March 3, 2014, 11:05 PM
I got a very interesting series of phone calls Saturday night (technically early Sunday morning) beginning around 2:00 AM. Apparently a woman was looking to have pizza delivered from one of the many fine pizza establishments located in the District of Columbia. So she called my phone number. At two in the morning. I believe that the initial call was an honest mistake, but after I told her in no uncertain terms that she had not reached a pizza establishment, she firmly earned her place in the customer hall of shame.
The first call came in at 2:04 AM from a New Jersey number. I ignored the call. After all, it was 2 AM, I was beyond tired, and I didn’t recognize the number. I figured that once the person heard my “You have reached Ben Schumin” voicemail greeting, they would figure out that they had dialed a wrong number. If it did, in fact, end up being for me, they could leave a message, and I would get back with them at my convenience. And if it turned out to be important, I would have called them back right away.
A voicemail came in from the unfamiliar number. It was a woman’s voice, and she was looking for pizza:
Hey, I’m interested in purchasing, um, an order for delivery. Please call me back. My number is 201-981-7557. I’ve heard great things. I’m really looking forward to it. Thank you! Bye. (listen to audio)
This seemed reasonable enough so far. I occasionally get callers who intended to call someone else. The way I figure, I have a Washington DC number, i.e. 202 area code, and being a major city, there are lots of similar phone numbers, and so there must be a pizza place with a number similar to mine. Also, noting that 201 is an area code for New Jersey (more specifically, North Jersey), I wondered if perhaps she misdialed the area code, and meant to dial another 201 number rather than a 202 number. It happens. After quickly verifying online that the number was, in fact, a cell phone, and wanting to let the caller know that she had not reached the place that she intended (but at the same time, not wanting to actually talk to her), I sent the caller a quick text message at 2:07, saying, “So you know: I think you may have dialed a wrong number. I have no idea what you are referring to regarding orders for delivery.” I figured that would be the end of it, or, at most, get a quick text back apologizing for the mistake.
February 20, 2014, 12:30 AM
At last, I have finished my Washington Monument photo set. I started work on this photo set in September, finished up the photography for it in November, and now it’s February and with the scaffolding mostly gone (only a quarter or so of the height is now covered) at the time of this writing, the set finally goes out. This was quite a project, too.
I spent most of the first day, September 5, out on the Mall, shooting photos of the monument under clear to partly cloudy skies. I was out there from mid-to-late morning until around 5:00. I got home around 7 PM, after having walked 6.35 miles around the Mall area. I got off the train at Metro Center, headed to the Washington Monument, and looped around it once at fairly close range. Then I did another loop around it from a distance, following the path around the Tidal Basin, going past the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the MLK Memorial, the DC War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, Constitution Gardens, and the World War II Memorial. Then I headed back up to the Washington Monument, and did another loop up close before heading out. I went over to the Old Post Office on my way out in order to get a few photos of the Washington Monument from up above, before returning to Metro Center to head home. After I got home, I don’t think I made it to 7:30. I was out like a light. Walking all that distance while taking some 900 photos, I definitely earned my sleep that night, as I was both physically and mentally exhausted.
February 20, 2014, 12:00 AM
As of today, The Schumin Web is no longer offered under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. The site will now be offered under the traditional “all rights reserved” model, i.e. explicit written permission is required for most downstream usages. I am doing this for one purpose: to make money. I went to the Creative Commons model back in November 2005 in order to give my work more exposure through downstream uses, and apparently it’s worked. I now have a portfolio of over 250 downstream usages, both online and in print. I now have plenty of exposure. People know who I am, and know about my work, based on multiple usages from a few high-profile entities. Therefore, I believe that I have reached the point where I can monetize my photography work and bring in a few extra bucks. The idea is that if you work for some vague notion of “exposure”, that is all you are ever going to get, and it’s very easy to be taken advantage of that way. As I field more and more licensing requests from companies, it is clear that there is monetary value in what I produce.
Because of this, there are a few changes in the way that things will operate as far as image licensing goes, as I attempt to reconcile the old Creative Commons license with the new all-rights-reserved model. First of all, please note: as of today, no new downstream usages of any Schumin Web content are allowed under any form of Creative Commons license. Please see the new Content Licensing page for information about new downstream usages of Schumin Web content. All existing downstream content usages that were made using the old Creative Commons license are grandfathered. Thus, for example, if you used a picture under the Creative Commons license last year, nothing affects that past usage. However, if you want to use another image today, you need to receive explicit written permission to use that image, even if the image was originally published during the period when the Creative Commons license was in effect.
Categories: Schumin Web meta
February 13, 2014, 6:55 PM
So considering that the pool is closed tonight due to the snow, I still got my exercise today, pool or no pool. For those not familiar, the east coast of the United States got hit with a pretty significant snowstorm. This is the biggest snowstorm that I’ve seen since Snowmageddon in 2010. And hitting in the same week as Snowmageddon did back in 2010, no less. However, this snow has mostly been the light, fluffy kind so far, and that’s the stuff that you can clear off the car with the brush part of the scraper with little effort (and really get some distance when slinging it). However, when more than a foot of it falls in a short time, it does start to compress a bit. But it looked very pretty while coming down last night:
February 6, 2014, 11:34 PM
So Tuesday night was fun. I got together with my friend Melissa, and we hung out for a few hours. We did some computer and phone maintenance over at my house, and then headed out for dinner. We went to The Potomac Grill, which is located in Talbott Center on Rockville Pike.
For those not familiar, The Potomac Grill hosts Blinkie’s Karaoke, which is run by my friends Ken and Luisa. I’ve done fill-in work as the engineer for Blinkie’s Karaoke from time to time, but this was my first time going solely as a participant. Melissa didn’t sing, but I did. I sang a karaoke version of the theme to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Those of you who are familiar with what I’ve talked about know that I’m a bit of a Power Rangers geek (I got into it in high school). This was a new addition to the catalog, and so I premiered it. And to top things off, Melissa filmed my performance:
January 29, 2014, 12:22 PM
On the morning of Saturday, January 25, I started the day with this post to Facebook:
See, January 25 was polar bear plunge day, i.e. the day that I would head over to National Harbor and go for a quick swim in the cold Potomac River in support of climate change work with Chesapeake Climate Action Network. And for those of you who are unfamiliar with my practice on these things, it should be noted that I follow my own advice, which I first gave in 2010, and thus I wear a speedo when I do the plunge (and if you don’t like it, don’t look).
January 22, 2014, 11:37 PM
Let’s admit it: between the wet, heavy snow and the light, fluffy snow, I will always fall on the side of the light, fluffy snow. Powdery stuff is just nicer snow than the wetter stuff. And with the recent snowfall to come over the DC area, we got the fluffy stuff. It’s more likely to blow around and hit you in the face, but it’s easier to clear off of your car, and easy to shovel off of the balcony.
And like any good snowfall, I got pictures. Of course, I got the obligatory off-the-balcony photo:
January 12, 2014, 10:52 PM
On Monday, January 6, at 10:30 AM, the future of Metro arrived, as Metro debuted its new 7000-Series railcars for the press at Greenbelt station. First thing that happened is that they brought the train into the station:
Once the train stopped in the station, the last set of doors on the trailing car (7006) opened, and out stepped Metro General Manager Richard Sarles to greet everyone. As the train had come in signed as a Green Line train to Branch Avenue, the new canned announcements were running. I only heard two: the line announcement and the door open announcement. The voice is female, but it’s not Randi Miller, whose voice currently makes Metro’s door announcements. The new voice is higher in pitch than Miller’s. The door announcement, while in a different voice, is otherwise still the same: “Doors opening! Step back to allow customers to exit. When boarding, please move to the center of the car.”
January 5, 2014, 6:09 PM
One of the most ridiculous things to come out of social media over the last few years is the Twitter disclaimer. I’m sure you’ve seen these things before. They usually look something like this:
(I promise I’m not deliberately singling @AllieB out by picking her profile to use as the example. This is not the only one like this, nor is this the worst offender by any means.)
My understanding is that these things are intended to protect employers from liability if their employees say something untoward, and to say that yes, this is, in fact a personal account. My view on this matter is that these things are completely unnecessary, and that too many people use these disclaimers as an excuse to be sloppy about how they brand themselves on the Internet.
Categories: Social media
December 31, 2013, 4:07 PM
I certainly had a fun time this past weekend. Mom came up to visit for a few days, and on Saturday the 28th, we went up to New Jersey for the day, where we wandered around an old stomping ground: Glassboro. This is where my parents met while in college, and this is also the first place where I lived, from birth to age three.
The first stop was Rowan University, which was Glassboro State College back in Mom and Dad’s day. First stop was at the Barnes and Noble, which is now the university bookstore. I had never been in a Barnes and Noble on a college campus before. It’s something of a cross between a college bookstore and a normal Barnes and Noble, in that it’s styled like a regular store, it has the cafe, it has a section for books and other stuff that they normally sell, but then it also has a section for school-specific merchandise, a school supply section (smaller than I expected), and a textbook section. Mom got this:
December 27, 2013, 11:12 PM
You may think that you take your own Christmas light display seriously, but I’ll bet that you’ve been outdone by this house located on Red Hill Way in Ellicott City, which my mother and I took a side trip to visit after going to Arundel Mills today. First, just take a look at the lighting, which by itself is pretty extensive:
December 25, 2013, 10:03 PM
Happy Festivus, everyone. It’s time to air some grievances. It’s time to discuss this neurotic fascination of some people in trying to force their beliefs on everyone else about how one should spend a holiday. This year, I have just about had my fill of hearing people insist that all of the stores should be closed on [insert holiday here] so that people can spend time with their families. It starts around Thanksgiving when the stores announce the hours for their sales. This is when you hear people say, “What? They’re open on Thanksgiving? Why aren’t these people spending time with their families?” or, “You’re taking these people away from their families!” Recall that there was a story this year about a Pizza Hut manager who lost his job because he refused to open the restaurant that he managed on Thanksgiving. Then the whole discussion comes around again near Christmas when places make the announcement as to whether or not they’re going to be open on that day.
The thing that these people who raise such a fuss on television, radio, and the Internet tend to forget is that holidays are personal affairs. Everyone celebrates holidays a little bit differently than the next person. And not everyone celebrates the same holidays. For some people, December 25 is “Christmas”. For other people, December 25 is “Wednesday”. And the specific dates of many holidays actually have no significance. The celebration may have significance, but the date itself is usually not directly tied to that celebration. Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. It’s that day because Congress set the formal observance on that day, i.e. that day on which the federal government is closed in observance. Christmas is normally observed on December 25, near the date of the winter solstice. Why? Because Christians hijacked some pagan celebrations and made them into their own holiday. In fact, we don’t know when “Jesus” was born, or if “Jesus” even existed at all. The dates of some holidays have significance, like Martin Luther King Day (observance of King’s birthday), Washington’s Birthday (I don’t really have to explain this, do I?), Independence Day (marking the date of the Declaration of Independence), and Veterans’ Day (honoring our veterans, on the date that the armistice with Germany took effect, ending World War I), but most of the other holidays’ dates are not significant in and of themselves. For instance, Labor Day could be the last Monday in August instead of the first Monday in September, and the observance would be unchanged.
December 24, 2013, 11:22 PM
So I was digging around in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine tracking down some missing text for Project TXL (the Today’s Special site revamp), and I ended up finding this gem from approximately December 1, 1999:
Categories: Schumin Web meta
December 23, 2013, 4:08 PM
First of all, yes, it really has been ten years since I finished college. I finished up at JMU a little more than ten years ago, and then they mailed me the diploma not long after that. I can’t believe that it’s been that long. Doesn’t feel like ten years have gone by, that’s for sure.
That said, a lot has happened lately. I am now the proud holder of a commercial learner’s permit, which I got on Monday at the MVA in Gaithersburg. That was a stressful time, but probably not in the way you might think. I got in there, got my number, and then sat down, figuring that I might as well get comfortable. I took this picture, and then posted it to Instagram:
December 20, 2013, 3:35 PM
So on Wednesday evening, I got together with my friend Melissa, and we spent much of the afternoon and evening in Annapolis. We visited the downtown area and Annapolis Mall, we had dinner, and then headed down to Sandy Point State Park, where we saw the “Lights on the Bay” Christmas light display.
In downtown Annapolis, we visited approximately the same area that I explored back in April. We parked on Main Street, and went down to the harbor, explored around a bit, went up to the traffic circle near the Maryland State House, and then returned to the car. We were both kind of amused with getting photos of each other, more than anything else.
Case in point: