December 2, 2013, 10:36 PM
Sometimes you never know what is going to provide a sense of closure to a chapter in one’s life. In this case, shining up my water bottles provided a sense of closure to a chapter in my life that I have been trying to move on from. Recall that I left Food & Water Watch in July as I looked to determine what the next chapter in my career would be. However, it’s hard to move on when I was staring at the branding of my former employer every time that I would take a drink of water. To put it another way, I love my stainless steel water bottles from Klean Kanteen, but what was screenprinted on the bottles reminded me of something that I would prefer to put behind me.
In other words, this:
November 22, 2013, 11:15 AM
So to bring everyone up to speed on the employment situation, I am still between engagements. That’s not to say that I’ve not been diligently submitting tons of applications and going to the occasional interview, but I still have yet to land a new full-time job. However, there’s been a shift in my thinking. I had an “aha” moment not too long ago when it came to what I wanted to do. Everyone has said, considering how much of a transit nerd I am, that I should get into public transportation. I talked it over with my family, and they all think it’s a great idea, so I’m taking steps toward making that so. I want to get in on the ground floor and then work my way up. After all, I love transit. I can’t get enough of it. So why not make it my career, already?
That said, I’m currently reading the Maryland CDL Manual with the intent of getting a commercial learner’s permit so that I can learn how to drive a bus. So far, I’ve read Section 1, which is a general overview of the manual and the whole CDL process, as well as a list of many of the various offenses that would cause you to lose your CDL from a period ranging from a few months to life depending on what sort of offense and number of offenses. I’ve also read Section 2.1, which discusses the pre-trip inspection.
The pre-trip inspection is something that, if you didn’t know to do it, you might not think to do it, but it makes perfect sense considering what you’re doing. After all, these are very large vehicles that we’re talking about here. Compare the size of a bus to that of a regular car:
November 19, 2013, 11:18 AM
You may remember that a few weeks ago, I discussed how I’m constantly evaluating my website properties, and determining what is the best course of action for each individual property. At that time, I mentioned that while the main website (i.e. what you’re looking at now) and College Life have both taken modern forms, with a content management system (CMS) driving everything, the Today’s Special site and Transit Center still had an older architecture, with no CMS driving everything and making things easy to maintain. The idea with the Today’s Special site was to convert it to a knowledge base about all things Today’s Special, covering the show more deeply and more extensively than I had ever done before. Transit Center was still a bit up in the air, with my being a bit undecided on what to do with the site.
Now, I have updates for you.
Let’s get this part over with first: The Schumin Web Transit Center will be closing at the end of the year. It’s closing because it doesn’t meet my current quality standards, and I believe that the site has run its course. That’s not to say that I’m not still very much a public transportation nerd, but I no longer feel that the separate website is the best way to express that enthusiasm for transit, as I don’t feel that it puts my best foot forward. So take a good look at it now, because it won’t be there when the ball drops for 2014.
November 11, 2013, 12:09 AM
I graduated from high school in 1999. That means that I have been out of high school for fourteen years. The question I have is, why am I still having fire drill dreams? I had one of these on Saturday night, and I don’t get it.
In this dream, I was going to Stuarts Draft High School, which is where I actually went to high school. Back then, the school had a Simplex system, but the school has since been renovated. It now has a Notifier system with System Sensor horn/strobes. The take-home point on this, however, is that the school now contains a horn/strobe in every classroom. And I am acutely aware of this. When I was in school, only shared a classroom with a fire alarm horn once. That was in kindergarten at Southside Elementary School in Rogers, Arkansas, but the kindergarten room was the size of a basketball court with a really high ceiling. At Grimes Elementary in Rogers, and Stuarts Draft Middle School and Stuarts Draft High School in Virginia, I never shared a classroom with a fire alarm horn except for in shop classes (where I never had a fire drill) and Phys. Ed, where we did have the occasional fire drill. However, in middle school, two Edwards horns in a big gym weren’t very loud, but four Simplex 4040 horns in the gym in high school were extremely loud. But outside from those situations, there were no horns in the rooms where I had class (the horns were out in the hallway).
In this dream, I was sitting in a modern-looking classroom on the first day of school at Stuarts Draft High School. And across the room from me was this:
November 8, 2013, 6:16 PM
So this past Monday, I took a day trip down to Augusta County with my friend Pete. All in all, we had a fun time. We had lunch at Barracks Road in Charlottesville, I showed Pete the cluster of abandoned buildings on Afton Mountain owned by local businessman Phil Dulaney, we hiked up to Humpback Rock, and we stopped by my parents’ house before heading north again via I-81.
