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Does anyone know…

November 29, 2006, 8:21 PM

Does anyone know the location and/or purpose of a beacon or searchlight in Rockingham County, Virginia just south of Harrisonburg? I first noticed it in 2003 when I was commuting to JMU, and I gave it some more serious thought about what it was last night when I most recently saw it. And I see it on most trips through that area at night.

It appears to originate west of Interstate 81 and US 11, appearing to originate from Bridgewater, or just south of there. I’ve never actually seen the device that this light originates from – just the light itself. The beam of light is white, and it moves in a clockwise direction at a fast speed. If you’ve ever seen the way a lighthouse’s beam moves, it’s about the same.

To see the area I’m referring to, here’s a map. The beacon appears to originate from west of the highway (left on that map). The furthest north I’ve been able to see it is at Exit 240, which is the Mt. Crawford/Bridgewater exit on I-81, the junction of I-81 and Friedens Church Road. The furthest south I’ve seen it is just north of the Augusta County line. The boundary between the two counties is not marked on the map, but to give you a general idea, it’s a straight northwest-to-southeast line just north of Fadley Road and Weyers Cave Road (Route 256).

So my question is, has anyone else seen this particular bit of light? Does anyone know where it’s actually located? Does anyone know what its purpose is? If you know what it is, I would like to know!

Categories: Driving, Harrisonburg

And one more thing…

November 28, 2006, 7:58 PM

I also had the realization while on Metro that my Transit Center site needs a BIG redesign. Not just a change in color scheme and minor details like in the last update. We realized with that last update that the site was a real pain in the you-know-what to update, and so we’re going to go about changing that with the next crop of photos. Hopefully I’ll find something really workable…

Categories: Schumin Web meta

I’m pretending it’s December 5 today…

November 28, 2006, 7:54 PM

Hello from Pentagon City. This trip was supposed to happen on December 5, but since my work schedule didn’t work out, it ended up happening today, a week early. That makes four consecutive weeks where I ended up in Washington.

And I spent the day railfanning for the most part. I went out to Largo, New Carrollton, and Greenbelt. I got two of my favorite operators, and have ridden twelve trains thus far. Add another two to that, and it will about do me for the day (those being Pentagon City to Rosslyn on Blue, then Rosslyn back to Vienna on Orange). And I got to use the emergency intercom on CAF 5191 to report to the operator that the lights were not turned on in the train. She fixed the destination code, which was initially displaying Blue Line to Greenbelt on the side destination signs, to the proper destination code for the Orange Line to Vienna before I could call. Though that one I wouldn’t have mentioned, because I wanted photos of the odd message. Blue doesn’t go to Greenbelt station! I remember that on a Richmond-to-DC trip, I saw a Breda rehab at Gallery Pl-Chinatown showing Blue Line to Glenmont (for which a destination code does not exist), but the train left the station before I could snap a photo – drat! I remember another time a while ago, a CAF train arrived at Vienna signed as a Red Line train to Farragut North. The destination signs turned off seconds before I was ready to take the shot, so no photo there, either.

And I got my two SmarTrips linked. The five bucks that were on my old, cracked SmarTrip will go to my new SmarTrip, and all shall be well again. The lady on the phone was very nice, and incredibly helpful. And I also hope I don’t lose my farecard at Pentagon City this time around. Last time, I lost my day pass somewhere at Pentagon City, and so I had to use my SmarTrip to get back to Vienna. That was $2.35 in fare I didn’t want to have to spend. But it’s either that or walk to Vienna, I guess. Of course, I can’t complain TOO much… more often than not, I leave Vienna after LAZ Parking opens the gates for the night, ending parking revenue hours, and so then I don’t have to pay for parking. So this is payback, I guess. Of course, we wouldn’t have this problem if Metro would hurry up and institute passes on SmarTrip…

Categories: DC trips, WMATA

Here’s a good candidate for a rewrite: the “Introduction” page

November 28, 2006, 12:07 AM

Here’s a page that’s a great candidate for a rewrite: the Introduction page. I just checked it out tonight, since someone had mentioned to me recently that there’s presently nothing obvious for first-time viewers of the site on or linked from the main page. This page was linked from the main page prior to the main page’s last redesign this past July. With the elimination of the menu on that page to support wide images on the photo feature, there’s now nothing to show.

I will be the first to admit that the “center section”, which consists of the main page, that intro page, the contact pages, and the privacy statement, needs some serious reworking due to the current main page’s kind of cutting things off in spots. The question turns on what to do. I’ll have to think about that one.

But the very obvious work that must be done is to write a new introduction page, and link it more prominently from the main page. My goodness… the present introduction page is rather dated. Without going into the update records, it looks like the present page was last revised in 2004, but that most of the writing is older than that. First off, the photo of me is around five years old, taken in December 2001. I don’t wear those glasses anymore, I look younger, and the background is obviously Potomac Hall. It seems a new photo is in order. Then I mention the quote changing with regularity – the quote’s been gone for more than a year and a half. I also mention the Online Store, with “all kinds of nifty Schumin Web merchandise”. Several problems there: First, the store has a more adult-oriented selection of merchandise than it used to. And I mean “adult” as in grown-up, not pornographic, before anyone takes that the wrong way. Then I also mention the shirt I’m wearing in the photo – my “Schumin Out” hoodie. It was one of many designs to get the axe during the recent store revamp.

So yeah, that page is no longer a fitting introduction to the site. It makes me glad that, at this juncture, the page has become somewhat marginalized. Give me an hour or so, and I can turn this page into a beautiful, current, gleaming example of what The Schumin Web has to offer.

Categories: Schumin Web meta

It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.

November 27, 2006, 9:06 AM

Whenever I go to Washington, this line spoken by Elwood in The Blues Brothers comes to mind. Reason I mention this is because, aside from the cigarettes and the sunglasses, it’s fairly accurate for me. When I leave on my bi-weekly trip to Washington, it’s dark, I have a full tank of gas, and it’s 100+ miles to DC.

If you want to get somewhat specific, it’s roughly 150 miles. That accounts for four miles on I-64, 79 miles on I-81, and another 62 miles on I-66. That comes to 145 miles right there. Then when you consider the distance traveled on local roads, meaning the distance from my house to I-64, as well as the little bit of driving on Saintsbury and Vaden Drives in Vienna to reach the North Garage, it comes to slightly over 150 miles. I’ve been meaning to actually measure the distance with the Sable’s odometer, but by the time I think of it, I’m too far downrange for it to be worth setting at that point.

The only time I’ve actually reset the odometer to measure the distance was for my August 31, 2005 DC trip, which meant that it was the Previa’s odometer and not the Sable’s. You may recall that the August 31 trip was characterized by a confrontation with some Metro employees who basically wet their pants when they saw me photographing trains, which led to a meeting with a Transit Police officer. Regardless, it didn’t work out. The reason was twofold. First, I forgot to take the reading at the end of the trip, and made a few trips to work and back before realizing this. Secondly, even if I had remembered to take the reading, it wouldn’t have been accurate, since there was a detour around a work zone on westbound I-66 on that return trip, as well as the next one. Traffic was funneled off I-66 at exit 47, sent down some dark local roads, and then funneled back onto the highway at exit 43.

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Categories: DC trips, Driving

“Peace”

November 25, 2006, 9:39 PM

Paz, paix, peace, an, siochain, friede, shalom, salaam,amani, santeepop, heiwa, hoa bihn

That’s “peace” in twelve different languages: Spanish, French, English, Korean, Gaelic, German, Hebrew, Arabic, Swahili, Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese. In this time in our history, with a war going on in Iraq, I’m reminded of the song whose lyrics are reproduced above in all those different languages.

I first learned the song in 1991, when I sang a duet with Laine Virtue in the fourth grade for the school chorus. Back then, there was another war going on in Iraq: Operation Desert Storm. Laine and I sang that song, whose only words were the various translations of “peace” as quoted above. Then the next fall, the whole chorus sang a song, “Let Peace Begin With Me”, which was a really neat song (and I can’t find the lyrics for it online).

And with Christmas exactly one month away, I’m holding out hope that we can come up with a peaceful end to the current conflict, and bring our troops home alive very soon. I think this photo says it all…

A woman holds up a US flag, where the fifty stars are arranged to form a peace sign

Categories: Anti-war, School

A photo set update for you now…

November 23, 2006, 2:13 AM

Every so often, as you know, I like to give updates on photo sets, like when things have changed. I think the most notable update has to be in my Afton Mountain photo set, where the Skyline Parkway Motel was torched ten months after I did the set.

This time, though, it’s a DC area update. You remember when I did Urban Demolition? That showed 1117 North 19th Street in the process of being demolished. Then when I did If These Streets Could Talk about a month and a half later, the site was simply a hole in the ground. The most recent update on that site that I provided was in Part 2 of my Year In Review photo set. There, it was still mostly a hole in the ground, but new structural elements were starting to take shape.

Now, check this out:

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An Outlet Village update for you all…

November 20, 2006, 9:45 PM

It’s been about three months since the last time I gave you an update on the Outlet Village, presented in my Building 7 Burns photo set. Since then, the fire training exercises have ended, with Building 1 also being torched for training purposes. Now, work is underway to prepare the site for the new shopping center that will be going up in its place, which will house a Target and a Kohl’s, among other things.

I took all these photos from the car with my cell phone while I was out running an errand on my lunch hour. So here are the photos:

The remains of the Waynesboro Outlet Village, November 20, 2006

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Categories: Outlet Village

I can’t believe that Greta has a better bed than me!

November 19, 2006, 6:42 AM

I also can’t believe that I accidentally erased the first version of this Journal entry as I was getting ready to post it. Let’s see if I can remember everything I wrote before as we begin “take two”.

