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Well, the Big Mavica era is over.

March 21, 2008, 12:22 AM

The era of Big Mavica has officially come to a close, as the screen is busted, wrecked due to water at the March 19 anti-war protest in DC. Due to the age of the equipment, I determined that a repair is not worthwhile. And the new camera is on order. The new camera is a Vivitar ViviCam 6200W, a 6.0 megapixel waterproof camera.

Well, that’s actually only half the story. This Vivitar will be my all-weather “hazard conditions” camera. This would be the one I’d take on the beach, to protests where showers are expected, and any other situations where I would expect the camera to take some abuse. In theory, this camera should be able to withstand a pepper spray to the face and keep on firing. Just don’t forget to wipe the lens. Isis, a photographer friend of mine, actually recommended this camera to me for bad-weather imagery. And I got a really good deal for it on Amazon.

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Categories: Anti-war, Cameras

This is why we’re glad Metro’s a transit agency and not a movie producer…

March 20, 2008, 7:20 AM

Need I say more:

Don’t quit your day job, Metro.

Categories: Amusing, WMATA

After almost five and a half years, Big Mavica may very well be done for…

March 19, 2008, 5:38 PM

First of all, the “Funk the War” protest in downtown Washington, for which I took the day off at work, went very well. I got a lot of great photos, but it was really rainy. It rained. Hard.

Which brings me to point number two. Big Mavica took on water, as it’s done in the past, but this time, I think it might be a goner. It quit shooting photos, and the screen is all white. Something tells me that something might have shorted out in the camera. Hopefully once Big Mavica gets time to dry, it will be up and kicking again. And if not, well, it might be time to finally upgrade. After all, five years is a long time for electronic equipment. So if it’s to the point where I’m faced with sending it out for repair or just replacing it, I’m going to replace it, and retire Big Mavica.

And if this is the end for Big Mavica, at least it went out in a blaze of glory. In Part 3 of the Virginia Beach 2005 photo set, I said, “If I’m going to lose Big Mavica, it might as well be in the process of shooting a great photo set.” And when it comes to shooting a huge protest, I can’t think of a better time or place to lose it.

And the photo set won’t be toast, either. I can still recover everything that I had shot prior to the camera’s going out on me, and my friend Isis is going to help me fill out the remainder of the set.

So we’ll see what happens. Hopefully it won’t be the end of Big Mavica, but we’ll see…

Categories: Anti-war, Cameras

This was the first time we were all together in a long time…

March 17, 2008, 10:48 PM

Stuarts Draft was, as always, a lot of fun. And note, that is one sentence I never thought I’d find myself saying. But anyways…

So the whole dump-the-car-at-Vienna plan went according to plan, though it did take longer than I had planned to get out of the exit ramp. Of course, look what I had to contend with:

Traffic on I-66 at Nutley Street

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“Chad Sinclair, come on down! You’re the next contestant on The Price is Right!”

March 14, 2008, 11:27 PM

How cool to see someone you know on The Price is Right. Chad Sinclair is the son of two of Mom’s coworkers at Stuarts Draft Middle School, and recently was on the February 19 episode of The Price is Right with Drew Carey. Chad won a home gym, and a year’s supply of Hot Pockets from his time in Contestants’ Row, where he made the classic bid of $1. Then he played “Switch?“, a fairly quick and simple pricing game that involves deciding whether to switch the prices of two prizes or to leave them in place. He was playing for a popcorn cart and a stainless steel oven. You may recall that this was pricing game #5 in The East Coast Price is Right that I hosted in high school back in 1999. Easy game to play. Unfortunately, Chad didn’t win, as he switched, and he should have left them alone. Ah, well. Then he did well on the wheel, but got bumped from the showcase by a trucker named Leroy who was closer to the dollar than Chad.

Chad also made sure to get all of his hellos in while on the show. He mentioned Bridgewater College, and he said hello to his parents in Stuarts Draft. Little Stuarts Draft (where I am writing you from today), getting mentioned on The Price is Right. Awwww…

So all in all, that was pretty darn cool, if you ask me. Plus we’re still watching Drew Carey get settled into his role as host. I think that Drew Carey will ultimately do well on The Price is Right, but he’s still got to find his stride. Give him a couple of seasons, and Drew Carey on Price is Right will seem the most natural thing in the world.

Categories: Friends, Television

Meanwhile, next Wednesday, the 19th, will be SO fun…

March 11, 2008, 6:41 PM

Wednesday, March 19, will be SO fun. I’m taking the day off at work, and I’m going to be participating in “Funk the War 3”, which is kind of like a dance party to various organizations involved in the Iraq War, in order to register our opposition to the war. It’s sponsored by DC Students for a Democratic Society, and so this will mark my first anti-war action of 2008. Good to get an election year off on the right foot when it comes to protests.

And if you’re wondering what Funk the War 3 will be like, here’s a movie about Funk the War 2, courtesy of DC SDS.

Funk the War 2: electric boogaloo Reportback from Daniel Meltzer on Vimeo.

So we’ll see what happens. Like I said, it should be fun. And now, to take the car over to Vienna for my trip to Stuarts Draft…

Categories: Anti-war

I pay four bucks each way for the privilege of waiting on a stationary rail car?

March 11, 2008, 2:33 PM

I have had it – I hate Metro’s tiered fare system, where you’re charged by time of day (higher fares during rush hour) and distance. I like some other systems’ fare structures better, where it’s a flat fee regardless of when or how far you ride. Kind of like the buses, where you pay the same whether it’s from my house to Glenmont, my house to Silver Spring, or my house all the way to work down on P Street.

It’s annoying today because I had to sit through two delays, and nearly got offloaded. Let’s just say that the Red Line did not have a good morning, as I woke up to messages on my cell phone about a “minor” delay on the Red Line. Then after I got on Breda 4005 this morning, we were stopped directly behind a train that was experiencing mechanical problems at Takoma. Thus we’re sitting, with the electric “chopper” (which produces the Bredas’ signature buzzing sound) completely silent. No good. Then they announce that they’re offloading the train, and we should be moving “shortly”, and “Metro apologizes for this inconvenience.” Sure. Then they mention to us that we might have to be offloaded as well if they can’t get the problem train moving on its own, because they would need to use our train to push the problem train to the yard (probably Brentwood, considering the location and the direction of travel). Finally, we got to the station. I’m waiting to hear the phrase “Red Line to Shady Grove” to know that we weren’t getting offloaded ourselves. The doors opened. “Red Line to Shady Grove!” Thank you, Mr. Train Operator. I don’t have to lose my seat.

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Categories: WMATA

Of course, this would be the time when I realize the discs I need are with my parents.

March 11, 2008, 6:14 AM

I was getting ready to convert the Lappy to its new “final” configuration – a dual boot between Windows Vista and Ubuntu Linux – and in looking for my Vista discs, I realized that they weren’t here. I turned the place upside down, too. Went through all the drawers in my desk, through all the junk on my desk, and so on and so forth. Not here. So I have to go digging through what stuff of mine is still in the “pirate room”, aka my old bedroom. Of course, it’s not like it’s far away. I’m going there tomorrow night. So I’ll look.

Otherwise, today should be exciting. This is the day I position the car at Vienna after work. I’ve already packed my suitcase, and emptied my crates (I intend on bringing more of my stuff to Silver Spring, so the take from last time needs to be unloaded). Then you realize that whatever I don’t take with me this evening has to go to work with me tomorrow. Thus the key is remembering everything tonight, because I’m not coming back after work tomorrow, and I don’t want to drag all of everything of mine to work. Bad idea.

And then Sis flies in earlier on Wednesday, so we all will be together again on Wednesday night. Yaaaaaay!

Two days until Stuarts Draft…

March 10, 2008, 2:33 PM

Two days and counting until I leave for Stuarts Draft! And how exciting, since Sis is coming to visit! I haven’t seen her since December when we went to Chicago. Me, I’m close enough to the parents that I can go see them just about any time I want, but Sis is a little further flung, way out in the midwest and all. I’m excited.

Otherwise, though, I’m looking to update Schumin Web’s appearance. It’s not going to be major, but it will involve updating the various section headers, a few page redesigns, and possibly a new background across the whole site. I’m testing what I like, and we’ll see what we come up with. I want something that will look smart, but not something that looks too trendy. After all, the current look has lasted three and a half years, and I don’t want to screw up a good design with something cheesy. So we’ll see. It was a testament to the existing design, however, that I put the same interface back in place with very few modifications when we had that little meltdown last summer.

So yeah, I’m excited on all counts. And Schumin Web celebrates its 12th birthday in a little less than two weeks (March 23).

Categories: Family, Schumin Web meta

Didn’t think I’d be going to Stuarts Draft again so soon…

March 4, 2008, 11:18 PM

Yeah, I didn’t think I would be going back to Stuarts Draft again so soon. But… Sis is coming to visit! Yaaaaaaay! I will happily make the drive to see her, since we don’t get to see her all that much, what with her being half a continent away and all.

Plus this will be the first time that the four of us will have all been together since like June. I moved to Maryland in May, and made trips back to visit in May and June. Then Sis left for Chicago with Chris in August, and she’s not been back since, though Mom and I went out to visit her in December. Dad couldn’t make it due to other obligations that he couldn’t get out of.

So this ought to be a lot of fun. Sis and I are both arriving on Wednesday, March 12, and then we’re both leaving on the 15th, as she flies back to Chicago, and I drive back to Washington.

Then I’m also finally going to put a maneuver into practice that I’ve contemplated for months – leaving for Stuarts Draft directly from work. This involves placing the Sable at Vienna the night before, and then taking Metro back home. Thus I’m essentially making two evening commutes, as I’m going from Dupont Circle to Glenmont and taking the 51 back home, and then turning right around, driving to Vienna, and taking the Orange Line to Metro Center, and from there, back to Glenmont, and then the Y9 back home. This would be the day when it would be worthwhile to shell out the extra ten cents for a paper transfer, since bus drivers treat them like day passes. Then I’d have a normal morning commute, work all day, and then go directly to Vienna from work, and then to Stuarts Draft from there. Not bad. That would also mark the first time since May that I will have been to Vienna.

So yeah, I’m excited!

Categories: Family, Stuarts Draft

Since when have I been an active contributor on Conservapedia?

March 3, 2008, 9:36 PM

Answer is, I’m not. But someone on there obviously wants to make me into a conservative windbag, as someone has gone onto Conservapedia and registered an account called BenSchumin. My “alter ego” considers the left to consist of druggies, and has deleted a link to a debate about masturbation, calling it “liberal filth”. This person actually calls anything he disagrees with “liberal”.

Now if this were the first time that the right wing has blasted me, this might be shocking. But no, this is nothing new. Three years ago, I was dissed in a conservative blog. Then a little less than a year ago, we had Michelle Malkin and her followers making me the poster child for every black bloc that has ever brandished a can of spray paint. And that spilled over into Free Republic and various other pockets of right-wingers on the Internet.

Still, I find it funny when people do this to try and discredit me. Who they’re trying to fool, I don’t know, but based on the others’ reactions, this person’s not very good at it. Of course, Conservapedia is a site I find amusing anyway. I consider these people so far out there in being right wing nutjobs that they’re practically harmless because no one would ever take them seriously. And they will always be an underdog, because rather than just do their thing and promote their view of conservatism, they spend pages upon pages complaining about alleged “liberal bias” on Wikipedia, while simultaneously placing Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Rush Limbaugh on pedestals.

So, yeah, the jig is up, Schumin impersonator…

Categories: Netculture, Politics

When I drive down to see the parents, I’m reminded of why I used to always do the driving on my DC trips in the early morning and late at night.

March 2, 2008, 11:30 PM

First of all, let me say that I had fun in Stuarts Draft and surrounding over the weekend. I came down Saturday morning, and went back up Sunday evening. In the process, I got to see Katie, my parents, and my friend Patrick Jarrett.

And the drive itself reminded me of why, when I did my bi-weekly DC trips for more than three years, I did the driving in the early morning and late at night. Traffic was much lighter than otherwise. On the way up to DC, I’d leave the house around 5:30 AM. Quiet on the highway. Then on the way back, I timed my arrival back at Vienna for around midnight to head back. Traffic was much lighter during those hours than otherwise. On my trip this time, where I took US 29 down, and I-81 and I-66 back, I think the only time when traffic wasn’t thick was on the way down between Culpeper and Ruckersville. Otherwise, it was pretty heavy traffic almost the entire way, including on US 340 going towards Stuarts Draft. Not fun.

However, the rest of the trip was fun. I got to see Katie for a few minutes, and then headed into Stuarts Draft to see the parents. They’ve made some changes to the “Pirate Room” (my old bedroom, which they’ve turned into an upstairs living room) since last I was there, removing my old desk and putting in this dresser with a ship painted on the front in the room in its place. It’s really nice, too. Meanwhile, we also finally named the pair of goldfish that Mom put in there. She hadn’t originally given them names because she couldn’t tell them apart, but I determined that one was more brightly colored than the other, thus we could tell them apart. I named them Castor and Pollux, after the twins in Greek mythology. It has a bit of a personal connection for me, as my astrological sign is Gemini, which is headed up by the stars Castor and Pollux. And in the fish, Castor is the more brightly-colored fish, while Pollux is the one with slightly more subdued colors.