When we visited the abandoned buildings on Afton Mountain, I pointed out the building that had the tree growing through it, we quickly looked at the Howard Johnson’s, but our visit focused mainly on this building:
October 31, 2013, 10:27 PM
One of the things I enjoy about Silver Spring is the annual zombie walk. Last year’s zombie event was kind of ho-hum, considering that, for a number of reasons, it wasn’t a formal zombie walk, but rather, more a night for people to go out and drink while dressed up as zombies. The zombie walk in 2011, which followed the usual model of a meetup, a walk, and then a movie, was much more fun. This year’s zombie event followed the 2011 model, since as I believe that everyone realized that zombies without a walk was not nearly as fun (even if a lot of it was due to circumstances outside the organizers’ control).
That said, I had a lot of fun, as expected. The zombie costumes were pretty gruesome, and there were also a few zombie hunters out there, too. The surprise of the night, though, was that the zombie walk was rerouted at the last minute. Turns out that someone made a bomb threat at the Majestic, a movie theater at the corner of Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street in Silver Spring. The theater was evacuated, and since it was along the zombie walk’s route, the undead needed to be rerouted, which took the walk further east than originally planned, and approached the AFI Silver Theater, where a horror movie would be shown, from the east rather than from the west.
I also discovered that, in the hands of the right person, clowns can be made to look very scary. I had always laughed about the “clowns are scary” bit, but some of the people playing undead clowns on this particular evening created fuel for nightmares. And yes, you’re going to see them.
October 30, 2013, 9:45 PM
Last Thursday, October 24, was a fun day. I took a one-day road trip to Monmouth County, New Jersey. The inspiration was my needing a change of scenery for a day, and seeing this as an opportunity to do a few things I’d wanted to do for a while now.
As with any trip, they say that getting there is half the fun, but I was quickly struck by how much it cost to get to New Jersey. Let’s just say that officials in northeastern states, New Jersey in particular, never met a road or a bridge that they couldn’t slap a toll on. And tolls have gone up. The Baltimore tunnels in Maryland (Fort McHenry and Harbor) are now four bucks each way (up from $2), and the Millard E. Tydings Memorial Bridge is now eight bucks(!) for its northbound-only toll (up from $5). Otherwise, the Intercounty Connector near me was $2.05 from Layhill Road to I-95 (it’s a variable toll depending on time of day – your results may vary), Delaware was still four dollars, the New Jersey Turnpike was $3.50 to Exit 7A, and then the Garden State Parkway wanted fifty cents from me for going one exit. Kind of surprisingly, New Jersey didn’t want anything for my ride on I-195. Altogether, it cost $22.05 in tolls alone to get to my first destination. And that’s just getting there. I had to run that gauntlet of tolls coming back, too.
The first stop was a very personal one for me. I went to Temple Beth-El Cemetery in Neptune, where my grandparents on my father’s side, Ruth and Seymour (“Pop”) Schumin, are buried. I also didn’t realize before I arrived that Aunt Ruth and Uncle Seymour were buried in the same location. Uncle Seymour died in April 1981, a little less than two months before I was born. Pop and Grandma died within a month and a half of each other in the spring of 1988, when I was in first grade. Aunt Ruth died in November 2003, right around Thanksgiving. Therefore, I never got to know Uncle Seymour, it’s been 25 years since Pop and Grandma died, and it’s been almost ten years since Aunt Ruth died.
October 27, 2013, 2:29 PM
You may not realize it, but I am constantly evaluating my various online properties. After all, technology changes, systems change, interests change, quality standards evolve, plus I’m always coming up with new ideas. My goal is to always have things looking fresh and exciting. When sites start to look stale or otherwise dated, it reflects kind of poorly on me. That’s one reason why the splash photo changes monthly, and the photo feature changes weekly. It’s all about keeping things fresh. You know that if you’re going to Schumin Web, there’s a good possibility that it’s going to look different the next time that you see it.
Of course, things don’t always look as fresh and new as I’d like. Sometimes things do become stale. Schumin Web carried the same design, more or less, for nearly eight years before getting a full redesign in September 2012. What looked fresh and exciting in October 2004 looked dated by 2012, and many things were shoehorned into that design over the years, with some being integrated more successfully than others. Even the current “Modern Blue” design got a refresh, updating holdovers from the earlier design, and making a more consistent appearance.
But now, I’m looking at my subsidiary sites, i.e. what you find in the “Major Areas” section. I’ve always had subsidiary sites, going back to shortly after the website began in 1996, when I spun out a links page into its own website. Such subsidiary sites have come and gone over the years. The spun-out links page is long gone. A jokes site came and went, spun out from a page on the main website before being closed down. I had a game show fansite, which was a completely new creation and not a spinoff from Schumin Web, and then was later handed off to another webmaster (who has since closed it down). I had a site about ocean liners for a while, before handing that off to another webmaster (who has since closed it). Then of course, my old discussion forum site, The Schumin Web Community, is alive and well as The Fire Panel.
Categories: Schumin Web meta
October 19, 2013, 6:12 PM
Those of you who have seen me online know that I really get into social media. I do Facebook, I do the Twitter, I do Instagram, and I also do Reddit. And in doing social media, I’ve noticed a few recurring trends, and it begs discussing…
Tell me this hasn’t happened to you before: you’re going down your news feed, and you see a status from a Facebook friend. It says something along the lines of this:
I’m cleaning out my friends list, so if you didn’t make the cut, it’s been nice knowing you.
I’m cleaning my Facebook friends. Let me know if you want to stay.
I find these messages amazingly annoying. Especially when, without fail, people make a zillion replies beneath that say something to the tune of, “Don’t delete me!” followed by reassurances from the original poster that certain people are “safe” from their defriending spree. I personally think it says something about a person’s self-esteem when they feel that they need to post such a self-centered message and then watch people glom onto them like that. It reminds me of the way that Chuck E. Cheese distributes free tickets to kids during the live shows. There, Chuck just grabs up a handful of tickets in his hands (paws?) and throws them up in the air in the direction of the audience. The kids then all then rush the character to grab as many free tickets as they can get their hands on. It seems a bit demeaning for the kids who rush the character going after free tickets, and this seems on the same level, with a little bit of groveling involved on top of it all. In any case, it’s a message I could definitely live without.
Categories: Social media
October 16, 2013, 1:38 PM
It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Some of you may know that I’m in the process of doing a photo set of the Washington Monument while it’s in scaffolding. I shot all of the daytime material on September 5, where I walked 6.35 miles around the Washington Monument, and took 900 photos in the process (no wonder I was exhausted after that). One of the photos became the photo feature on September 8.
The plan was to also do a nighttime component for this set, and I got together with my friends Suzie and Rocio to do half of the night photos (since the full round proved to be too much) on September 28. Since I had gotten jittery photos when I did a similar photo shoot in March (the nighttime photos of the DC War Memorial and Jefferson Memorial are from that shoot), I did some equipment testing out on my balcony prior to this shoot to determine the cause of the jittering and get some quality photos. Since the camera wasn’t going to change, the test was on the tripods. I tested Big Mavica’s original tripod, which is a Kodak tripod that I got in December 2002, and my regular tripod, which is a Sunpak tripod that I got in December 2003 (which I used in the March shoot). Turns out that the Sunpak tripod jittered and the Kodak one didn’t. So it seemed a no-brainer: take the Kodak tripod out on the shoot.
Getting out on the Mall, with Suzie and Rocio along for the adventure, things quickly went south. I can deal with most equipment issues fairly well. But this time, an important piece decided to go: the head of the tripod. Early on, things held together, but while I was working in front of the Jefferson Memorial, the head popped off, and it wouldn’t go back in and stay there. Thus the best I could do was perch it in there and make do, but the problems got worse and worse as the night went on.
October 9, 2013, 3:21 PM
I am of the view that information deserves to be free, which is one of the reasons that I make my work available under a Creative Commons license. For those not familiar, I provide my content under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license. In a nutshell, that means that you are welcome to use materials found here for any purpose, including commercially, as long as you provide proper attribution, and share it under the same or similar license as you found it (it’s only fair, after all). I even wrote a guide on reuse of content found here. When I converted the site to WordPress, one of the changes that I made was to make the images available for download at full resolution. That was done specifically to help downstream users get what they need and get creating without assistance from me. That same conversion, with the image restoraton and such that went along with it, also finally allowed me to provide clean images right out of the box. Recall that at one point, I put my logo and URL in the corner of the large-size images for photo sets. Then I stopped doing that in 2005 or so, right around when I introduced the Creative Commons license to the site. The conversion and image restoration work removed all of the remaining tagged images, making every photo “clean” without any extraneous markings.
