passion for the issues that the organizations that I was applying to were about.  In looking at my interests, I came to realize that I had a real interest in starting a career in public transportation.  And a job as a bus driver is a foot in that door.  In pursuing that, I took a commercial driving course at Montgomery College over the winter, and I now hold a Class B commercial driver’s license with passenger and school endorsements, plus no air brake restrictions.  So life is good on that front.

I also had a big day on July 26, checking out the new Silver Line stations.  I received an invitation to ride the VIP train before revenue service began, and I brought my friend Matthew as my guest.  I’m going to do a full-on photo set for Life and Times for this day (along with a few other subjects in the photo set queue), so I’m not going to say much about it now, but we had fun.  I got to see a number of congressmen and other various elected officials, I got to talk to former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, and then Matthew and I rode the first revenue train from Wiehle Avenue to Largo.  Then after lunch, we toured the new stations on the way back from Largo.

And also, now that things are looking better, I gave my apartment a good purging.  I cleared my bedroom closet almost completely out, and also cleared out the hall closet.  Then I also cleared out all of the other places where junk accumulates, rearranged my bookshelves, and found homes for everything.  This place looks so barren now compared to how it looked before.  I also dusted off some “Ribba” frames from IKEA that I got back in 2008, and I’m going to fill them with various photos from the website and my Flickr.  Once I get some stuff on the walls, I think the place will look a bit more homey again.  And I’d much rather have stuff decorating the walls than junk decorating the corners.  Then I’m also getting ready to do a cleaning, as in removing dust and grime from places, now that all of the junk has been attended to and all of these surfaces are exposed.  I’ll take pictures once I get the stuff on the walls and the place is finished.

Life, however, has not been so good to me on the computer front, as my desktop computer, a Dell Dimension E521, is really showing its age.  The integrated sound recently died on it, and after verifying that the sound issue was a hardware problem, as well as recognizing that I had a few other longer-standing issues, plus the age of the machine in general, I decided to finally replace the whole thing outright.  Replacing the main computer had been in the cards for a while, but I didn’t feel comfortable actually taking the plunge until recently due to my employment situation.  Now I feel more comfortable doing an upgrade.  So I went to Micro Center on Monday to look at new computers, and ended up leaving with one.  I got a PowerSpec G412, which looks like this:

PowerSpec G412

This is a really nice computer, too.  It has, among other things, an Intel Core i7-4770K processor with a clock speed of 3.5 GHz, 16 GB RAM, a 120 GB solid state boot drive, a 2 TB hard drive for storage, two 14x Blu-ray burners, the capacity to run up to five monitors at once, and eleven USB ports (five USB 2.0, six USB 3.0).  The way I figure, I can go for a really powerful machine, because over the last sixteen years, I’ve only had two desktops.  My old Gateway G6-400 lasted almost nine years, from May 1998 to February 2007, and got a midlife overhaul in summer 2001.  Then my Dell lasted seven and a half, from February 2007 to August 2014, and received a gradual midlife overhaul from 2009-2011.  Considering my track record with computers, I ought to be able to make this one last until I hit 40 (a scary thought in itself).  Then I also have a 4 TB Western Digital network hard drive that lives across the room.  I’m using that to hold my photo archives, with plenty of room to grow.  Needless to say, this is a major upgrade to my infrastructure, and I feel as though I should grow a neckbeard before I’m allowed to touch my new toys.

This, by the way, is why I should not be allowed to go into Micro Center unsupervised.  I turn into Tim Allen at Sears.

Now as far as my Dell goes, I actually got an offer on it from Strong Bad.  He needed a computer for checking his email, and mine apparently fit the bill quite well.  Just kidding.  Seriously, I’m going to put Linux (Ubuntu) on it, and keep it in the corner and access it remotely.  Not sure what I’m going to do with it just yet, but I have a few ideas.  Plus having a few things that I want to do with it will give ma an excuse to really learn Linux.  I played with Linux on my old Dell laptop for about six months in 2008, but with no real goal where it was necessary to learn Linux to reach it, I didn’t get much out of it, and eventually put Windows Vista back on there.  Now I have ideas of what I want to do on a Linux machine, so I’ll make it work.  I have found that I always do better learning a new system or piece of software when I have a goal in mind.

However, I have not put the new machine in service just yet.  I need finish moving some stuff to the network drive before I convert the old computer from Windows to Linux, and then I’m going to make sure that I can run it completely by remote (using the netbook) before I take it off of my desk.  Then once I move the Dell, I’ll set the PowerSpec up and get that going.

