And it looks like I know where I’m going to be living in DC…

April 30, 2007, 7:35 PM

As things presently stand, it looks like I’m going to be living in Wheaton, Maryland. The apartment is going to be nice. It’s got one bedroom and one bathroom, a good-sized living room, an eat-in kitchen, another separate dining area, and – the best part – a balcony. The balcony was the clincher for this deal. One thing I never liked about dorm life was having to go halfway across the building to be able to go outside. Now, I’ll be able to go out onto a balcony right off the living room. Sweetness on a stick.

And it’s within walking distance of Glenmont Metro.

However, here’s the kicker – the apartment won’t be available until May 20. The job starts May 14. This is when you find out who your true friends are. Matthew Tilley and his mother are letting me stay with them for that week before the apartment becomes available. So for a week, I’ll be living in Reston, and taking Metro to work from Vienna. Then that Friday, I’m going back to Stuarts Draft, getting a whole lot of stuff together on Saturday, and then moving into my apartment on Sunday. That will be when Wheaton becomes “home”, and Stuarts Draft officially becomes “my parents’ house”.

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Hello from… Rosslyn?

April 30, 2007, 11:45 AM

Yeah. Hello from Rosslyn. I’ve found out that Rosslyn Center is just teeming with wireless access points. CommuterStore on the second floor has a free wireless hotspot, and it works in most of the first and second levels of Rosslyn Center. This is good to know for future reference, like if I’m meeting Matthew Tilley on a future railfan trip where the Lappy would play a role (we’ve discussed such a possibility). However, the CommuterStore link, or any other link for that matter, does not work in my favorite part of the building – the way back of the food court, near the windows. I usually go there to read the Express if I couldn’t finish on the Metro. That location is presumably too far away. There’s also a free wireless connection at Tivoli on the first floor. All I have to say is, sweet! about finding wireless connectivity here.

Next mission is to see if I can find a free wireless hotspot over at Pentagon Row. Now that would be nice, to be able to sit outside and get online there…

Categories: Arlington, Computer, DC trips

As a former RA myself…

April 29, 2007, 7:26 PM

Since the shooting spree at Virginia Tech, I’ve been doing my usual rounds along the AM dial, catching all the different talk show hosts. And one thing that was mentioned time and time again was that the second victim was Ryan C. Clark – an RA at West Ambler Johnston Hall, who was killed in the line of duty, while responding to the situation. I consider that something of a heroic death, as a former RA myself.

You know what Tech ought to do? Name a building in honor of Mr. Clark. And considering the situation, it needs to be a dormitory building. Not necessarily Ambler Johnston, where he was killed, but possibly the next new dormitory to be constructed, or one that isn’t already named after a person or group of people.

If nothing else, it’s a nice thought, and it would certainly be a fitting tribute to someone who ultimately gave his life in the performance of his RA duties for the school.

Categories: Radio, Virginia local news

This slogan generator is something else…

April 28, 2007, 7:07 PM

On my discussion forums recently, a user linked us to a site called The Advertising Slogan Generator. Basically, you put a word in, and it gives you slogans with that word in it. The results run the range from boring to odd to somewhat questionable depending on how active your imagination is. I tested it with “Schumin” and copied the results:

  • “Schumin – It Looks Good on You.”
  • “They’re Yummy For Your Schumin.”
  • “How Many Licks Does it Take to Get to the Center of a Schumin?”
  • “Did Somebody Say Schumin?”
  • “Let Your Fingers Do the Walking Through the Schumin.”
  • “Recommended By Dr. Schumin.”
  • “If You Want To Get Ahead, Get A Schumin.”
  • “Grab Life by the Schumin.”
  • “Full Of Eastern Schumin.”
  • “The Dirt says Hot, The Label says Schumin.”
  • “Fresh from the Captain’s Schumin.”
  • “Mild Green Schumin Liquid.”
  • “Gee, Your Schumin Smells Terrific.”

Take these as you wish, but the first one kind of sounds like it might be useful in the online store. Who knows.

The whole word-insertion thing kind of reminds me of when, on Pee-wee’s Playhouse, the secret word was “Zyzzybalubah“, and Pee-wee asked Ms. Yvonne, “And may I take your zyzzybalubah?” Pee-wee had no clue what “zyzzybalubah” was at that point, and so he put it to use. And it seems about as nonsensical as some of these slogans.

Categories: Amusing

The trick is, coffee in moderation, or if no self control, decaf.

April 28, 2007, 6:49 PM

Let’s talk about last night. I went to Daily Grind in Staunton last night and stayed until closing, which is what I’ve been doing lately. I had two cups of coffee, sweetened with Equal (tastes slightly better than Splenda). And when they closed at 10:00, I went home. I presume that two cups of coffee must have hit the spot, as you shall see.

When I got home, I spent some time fiddling around on the computer. I figured I’d go until I got tired and then go to bed. I did Wikipedia, I went other places online, and I played with some effects on Paint Shop Pro to see if I could come up with anything I liked. Those two cups of coffee must have been supercharged or something, because the next thing I knew, it was light out. Oops.

I basically forced myself to go to bed at around 7:30 in the morning, and took a two-and-a-half hour nap. I got back up at 10:00. Right there is where it felt like Saturday. For me, the day doesn’t change until I wake up. When I go on my DC trips, on, say, Wednesday, and get back really late, it doesn’t become Thursday for me until I go to sleep and wake up again.

Now I’m back at Daily Grind again, having a cup of “Sinful Delight” coffee, which is flavored like chocolate and caramel. And unleaded. I will sleep tonight. No coffee-induced buzzes for me this evening…

Categories: Food and drink

The Skyline Parkway Motel has finally been demolished.

April 25, 2007, 5:04 PM

Afton Mountain now presents a slightly more picturesque view to those who visit it, as the Skyline Parkway Motel was demolished in the last week or so. In doing so, they not only removed the main building, which had been the target of an arson attack in 2004, but they also removed the row of cabins next to the main building. The cabins had never been torched, but had been abandoned for some time, and were in hideous shape.

And of course, here are photos:

Straight-on view of the former motel.
Straight-on view of the former motel.

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A few quick things…

April 24, 2007, 1:02 AM

First of all, the photos of the now-demolished Skyline Parkway Motel are officially in the can, and I will be posting those on Wednesday, after I get back from apartment hunting in DC on Tuesday.

Secondly, does anyone have a good recipe for green slime? I want to do a homage to You Can’t Do That On Television for the splash page, and so I need to make some slime. In making the slime, the finished product can’t be clear. It needs to be opaque and somewhat thick, and it also can’t be completely smooth. I want something authentic poured on my head when I say “I don’t know.” And of course, to get clean again after getting slimed, you just have to mention “water”.

Meanwhile, to be truly authentic, I’d need to find an old-style metal jungle gym to do the shoot at.

After dropping Sis off in Blacksburg…

April 23, 2007, 9:36 AM

After dropping Sis off in Blacksburg after a weekend at home with everyone, I took a side trip into Roanoke on the way back home. I considered it to be somewhat important to swing into Roanoke. You see, Roanoke is currently about 85 miles away from me, and a straight shot down I-81. Once I move to Washington, it will be 240 miles – a little bit out of my travel range. So this will likely be my last trip to Roanoke for quite some time.

So I went up to the Roanoke Star to get some photos. I was quite surprised to find that they had changed the lighting pattern from the red-white-blue combination that it had been showing for five or so years. Now it was lit in all-white, which as I understand it, is the “traditional” color for the star. So here’s what it looks like:

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Categories: Roanoke

So for today, it’s like I’m five again…

April 21, 2007, 8:22 PM

First of all, don’t get me wrong – I love seeing relatives. Uncle Johnny (Mom’s brother) and Aunt Beth came down from Connecticut to visit for the weekend, and I love seeing them, talking to them, etc. They’re a lot of fun.

However, I do take offense to the way my parents get when relatives come over. All of a sudden, it’s like I’m five years old again. They’ve treated me like a child in almost every way today except cut my food for me. My father actually said “good night” like he was trying to order me to bed last night, for one thing. Then today, they really have gotten on my nerves. We went to Charlottesville today and took the Sienna, since it was the only one that would comfortably seat six people. Since I was the only one who knew exactly how to get where we were going, I figured I’d be navigating from the passenger seat. I was surprised to hear Dad tell me I was driving. I’m like, okay. I prefer to drive anyway. I’d rather just do it than tell someone how to do it. It’s about the only adult thing I got to do all day. And even then, my parents won’t trust my driving, as both parents decided to be back-seat drivers. Mom justified her back-seat driving by saying she wanted to “get there in one piece.”

Now mind you, I’m driving a car that I don’t drive regularly, it doesn’t fit me well (pedals are too far back), and that rides a lot higher than what I’m used to. And a number of controls are in different places, too. After all, I’m now used to driving a Mercury (basically a Ford) station wagon. And here I am driving a Toyota minivan. And I think I did a great job driving it, despite having less-than-awesome equipment. Something’s wrong with the brakes on there, because every time I’d hit the brake pedal, the pedal would shake, and so would the rest of the car. Sable doesn’t do that. Plus the van’s a lot heavier than the Sable. Still, they nagged me about my speed. They nagged me about what lane I was in. Everything.

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Categories: Family

Attention, YouTubers: May I suggest…?

April 21, 2007, 1:29 AM

For all of you who post videos on YouTube, may I make a suggestion? If you’re going to be posting videos of yourself demonstrating something, please do one of two things. Please either get someone to do the filming for you, or alternately, please use a tripod or something else to put the camera on.

Why? Because people who are demonstrating something with one hand while filming with the other so often produce videos that will make a person seasick. The videos are so often also out of focus because they’re too close or moving too fast. Such videos make it hard to follow what’s going on, and it takes some of the human element out of a video, since all we see is this disembodied hand.

If I had prepared more thoroughly for this entry, I would have made multiple videos for you of the same basic thing ahead of time to show you what I mean. One where I filmed myself doing something, and the other while having another person film me doing the same task. Then I could have you compare the quality of the two videos.

But you won’t get to see this, because I came to this entry utterly unprepared. So let me pick a few videos out of YouTube to demonstrate what I mean in lieu of filming my own demonstration. My apologies up front if any of these videos that I am about to use were made by someone who is familiar with my work and may eventually read this.

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It’s a very satisfying feeling…

April 20, 2007, 2:11 PM

It is a very satisfying feeling to shred a pile of junk mail. All I do is sit down at my desk, open each piece, confirm that it’s junk mail, and then, in a stunning finale…


And it’s shredded into confetti. Yes, I shelled out the extra few bucks for the cross-cut model back when I bought the shredder.

Meanwhile, I’m going up to the DC area on Tuesday to scope out a potential apartment in Wheaton. If I get that apartment, it would put me on the same line as my job, which is near Dupont Circle. That means I wouldn’t have to transfer, though it would be something of a long Metro ride, going from Wheaton to Dupont Circle. But we can handle that if need be.

Additionally, if I end up leasing that particular apartment, I will have wasted $35 in Virginia state registration fees, since the apartment is in Maryland, and so I’d have to get Maryland plates, etc. Since the Sable’s registration is up in April, I had to re-up my registration, and I did that yesterday at the DMV in Waynesboro with Katie. Believe it or not, I was in and out at DMV pretty quickly. I always say that Virginia DMV offices remind me somewhat of a game show. You get your number, and then you wait. Then a chime sounds, and the voice says, “Now serving B213 at window number eight.” Two signs flash. The sign over your designated window flashes, and the main sign in the middle of the room flashes, “B213 please go to Window 8,” with a little arrow pointing left or right. When that goes off, I’ve wanted to shout, “I won! I won!” What they really ought to do is get Rich Fields from The Price is Right to record the announcements. Imagine if you will: “B213! Come on down! You’re the next contestant on The DMV is Right!” And add a little music, and you’ve got it. Of course, in the end, you don’t win anything – and you probably will have to pay them money. But it would add some spice to the otherwise boring DMV office.

Categories: Move to DC area

I am moving to Washington DC!

April 18, 2007, 6:30 PM

I am happy to announce that my days at Wal-Mart are over, as I have finally found a job in Washington DC! I will be working for Food & Water Watch in Northwest DC. Needless to say, I am excited.

I would like to thank the following people for their roles in helping me get there… first of all, thank you to my family for putting me through college, and to the student advising people at JMU for getting me out of the College of Business and into the Public Administration program. Thank you to all of my friends in Augusta County, etc. for their encouragement and support whenever I started feeling discouraged. Thank you to all of my friends in the DC area who also lent me encouragement and support in my quest to find gainful employment up in DC.

And in an odd twist of things, I’d like to thank Dorinda Wilson-Bowers and Lee Pinheiro at Wal-Mart… for firing me. Yes, I got fired from Wal-Mart on March 31 for what I consider specious reasons, which we won’t go into here. However, since Wal-Mart had become a very hostile and unpleasant place to be in my last month or so there, after the initial shock of getting fired (I’d never been fired before!), it was a great relief to be fired, because it meant that I no longer had to deal with this situation that was making my life a living hell, and where I used to dread coming into work every day. However, from the moment that they said to me, “You’re fired,” I made it my job to find a new job. And as you can see, I found one, and as it turns out, getting fired was the best thing to ever happen to me.

And throughout the time I was looking for a new job, I’d especially like to thank my friend Katie Shapiro, who really helped me through the day I got fired, and constantly kept me going like a true friend.

And to all of you that I’m leaving behind in Stuarts Draft, Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, etc., thanks for the memories.

This is what the after-effect of a derailment can look like…

April 18, 2007, 12:08 PM

A friend sent me a photo that he got of CAF 5152 at the yard after it derailed on January 7 of this year. Take a look…

CAF 5152 at the yard following the January 7, 2007 derailment

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Categories: WMATA

I made my own podcast!

April 14, 2007, 11:53 PM

I made my own podcast, and it wasn’t that hard to do, either. I must say this, though – it’s not for consumption by the general public. It’s just for me, since I’m really finicky about how I like my talk shows on my iPod. There are a couple of DC area radio talk shows that I listen to that don’t make their archives available in podcast format so that I can manage them like podcasts in my iPod, marking when I’ve listened to them, etc.

So I downloaded a podcast file from another radio show and went to work dissecting it. And it worked! Yippee! So now I can manage them in my iPod just like all the other people that I listen to on there.

And now that I know how to do it, who knows… maybe there’s a Schumin Web podcast in my future. It might be interesting.

Categories: Radio

Four years already?

April 13, 2007, 7:36 PM

Would you believe it? It’s been four years since my very first protest, which I documented from the sidelines as A Protest Against the War in Photography. Four years yesterday. Where has the time gone? It still seems fresh, though. Perhaps because I’ve been to a lot of other anti-war events since then. Who knows.

Still, it’s been four years since this:

Look who I ran into!  Two friends of mine, Arianna and Linda, of Potomac Hall at JMU.  They decorated shirts for the occasion, with Arianna having “NOT MY WAR” written on the back of her shirt, and Linda having WWND on the front of her shirt stating “What Would Nixon Do”, and on the back, had the “oil logo speech” parody ironed onto the back of her shirt.

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Categories: Activism