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I will be so glad when College Life is finished…

September 22, 2007, 4:38 PM

You’re darn right I’ll be glad when College Life is finished. As you may know, I’m still converting the site to PHP following the crash on July 18. I’ve been working in College Life, and I’m “over the hill” as far as that restoration goes. We’re now officially on the back half.

Still, this has proven to be more of a challenge than the larger main Schumin Web site. College Life involved a moderate redesign, and all of the photos were retrofitted with black borders that Schumin Web has had on all photo sets from the Million Worker March on. The menu was also repositioned, and there were other minor changes. It’s still going to look like College Life, though, but it incorporates design changes that various people suggested. The reason for all the headache is because I’m bringing the site up to my current design standards. Thus along with moving pages and what have you, I also did a considerable amount of recoding. Yeah, fun, ain’t it? A lot of stuff has to get changed. But it will look and work well when it’s done.

I’m glad this is the last straight restoration I’m doing. Transit Center is getting redone practically from scratch in order to institute a better system, and then Today’s Special’s going to be redone as a wiki. So work there will be quite different. After all, straight conversions are boring. Hours of work go into something that, when it’s all over, looks to the casual observer exactly the same as what you started with.

Categories: Schumin Web meta

Score!

September 21, 2007, 2:53 PM

Look at this…

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Which leaves you more winded?

September 17, 2007, 2:23 PM

Which leaves you more winded? An anti-war protest, or the Dupont Circle escalator? The escalator. This morning, coming out of the Metro on my way to work, the “up” escalator was not running at Dupont Circle. So I had to climb up rather than ride it up. And for those not familiar, Dupont Circle is a DEEP station. So that’s a lot of steps. And stopping is not an option, either, as you have a whole bunch of my fellow morning commuters right behind me, already cranky for having to climb the equivalent of several stories’ worth of stairs to get to work, before the day’s first cup of coffee. So that was no fun.

And out of three escalators, the only working escalator was going down. But hey, I got my cardio workout for the day.

Meanwhile, since I mention it, I did go to the September 15 protest, and what a great time I had. I went with Maddy, Olga, and Jeff, and went with the Radical Cheerleading DC group. What an awesome time. I also ran into Isis, whom I’d first met in June. And I also spent some time with SDS. It was awesome!

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Categories: Anti-war, Friends, WMATA

So does anyone else see this as…

September 13, 2007, 2:41 PM

Does anyone else see Wal-Mart’s new slogan of “Save Money. Live Better” as reminiscent of Target’s “Expect More, Pay Less” slogan? I find it amazing how much Wal-Mart has been chasing Target, trying to be like them, in the last few years. It really looks like the little kid doing everything that an older person that they look up to does. It’s kind of pathetic-looking.

Still, Wal-Mart’s gone from gray to brown. They’ve upscaled their merchandise mix. They rolled out that test store in Plano, Texas. They’ve stopped including self-checkouts in their store updates. They switched from the blue vest to a uniform consisting of a dark blue shirt and khaki pants. Target stores are brown, they have a hipper merchandise mix, they have never used self-checkouts (quoted here as saying, “Target will not install self-checkout ’cause it takes away from the customer experience.”), and they dress their employees in red shirts and khaki pants.

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Categories: Walmart

So I guess you could say I had a good time in Stuarts Draft over the weekend…

September 11, 2007, 10:48 PM

All in all, I did have a good time. Spent time with the parents on Saturday, and with Katie on Sunday. We had a blast, too.

First of all, on the way in, as I mentioned, I photographed the Starbucks in Waynesboro at the request of a coworker, and here it is:

Starbucks in Waynesboro

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And now we’re back…

September 8, 2007, 5:17 PM

And welcome to Stuarts Draft, where I did quite a bit of growing up. The trip down was mostly routine, with the most stressful part of the trip being the Beltway. Then it was smooth sailing after I cleared Haymarket. I could probably drive the route with my eyes closed, since I’ve run this route like a zillion times, in both the Sable and the old Previa.

And on the way in, I made a few stops. First of all, I met up with Mom in Harrisonburg where we went to Costco together. I don’t know how I’m going to fit all the stuff she got me in my freezer, but I’m resourceful. I’ll come up with something. Then we went back to Stuarts Draft separately, since she was going straight home, and I went to the Waynesboro Wal-Mart, where I went to SmartStyle and got quite a bit of hair taken off. It had been a very long time since last I got a haircut, so this was much-needed. I also got to say hello to everyone, which I’d not done in a while, since I’d not been to my ex-store since June.

Then I also fulfilled the request for the photo of the freestanding Starbucks in Waynesboro with the drive-through window. And since I already had Big Mavica out, I also took a photo of the anatomically-correct bull statue in Stuarts Draft, the “Welcome to Stuarts Draft” sign, and the cows that live on the farm with the bull statue. And the cows were all staring at me, as cows do. Imagine this:

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Categories: Stuarts Draft, Waynesboro

Heading out for a weekend away from DC…

September 8, 2007, 8:21 AM

I tell you, I do love living in the DC area. However, occasionally, one must escape. And Mom will be glad to see me this weekend.

I’m actually going to be leaving in about ten minutes, and meeting Mom in Harrisonburg. There, we’re going to Costco, and doing whatever other Harrisonburg stuff we decide, then going back to Stuarts Draft. Well, actually, I’m not going back right away – I’m swinging by Satan’s Playground (Sis’s term for our ex-store) to go to SmartStyle to get a haircut. Plus I’ve not been in there since June, and so I’ve not seen a lot of people over there. There are a few folks over there that I actually miss.

Then at home, I get to see Greta again. Seeing Greta’s always a treat, since dogs don’t talk, thus I can’t catch up with Greta over the phone like I do with the humans.

And on Sunday? I get to see Katie! We’re going to go to Shoney’s, and also get her some train reservations for her DC trip at the end of this month. End of this month, she’s coming over to see me and we’re going to like run around DC and do whatever. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Then in that weird twist of things, I’m also doing some photo work for a few of my coworkers who want to see the free-standing Starbucks in Waynesboro complete with drive-through (that will be providing its customers with hormone-free milk by the end of the year), as well as a few of the sights of Stuarts Draft.

So this ought to be a fun weekend. See you in Draft!

Categories: Family, Greta, Katie

And I still haven’t gone grocery shopping…

September 4, 2007, 11:10 PM

I meant to go grocery shopping when… Sunday? And now it’s Tuesday night, and I still haven’t been. Shoppers is probably wondering where I’ve been. But yeah, this is what I get for hanging out late at the Infoshop. I didn’t get home until 9:00. So that shoots shopping for tonight…

So, yeah, the place is starting to look barren. I made my sandwich for tomorrow at work on regular bread (vs. my usual bagel), and packed the last peach for tomorrow. I have plenty of turkey, though.

Maybe Wednesday will be the day, though I could probably go all the way to Thursday if I really tried, before I really have to restock. But think about it. If I can squeeze out another week before I have to buy groceries again, this means I’m saving money. And saving money is good.

Categories: Shopping

I feel good now, for the most part…

September 4, 2007, 6:13 AM

There’s still a little bit of residual congestion going on, but otherwise, I feel good, and I once again express my gratitude that this happened over a long weekend, because it means I won’t miss any work over this.

Of course, it means that I am so behind on some of the stuff that I wanted to do for this weekend. What I did accomplish was at home – I cleaned the bathroom, and I did the laundry. I didn’t get to go grocery shopping, which means there’s still not much food in the house. Methinks I’ll hit up Shoppers tonight.

Still, I’m so glad to be feeling better again. Being sick just plain old sucks.

Categories: Personal health

No better weekend than a long weekend to be sick, I suppose…

September 3, 2007, 5:44 PM

Following my day at Potomac Mills on Saturday, I was sick as a dog on Sunday. Of course, I guess there’s no better time to get sick than on a long weekend, where there is no work to miss. Goodness knows there’s no way I would have been able to go to work today if it were a regular day.

