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“GOODEVENING HBO…”

June 28, 2007, 10:29 PM

A number of you have seen an away message that I’ve used somewhat frequently on AIM as of late, and have questioned me about it. I might as well explain. The away message was:

GOODEVENING HBO
FROM CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT
$12.95/MONTH ?
NO WAY !
[SHOWTIME/MOVIE CHANNEL BEWARE!]

It’s actually a little homage to a video pirate from the 1980s. On April 27, 1986 at 12:32 AM, John R. MacDougall engaged in direct action against HBO, protesting subscription fees for HBO that were considered overly high at that time. He had the perfect opportunity to do it, too. Along with his job as a satellite television dealer, he also worked for a company that provided uplink services for satellites. Coincidentally, the transmitter, when in its storage position, pointed directly at the Galaxy I satellite, which at that time carried HBO. So MacDougall launched his protest against HBO’s subscription fees by overriding the signal from HBO’s satellite transmitter. So during a playing of The Falcon and the Snowman on HBO, all of a sudden, HBO viewers saw this:

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Categories: Activism, Television

A couple of pictures I found amusing…

June 27, 2007, 10:08 PM

Did I mention how much I love living in the DC area? I really enjoy life in and around Washington. You see so many interesting things and so many interesting things happen. And I have a couple of amusing photos that I captured with my cell phone…

Portable toilet at 17th and P

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What a fun weekend…

June 24, 2007, 6:52 PM

The weekend went really well! Patrick came over on Saturday, and it was a lot of fun. One question Patrick had was whether Mom had gotten used to my being gone. My exact comment was, “Do you want to see how used to it she’s gotten? Come look at this.” And I showed him my old bedroom, which Mom totally redecorated, as I described earlier. Then Patrick, Sis, and I went to Mellow Mushroom in Charlottesville, where we split two pizzas amongst the three of us. One was a vegetarian pizza, with a pesto base, and lots of tomatoes, spinach, and mushrooms. Then the other was a cheese pizza with mozzarella and feta cheese. Really good stuff.

Then after Patrick left to go back to Harrisonburg, I kind of crashed myself. I slept on that futon Mom got. It was a futon. It’s firmer than mine, and Mom put a fitted sheet over the futon cover, since she claimed the texture of the cover would be uncomfortable to sleep on. I said don’t worry about it, since I would likely be too tired to care, but she insisted, and so it was. And when I went to sleep, I was indeed too tired to care. But it was a decent sleep, though it felt strange sleeping in my old bedroom on this strange new piece of furniture. Of course, I’m used to sleeping on a futon, though I only have to do that for one more week.

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And now we’re in Stuarts Draft…

June 23, 2007, 3:02 PM

And now I’m in Stuarts Draft, where I’ll be until Sunday. Visiting the parents, and spending some time with others as well. I went and visited Katie on the way back in. That was fun.

Then here, Mom’s been busy. She’s already redone my old bedroom. The bed’s gone, and there’s this new nautical-themed futon in there now. In fact, Mom went nautical on the whole thing. She even used some of my old ship posters and such as part of the decor. Additionally, there’s a new coffee table, plus that chair Mom bought at Ikea.

Also, here’s a weird sight – going down to Stuarts Draft from DC in the daytime. I took nearly 100 DC trips over a litle more than three years, and offhand I can think of maybe two where the return trip was made while it was light out. It was weird. The trip was so different. I saw so many things I wasn’t used to seeing. I know what it all looks like in the light in the towards-DC direction, but not in the other direction.

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Seems I’m popular at Georgetown…

June 21, 2007, 7:58 PM

Seems so, according to one of our interns at work. This particular intern was at the Georgetown University library and was searching for me, and the browser just popped my site right in. Looks like they weren’t the only person with me on their mind that day. I thought it was kind of interesting. I would imagine that they were really surprised.

Meanwhile, today on the Metro on the way back from work, we had an operator who acted like he was our mother or something. “Step into the car. Do not push or shove.” Yes, mother. At Union Station, he said, “Do not run over the people in front of you so you can catch your next train.” I wouldn’t have been surprised if, when we got to Glenmont, he had said, “Remember to eat your vegetables and wash behind your ears.” You get some interesting folks in the cab, I’d say.

Categories: Schumin Web meta, WMATA, Work

“If there’s a person by the name of Aaron on this train…”

June 20, 2007, 6:35 PM

Yeah, that’s what I heard today on my morning commute. The operator gets on the PA at Metro Center and announces, “If there’s a person by the name of Aaron on this train, your mother is meeting you at Metro Center. Aaron, get off the train here. Aaron get off the train here!” And the way the operator was pronouncing it, it sounded more like “Arrn”. All of us on the train got a chuckle out of that. As off-the-wall announcements go, I think this beats the “Sir, don’t stand in my doorway like that!” announcement at Braddock Road back in 2003 by at least a leap, and maybe also a bound.

