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The Sable reports for repairs on September 25…

August 28, 2006, 9:27 PM

Yes, on September 25, I will finally get a grille again. For that matter, starting that day, I will no longer have a sizable dent on my right fender. And while I’m out a car, I will be driving Sis’s car, which is a gray 1997 Mitsubishi Galant.

I’m going to miss my Sable dearly during that time, but I know that it’s going to be made good as new during that time period. No longer will I be driving around looking like I had a head-on collision with a deer, despite how fortunate I was that the car was still drivable after that deer incident. So I’m going to be pleased with that.

And it’s given me a whole new respect for the wildlife that lives along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and to take it even more slowly up there than I was going when the accident happened. When the accident happened, I was only going 40, five below the posted speed limit of 45 mph.

So with my driving Sis’s car while the Sable’s in the shop, I’m going to have to make a few adjustments to that car before the time of need arrives. Specifically, Sis left that car in a mess when she went to Virginia Tech. There’s all sorts of trash and other debris in the floor, in the front seats, and in the back seats. As a point of comparison, the Sable’s relatively clean, with only a little bit of tracked-in debris in the driver’s side floor area. So I’m going to be doing Sis a big favor and taking some time to completely clean her car out. Since I’m not driving in that kind of mess. No way.

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Categories: Mercury Sable

Photos of mine, printed ABOVE the fold…

August 28, 2006, 7:51 AM

How often can you say that your photos end up on the front page of the local newspaper? And above the fold, no less. If you look at the August 28, 2006 edition of The News Virginian, you will see two photos anchoring an article about the Skyline Parkway Motel, which, you may recall, had been abandoned for some time, and then was torched in 2004. Both of them are tagged with “Photo courtesy of BEN SCHUMIN”. Here are the photos that the newspaper ran:

Skyline Parkway Motel before the fire  Skyline Parkway Motel after the fire

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It could only happen to me…

August 24, 2006, 11:13 PM

This one falls under that heading of stuff that could only happen to me. I went to visit Mom after school today. I was wearing my fire alarm shirt. First thing’s first, though. Being the first week of school, I asked Roxie, one of Mom’s teaching partners, “Did you all have one of these yet?” and pointed to the Wheelock 7002T on my shirt. Answer was, yes – they had their first fire drill this morning. And it’s sad – SDMS has broken with tradition entirely. It used to be that the first fire drill of the year was always on the third day of school at 9:30 AM. Not so this year. This time, it was on the fourth day of school, and closer to noon than to 9:30.

But anyway, what could only happen to me? I was describing something to some of the other teachers in the room at the time, and using Schumin Web to illustrate my point. I clicked a link, and I got this:

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Categories: Computer, Fire drills

Should we call it “close encounters of the deered kind”?

August 24, 2006, 3:18 AM

The Blue Ridge Parkway is very quickly becoming a dangerous place for the Sable. And before you ask, no, I did not hit another deer (thank goodness). But I did have a close encounter near the Rockfish Valley Parking Overlook. This deer was along the side of the road, minding its own business. I kept an eye on it as soon as I spotted it, waiting for it to make a move. It sees me. It did that deer-in-the-headlights thing. Then, as I continued, it just darted out in front of me. I slammed the brakes, enough to activate the anti-lock brakes. It was a close encounter, but we missed each other.

I contemplated adding deer whistles to the Sable after the repairs are completed, but according to this article, this article, and this article, they’re junk. So that goes out the window.

I don’t know what it is, but it seems that the deer are really out and about this year. I didn’t see nearly as many deer on the Parkway this time last year.

Working to combat the problem of “e-waste”

August 20, 2006, 11:59 AM

We have a minor dilemma here that has been forced upon me by Mom while doing her annual clean-up-the-college-student’s-room thing (she did this to me as well all four years at JMU). It’s the safe disposal of an old computer monitor.

This monitor was actually my original “second monitor”, which initially came to the house when my father got a little old computer for his own use in the house. When he bought himself a new computer, I got to scavenge the nearly-new video card from it, and I got the monitor to go with it. Thus, the second monitor. Then when I got the flat-panel last December, my original 19-inch monitor went up on the lift as the “second monitor”, the flat-panel became my main screen, and the older monitor was removed entirely.

I put it in Sis’s room for storage, and as it turned out, she used it while at home from Virginia Tech rather than mess with her real monitor, since it was already there and all.

This was all well and good, until it unexpectedly died in July. Sad. So Sis put her real monitor in place and plugged it in, and all was well for her.

Of course, now we have the problem of what to do with this dead monitor. Dad wants to just put it out on the curb for the garbage men to pick up. I consider that to be a bad idea, since computer monitors do contain hazardous materials that would not be environmentally friendly in a landfill.

So therefore, the question boils down to this: Where in the hell do I take this thing? That’s the million-dollar question. And doing so before Dad takes matters into his own hands and it’s out on the curb and gone before I know it.

Categories: Computer

Just make them an offer that they CAN refuse…

August 17, 2006, 8:11 PM

First of all, hello from Pentagon City.

I went over to Brookstone while here, and they have this new device that you sit on that’s supposed to work your body as if you’re riding a horse. Okay, fine. So I got on, I sat down, and I gave it a whirl. I made some interesting faces while riding that thing, trying to maintain my balance on there.

So then this group of teenaged girls comes in. They see me on the thing, unbeknownst to me. I got off. They want to see me ride it again. I said, “No thank you, I’ve already ridden it. Why don’t you give it a try?” They declined. They want to see ME do it again. I declined again. Then they start offering me money. One girl offers a quarter. Another a penny. Then someone ponies up a dollar. I still refuse.

I got this feeling that they were making fun of me. And I was through riding that contraption and that was all there was to it. So when they asked how much it would take to get me to ride it again, I went for the big guns. “Fifty bucks,” I said. They were quite shocked at the price I named, and left, which is what I wanted them to do. Because when you’re being made fun of, it’s best to one-up them. And one-upping a group of unsupervised teenaged girls that all share one brain amongst the lot of them is not hard to do.

Seeing these groups of teenagers at Pentagon City makes me think that putting these various groups from out of town in chain gangs is not a particularly bad idea. Since the adult leaders of these groups use Pentagon City as a way to cut these children loose while they go take a smoke or something. So they subject the rest of us, the well-behaved members of society, to these obnoxious children.

“So who gets the deer: me or the dog?”

August 15, 2006, 1:08 AM

I am sad to announce that my Sable got into its first accident tonight on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I hit a deer. I was going southbound at 40 mph (five below the posted speed limit of 45), and two deer darted out in front of me closely enough that I didn’t have time to stop or swerve. I barely cleared the first one, and then I nailed the second one head-on in the body. That deer bounced off the front of the car, and then rolled stiff-legged off the road and landed in the grass. It looked as if it was one-piece construction and not a real deer, because no parts of the body moved – the whole thing just rolled off, appearing completely rigid. I don’t know what happened to it from there, because I couldn’t stop right there due to lack of available shoulder space. The rule is that if you stop on the Parkway, you have to have all four wheels off the road. I was able to accomplish this about a quarter mile down the road.

Thankfully, the Sable survived intact for the most part. The deer left a big dent in the right fender, left a dent in the hood, and jarred the grille loose, but the car was driveable, and both headlights survived intact. I was not injured at all, though I can’t say the same for the deer. I guess the best way to describe the Sable’s post-deer condition is “walking wounded”, since it walked away from the accident, but didn’t make it out unscathed.

I initially tried to call 1-800-PARKWATCH (Blue Ridge Parkway emergency dispatch) from the accident scene, but got no signal. So I drove up to the nearby Boston Knob overlook, and after two tries, I got a good signal, and reported the accident. They got my contact information, and said that a ranger would call me and do the accident report over the phone.

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Free at last!

August 14, 2006, 4:04 PM

The detour is done! The complete rebuilding of Route 608 (Cold Springs Road) has been completed, and so now we have our road back.

To give you a little background information, for the past six months, those who live in my neighborhood have had to go this way to get to US 340 and on to Waynesboro, marked in red:

Map of Stuarts Draft, Virginia showing detour route from Forest Springs/Ridgeview Acres area to intersection of US 340 and VA 608
Image: Google Maps

All that distance to get out of the neighborhood. And the work area, meaning the section of road that was closed, is the section of road in between the green arrows. To give you a comparison, the regular way to 340 is as follows:

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Categories: Religion, Roads, Stuarts Draft

Staunton now has a beltway!

August 11, 2006, 9:53 PM

Yes, you heard it correctly. The city of Staunton, Virginia, with a population of 23,853 according to the 2000 census, has a beltway, or as they call it, a “loop”, with the designation as Virginia 262. I’m just amazed to see it complete, though I found it a bit disappointing.

First of all, though, some history. When we first moved to the area in 1992, the only section of 262 that was completed was from its interchange with I-81 at milepost 220 to a partial interchange with US 11 about a mile to the west, near Staunton Mall. And then everyone was just funneled onto Route 11. That whole section was built to interstate standards as far as I can tell. And that section appeared to have been in place for a long time already.

Then fast forward to the late 1990s, and the loop road project had been revived, and construction was underway again. The interchange with Route 11 was completed, the second bridge was constructed, and they extended it out to Middlebrook Avenue (Route 252). This section opened in November 2000. The road was built to interstate standards through the interchange with Old Greenville Road, going until just short of the Middlebrook Avenue interchange. There, it narrowed into two lanes, on a single roadway, separated by a double line. I figured that this was temporary, until the rest of the loop could be built, since provisions were obviously made to build the other roadway in the future, including preparations for building a second bridge over Middlebrook Avenue. At this point, the road again ended at a partial interchange.

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Categories: Roads

Mobile may not be so extensive now that I’ve done some experimenting

August 11, 2006, 1:05 AM

My original plan was to offer the entire Web site in “Mobile Web” format suitable for viewing on a cell phone. I am officially scaling that back.

Why, you may ask?

Because the average mobile phone can’t seem to handle the pictures. And by “average mobile phone”, I mean my personal cell phone, which I will have until it’s time to upgrade again.

It seems that my site is strong on mobile phones in its text-based areas. In other words, the Journal, and some parts of the Archives. The photo sets seem to be too “heavy” for the phone to handle. I get “insufficient memory” messages and the photos stop loading. So pooh on that. Of course, that happens on three (that I know of) Journal entries as well. Those would be the three that are the basis for the narratives for the Million Worker March, J20, and A16, since they rely a lot on photos.

So at least I learned something from my experimentation on College Life this evening. I learned that photo sets do not work well in the mobile format. Now I just need to figure out what I want to port over to mobile next…

Categories: Schumin Web meta

Six months of Sable…

August 9, 2006, 12:37 PM

Today is August 9, which means that today marks exactly six months since I bought the Sable and retired the Previa. I didn’t realize that it had been that long. Six months ago today, I drove the Previa on its last trip – a trip from which it would not return. That was after a trip to Roanoke the day before where I met up with a friend and had a great time with that friend on what could best be described as the Previa’s ceremonial “farewell” trip. And then on the way home from that trip, the air vents stopped working. But with only about 45 miles to go, I didn’t really care.

But yeah, six months with the Sable. What a wonderful car, too. And that means it’s only four and a half more years until it’s paid for.

Categories: Mercury Sable

The first fires took two buildings…

August 6, 2006, 1:22 AM

The Waynesboro Outlet Village on August 4, 2006

The fires set at the Outlet Village by the local fire departments for training purposes actually brought two buildings to the ground. They burned the barn, which formerly housed Gitano, the Artisans Center, and OCAT, but also tiny Building 18, which housed the mailboxes for the complex, and which also at one point housed a tourist information center. As you can see, #18 is completely gone, and then all that’s left of the barn is the silo, which now has dark markings on it from the fire. Additionally, the shingles are missing on the edge of the roof closest to the barn on Building 5, and the siding is noticeably melted on the front of Building 2.

So there you go. And with the conventional demolition of Building 16 well underway, that makes three down, and 15 to go (I mistakenly said there were 17 buildings in the complex earlier – there are actually 18).

Categories: Outlet Village

And when the smoke clears…

August 4, 2006, 9:39 AM

According to The News Virginian, the barn-like building, that housed a Gitano outlet, and later the Artisans Center of Virginia and OCAT, was torched for firefighter training. So say goodbye:

Building 3

And according to the same article, a neighboring building was to be burned to the ground as well for outdoor training. And this is the first of a series, too, as fire officials have received permission to torch almost the entire complex before it’s all said and done. Maybe I’ll get to go to one of these to watch – from a safe distance, of course.

And I’m going to quick swing by there on my way to work today and get a couple of photos with my phone.

Categories: Outlet Village

The last photo of the Outlet Village (mostly) whole?

August 3, 2006, 6:22 PM

Waynesboro Outlet Village on August 3, 2006

This is perhaps the last photo that will be taken of the Waynesboro Outlet Village mostly intact. I heard on WSVA on the way home from work that tonight at 7:00 (about at the time I’m writing this), area fire departments will be using the former Outlet Village as a training exercise. Thus instead of just straight demolishing the complex, they will be burning it down first. It will certainly serve our local fire departments well, as they will have the opportunity to train in how to fight a fire in a commercial building. And with the Outlet Village consisting of many buildings (17 according to the map, though #15 is already partly demolished), there will be no shortage of buildings to torch for training purposes. I’ll try to get pictures of the Outlet Village from the same vantage point tomorrow, after they’ve torched it.

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Categories: Outlet Village

I took a crew with me to DC this time…

August 3, 2006, 12:36 AM

First of all, welcome to August, boys and girls. July is just so last month.

And August 1 saw me taking the Sable on its sixteenth DC trip, and this time with people in tow. Mom and Sis went with me on this particular trip. Mom came along because she was seeing a friend from high school, and then Sis came along as a what-the-heck kind of thing.

And amazingly, I did my whole routine. I made both my up-stops, though we got to Vienna really early compared to my usual arrival time. But not to worry – we made up that “early” time with what I’d call a “drop job”. Usually when I take these trips, my first stop is Rosslyn, without exception. I can’t think of a DC trip that I’ve taken since I started doing this regularly in 2004 where I did NOT stop at Rosslyn first thing. This trip would be that exception. Since Mom was meeting her friend at Union Station at 10:30, we did that first. So thus instead of Rosslyn, we went straight to Metro Center, and then took Red to Union Station. And once we got Mom to her friend, Sis and I got to have some quality time together.

So what did we do? Back to Rosslyn, duh… I had errands to run, and it was also right about my Rosslyn time, too, so it worked out. Sis also had a snack at Tummy Station in Rosslyn Center, so it worked out.

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Categories: DC trips, Family, Shopping