Meanwhile, everything’s going back to normal now, as the fever I’d been running has been burning off, and the sore throat has been going away, and the headache-inducing cough has been getting less and less frequent. And the lymph nodes on the right side of my neck have gone back to normal.

In all the times I’ve been sick, though, I’ve never had “swollen glands”. It was weird. Thursday it started higher up, like it was some kind of food debris that I’d failed to brush out in my lower right molars. Then the next morning, the teeth were fine, but it had gone further down into the neck, and was slightly tender to the touch, and definitely a different feel – harder than usual. Then Saturday, the throat started to kick in, being scratchy and sensitive, and then Sunday, it was full blast – fatigue, throat, glands, fever, cough, headache, congestion… you name it. No fun. About all I did all day was sleep. Sleep, get up, feel bad, go back to sleep, get up, feel bad, go back to sleep… it was a never-ending cycle.

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Categories: Personal health

For seven bucks, who cares what the pattern is!

September 2, 2007, 2:53 PM

I went shopping on Saturday, and I had a blast. I went down to Potomac Mills, where I did some furniture shopping for work at Ikea, shuffled over to Casual Male for some odds and ends, and then went perusing the Outlets at the mall itself.

I have now been to Ikea enough times that I know what’s going on. Not like that Memorial Day trip where I was totally overwhelmed. I’ve got it down, yo. And the Woodbridge store is an exact duplicate of the one in College Park.

This time, though, I was going by myself. No problem. So I picked out the stuff for the office in the showroom, crossed through the “marketplace” without looking, and arrived at the big warehouse where you actually grab your furniture. Yippee. I had no difficulty with the boxes, but then steering was a problem. Usually, when I go to Ikea with someone, I drive the flat-cart from the back, and they steer. Since it was just me, I had to push and steer all at once, from the back. So imagine this if you will. All four wheels turn on this thing. Thus it can move in any direction or spin on the spot. Personally, I think they should have welded the back wheels to make them non-turnable, since that would make it far easier to control, though some maneuverability would be sacrificed. But it would be worth it. Still, I can’t drive these things. The weight of the furniture and my inability to get a good handle on steering would have made it a difficult move to the checkout. Thankfully, I was able to flag down an employee, who helped me get to the checkout.

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Categories: IKEA, Shopping

I told you that our infrastructure would do us in, and I was right…

August 29, 2007, 2:46 PM

Remember how I said in the previous entry that our own aging infrastructure would kill us before any wannabe terrorist would? Well, I told you so. According to Metro, the problems on Sunday and Monday were caused by a lightning-induced power surge that knocked out the Potomac Yard power substation (that small brick building next to the tracks between Braddock Road and National Airport stations), causing other substations that were already at reduced capacity due to maintenance work in progress to work over to take up the slack. Thus the fires across the system.

And to fix the problem, Metro is replacing the Potomac Yard transformer, reconfiguring one at National Airport, and will be running trains at reduced speed between Pentagon City and Braddock Road. On that last one, here’s what you need to take out of it: “minor” delay.

Meanwhile, the fire at U Street-Cardozo was unrelated, having been caused by a problem with a “stud bolt”. I believe it relates to grounding the third rail, but don’t hold me to that.

So it’s not foul play. No surprises there.

And I still don’t know the number of the car with the brake problem. I want to know if it’s an older car like a Rohr or a Breda, or a newer car like a CAF, a Breda rehab, or an Alstom.

Categories: WMATA

More Metro problems?

August 28, 2007, 3:06 PM

Metro, Metro, Metro, what’s going on? As if five smoke and fire incidents on Sunday evening weren’t enough, the problems continued yesterday evening, according to Metro and The Washington Post. This time, there was a power failure from Pentagon to Braddock Road on the Blue and Yellow Lines, smoke in the tunnels near Pentagon City, and smoke at U Street-Cardozo caused by an overheated insulator.