It could always be worse, though. What happened on the Green Line yesterday was comedic from where I was on the Red Line, but not so funny for the riders of four separate Green Line trains that got offloaded. A track problem caused a train to lose power just outside of Fort Totten. So one train is dead on the tracks. A train behind it is offloaded in order to use it to push the other train to the next station, West Hyattsville. There, first train is offloaded. Then while pushing the dead train back to Greenbelt Yard, the second train loses power. So now, assuming six-car trains, we have twelve rail cars dead on the tracks. A third train is offloaded to push what is now two dead trains to Greenbelt. And what do you know? It dies, too. They offload a fourth train to push the other three, and it also fails. That’s 24 cars coupled together, assuming that each train was six cars long. If there were any eight-car trains in the bunch, it could have been even longer. They finally had to use a locomotive, which doesn’t rely on the third rail for power, to take the whole lot of them to Greenbelt. Needless to say, some people were really PO’d after that.

Yeah, life on the Metro can be downright amusing sometimes.

Categories: WMATA

A whole bunch of miscellaneous stuff I’ve been meaning to show you…

June 17, 2007, 10:07 AM

I realized recently that I’ve gotten a little bit of a backlog of stuff I’ve been meaning to show you that I’ve captured with my cell phone over the last week or so. So here we go.

A deer in the vacant lot next door to me
So there you go – photographic proof that deer do wander through the vacant lot next door. Apologies for the blurry picture, but this is the cell phone, and not Big Mavica.

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What a lovely day with Mom today…

June 16, 2007, 11:58 PM

Mom came to visit this weekend, and we had a wonderful time. She came up on Friday, and took the Metro down to Dupont Circle to meet me right after work. We rode back to Wheaton station, where Mom parked, and then went back to my place, where we brought some stuff in. She brought me my computer chair (yay!) and also a coffee table. Mom replaced the coffee table in the family room last year, and so now I have the old coffee table. I love it. It looks so good in my living room, and it will certainly enhance the way things look.

Once we brought everything in, we ordered pizza from Papa John’s. There’s a Papa John’s not far from here – in the same shopping center as H-Mart. We got a pizza that could best be described as unconventional – their spinach alfredo pizza, which has an alfredo base rather than a tomato base. We also got mushrooms on it. I don’t even want to think about how many calories that thing had, but it was good. After dinner, we watched TV, and then went to bed. Mom became the first to sleep in my bedroom on a cot that she brought, and then I slept in the living room on the futon (as always).

Then on Saturday, we went to Ikea in College Park, where I finally got that new bed. I got their Hemnes brown-black bed with a nice, comfortable mattress. Queen-size, and all for me. We’re getting that delivered. Mom got some furniture as well, and we also got a chance to look all over their showroom. The place was not nearly as busy as it was on Memorial Day, and so we got a chance to stroll around a bit. Plus, considering that this was my second trip to Ikea, I was not nearly so overwhelmed.

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It wasn’t on the scale of others, but it wasn’t bad, either.

June 11, 2007, 9:51 PM

On June 10, 2007, I was in Washington DC for the demonstration protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine on its 40th anniversary. All in all, it was a nice day, and despite the lack of numbers that some of the anti-Iraq war demonstrations I’ve been to have commanded, it was still a strong demonstration. The march started at the Capitol, and marched to the Ellipse.

First of all, though, to clarify: This was not an anti-Israel protest. This was also not an anti-semitic march. We were demonstrating against occupation. If we demonstrate so vigorously against the occupation of Iraq by our own country, why should we sit idly by while there’s a longer-standing occupation going on? After all, the saying goes that “occupation is a crime from Iraq to Palestine.”

My day went quite true to form. I met up with my anarchist buddies at Dupont Circle, where we were having our own black bloc feeder march to the main march site. The march was nominally under the banner of Students for a Democratic Society, otherwise known as SDS. However, turnout was not as many had hoped. This was not like the SDS-organized blocs of J27 or March 17. There was only one person carrying anything that said “SDS” on it. This was by and large DC’s usual gang of anarchists and their supporters, many of whom I consider as friends. You had me, Jeff from the Guerrilla Poets, Luke and his bike, and a number of others that I know from the Infoshop. I made the comment, in jest, “Okay, Jeff and Luke are here, so now it’s official.” There were also two young women who were dressed normally (vs. all-black) in the group.