So there you have it, I suppose.  Look for me behind the wheel of a transit bus before too long, and then when I’m not driving, I’ll either be at the pool, or at home with one serious PC.

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So I found an app that lets you take stereo photos… http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/07/16/so-i-found-an-app-that-lets-you-take-stereo-photos/ http://www.schuminweb.com/2014/07/16/so-i-found-an-app-that-lets-you-take-stereo-photos/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 02:24:22 +0000 http://www.schuminweb.com/?p=23655 Last night, I found an app called 3D Camera for my Android phone.  The idea behind the app is that you take two photos a few inches apart from each other, you line them up, and then the app makes a stereo image for you to look at.  Depending on how you shoot them, they can come out as either crossview or parallel.  I tested it out late last night on a Wheelock 7002T, and came up with this:

Wheelock 7002T, taken on top of my computer
(By the way, I strongly recommend clicking each of the images on this entry to view them at full size in the lightbox)

Now to view this image, what you do is you have to unfocus your eyes, so that you’re looking past it.  If you remember how to look at those Magic Eye pictures from the 1990s, it’s basically the same technique, except without all of the effort in hiding what you’re seeing until you look at it.  You know that this is what it is.  There’s no hidden picture.  You’re just getting the depth perception.  Take a moment and give this page about how to view stereograms a read if you haven’t been able to see it yet, because you will need to master this skill to get the most out of this Journal entry.  In short, you should see three images.  The middle image is where the depth will be, because it’s the two images overlaid on each other.  You may need to back away from the screen (or move the phone away from your face) in order to get the proper alignment.  The quality of the 3D is going to be similar to the way that the old View-Master slides looked.

The reason I did this was because, after spending too much time on Reddit looking at the CrossView subreddit, I decided to find a way to do it myself.  The app is somewhat quick and dirty, but it does the job.  So today, I took it for a spin while I was out running errands, and as a result, had a far more entertaining time out than I ever would have imagined.

So first, I approached the car:

Looking at the Soul... in 3D!

Then I put my reusable bags in the back of the car, and looked forward:

Looking through my car, from back to front

After that, I headed to the bank:

Educational Systems Federal Credit Union on Georgia Avenue in Aspen Hill

On the way to Aardvark, I sat at a few lights, including this one at Veirs Mill Road and Twinbrook Parkway:

Intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Twinbrook Parkwy, viewed from northbound Veirs Mill Road

Parked at Wintergreen Plaza, and about to go into Aardvark:

Parked at Wintergreen Plaza.  I never used to do tail-in parking until I got this car.  Now I park tail-in a lot, because this car is so easy to maneuver.
Parked tail-in, because this car is so easy to maneuver.  I never used to park tail-in on purpose like this with the Previa or the Sable, but with this car, I love it.

Welcome to Aardvark:

Entrance to Aardvark's Rockville location

Looking at the rows of goggles:

Goggles!
I got Tyr Nest Pro, by the way, because that style fits my big head the best.

Then I showed the staff how the 3D app worked, demonstrating on a rack of ladies’ swimwear:

A rack full of Dolfin swimsuits.  It sort of reminds me of the suit that my friend Suzie wears, but she wears Nike.

Just before checking out, I also needed to buy a set of bungee cords to go with my new goggles:

It's a good thing that the staff at Aardvark knows me well.  I commented while taking this one, "Now to decide what color bungee cord to get.  Might as well decide... in 3D!"

Bought a new “Suck It Up, Cupcake” swim cap as well, as my old one had gotten a bit stretched out:

SUCK IT UP CUPCAKE

Then I went over to Bed Bath & Beyond, where I saw this convertible:

Convertible!

And these shopping carts:

Shopping carts for hhgregg and Bed Bath & Beyond

A shopping cart for Staples, which is up the hill in another building

At Bed Bath & Beyond, I was looking to price foaming soap pumps.  While I was looking for the soap pumps, I found these:

I love this one, because those pillow covers really "pop", don't they?

And then I found the bath area, and was disappointed to find that the only foaming soap pumps that they had were sensor-operated:

I would like to know what sort of masochist voluntarily puts a sensor-operated soap dispenser in their home.
By the way, I would like to know what sort of masochist voluntarily puts a sensor-operated soap dispenser in their home.  I can’t stand those things in public restrooms, and I know darn well that I would never have one in my house.

Spotted an exit sign hanging from the ceiling:

I love the way this exit sign pops out at you!