But yeah, Greta got a new bed, and it’s quite nice. It’s all memory foam. Greta’s old bed was a two inch thick piece of foam rubber with a cover on it. The bottom of the old bed’s cover had cow spots, and the top part was some sort of fleece. Now, memory foam is where it’s at.

Compare to my bed, which I’ve had since 1988, back when I was in first grade at Grimes Elementary. The mattress is slightly newer than the bed itself, but now, 18 years later, it’s no longer as nice as it once was. To put it nicely, it sucks. To give you an idea of how not-fond I am of my bed, I had actually seriously considered taking the bed that came with my room in Potomac Hall home with me, and letting Residence Life bill me for it. So many people complained about the dorm beds, but compared to my bed at home, the dorm bed was living large.

I still remember when I first got it. The bed was bunk beds back then, but in 1998 or so, I finally dismantled the top bunk as being of no use to me anymore. I remember that I put a nice gash in the wall when I accidentally hit one of the parts against the wall, which I then had to fix.

So there you go. And when I mentioned it to Dad and Sis, they good-naturedly told me that I could get a doggy bed for myself just like it…

Categories: Greta

The lengths people will go to for video games…

November 17, 2006, 11:00 AM

Sometimes I can’t get over what people will do in order to be the first to get something. Check this out:

Camping in Layaway for the PlayStation 3

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Categories: Some people, Walmart

Quite a storm yesterday morning…

November 17, 2006, 9:17 AM

Check these out:

Storm

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Categories: Weather

I got that new winter coat, and did some serious driving…

November 16, 2006, 1:41 AM

First of all, I had fun on my latest Richmond-to-DC trip, where I go up to Washington DC via Richmond, which takes me east on I-64, onto US 250 near Richmond, through downtown Richmond, and then north on I-95. While on I-95, I take US 1 through Fredericksburg before returning to I-95, then continue on I-95 to Potomac Mills.

Potomac Mills put me a hair behind where I wanted to be on this trip, but it was worth it. I went to the Casual Male store, and got a new winter coat. This one is similar to the one I used from 2001 up until last winter, but is a little bit longer, has different sleeve cuffs, and has a detachable hood, which my other coat lacked. The only thing that I didn’t like was the price tag: $99.99. Ouch. Then add another $5.00 in sales tax, and it starts to hurt a bit. But I like the coat, and it feels really good on me. Now I just want a really cold day so I can give it a whirl for the first time.

I also tried on a number of other coats to see what I liked. I even tried on a black trenchcoat to see how it fits. It was interesting, but it was a bit longer than I felt comfortable with, plus buttons to keep it closed seemed kind of cumbersome. Plus I just couldn’t imagine it as a “me” kind of coat. I made the Chuck Taylors very much “me”, but I wasn’t able to pull that same feat off again with the coat. Still, I know what I like, and that wasn’t it. But the coat I did pick is just going to be a dream.

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Categories: DC trips, Shopping

It seems that we did it…

November 13, 2006, 10:12 PM

And here’s the photo!

November 8, 2006, 10:21 PM

Here’s the photo of Cindy Sheehan and me:

Ben Schumin with Cindy Sheehan

There we are, right in front of the White House. Also notice the new camera bag strap on my shoulder, to replace the one that broke a little less than a month ago.

Categories: Activism, DC trips

Looks like Virginia is the “Florida” of 2006…

November 8, 2006, 7:15 PM

First of all, just let me say that it was a very challenging ride home from Washington DC last night, because of medium-to-heavy rain for much of the drive home, and wet conditions for the remainder.

However, it was all made more bearable by listening to election result coverage all the way home. On the first half of the trip, I listened on WETA (90.9 FM), Washington’s local National Public Radio (NPR) station. There, instead of the usual BBC World Service feed that they run overnight, we got live election coverage from NPR. On the second half of the return trip, since I finally lose WETA completely at Woodstock, I did a little channel surfing on the radio to continue the live election coverage. For those wondering, I can pick up the local NPR station out of Harrisonburg (WMRA 90.7 FM) from at least as far as Front Royal, but they play classical music during off-times, rather than continuous news and talk like WETA does. And I’m not interested in hearing classical music when I’m trying to stay engaged to drive. I ultimately picked up 750 AM, which is WSB out of Atlanta. I listened to them from Woodstock to Harrisonburg, when I finally switched to WSVA (550 AM) out of Harrisonburg, after I realized that WSB was spending more time on local Atlanta elections that I have no interest in whatsoever, than the races for Congress.

The NPR coverage on WETA was EXCELLENT. They know what they’re doing on there. I quickly found out what was going on before I’d even completely cleared Vienna: the Democrats carried the House of Representatives, and the Senate was still undecided with six races, including those in Montana and Virginia, considered too close to call. As I followed the election coverage through my long, rainy ride home, they, along with WSB and WSVA, were able to call four of them. By the time I arrived home, Montana was still too close to call, but leaning for the Democratic candidate, and Virginia was on a razor-thin margin, flipping back and forth between Allen and Webb. I learned that Allen’s supporters had already gone home with confidence, and Webb’s campaign had already declared victory a little bit after that.

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