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Raining cats and dogs yesterday…

November 30, 2005, 7:23 AM

Seriously, it was raining like mad yesterday! Over the course of my day at work yesterday, it was all over the scale. Surprisingly, it was not raining both on my way to work, and walking to the building from the car. Then the rain started – a nice steady pour. Then it continued to rotate between really heavy rain (where it sounds like marbles hitting the roof) and lighter rain. And lots of wind, too. Around 1:00, we got thunder and lightning with that rain. And the lightning was sufficiently big that we could see it through the skylights, during the day. That is significant.

We also heard rumors of some flooding in the usual areas, since it was some pretty heavy rain, and had been raining for a couple of days before this. Going home from work, the river I cross on route 608 was considerably higher than normal, and then a low portion of 608 that usually floods over due to poor drainage (and repeated failed attempts to fix it) was flooded over.

And of course, it was doing heavy rain when I got home – it figures, doesn’t it? And Mom was wearing a poncho and up on a ladder fixing a problem with a gutter. I’m just like, what the heck.

Today, it’s a beautiful day. Cloudless and sunny. Colder, but that’s fine. I like the cold. However, due to flooding, Augusta County Schools opened one hour late. Go figure.

I’m just glad I got good weather today. I’m going to Lynchburg and to Roanoke today. Yay!

Categories: Weather

Black Friday, FliteStar, and beyond…

November 28, 2005, 10:34 PM

Let me tell you… the day after Thanksgiving, when Wal-Mart had its blitz sale, was interesting.

First of all, I was somewhat disappointed about the results of my efforts to get coworkers to wear all-black with me. I bombed badly on that front, as I was one of only two people wearing black on that day.

Anyways, though, I worked 4:30 in the morning to 1:30 in the afternoon, as scheduled. I arrived in the parking lot at 4:15 in the morning. The lot was packed. Coming into the store, it was full of people, most of whom were kind of hanging around, waiting for the big sale to start at 5:00. Many told me that they’d been in the store since 3 AM waiting.

My exact reaction was to think, that’s hardcore. Me, I’ll happily pay full price and not deal with the crowds and chaos.

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Tomorrow is the big day…

November 24, 2005, 8:38 PM

Tomorrow at 4:30 in the morning, I must be at work for what is often called “Black Friday”, which is one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

This will be the first time I will have actually worked right in the thick of Wal-Mart’s big after-Thanksgiving sale. The past two years, I worked later shifts, after the majority of the pandemonium had passed. This year, I am there. And tomorrow, I will be dressed in all black from the top of my mock-turtleneck all the way down to my Chucks. I’ve also tried to get coworkers to do likewise. After all, what can I say? Black is the new black.

Otherwise, though, Thanksgiving went well. I had to work, and then had Thanksgiving dinner with the family.

Meanwhile, I’m still enjoying the heat in the car. Never again will I take having heat in one’s automobile for granted. Never.

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I got the car back, and it’s SO WARM!

November 22, 2005, 1:54 AM

Just as a heads-up, I got the car back, and the heat very much works now. Turns out that the reason for the problem was low antifreeze, which Dad thought was strange because the engine should have overheated if that was the case. And it never did. Either way, they fixed it and it only cost me $37-something. Not bad when I was expecting to pay three figures for a repair job.

When I got out, instead of going straight home like Sis did (she took me to pick the car up), I went around via Fishersville – 250 to 608. I wanted to give that heater some chance to perform, which it did – admirably.

Let me tell you, though – I will never take having heat in the car for granted again. You don’t know how much you appreciate it until you don’t have it anymore.

Categories: Toyota Previa

The car’s out getting fixed, and I’m at home…

November 21, 2005, 1:53 PM

So this morning, I dropped the car off. Sis helped me with delivering the car to Jenkins Automotive, and then we stopped off somewhere for breakfast.

Fast forward a little bit, and I just got a call – the car’s ready, and heat has been restored. Yay! I’m so tickled on that front. Let’s just say that I will never take automotive heat for granted ever again.

I’d dare say there’s nothing more unpleasant than driving home from Washington in sub-freezing temperatures (such as on this last trip home). That’s a 150-mile trip, too, mind you. And doing the one-handed thing the whole way – driving with one hand, and sitting on the other hand to warm it up. Now I can drive without a coat, hat, and gloves again.

This will also make the ride to work in the morning more pleasant and safer. The last few days, my car’s been iced over when I come to it, and I couldn’t do anything about it owing to lack of heat. I used my de-icing spray to clear the frozen stuff off, plus have de-icer washer fluid in there right now, but heat really helps in melting off the ice. Nothing beats good old heat there – it’s far superior to chemical methods, though those do have their strong points.

I’m just glad now that I’m going to have my heat again…

Categories: Toyota Previa

Two more days until heat?

November 19, 2005, 9:30 PM

I mentioned not long ago (here) that my car’s heat was not working, and as such any car rides are a cold affair. In fact, I have a pair of gloves next to the driver’s seat in case it gets really cold in there. That or you’ll see me driving one-handed, which I can do quite well after I was in a sling for a month in 1999 due to a shoulder injury. Usually if it’s cold and I’m driving one-handed, I’ve got one hand on the wheel, and the other hand either under my leg or behind my back – either way, next to a really warm place on my body so as to warm that hand up.

After a particularly cold trip back from Washington last Wednesday, I finally determined that I was going to get the heat fixed, which I’d resisted doing, in part due to laziness, and in part due to not wanting to have to pay to fix it. But it’s either that or freeze this winter. So I’m paying for it. Hopefully it’s something minor that won’t be very hard to fix. Let’s not even think about if it’s a major problem.

So I’m taking my car to Jenkins on Main Street in Waynesboro on Monday to get it fixed. My memory of Jenkins is waiting in there for much of the day on the day of my high school graduation getting a brake job. When I finally got antsy about whether the car would be ready in time to get home for graduation, I called home to get picked up, and then got the car the next day. This time, Sis is following me to drop the car off, and taking me right back home. Then she’s taking me back to Jenkins in the afternoon to pick it up. In between, I’m sure I’ll find something to do at home (I’m off work on Monday – that’s a first).

So perhaps after Monday, I’ll have heat in the car again. I certainly hope so. Otherwise, it’s going to be a COLD winter, and an icy one, as I otherwise have no access to heat to defrost my windows – just de-icer spray, which is only helpful to an extent.

Categories: Toyota Previa

This advertisement for Blue Cross just struck me as funny.

November 17, 2005, 3:14 PM

Check it out, and see if you see what I see…

"Lend a hand" Blue Cross ad

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Categories: Advertising

Hello from Pentagon City!

November 16, 2005, 5:44 PM

Hello all from the Apple store at Pentagon City Mall! (Yes, I’m writing this on a Mac.) What a fun day I’ve had. I went around to Lafayettte Square, where I met up with one of the DAWN demonstrators from February. I saw lots of people engage them in debate, as they were doing a similar anti-torture demonstration in front of the White House. However, no arrests this time.

After that, I went up and around on the Metro, and even took a bus from Fort Totten to Georgia Avenue-Petworth. Flxible 9802, running on the 64. Then I got one of the happiest train operators on earth (some of you may know who I’m referring to) for the ride to Gallery Place-Chinatown.

I also tried to visit the Infoshop, but they were closed when I came by. They would reopen at 6 PM, but I wasn’t about to wait more than an hour for them to open up. Ah, well…

And now, it’s Pentagon City time…

Categories: Activism, DC trips, WMATA

Going to Washington on back-to-back weeks…

November 16, 2005, 4:34 AM

I’m going to Washington this week on back-to-back weeks, thanks to a work schedule on my intended week that doesn’t permit a trip – I’d need to have either two days off together, or a day off followed by a shift that starts at noon. So I’m going this week instead, then it will be three weeks before I go again.

And it looks like my weather will be unsuitable for outdoor photography once again, with rain predicted. So we say *sigh* as I once again have to come up with alternate plans.

Meanwhile, I want to see a “Blue Screen of Death” come up on one of our self-checkouts at work. Considering that the Fastlanes seemed to be crashing left and right yesterday, and run Microsoft Windows, I wouldn’t put it past them to BSoD eventually. I just want to be there when they do it so I can laugh (and take a couple of pictures).

And then I’m still working on the site redesign/refurbishment. I’ve got tags on the site now in Life and Times and Photography that mark some images as being available under the GNU Free Documentation License. Those images that are available under the GFDL are the ones I also have uploaded to Wikipedia, which requires that images be licensed under GFDL, another free license, or put in the public domain. I certainly don’t want to put my images into the public domain (no way will I ever do that), but GFDL is a fair compromise. So now these images will be marked on here, and I’m still working to implement this. Right now, 23 images are marked like this in Life and Times.

And now, I’ve piddled enough. Off to DC!

I now know what happens when you overstay your welcome at the Exeloo…

November 11, 2005, 1:47 AM

I went to Washington on Wednesday, and had fun. I explored around Washington Circle near the Foggy Bottom station, explored a bit around the Friendship Heights station, and also walked through the neighborhood along Connecticut Avenue between the Cleveland Park and Woodley Park-Zoo Metro stations. All in all, it was a relaxing day, and I got some awesome photos.

First of all, Washington Circle. You may recall that I first visited Washington Circle by accident, on my “accidental” DC trip in August. There, I discovered Washington Circle while trying to find my way to I-66 from downtown Washington, and took four laps around the circle in the process. This time, I just took one lap, for photos, all the while amused about my past experience.

Also, despite DC being a large city, it’s really a small, small world. At Washington Circle, by pure chance, I ran into someone I’d first met at Dupont Circle on September 24. Here she is then:

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Categories: DC trips, WMATA

Mid-overhaul, I’m feeling fine…

November 11, 2005, 1:24 AM

So far, I’ve refurbished two sections of the site: the Journal (which you’re looking at), and the Online Store. The Journal’s update is one I’m quite pleased with, as it adds some functionality that wasn’t there before. For one thing, I added “permalinks” for the entries, linked as “Link to or print this article”. Those are at the bottom of each entry. For an example, here’s a link to the recent Journal entry entitled A fun day was had by all…

Notice how it’s on one page there by itself. And print it – it doesn’t run off the side of the page. It is all neatly fitted in there. At least that’s what it did on my printer.

Another fun feature I added was what I’ve heard called “bookmarks” and “anchors”. It’s used on FAQs and things like that where if you click the link, it skips you to a spot on the page. Here’s an example of this in action, click this link to the Journal entry Talk about threatening-looking weather… from August 2005.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

I voted, using the new touch-screen voting machines…

November 8, 2005, 5:35 PM

Today after work, I voted in Virginia’s 2005 gubernatorial election. We’ll see whether the guy I voted for ends up winning or not.

This year, things were a bit different in the voting-equipment category. Through the 2004 election, voters in Augusta County used these old, mechanical voting machines. These things were great. They were this awful institutional-blue color with plaid curtains. They looked like they came straight out of the 1950s. Those things had charm. First, you pulled the big blue lever with the red handle. That closed the curtain, and you were ready to vote. Then you pulled the little red levers to make your selection, and it made a “chink” sound. Then when satisfied with your selection, you pulled the big handle again, it made a whole bunch of mechanical noises like “ka-chink” to record your vote, reset all the levers, and then opened the curtain. Vote cast.

Like I said, I loved those old machines because they had charm. Completely mechanical. I think that the only electricity required for them was used to power the lights inside the booth.

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I read an article that troubled me…

November 6, 2005, 10:31 PM

I was reading this past Saturday’s News Virginian, and an article on the front page of the paper troubled me. The article was called “Dilemma of threats on Internet”. Here’s a link to the article.

The basic premise of the article was about students’ reactions in their own online journals to an incident at Riverheads High School in Augusta County, where a 15-year-old student was given an “indefinite suspension” by school officials for an October 1 entry in his online journal hosted by xanga.com where he contemplated “a massive systematical killing of people at rhs for the soul purpose of saying that i can”.

First of all, I will be the first to say that posting such things in a public space (which the Internet basically is) was not the best thing to do. But, to avoid dwelling on should-have-dones in that situation, let’s assume that what’s done is done. It’s posted, and that’s all there is to it.

In addition, I do not take issue with the principal’s encountering the material in question in the first place. These online journals are accessible to the general public without a password, and thus I consider the principal to be well within his rights to look at these online journals. When someone posts to an online journal that is publicly accessible, including this one, that means that anyone can look at it, and I do mean anyone. To make my point, I had no trouble finding AnothrDmBlnd’s Xanga site, whose November 2 entry was the source of one of the comments mentioned in the article.

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It’s GOT to be around here SOMEWHERE…

November 5, 2005, 8:21 PM

I am taking a break from hunting for a moment to speak to you now. For the last hour, I’ve been hunting for the CD that contains the original for this image of a Wheelock MT horn/strobe. I want to use it for the photo feature. Why I can’t find it, I don’t know. I obviously knew where the CD was on June 14, when I uploaded it to Wikipedia. As I mentioned, I don’t know why I cannot find it. I’ve practically turned this place upside down looking for it, too. It’s got to be around here somewhere.

And by the way, if you’re reading this, and that photo of the MT is in the photo feature, that means I found it.

This is the quandary I am in…

November 4, 2005, 1:26 AM

Since March, as you may know, I’ve been running a photo feature on my main page. You may recall that this replaced the quote article that previously occupied that space. And ever since the photo feature was launched, I’ve only displayed vertical photos due to the vertical nature of the page’s design.

Now, however, I also want to display horizontal photos, since I have a whole bunch of those that I want to show on the main page, but the space as currently designed won’t allow it.

I want to make two versions of the main page – the current one for when a vertical photo is the feature, and a second one for use when a horizontal photo is the feature. In addition, I don’t want to make the photo feature a pain to update with two versions of the main page. That’s a lot of what killed the old quote. It had become a colossal pain in the butt to update because it was such a complicated process. So we’re trying to avoid that. Thus I don’t want to just simply have two versions of the main page saved and just upload the one I want. That adds an extra few steps to the process. Right now, it’s just some image work, one upload, and then an update using an online form.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta