“You are one cheap bastard.”

2 minute read

June 7, 2008, 3:16 PM

Yes, I will quote Zach, one of my coworkers at Food & Water Watch, when he said to me, “You are one cheap bastard.” I’ll take it as a compliment, since frugality is important when one is single and living on one’s own. I say it’s being frugal, but Zach, both parents, Sis, and a host of others, would be more inclined to quote the Car Talk guys and say, “Oh, you mean your cheapskatism?” This was after I explained how I’m loath to run the air conditioning unless I absolutely HAVE TO (like today, where it got up to 100 degrees).

Otherwise, though, Friday was fun. After work, a bunch of us went down to the Sala Thai restaurant just west of Dupont Circle for dinner in order to celebrate with Meg, one of our coworkers who recently took a position with Greenpeace. I had this wonderful vegetarian dish that had eggplant and mushroom in it among other vegetables in a spicy sauce, with rice on the side. Really tasty. Very hot, too. And we had such a wonderful time.

I have to say – I love my FWW coworkers. I could never go out socially with Wal-Mart people in a group like that.

And then after dinner, we headed into the land of Metro, and Marianne got a photo of everyone on the train:

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Categories: Work

What are you talking about? Coffee’s supposed to taste like sludge!

2 minute read

June 5, 2008, 10:50 PM

It’s funny… at work, the coffee drinkers have for the most part gone into two camps. There are the ones who would happily make it so strong that the spoon stands up, and those who like weak coffee.

I’m part of the “sludge” crowd. There is a dedicated group of us who gets to the Bunn-O-Matic in the morning and make strong coffee. Some people describe it as being like castor oil. I prefer the term “sludge”, myself. And if anyone asks why I like the coffee like sludge, I just smile. And not just a regular smile, either. It’s that kind of smile that’s so much so that it works muscles all down your neck and on your chest. The I’ve-had-too-much-caffeine smile. I love it.

Of course, I always cut myself off at noon. No more coffee past noon, which paves the way for a nap on Metro some evenings. Yesterday after work, I really must have been pooped – I fell asleep before Brookland-CUA, and next thing I knew, it was Glenmont. Usually, if I fall asleep on Metro, I briefly wake up around Fort Totten or Takoma, and then also around Forest Glen or Wheaton. Usually if it’s Wheaton, I end up staying awake to Glenmont, because I don’t see any point of nodding off again, being so close.

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So, yeah, here’s what happened with Transit…

3 minute read

June 5, 2008, 9:42 PM

So as I mentioned in my earlier Journal entry, I had a run-in with Metro Transit Police while on my way in to see Matthew Tilley. So here’s the story.

As you know, I’m a bit of a railfan, and I’m interested in many of the technical aspects of the system. In this case, I was photographing out the back of the train, as I’d done numerous times in the past. I’ve done this on the C, D, E, F, G, J, K, and L routes, and published the results on Transit Center (which will be back, I promise!). For the non-rail buff, those route letters mean I’ve photographed just about everywhere on the system except for the Red Line. So, coming in, I figured, what the heck, I might as well start a railfan trip off right, and get photos of the B Route, which I’d not done before.

So I’m at the bulkhead door of Alstom 6075, and I’m doing fine. I started photographing at the Silver Spring portal (too dark in the tunnels), and I was having a blast, if I do say so myself, even photographing the non-WMATA work trains laying gravel on the adjacent CSX tracks. So at Rhode Island Avenue, two Transit Police officers come on board. “Sir, could you please come with us?” Yes, me. I’m like, okay… Turns out that someone had reported my activity, and they were checking things out. They didn’t know who reported it, but okay. I’m guessing a WMATA employee did, since the officers mentioned that they were told I’d been using a tripod, and the average WMATA rider doesn’t even know that a regulation exists governing tripods. I do. I know that the use of tripods, monopods, etc. is prohibited on Metro. That’s why I left mine at home, despite that I could get some really great shots of the underground stations that way.

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Categories: Security, WMATA

And so for those wondering how my birthday went…

3 minute read

June 4, 2008, 2:07 PM

My birthday weekend went quite well, thank you. I spent my actual birthday at home, where I wrote a Wikipedia article about October Rebellion. Yes, that October Rebellion. I had a great time writing that article, though it’s not often that I’ll sit down and write a new article from scratch and go hunting for reliable sources and such.

Then the next day, Mom and Dad came to visit – just for the day. We went to downtown Silver Spring, where we had a birthday lunch at Austin Grill, a restaurant that serves Mexican food. As we were coming in, rain appeared to be imminent, and yet some people still wanted to be seated outside, and stayed outside, even as the rain started coming down. There was a very small overhang that these people ate under, and I presume they stayed dry for the most part.

At the restaurant, Mom committed what would be considered a major sin if you like to stay in the good graces of your companions. She told the server that it was my birthday. Now I admit that she didn’t mean to let that out in front of the waitstaff. It slipped out unintentionally. But you know how it is… if you say “birthday” to a server, next thing you know, you have ALL of them marching in clapping, and singing happy birthday to you. Once we realized Mom’s error, we flagged the server again about the birthday thing, and good news – Austin Grill doesn’t sing. Very good.

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Ever wanted to see Stuarts Draft?

1 minute read

May 29, 2008, 7:13 PM

For all the time I lived in Stuarts Draft, I really gave it very little airtime on Schumin Web. You have some Waynesboro and some Staunton, but really very little Stuarts Draft aside from photos taken in and in the immediate vicinity of my parents’ house. Oh, and The East Coast Price is Right, which was taken at Stuarts Draft High School.

Well, wonder no more. I found a video on YouTube of someone’s drive through Stuarts Draft. They start just north of White Hill Road (Route 654) and end at The Cheese Shop. Take a look…

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Categories: Stuarts Draft

I also got my “V for Vendetta” mask, and saw the related movie.

2 minute read

May 25, 2008, 5:39 PM

Yeah, my Guy Fawkes masks arrived on Friday. I had them delivered to the house, and they were in a smaller box than I expected, but it works. Anonymous has grown accustomed to how I look in the bandanna, so it’s time to mix things up a bit. And for the next Anonymous raid, which is going to be pirate-themed, a Guy Fawkes mask looks more pirate-like than anything else I can think of. Plus there’s a party store in a shopping center right around the corner from where I live, and there are a lot of pirate things there. I think this might just work, don’t you know.

And on Saturday, Jeff, Isis, and Isis’s daughter all came over to my house, and, after getting Chipotle to go, we sat down and watched V for Vendetta, which Isis has on DVD. What an amazing movie. Watching the movie really brings a lot of why it’s a popular choice for Anonymous into perspective. With constant video surveillance, the V masks made everyone look alike, thus surveillance-proof. Just like we do for the Scilons. In fact, they showed a huge mass of people all wearing Guy Fawkes masks at the end of the movie. Plus the special effects were awesome, as they blew up the Palace of Westminster at the end of the movie.

And of course, it was a quite appropriate setting to watch the movie in, since I have a V for Vendetta mask hanging from the wall for now:

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Categories: Friends, Movies

A belated reportback is better than no reportback at all, I suppose.

9 minute read

May 25, 2008, 5:29 PM

Hey, I’ve been busy. So sue me. But I must report back that Katie and I had a great time last weekend. We went all over the place, and had a great time.

However, it started out somewhat rough – Katie took the train up to DC, specifically the Cardinal. And it was late. According to, on May 16, the eastbound Cardinal, train #50, was an hour and 42 minutes late arriving in Staunton, where Katie got on. Then at Union Station, where I was waiting for her, the train managed to rack up another 44 minutes of delays, and thus ended up getting in at 8:21 PM. That would make it two hours and 26 minutes late. This thing was supposed to show up at 5:55 PM, which would have fit my schedule quite nicely. Leave work, take Metro to Union Station, wait a few minutes, get Katie, and then ride back to Glenmont. However, I found out about the Staunton delay from Katie well in advance, so no problems there. I compensated other places as far as that delay went, and ended up staying later at work, since there were a few things I needed to take care of anyway, and planned to arrive in time for the new delayed arrival. Okay.

So arriving at Union Station, I got in, and immediately checked the boards to see what the deal was. Another delay. Lovely. So I ended up just kind of wandering around Union Station for the next two hours, as I had nothing else to do. I was totally unprepared for a longer delay. However, I did have my iPod, and so at least I got to listen to Randi Rhodes (now on Nova M Radio!). And with headphones on was how I passed a good hour or so of that delay, as I went in and out of stores, seeing what amused me. I also managed to find a relatively quiet corner of the station to make a phone call, finding out about how things were going on the train from Katie. That quiet spot ended up being in a far corner of the parking garage, interestingly enough. But hey, it was nice out, so it worked. I got to watch train movements north of the station, and found out that the initial delay was due to weather, and then heavy rail traffic caused the delays closer in. Okay. Beyond the control of either one of us. What are you going to do, I suppose.

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I can’t believe I bought one of those “V for Vendetta” masks…

< 1 minute read

May 17, 2008, 11:38 AM

I can’t believe it – I bought one of those “V for Vendetta” Guy Fawkes masks. One of these:

A woman wearing a Guy Fawkes mask

Yes, after having been to three of these things, I admit – I run with Anonymous, at least during their street protests. And with the next event having a “pirate” theme, I figured it was time to finally buy one of those things, since the V for Vendetta mask looks more pirate-like than anything I could come up with.

All I know is, it’s going to be so fun. I really enjoy myself at these Anonymous events. It’s a great cause, and these people are SO fun!

Categories: Project Chanology

“Operation Fail Game” appeared to be a success, and it’s weird to see my two protest crowds only blocks away from each other…

7 minute read

May 11, 2008, 11:41 AM

Saturday was the day that the DC chapter of Anonymous was putting on “Operation Fail Game”, the May protest against the Church of Scientology. The title of “Operation Fail Game” is a twist on Scientology’s “Fair Game” policy, where anyone opposing Scientology is considered fair game for harrassment by the Church.

Our protest was supposed to start around 11:00 at Dupont Circle, march up to the Hubbard House, and then go from there to our usual location in front of the Founding Church of Scientology at the intersection of 20th Street, R Street, and Connecticut Avenue NW.

That didn’t go according to plan, because when I got to Dupont Circle just after 11:00, the place was deserted. Where were all the Anons? I rode the Metro in from Wheaton with several other Anons, and so I knew I wasn’t going crazy. We all took an opportunity to mask up at this point, though, since the idea is to be anonymous, and arriving already masked up is considered somewhat important. One difference between masking up for Anonymous and for black bloc: I wear my glasses for Anonymous, but not for black bloc. Anonymous isn’t the kind of deal where I’m afraid that my glasses might get messed up, but black blocs have a much bigger potential to turn ugly. After everyone masked up, I basically took charge in figuring out what happened. I first called Isis. She was at the Hubbard House. Then I called Jeff. He was at the usual spot. Not being quite sure where the Hubbard House was, we ended up going to the usual spot, in front of the Church of Scientology building.

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Categories: Project Chanology

It’s like when worlds collide!

3 minute read

May 9, 2008, 8:32 PM

This was definitely a fun day at the office today! I got to meet my predecessor at Food & Water Watch, a woman named Lis. She left so much information for me as far as how to do the job while I got the hang of things, and now I finally got to thank her. Additionally, Leah, a former Food & Water Watch coworker, was also in town, and so with these two visiting, we had a little office get-together after work. So fun. Knowing they were coming, I brought my “duckie” camera to work – the yellow rubber-covered Vivitar camera. And so here you are:

Leah, Lisa, and Lis

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Categories: Silver Spring, Work

What the…?

2 minute read

May 8, 2008, 10:55 PM

Look what my neighbor and I found in front of our apartment complex upon our return from work today:

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Categories: Silver Spring

The fact that this primary process is still going on amazes me…

4 minute read

May 6, 2008, 11:42 PM

The fact that the Democratic Party has not yet come up with a nominee amazes me. But what can we say? It’s the first serious female contender for president against the first serious black contender for the same. So unless John McCain wins, we will have either the first woman president, or our first black president. Of course, if Grandpa McCain wins, he would beat the record for oldest elected president. Ronald Reagan was 69 when he was first elected in 1981. Grandpa McCain would be 72 if elected. But we’re not talking about McCain. He’s got his nomination sealed up. Let’s discuss… THE DEMOCRATS!

I first began dissociating myself from the Democratic Party in 2007 after the Democrats took power in Congress and proceeded to be an amazing disappointment. And with the way this election has been handled, I’m quite proud to now call myself an Independent. The hell with the party.

First of all, their system has issues. I never thought I’d be praising the Republicans on something, but they do have a simple, straightforward nominating process. It’s winner-take-all, where the person with the most votes in a given primary takes all the delegates for that state. It’s very similar to our electoral college system in every state except Maine and Nebraska (let’s not even go there on the electoral college – we’re not to that point yet). There are also no “superdelegates” in the Republican nominating process. Thus John McCain has had it all sewn up for months now.

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Categories: National politics

There was a downed train on the Red Line this morning… and it was mine!

3 minute read

May 5, 2008, 3:06 PM

What a commute it was to work this morning. Lately, my commutes have been uneventful, but this one was a little more exciting than most. I got on Breda 4051 at Glenmont, the fifth car in a six-car train after missing an eight-car train by seconds. So I boarded 4051, and waited for the train to leave.

*dingdongdingdong* “Step back, doors closing!” Doors close.

*fssh* *clunk*

That clunk sound raised an eyebrow, since it’s not normally supposed to do that. But then the Breda buzz began, and we were off. Wheaton, doors open on the left. Forest Glen, doors open on the left. Silver Spring, doors open on the left. At Silver Spring, the car was full to the point where there are no seats left, but there was no one standing up. Just as well, I suppose.

So then shortly after leaving Silver Spring, we heard a loud clunk, and the train came to a rather quick stop. And we were stopped. The operator was quick to announce, “Train will be moving.” Meanwhile, the train was making some interesting sounds.

*hisssss* *clunk*
*hisssss* *clunk*

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Categories: WMATA

And we are once again fully operational. Now I just need something to photograph…

2 minute read

May 4, 2008, 9:16 PM

I finally got a chance to test the new Kodak Z1012 IS camera tonight, and let me say that this is a big leap from Big Mavica. So here’s a quick round of test shots:

My kitchen

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Categories: Cameras

I have about 7 GB of SD card volume now – think that’s enough?

2 minute read

May 3, 2008, 2:23 PM

After a trip down to Stuarts Draft on Friday night, Mom and I went to Costco in Harrisonburg to get various odds and ends. Among other things, I got two 2 GB SD cards to use on the new cameras. Thus I have the two 1 GB Polaroid SD cards I bought at Target, the free 1 GB card I got from Kodak along with a fanny pack of some kind (I wouldn’t call that thing a camera bag), and now these two 2 GB ones from Costco. And I hope I’m all set. I get like 200 photos on a single 1 GB card on the Vivitar, and that’s 6.0 megapixels. Then I’ve been too busy to give the 10.1 megapixel Kodak a test run yet (it arrived on Wednesday), so I don’t know about how that will go, but hopefully I’ve got enough capacity now.

That’s the thing about this – I have no track record at all with the Kodak, and then I’ve only done about three photo sets with the Vivitar. That was a test set, then Operation Reconnect with Anonymous, and then counter-protesting the Nazis with my regular activist buddies. Going by Big Mavica’s standard’s doesn’t work, since everything’s bigger now. The Vivitar is 1.5 times “bigger” than Big Mavica, and the Kodak is roughly 2.5 times “bigger” than Big Mavica (remember that the “big” in Big Mavica referred to the resolution). Plus the movies are different, too. The Vivitar shoots in AVI format at 320×240 (Big Mavica shot MPEG), and then the Kodak shoots really high-resolution videos.

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Categories: Cameras