And then I got some pictures of the fire alarm pair by the entrance on the way out:

Simplex horn/strobe!

Wait a sec... that's not a Simplex pull station!

And yes, this is a mismatch, which is unusual for a Simplex system.  That pull station may be a t-bar, but it’s not a Simplex.

Leaving Bed Bath & Beyond, I headed down Rockville Pike towards the Montrose Crossing shopping center:

Red light!

And got a pic in the rear view mirror while at a red light:

Waiting to make a left turn...

Arriving at Montrose Crossing, I got a photo of Sports Authority:

Sports Authority!

And then from the other way:

And Sports Authority from the other direction, as well as the residential property nearby.

Arriving at Target, I did my best to get a 3D version of the “hero shot” in the parking garage:

My "hero shot"

Then, coming in, I got a nice, long view of the main aisle on the lower level:

The main aisle at Target

Okay, this one just looks cool:

"Summer A Go Go"

Getting to the bath supplies, I found out that Target does not sell refillable foaming soap pumps of any kind.  Just these:

The non-foaming soap pumps at Target
They do, however, sell the disposable kind, which I don’t want.

The cosmetics aisle:

The cosmetics aisle
No reason for taking this, except for gratuitous stereoscopic imagery.  Yeah, I was having a lot of fun with this.

After leaving Target, I headed over to the Northgate shopping center in Aspen Hill.  There, I saw a school bus taking up a few parking spaces:

School bus 13514 parked across four spaces

School bus 13514 parked across four spaces

That’s some parking job right there.  I certainly wouldn’t park a bus in the middle of a parking lot like that, that’s for sure.

At Northgate, I headed over to the Michaels.  I went here for no reason except to take a few 3D pictures.  So where did I go?  Straight to the back, to photograph this pair:

A naked Wheelock 7002T

Fire-Lite BG-10

Yes, one of my favorite fire alarm pairs: a Wheelock 7002T with a Fire-Lite BG-10.  In 3D.  And for the record, this 7002T looks incomplete without the trim plate.  There’s a reason why I keep trim plates on my 7002Ts.  They just plain don’t look right without them, and there’s no getting around that.

Then I got another photo of the BG-10 from below:

Fire-Lite BG-10

Then I found where the posable wooden armatures lived, and posed them.  First, the hand:

"I want you.  Yes, you."

Then the full-body one:

I don't know what sort of pose this was supposed to be, but you try getting your left arm in that position, with palm up.  I, for one, can't do it.

After that, I walked over to the Kohl’s that’s in the same shopping center, and looked for foaming soap pumps.  They didn’t have them (what a surprise), and so at this point, I’m just going to buy them on Amazon.  So much for supporting brick-and-mortar merchants if they don’t have what I need.  However, since I was there, hey, I might as well shoot some 3D pictures, right?  I had intended to do some 3D photos in the shoe department at Target, but got sidetracked and forgot to do that.  But Kohl’s had a shoe department, so I helped myself.  I wanted to get some pix of some of those strappy sandals that women wear.  They look like they would be torture devices to wear, but they worked for my purposes, as I wanted to capture the tunnel effect that those straps would provide.

So I found a pair of strappy sandals, and got a couple of pictures:

Strappy sandals, by Candie's.  The tunnel effect is especially noticeable here.

Strappy sandals, by Candie's.

See the tunnel effect?  Kind of interesting, no?

And then before I left, I headed over through the housewares department, where I saw these ceramic cows:

The Moo Cow Choir

Based on the arrangement and the angle that I took the photo, I call it “The Moo Cow Choir”.  These things are actually creamer pitchers.  Here’s a slightly better look at them, in this non-stereo photo:

A slightly better look at this cream pitcher

The way these work is that you pour the milk or cream in that hole on the cow’s back.  You then pick the cow up by the tail, and the milk or cream comes out the cow’s mouth.  My parents have one of these, in white.  When I was a child, my mother used to put the milk for my cereal in one of these in the morning.  Then when I came down, all I had to do was pour the milk out of the cow, and I had cereal that was crunchy in milk.  That was always a nice touch.

So as you can tell, I had far more fun than I should have, playing with the new 3D camera app that I got for my phone.  I can’t envision using this new functionality for anything serious, but it certainly is fun.  However, the next time I do this, I need to pace myself.  From all of the crossing and uncrossing of my eyes that I did all day, coupled with the very deliberate focusing efforts that I did in evaluating my work, mostly on my phone, I’ve managed to give myself a nice little case of eyestrain.  Yay me.

But I had fun, so it’s okay.

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