I like to think that I’m one of the more permissive and lenient content owners out there. Unlike many other entities that do not allow downstream use without explicit permission, I do allow downstream use right out of the box, as long as two things are present: attribution (preferably as “Ben Schumin/The Schumin Web”), and a free license. That’s not that hard to do, and by and large, most people who reuse content found here follow the license. But it really frosts my cookies when people don’t follow that, and because my license is so easy to meet, I take a very dim view toward noncompliance.
It always amazes me how many people think that because something is on the public Internet, that it’s public domain and can be used with wild abandon. It’s quite common. I’ve even had to disabuse my own mother of this notion before. Rather, just like any other medium, just because it exists does not mean that you have carte blanche to do whatever you want with it. Most material on the Internet is not, in fact, public domain, and therefore potential downstream users have to play by the content owner’s rules (or you don’t play). Those rules are up to the content owner.
September 20, 2013, 10:49 PM
How many of you were aware that there was an album made for Today’s Special? I’ll bet that many people in the United States were not aware of it. I was initially made aware of it in the late 1990s, and have been able to listen to it in its entirety. Recall that when I was going to my first polar bear plunge, I was singing along with the Today’s Special album in the car. Certainly, there’s been a lot of discussion about Today’s Special over the years, with a lot of it coming from this website. But most of that has been about the television program itself, rather than the various other things that go with it. After all, the show itself is the main product, and distributed most widely. Additionally, since the show originated in Canada, produced by a Canadian television network, I don’t believe that any licensed merchandise for the show ever made it to the United States. Thus I’ll bet that many don’t realize that the album exists, and I’ve definitely never found a review of it anywhere. So with this entry, I’m going to review the album.
Giving the album a listen, it seems that the album was released around the time as the stage show, which was shown on television as the episode “Live On Stage“. No songs from episodes dated 1985, 1986, or 1987 appear in the album. In addition, no songs original to the stage show are performed on the album. However, where applicable, those songs on the album that were also performed in the stage show were performed based on the stage show version of the song rather than the television show version.
In general, I like the album, as it contains many songs that I have always considered favorites, and also includes a few that I was not familiar with as a child due to editing by Nickelodeon (commercial networks that aired Today’s Special usually deleted some scenes in order to allow time for commercials). However, there are times that the album really grates on me a little bit, and that comes from the non-song dialogue that’s included, as much of it seems quite out of character compared to the show.
September 7, 2013, 1:21 AM
Growing up, whenever the topic came up about introverted or extroverted personalities, I would hear, without hesitation, “Oh, you’re an extrovert,” like it was a foregone conclusion. After all, the stereotypical introvert is, as my mother once said in jest, the “Shy, silent type that communicates with [their] eyes.” After reading a bit more about introverts vs. extroverts, though, I think I can say with some level of confidence that I am actually an introvert.
The article on The Huffington Post titled “23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert” is what made me realize that I was more introverted than I might think. I always thought I was just weird being the way I was, enjoying adventures by myself, and needing time alone to “recharge” after social interaction, so I’m glad that there are other people out there who function similarly to me. I first spotted this article on a former coworker’s Facebook page, where they identified a number of the qualities listed on the page that applied to them. When I read the article, I realized that yes, a lot of these things applied to me as well.
I’m going to be going through a number of these points assuming that you’ve read the article, and so if you haven’t read it yet, you may want to do that now. You’re not going to be missing anything funny. I’ll just be sitting here reading this grownups’ newspaper:
September 2, 2013, 11:54 PM
As of this writing, the photo feature shows a street sign marking the intersection of Forest Springs Drive and Springer Road in Stuarts Draft, taken on August 25:
August 26, 2013, 10:59 PM
So today was the first day that my regular pool, Olney Indoor Swim Center, was open following the two week annual maintenance period. This maintenance period usually involves completely draining the pool and scrubbing it down and deep cleaning the building. They also tackle any other maintenance work that would be too disruptive to do while the pool is open, like lighting repairs, resurfacing the water umbrella in the kiddie pool, and welding some pieces back together on the pool that had come apart over the years. They also replaced all of the lane ropes, which introduced a touch of red into the pool (the previous ropes were blue and white – the new ones are red, white, and blue).
But by far, the most striking change was the lighting. For the past several months, the pool has looked like this: