“Are your kids well-behaved, or do they need like a few light slams every now and then?”

3 minute read

July 18, 2004, 12:47 AM

I do enjoy watching Mrs. Doubtfire. I’m watching a tape of it right now. It’s amusing, to say the least. It’s got a great story, and some great lines. It’s got its fair share of big names, like Robin Williams, Sally Field, and Harvey Fierstein, but it’s also not what I would describe as a “celebrity clearinghouse”.

A “celebrity clearinghouse”, as I call it, is one of those productions where there is a larger-than-normal amount of big-name celebrities in the movie, usually making little cameo appearances. The Rocky and Bullwinkle movie was like that. Not a bad movie, mind you, but a high amount of celebrities.

Anyway, though, I enjoy Mrs. Doubtfire. One of my favorite lines was where after the bus driver saw Mrs. Doubtfire’s hairy knee (because she’s actually a he). He said, “I like that Mediterranean look in women. Natural. Just the way God made you.” If only he knew…

Otherwise, today has been one of those days where I’ve been giving Schumin Web some much-needed attention. Still working on the uploads for the new College Life site, though I’m almost done with that one. Also cleaned the remains of Almond Street’s storefront out of my Online Store, and so now that’s 100% Schumin Web inside of there. I still have to clean out all the images left over from Almond Street’s storefront (I have all the images saved somewhere, so it’s not like I’m losing anything). I also designed a new line of products for my Online Store around that expression of mine which I learned recently was original: Never underestimate the power and speed of stupid. That will turn up on the Web site before too long.

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Categories: Movies, Schumin Web meta

“Bad fashion makes baby Jesus cry.”

2 minute read

July 17, 2004, 12:51 AM

That’s what my sister told me once. She said that bad fashion makes baby Jesus cry. She doesn’t like the way I dress, it seems. In case you’re wondering, lately, I’ve gravitated to contrasting solids. If I wear dark pants I wear a light shirt. If I wear light pants, I wear a dark shirt. Then of course there’s always all-black, which I also enjoy. And I try to make my colors work, too. I don’t wear something that obviously clashes. I try to look good when I go to work.

Maybe it’s the shoes. I have been known to regularly wear sandals with socks.

But anyway…

I also recently participated in the Wal-Mart cross-town merchandise shuttle. On Thursday, my day off, I went to Staunton Wal-Mart for some odds and ends (did I mention you should never go shopping when you’re really hungry?). Of those odds and ends, I bought two great big throw pillows. They were black with fake fur on one side, and plain on the other. So I got them home. I put them on my couch. One word: YUCK. They were too black for my decor. So back to the store they went. Where did I return them? Not to Staunton. Oh, nay. I had to work the next day. So I returned them to Waynesboro, thus completing the shuttle.

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Categories: Clothing, Family, Retail

Photos of the Skyline Parkway Motel fire, and some other stuff

5 minute read

July 15, 2004, 1:56 PM

First of all, before I start showing you photos, guess who I saw on Tuesday afternoon at Wal-Mart. I saw Mrs. Kucs (pronounced “kooch”), my sixth grade math teacher at Stuarts Draft Middle School. That was a lot of fun. She’s retired now, so I don’t see her around SDMS when I go visit. Still, Mrs. Kucs was a great teacher. The one phrase that has stayed with me that I learned from Mrs. Kucs was “That will be fifty whacks with a wet noodle!” All in all, great math teacher, and it was great to see Mrs. Kucs again.

Anyway, after seeing Mrs. Kucs as I was leaving work, I headed out to Afton Mountain and then beyond. Going to Afton, I went by way of downtown Waynesboro, because I had a few other photo spots I wanted to hit on the way. For one, the “scar” on the mountain in Waynesboro:

The scar on the mountain in Waynesboro

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I am now officially beginning my search for employment in or around Washington…

3 minute read

July 13, 2004, 12:34 AM

Yes, six months after leaving JMU, I am finally looking for a job in the Washington DC area.

So many people have asked me, “Why Washington?”

My answer is always something like this. It’s far enough away for me to live my own life (I have NO relatives in Washington), it’s a faster life than around here (where you can count the dotted lines on the highway for entertainment), I love the Washington DC area (I do!), and it’s close enough where it’s not a huge hardship to still visit the family.

So now I’m working on updating the resume some (or perhaps throwing it out and starting fresh), and going hunting. This is where the Internet comes in handy. All the hot spots to get information right at my fingertips. Countless DC area newspapers’ classified ads available,, Yahoo HotJobs, etc.

Now mind you, though, my connection is like the equivalent of a 1981 Yugo. I have a dial-up connection. 56K. Slooooooooooooow. It would be nice if I had a faster connection. But still, it is handy nonetheless.

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Categories: Movies, Myself, Washington DC

It was nice while it lasted…

3 minute read

July 11, 2004, 10:38 AM

Remember this?

Skyline Parkway Motel, September 10, 2003

For those of you who don’t know, this is the Skyline Parkway Motel, which, along with the Howard Johnson’s Restaurant, and the Skyline Parkway Motor Court, I photographed on September 10, 2003 for the Afton Mountain: Victim of Progress photo set.

Things have changed since then.

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Wednesday’s DC trip report

8 minute read

July 10, 2004, 1:14 AM

I can’t believe it’s Friday night/Saturday morning, and I still haven’t told you about my Washington DC trip from last Wednesday (July 7).

First of all, the date is significant. You may recall that some three years ago, on July 7, 2001, I did my first full Washington DC Photo Essay (that’s what we called Photography back then – Photo Essays). That was the first one that was all Washington DC. We had Thanksgiving 2000 before it, but that also had a lot of Stuarts Draft in it. So what was this photo set? It was the massive photo set called “The Schumin Web Salutes America”. Remember that one? If you recall, I visited a bunch of sites in Washington DC that were strongly American. After all, we were following on the coattails of the Fourth of July, and it was fitting. I visited the Library of Congress (quick pass-by from the street), the Supreme Court (went to the front doors, but didn’t go in), the Capitol (partly circled the building, didn’t go in), the outdoor sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of American History, the Washington Monument (inside was closed, but the grounds were open), the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, and the White House (just passed by and snapped a few photos).

But that’s about where the similarity ends. In 2001, July 7 was a Saturday. In 2004, it’s a Wednesday. In 2001, I walked the entire length of the National Mall from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, which is essentially the length of the Blue Line from Capitol South to almost Arlington Cemetery. Seriously, if I’d gone further out, going beyond the Lincoln Memorial, I’d have ended up at Arlington Cemetery station, and then Arlington National Cemetery. In 2004, I was providing support for Mom while waiting for Bill Clinton to sign her copy of “My Life”, as well as railfanning the Blue and Orange Lines.

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Categories: DC trips, Weather, WMATA

I found out today that the parents are remodeling…

3 minute read

July 9, 2004, 10:16 PM

Yeah, I just today found out that my parents are doing some fairly significant work on the house soon. Before today, all I knew was that we were getting a new back porch at the beginning of August.

The back porch currently is an open wooden deck, original to the house when it was built in 1992. Now, the old deck is being demolished, and being replaced with a full screened-in porch. It will be bigger than the old one, roofed over, and screened in, essentially creating an extra indoor/outdoor room, complete with two ceiling fans. Again, I knew about the deck already, and have seen drawings of the new deck as it will look when it’s finished.

Now I didn’t know that plans were also set to replace most of the flooring downstairs as well as up the stairs and in the upstairs hall. Currently, the living room, family room, dining room, the stairs, and the upstairs hallway have beige-colored carpeting, which is original to the house (almost 12 years old). The living room will be carpeted in some shade of blue (not sure what specific shade yet, but we’re getting there – actually, Mom’s getting there, since she’s making the final decision, but you get the point). The family room, dining room, stairs, and upstairs hallway will all be hardwood. The dining room and family room will get an area rug “later”.

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I went to Harrisonburg today…

8 minute read

July 6, 2004, 9:35 PM

Yeah, I had to run a few errands over in Harrisonburg today, and so that gave me an excuse to go visit JMU. That was fun. I took Big Mavica with me, and so I took some photos of Potomac Hall, the new fire alarm system in Warren Hall, and the progress of the renovation work on Harrison Hall. So that was fun. JMU is doing some changing, all right. They’re also continuing with the work on bricking over the drive right in front of Wilson Hall.

It was also really cool to be photographing Potomac Hall again! I needed some “authentic Potomac Hall” for my new College Life site, and so that felt really nice to be back there again. My exact comment to myself was, “I feel like I’m home again.” I didn’t go in, since it appeared that the place was empty anyway. But I did get to see Potomac’s housekeepers again, whom I hadn’t seen since May 2003. They were all glad to see me again, too.

What amazed me the most about my trip to JMU was the new fire alarm system in Warren Hall. Recently, Warren and Taylor Halls each got new fire alarm systems. Recall that these two buildings share a few levels, and when the fire alarm goes off in one, it trips the other. The fire alarm system in Taylor was replaced last December, with that side getting a new Simplex alarm system. They replaced the smoke detectors and the pull stations, but they did not replace the horns and strobes. Those were non-ADA compliant Edwards horn/strobes from 1993, when Taylor was built. Which I thought was strange, both right afterwards, and even more so now, which you’ll see why after I tell you more. Now the new fire alarm system in Warren Hall that they installed also replaced the smoke detectors and the pull-stations, but they also ran new wires with related conduits for new Simplex notification appliances (horns and such) on the Warren Hall side ONLY. Stranger still that on three of the four floors, this was replacing already-ADA-compliant Gentex equipment installed during the 1999 renovation of the third through fifth floors of Warren Hall (Warren no longer has a first floor, since the floor numbers between Warren and Taylor Halls were synchronized with each other when Taylor was built, and Taylor has a first floor). So they mostly replaced ADA-compliant equipment, and provided about the same or less coverage as before in most areas (they did add some new coverage, though, in some rooms). But they still left the old horns in the other area, and did not upgrade there.

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Categories: Fire alarms, JMU

July 4: A colossal non-event

2 minute read

July 5, 2004, 7:02 AM

Yeah, I had to work on the Fourth of July. 2-11, too, which meant no fireworks. Oh, well. Just as well, though, I guess, because it rained anyway. I was on my lunch break at work, and I commented, “Please tell me that’s someone making a lot of noise on the roof and not thunder again,” since that would be our third or fourth consecutive night with thunder and lightning. And lightning was twinkling up above for quite a bit of the ride home, too.

Speaking of the ride home, though, that was an interesting experience. Let me tell you what’s going on. The road that I take most of my trip to work on, US 340 (Stuarts Draft Highway/Rosser Avenue), is a four-lane divided highway from the edge of Stuarts Draft until well into Waynesboro (beyond Wal-Mart). As a result, you have two lanes going northbound, and two lanes going southbound, separated by a wide median. So I’m going southbound to go home, in the left lane on my side. I see headlights ahead of me, and I’m looking at them, and I’m thinking, those headlights are at the wrong angle from me to be going north. Turns out that the headlights were going north, specifically, headed directly at me. So I moved over to the right lane, and we passed harmlessly. Considering the speed at which this person passed me, they were going full speed down the highway, on the wrong side of the road. If I hadn’t moved, we would have had a head-on collision at 55 miles per hour. Unpleasant? You bet.

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Categories: Driving, Weather

And now the car is dry again

< 1 minute read

July 2, 2004, 6:07 PM

And thank goodness for that, too. Turns out that the “hot box” treatment worked just fine, where I shut all the windows and left the car out in the sun. Totally dry the next day, and was greeted by a mass of warm, moist air when I opened the door. And then when I got it all vented, it was good as new. Then after I finished running my errands and then some driving around, I cleaned up from Thursday’s storm, getting some Great Value window cleaner (aka Wal-Mart brand Windex) and wiping down the entire front end of my car. And getting the rear view mirror clear again.

Otherwise, though, I have a lot less hair now. I finally got a haircut today, which was a long time in coming. I think if I had gone any longer without getting a haircut, I could have rented myself out as a mop.

Categories: Toyota Previa

One more thing about the storm…

2 minute read

July 2, 2004, 1:38 AM

One more thing… a number of people’s cars were damaged by not only the hail, but also the wind. The hail was an obvious one. Golf-ball sized chunks of ice can do some serious damage to a car. One person’s windshield was cracked as a result. The wind did some damage by catching the shopping carts, sending them flying into cars, and also literally spinning in the parking lot. A dangerous combination.

Me, my car came out unscathed, except for one minor problem… I left my windows open a crack to let the heat out. Remember it was sunny when I came to work. So I got to my car for my lunch break, and it had rained in. A lot. Usually a little crack doesn’t let any water in, but with the wind, it really rained in, getting the entire front seat area all wet. No damage. Just wet, and it’s already mostly dry. But still… even with the windows cracked, the storm was going so hard that it got my rear view mirror dirty, perched high up in the center of my car. I’m like, whoa.

Just remember that I am driving the car that a friend of mine described as “The car that will not die”. It’s fourteen years old now, you realize. We got it when I was nine. And it’s been through three major accidents (street sign by Mom, deer by Dad, and hillside by me), one minor accident (a small fender-bender last September), a few slides off the road in bad weather (unscathed each time), and God knows what else. It’s like Bill Clinton – the comeback kid. Or like that Chumbawumba song, where they say, “I get knocked down, and then get up again”.

Right now, though, I just need a dry day to let this car air out. And of course, I have to clean the front of the car again, which I just did on Monday. Now it looks like it never happened.

Categories: Toyota Previa, Weather

Wild weather!

4 minute read

July 2, 2004, 1:21 AM

Boy, did we have some wild weather today! A tremendous thunderstorm came up out of nowhere around 5 PM (literally out of nowhere – it was sunny when I left for work at 1:30). This thunderstorm was amazing. Winds like mad (so I’m told – no windows at Wal-Mart), really heavy rains – enough to hear it on the salesfloor over the din of the customers, lightning like crazy, incredibly loud thunder (one round of thunder was a BOOM like an explosion rather than a rumble), and even hail, which you could hear on the roof.

And then, as one of our CSMs was handing me a flashlight for “just in case the power went off”, no sooner did she say it than the lights went out. Then they came back on. Then they went out for good. Let me say that the many skylights we have came in really handy, as the only parts of our store that were actually dark were the Service Desk and the other various “caves” in the store, like Layaway, the Vision Center, the Portrait Studio, etc. Those areas were dark, but we still had emergency lighting, which helped. But the bulk of the store was still very well lit by natural light.

Since we couldn’t do much at the Service Desk, since our scanners were out of service over there, they pulled me to the registers, where we hurried to get all the customers checked out despite having no belts due to no power (I told customers that I have no belt and that they should put their items at the end of the belt), and the fact that the customers had to be checked out before our backup power went out. We made it, thank goodness.

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Two more things…

2 minute read

June 30, 2004, 12:20 AM

First of all, it’s interesting having my sister working in the same place as me (mind you, though, she’s a cashier and I’m at the Service Desk). Usually if we get off near each other, one waits on the other, and in the case of this evening, we both took our vests home (vs. putting them in our respective lockers). Reason? Me: “I’m doing a load of vests tonight.” You see, I got powdered sugar all over mine after a lady brought up a broken bag of it. I got most of the sugar in the bag, but also managed to sugar-coat the counter, as well as me. So there you go. So as a result of washing our vests, there are two distinct piles on the kitchen counter. One is topped by a name badge saying “BEN”, with “CUSTOMER SERVICE” and “RISK CONTROL TEAM MEMBER” on it. The other, smaller pile is topped by a name badge saying “ANN”. Still, both vests are now hanging to dry.

And otherwise, I met Moreko Griggs at Wal-Mart today. For those of you who don’t know, Moreko Griggs is one of three valedictorians for Waynesboro High School’s class of 2004. There was considerable controversy there about there being three valedictorians, which in the final accounting turned out to be the adults making a big stink about something that those actually involved (Griggs and the other two valedictorians) didn’t see as too big of a deal. Either way, though, it was neat to meet him, as he has become a bit of a local celebrity.

That’s one reason I like working at Wal-Mart. You see everyone, from the famous (Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers was known to shop here occasionally), to local heroes (like Moreko Griggs), to local politicians (I met Waynesboro councilman Reo Hatfield at the grocery fastlanes once). You also see friends and family, as well as repeat customers. It’s neat.

Categories: Family, Walmart

Finally, an off-day!

2 minute read

June 29, 2004, 11:42 PM

Yes, after six straight days, where I worked all four different Service Desk shifts at least once, I finally have gotten another off-day. This Wednesday, I will be going nowhere near my own Wal-Mart. Other people’s Wal-Marts, on the other hand, are a completely different story, as most other Wal-Marts don’t look at all like Waynesboro’s. Most Wal-Marts are gray, red, and blue. Our store is beige and forest green. Our store has black signage and faux-wood floors. Most stores have some sort of blue signage and carpeting.

So I have yet to figure out what tomorrow looks like. Probably not going to go out, but rather I will probably take the opportunity to do some serious work on the Web site. I really need to work on it, since right now I’m behind on a few different projects, including spinning College Life off into its own subsidiary site, working on “The Lights of the Night” group of photo sets, and my “Memories” College Life set.

Otherwise, the phrase “Are your gas bills so high they make you want to cry?” is just perfect for me. To fill up the Previa costs almost $30 with these astronomical gas prices. And my car isn’t even one of those gas-guzzling SUVs.

Now sport-utility vehicles aren’t helping the price of gas, either. If people would all get small, fuel-efficient cars, maybe we could all get more for our money as far as gas goes. I know that when I eventually replace the Previa, I will be getting a small car, preferably a station wagon.

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Another Howard Johnson’s bites the dust…

3 minute read

June 29, 2004, 12:03 AM

It’s sad… in the same month, Palace Amusements in Asbury Park, New Jersey bites the dust (see my related quote article), and then the old Howard Johnson’s restaurant in Harrisonburg also gets demolished.

First of all, in its time as a Howard Johnson’s, it looked like this, as seen in these photos from

Howard Johnson's in Harrisonburg while open

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Categories: Howard Johnson's, JMU