As someone who comes from an area where the transit system is mostly concrete, seeing this much wood is really a surprise.

3 minute read

December 28, 2007, 7:22 PM

Mom and I are on our second day in Chicago, and it’s been a lot of fun. I met the parents of Chris Lysy, Sis’s fiance (that still sounds so weird), and we’ve seen a bit of the city. This is certainly not DC, let me tell you that.

So where have we been? We arrived at Union Station yesterday, met Sis and Chris, took the Brown, Red, and Purple Lines of the “L” train to Evanston, where our hotel is, met the Lysys, and then we went around the city a bit. We arrived in the Loop, and went to the observation deck of the Sears Tower. We waited in SO many lines for that. First line was to take the elevator down to the ticketing area. Then the line to go through security. Then the line to purchase the tickets. Then the line to wait to see the orientation film. Then the line to wait for the elevator. Then the line at the observation deck to take the elevator back down. Quite a production. But it was pretty good. The film was informative, and the observation deck offered a 360-degree view from the 103rd floor. I was disappointed that it wasn’t open-air, but hey, it was still fun, and I got a LOT of photos.

One thing about it, though: big elevators loaded with people make me nervous. This was after living in Potomac Hall, where the elevator would make a sudden drop when it arrived at the desired floor. The higher the floor, the bigger the sudden drop. Additionally, the more people in the elevator, the bigger the drop. Scared the crap out of you if you weren’t expecting it, and even if you were expecting it, it was still somewhat unsettling. Thus it’s left me with a slight fear of elevators loaded with people. However, this one went off without a hitch, and they had a video monitor with some cartoons on it in the elevator near the ceiling for people to watch. Still, even with all the various safety features on the elevator, the idea of having a 103-story hole right below me makes me somewhat uptight.

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Categories: Chicago, CTA, Family

Waiting to ride…

< 1 minute read

December 26, 2007, 3:14 PM

And Mom and I are playing the waiting game in the Acela Lounge at Union Station in DC, waiting for the boarding call for the Capitol Limited. This will be fun, taking the train to Chicago. So far, we’ve already taken a Barwood cab to Glenmont, and a 4000-series Breda car to Union Station. And then a big “Superliner” car. Should be fun.

Then on the train, we’ve got a “Roomette”, which gives us a little room with a table and electrical connections for all of our various electronic toys. I’ve got some movies, and of course the Lappy. After all, 17 hours on a train requires a little entertainment.

Then the soon-to-be-Mrs-Lysy (my sister) is going to meet us at the train station tomorrow morning, and show us all around for the next few days. All in all, I’m excited!

Categories: Amtrak

I finally got a photo of the airport beacon…

< 1 minute read

December 25, 2007, 11:09 PM

While I was in Stuarts Draft and vicinity for Christmas, I finally got a photo of the airport beacon, which I previously discussed here and here. So here it is:

The beacon at the Bridgewater airport

So there you have it. As you can see, it’s from a little private airport in Bridgewater. The only way one would know of its presence would be by seeing this beacon spinning around and around. But there you have it…

Categories: Harrisonburg

And I can tell them where that gift card should go, too.

2 minute read

December 18, 2007, 9:59 PM

For me, most of the “Eye Openers” stories on page two of the Express, with their snide and somewhat sarcastic headlines and such, get read right around the vicinity of Forest Glen or so, and then are soon forgotten. But this one not only caught my interest, but had staying power.

The story was about a program in Rancho Cordova, California, where police are stopping drivers who are following traffic laws, and giving them $5 gift certificates to Starbucks. The idea is, according to police Sergeant Tim Curran, a method to “promote the holiday spirit and enhance good will between the traffic unit and the motoring public.”

Well intentioned, sure. Well thought out, no. They’re trying to build goodwill with this, pulling people over, and giving them a gift card worth five bucks. If it were me getting pulled over just so that the cop can give me a five dollar gift card, that whole “goodwill” argument can get thrown right out the window, since I certainly wouldn’t be taking the card in the goodwill in which it was given. At best, they’d be greeted with outright hostility from me for wasting my time, pulling me over to give me a card worth five bucks. At worst, the cop would have to bend over in front of the chief while the chief gets the needle-nose pliers and a flashlight to remove the card from where I would have placed it. All in the spirit of the holiday season, of course.

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Categories: Advertising, News

Some people are SO superficial…

2 minute read

December 18, 2007, 12:14 AM

You want to talk about the kinds of slimeballs that give all of us guys a bad name, this is it. Observe:

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Categories: Advertising

“We like the planet, we like the animals, we support the ELF, free political prisoners!”

< 1 minute read

December 15, 2007, 11:04 PM

As promised, here are the movies from the December 8 environmental march.

This was early on in the march, right after we left Farragut Square.

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Categories: Activism

Gotta love an evening with a bunch of my fellow Wikipedia geeks…

2 minute read

December 10, 2007, 11:40 PM

I’d say I had quite a busy weekend! First the protest on Saturday, and then a Wikipedia meetup on Sunday. Basically, a Wikipedia meetup is where editors of Wikipedia get together at a restaurant and shoot the breeze for a while over dinner. This is my second one, and they’re a lot of fun. This time, we went to Skewers, which is across the street from where I work.

All in all, it was a fun time. We discussed Wikipedia, and we discussed things other than Wikipedia. We even got metal barnstars at the end of the event. We also learned that while we’re serious about building an encyclopedia, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, when we noticed a typo on the menu, which printed “species” where “spices” was intended, and someone mentioned that we should edit the menu.

In the end, it was a lot of fun, and we got a photo of everyone, too:

The meetup group at Skewers

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Categories: Wikipedia

It may have been small, but we certainly did have a blast…

4 minute read

December 9, 2007, 11:08 AM

I attended a relatively small protest march on Saturday in DC – a march reminding all of the FBI’s roundup of alleged environmental and animal rights activists two years ago, and how we cannot let such actions continue. We marched from Farragut Square to the FBI building via the White House in our “Resist the Greenscare” march.

It was a small march, with only ten people in attendance, but we were a dedicated bunch. In the regular DC crowd, we had Jeff, Luke, Olga, Dylan (Olga’s guy), Isis, and myself, as well as four others. We were expecting more, but we believed that the weather and lackluster promotion kept some people at home. Plus the people we did get mostly came later, as Metro was doing track work on all five lines this particular day, and a number of people got tied up in that. But with the group we had, we may have been small, but we were dedicated.

And as you can see, we had green and black flags at our march, as well as a banner.
And as you can see, we had green and black flags at our march, as well as a banner.

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Categories: Activism

Metro’s trying some new arrangements again, and…

5 minute read

December 8, 2007, 6:49 PM

Metro is once again trying some new designs with its railcars. On Alstom 6104 and 6105, they’re testing some new “resilient” flooring. On Breda 3283, Metro is testing a new seating arrangement, involving more bench-style seating near the center doors. Then Metro tested metal “straps” on all three cars.

First of all, the flooring. Here it is:

Test flooring on Alstom 6104-6105
Photo: WMATA

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Categories: WMATA

This marks the third day in a row that I’ve been watered…

< 1 minute read

December 6, 2007, 5:46 PM

Today marks the third day in a row that I’ve gotten watered over the course of the day at work. Tuesday, I was getting ready to pour a glass of juice for myself. I usually always shake well before opening, and this time, the top was not on, unbeknownst to me at the time. So I shook well as I usually do… and the juice went all over the front of me. Greeeeeeeeeat. Then yesterday, I was cleaning out one of those big coffee pots that get used at meetings, and managed to shoot myself with water out of a spot in the pump. At least it was clean water and not coffee that I got shot with. Then number three was today. I’m demonstrating a feature on the water cooler, grab a nearby pitcher that had an inch of water in the bottom of it, and it’s watering #3 as I grabbed it a little too fast and got water all over my leg.

Thankfully, I dry out pretty quickly, though. Still, if I had this much trouble with water, I’d hate to say “I don’t know” (ha ha).

Categories: Work

And the forecast called for snow!

< 1 minute read

December 5, 2007, 7:49 PM

First snowfall of the year in Washington today. It was cold as hell, and my bus in the morning was 40 minutes late. It was very cold and snowing, and I’m standing on the sidewalk waiting for the bus. No fun. And Metro was running more slowly as well due to snow on the rails in the aboveground sections.

But I did get pictures…

This is the snow in the morning, in the vacant lot next to my apartment.
This is the snow in the morning, in the vacant lot next to my apartment.

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Categories: Winter weather

Had lunch with the parents today…

2 minute read

December 2, 2007, 1:54 PM

I had a fun time today. My parents went up to New Jersey over the weekend, and I managed to talk them into a stop in my neck of the woods on the way back down. That was fun, as they came in Mom’s Scion. We went to downtown Silver Spring, and went to this place called Redrock Canyon Grill. Nice place. All three of us had the rotisserie chicken. It came with red potatoes and green beans. It was awesome.

Speaking of which, expect to eventually see downtown Silver Spring in a Photography set. It’s a beautiful area, and looks like a good place for a nighttime set.

Then I took Metro back to my neighborhood, and got Breda 4038. I also got to see two photos on the phone – one that Mom sent me, and one that Sis sent me.

Our house in Glassboro in 2007

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Categories: Family

Have you ever seen an iMac with the skin off?

3 minute read

November 30, 2007, 9:21 PM

Well, you soon will. I had the opportunity to do a memory upgrade on a first-generation iMac G5 today at work, and so I got to open one of those puppies up. So this is what the iMac looks like with the skin off:

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Categories: Computer, Work

“Ben Schumin believes his life is very interesting. He’s wrong.”

3 minute read

November 29, 2007, 7:11 PM

Do you remember back in April when I inadvertently stayed up all night because I had too much coffee at Daily Grind? Well, while messing around on the Internet, I discovered the latest person making an attempt to be witty at my expense. This would be a person going by the name “Javier Magnante” (more than likely not the person’s real name), who runs the blog Today’s Special Is Pain, which dissects my Journal entries in a style similar to Mystery Science Theater 3000. He takes a bit of text from my Journal and reposts it in a light gray color, and then he makes sarcastic comments right below it in this salmon-colored text.

His style is rude and crude, as he portrays me in his profanity-laden commentaries as someone who is constantly eating large quantities of ham and paying no attention to personal hygiene, while simultaneously having sexual relations with my digital camera and laptop computer. Needless to say, cheap shots are in no short supply. Frank Wade should go see this guy for advice on how to take cheap shots at me.

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Categories: Netculture, Some people

Ever seen a Wheelock push station live and in person?

< 1 minute read

November 25, 2007, 10:26 AM

Those of us on my discussion forums have known for some years that Wheelock makes “push stations”, which are similar to pull stations, except you just push a large red button rather than pull a handle. But no one’s ever seen one. I was at the Ikea in College Park last week, and saw one. It was in their “Family Restroom” at the front of the store, in fact, and it was blue and marked “MEDICAL EMERGENCY”.

Wheelock push station at IKEA, marked "MEDICAL EMERGENCY"

So yeah, there you go. And as this is in a restroom, you can tell that some people have gotten bored in there and scraped off a few letters.

Categories: Fire alarms, IKEA