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It may not have been on the air, but…

March 2, 2008, 10:14 PM

It may not have been on the air, but Chris Core at least did get to tell his audience goodbye on WMAL’s Web site. Give it a read, and you’ll see why I liked Chris Core. He was a gentleman to the end, even though he was abruptly shown the door after what ended up being his final show.

And I wish Chris Core the best, and after reading his new Web site, I think he’s going to land on his feet and do just fine. I, however, hope he ends up back on the radio, doing something like what he did on WMAL. I’d listen, and download his podcast, in a heartbeat.

Categories: Radio

Chris Core got fired?

February 29, 2008, 9:18 PM

As many of you know, I’m a bit of a talk radio junkie. My iPod is filled with radio talk shows, and I listen to talk radio streams online when I’m at my desk at work. My usual cocktail of talk shows consists of the first hour of Air America‘s The Randi Rhodes Show on podcast during my morning commute, The Chris Core Show on WMAL in the morning at work (live), Rush Limbaugh or Thom Hartmann in the early afternoon depending on my mood, then the rest of Randi Rhodes on the way home. I also have Rachel Maddow in reserve should I run out of Randi Rhodes or otherwise need more talk podcasts.

And now today, when I got home, I found out that Chris Core has been fired from WMAL. It seemed that Citadel Broadcasting, the company that currently owns WMAL, went through a major programming shakeup, and Chris Core was one of the casualties. And it was swift, too. Chris Core did his February 29 show as usual, and then was fired that afternoon. Not a cancelling as of a certain date, or they weren’t renewing his contract or something. No, he was gone, effective immediately, end of story. Thus he never got a chance to say goodbye to his audience or anything. It’s a shame. Core, however, was very diplomatic about it, saying that he wasn’t ready to retire, that he was not bitter over his dismissal, and that he hoped to get on the air again on another station.

I for one, though, will miss Chris Core’s show. Unlike most of the talk show hosts that I listen to, Chris Core was local. His show was produced in Washington DC, and only broadcast in the Washington DC area. And because of that, he was able to tackle local issues, which is something that national talk show hosts can’t do. And I like local news a lot. My TV at home, when it’s on, is almost always tuned to News Channel 8, an Arlington-based cable channel whose programming is primarily local news.

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Categories: Radio

Stuarts Draft, take two?

February 29, 2008, 2:00 PM

It’s Friday, ya bastards!

And that also means that tomorrow, I am leaving Maryland and the DC area, and heading to Stuarts Draft. No illnesses are getting in my way this time! I feel good, and I will get up and be fresh as a daisy on Saturday morning for the drive to Stuarts Draft. This will also be the first time the Sable comes to Virginia with its new Maryland tags (oooooh!).

And it’s going to be a fun, though fast-paced, trip. I’m coming in midday, and going to see Katie on the way in. Then I’m going to my parents’ house, where we’re all going to do something somewhere (don’t know what yet – sorry, Mom, I still haven’t decided!), either eat out somewhere or eat in, etc. Then on Sunday afternoon, I’m heading back to DC. I’m stopping in Harrisonburg on the way back up to see my friend Patrick, and we’ll probably do lunch or something. And then, back to DC!

The only thing that’s going to be difficult to handle, though, is there being no dog at the house. I can’t believe it’s been more than a month since Greta died. But I’ll get to see where she was buried. Still, that will be strange. After all, it’s one thing to be told that Greta is gone, and it’s something entirely diffferent to actually see Greta not be there.

Then of course the futon that Mom got to replace my old bed is hard as a rock. That I tolerate, but barely. Nonetheless, sleeping on that is no fun. But it will be neat to see all the new furniture that Mom got. There’s this dresser with a ship on it that’s new that’s in the Pirate Room (my old bedroom), plus Mom and Dad both got new dressers from IKEA for themselves. Mom’s is exactly like the one in my apartment, and Dad’s is the taller but narrower version.

And meanwhile, I get to be Linux man for the weekend, as the Lappy currently only has Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) on it.

Categories: Family, Stuarts Draft