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Who skinned the pylon?

June 8, 2007, 9:53 PM

I was sitting on a retaining wall near Dupont Circle after work today and was talking to Mom on the phone, and noticed this:

Dupont Circle pylon side

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Categories: WMATA

Now this is cool to watch…

June 8, 2007, 9:25 PM

My first real thunderstorm in the apartment is turning out to be pretty cool to watch. It’s neat seeing the lightning flash from my balcony – while standing under the overhang and next to the wall, mind you.

Mom asked me if I used the balcony a lot. I was like, “Oh, yes.” I love it out there. You can see people walking by on the sidewalk, doing all kinds of whatever while walking by, and I even saw a deer checking out the vacant lot next door one night. That was pretty neat. Definitely better than one trying to cross the street right in front of my car.

Still, storms are always fun to watch when you’re somewhere safe and you don’t have to go anywhere. It was a lot less fun to watch the storm while I was at New Carrollton on July 7, 2004. There, I was preparing to head back into Washington to meet up with Mom, who was at a book signing that day near Metro Center, where she met former president Bill Clinton and got his autograph. We later had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe near Metro Center. We had a good time. From there, I went to Pentagon City, and she went home. I followed later on.

Plus I can’t say we still couldn’t use the rain. Considering that until this week I don’t think it had rained at all since I’d moved to the DC area in mid-May, this was useful.

Categories: Weather

“You mean I’ve slept my last sleep in that bed?”

June 5, 2007, 2:32 PM

I was talking to Mom on the phone yesterday, and found out that Mom is getting rid of my old bed. She’s replacing it with a futon couch, since she claims it will be more comfortable and more versatile. I don’t doubt either claim. I’ve been sleeping on a futon couch for a little less than a month now, until I get my new bed in a week and a half or so.

Still, it’s one of those things where as much as you detest the bed, you never really thought that it would go. But, yeah, she’s getting rid of it. And it will likely be before I go down to visit again, so I’ve most likely seen the bed for the last time. Weird!

It will be so strange next time I go visit the parents to have this futon in my old bedroom. Now mind you, I still haven’t completely removed everything from there. Lots of my stuff still hasn’t made the ride from Stuarts Draft to Silver Spring. Still, that will be strange. But at least I’ll only be using it when I go to visit. Sleeping on a futon gets old after a while. I should know.

Still, as worn out and uncomfortable as it was, I’m going to miss that old bed.

Categories: Family, Stuarts Draft

I never thought I’d be cheering a tropical system, but…

June 3, 2007, 3:55 PM

I never thought I’d be cheering a tropical storm system, but Tropical Storm Barry is working out for me. It’s giving the area a much-needed soaking, plus, for me, it cleared the air for those of us who suffer from springtime allergies. These last few days have been rough for me. I was running some work-related errands around Dupont Circle on Thursday, and my eyes got all swelled up. It was not fun, needless to say. This clears out all that junk from the air, and makes it much more pleasant for springtime allergy sufferers like me. I’m just glad that we’re now in the final month of allergy season, because once it’s past, life will be normal again for about ten months.

Meanwhile, yesterday, I went out to find the local Wal-Mart to see where it was, and to do a little shopping. I found it, and it’s in Germantown, store #2357. And it’s not likely I’ll be going back any time soon. It’s also stores like this that help explain why the DC area has generally shunned Wal-Mart. I was not impressed with this store. Let’s just say this: It makes the Wal-Mart where I used to work at in Waynesboro look like an upscale department store.

First of all, the place was dirty. The floors were gross, and there was trash everywhere. Additionally, the shelves were a mess. I don’t think that these people had ever heard of the concept of “zone defense”, which, in Wal-Mart terminology, is where associates basically get their departments in order – straightening the shelves, cleaning up debris, etc. This store looked like it hadn’t been zoned in weeks. The shoe department was especially a disaster – all the flip-flops were just thrown in there, and a lot were just sitting scattered on the floor. Then let’s talk safety, which is a place where Wal-Mart puts a big emphasis (or at least is supposed to). I stepped on a piece of loose cardboard in their main action alley, and nearly went flying. That’s not my idea of a good time. Meanwhile, the associates, where I actually could find some, were kind of rude.

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As you can see, “moon shoes” are not exactly something we can balance on…

June 3, 2007, 10:19 AM

I don’t know if you saw the splash page or not yet, but it shows me balancing on “moon shoes”…

Balancing on moon shoes

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Categories: Amusing, Katie, Staunton