It’s like Randi Rhodes said. Terrorists aren’t going to kill us, because our own aging infrastructure will do us in first. Now in Metro’s case, let’s see… we’ve so far had six stationary problems, and one train problem. I’ve not gotten wind of the car number that had the brake problem, so I can’t make a judgement about age, since it could have been a 30-year-old Rohr car, or a fresh-off-the-line Alstom, for all we know. Then for the others, we’ve had incidents at Mt. Vernon Square, U Street-Cardozo, Farragut North, Huntington, National Airport, and a large chunk of the C Route. Of these, Farragut North is 31 years old, National Airport is 30 years old, Huntington is 24 years old, and Mt. Vernon Square and U Street-Cardozo are both 16 years old. The section of the C Route that was affected was two different ages – from National Airport and on north is 30 years old, and south of National Airport is 24 years old. So this infrastructure is definitely no spring chicken anymore. Metro is also now considered a “mature” system, so one must be mindful of these things. Still, this is not good to have this many incidents happen so close together.

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Categories: Radio, Security, WMATA

As if it couldn’t get any worse…

August 27, 2007, 2:37 PM

The things that happen on Metro sometimes verge on comical. And boy, am I glad I didn’t have to take Metro anywhere yesterday, opting to drive instead. Why? How about five different smoke/fire incidents through various parts of the system, affecting five lines?

Seriously. And all within about three hours’ time. First there was a smoke condition at Mt. Vernon Square at 5:46 PM Sunday due to an insulator problem. Then a fire in an equipment room at National Airport six minutes later. Then another 38 minutes later, a fire on the tail tracks at Huntington (i.e. the dead-end tunnels south of the station), causing the station to be temporarily closed. Then 38 minutes after that, there’s a cable fire at Farragut North, causing that station to be closed, and a bustitution was set up between Dupont Circle and Metro Center. And then at 8:12 PM, a train at Foggy Bottom had brake problems, causing the temporary closure of Farragut West station due to heavy smoke down the tunnel.

What makes it (somewhat) comical, though, is that while Metro was doing its darndest with the bustitution during the fire, the bus then caught fire! As if things couldn’t get any worse.

Meanwhile, I’d be interested in learning what the fleet numbers were for the train that had the brake problems, and the bus that caught fire, mainly to see if it’s an older vehicle (think a Rohr rail car or a Flxible bus), or a newer vehicle (say, a CAF rail car or an Orion VII bus).

Like I said, I’m glad that yesterday, I drove where I was going rather than taking Metro. But at least my commute today to work was uneventful, even if longer than usual. We were stop-and-go all the way from New York Avenue to Dupont Circle. No fun. But no fires, either, thankfully.

Categories: WMATA

Not a bad deal for seven bucks…

August 26, 2007, 10:49 PM

I went to Splashdown Waterpark in Manassas today, and took advantage of their after-3:00 pricing, where rather than spend $13.00 for all day, I spent $7.00 for about four hours’ worth of time there. And that’s fine by me, since I really just needed a little while to play in the water. And it’s not like this is a huge production to go, either. It’s close enough to where I can go about any time I want.

Not like when I would go to Water Country USA, where I would have to leave the house early and drive three-plus hours to go to Williamsburg, including going through Richmond. Then more than $30 to get through the gate, and another $10 or so to park the car. And all that just to spend more time in line than in the water.

So Splashdown is close, it’s cheap, and so what has it got inside? Well, it’s a relatively small waterpark, but it’s got that lazy-river feature that I like so much. Seriously, give me an inner tube, stick me in that lazy river, and I’m happy. And for only seven bucks this close by, I don’t feel guilty for skipping the big slides, which are okay, but aren’t really my thing. And parking is free. Big plus. So I’m happy with the place, and they’ll probably see me there again, though it probably won’t be this season, because their last day before closing for the season is Labor Day. I regret not checking out Splashdown Waterpark earlier, because this was fun.

The only major downside is that I leave there smelling like sunscreen and chlorine, but it’s unavoidable, as it comes with the turf.

Then afterwards, I took a more circuitous route back than I normally would, in order to surprise my friend Matthew Tilley at the place where he works. It was a slow day there, and he was putting back returns, so we got a chance to, like, talk about whatever for a few minutes. That was fun. He was so surprised to see me.

So all in all, I guess you can say I had a fun weekend. And I got the rest of the main body of the Web site finished.