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So someone explain to me how this happens…

November 30, 2009, 11:56 PM

First of all, the return trip to from Stuarts Draft to Maryland was not exactly a walk in the park. I encountered traffic jams almost the entire way back up. First on I-64 near Ivy, which caused me to have to detour onto local roads. Then Charlottesville was a mess. I was going to call a friend who goes to UVA about possibly stopping by for a quick hello, but I ended up having to nix it because of traffic. Long lines at a lot of lights there. Charlottesville going up Route 29 is like a miniature version of Fairfax County in so many ways, complete with a Giant store, and traffic to make you pull what’s left of your hair out.

Traffic was clear for a while after Charlottesville, but then the headaches returned in Fauquier County, and traffic stayed bad all the way through to I-66 in Gainesville. Seriously, it was like a crawl for what seemed like forever. Then once I got on I-66, it was fairly smooth sailing the rest of the way in. I missed the Beltway, though, since I needed to swing by work on the way back, and thus had to go all the way into Washington.

Regardless, though, it was not fun. My parents kept calling me to check on where I was. My mother called me while I was making a stop, and when she asked about traffic, my response said it all: thbbbbbt. Yes, I gave a Bronx cheer into the phone. Yes, it was that bad. I hate holiday traffic. Regular DC area traffic I can handle. Holiday traffic as one approaches the DC area, not so much. Though as much as I complain about Fairfax County drivers, the drive through Fairfax County was flawless and uneventful.

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Categories: Driving, Mercury Sable

So it seems to be the case that the Waynesboro Wal-Mart is that special place where managers’ careers go to die…

November 27, 2009, 11:03 PM

So Katie and I had fun today, running around Staunton and Waynesboro doing part trolling and part shopping. After I picked Katie up, we first went over to troll the Waynesboro Wal-Mart, where we used to work. After saying hello to some of the people we used to work with, we also ran into the new store manager. The manager is now a guy named Nathan, and he looks like he should be wearing a pinstriped suit and a fedora rather than a Wal-Mart name badge. Seriously, he looked like a prohibition-era gangster.

So with Al Capone as the new manager, the question becomes, what happened to the previous manager, who was there when I was still there? Turns out that he is “no longer with the company”. In other words, he probably got canned, because when management types say that someone is no longer with the company and leave it at that, you know that someone’s career had a “fiery” end. Otherwise, if they left on good terms, people will generally say something like, “Bob left to take a new position at Company XYZ.” When I visited my ex-store not long after getting hired at my current job, I found out that the management at the store was saying that I was “no longer with the company”. I personally wish they would have just said that they fired me. Let’s be honest now, since I’m pretty open about it. Especially since in my case, they made stuff up and rammed it through a coaching process. Really ethical people over at Wal-Mart.

But anyway, that means that the Waynesboro Wal-Mart is three for three. Their current manager is number four, and the last three all did not leave the Waynesboro Wal-Mart with their Wal-Mart career intact. Thus the Waynesboro Wal-Mart seems to be the place where management careers go to die. No one’s career leaves there alive, it seems.

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So obviously, this is up for more interpretation than I expected…

November 26, 2009, 10:50 AM

At work yesterday, the copier went down for a bit until we got the copier guys in there to fix ‘er up. And in the meantime, I put this on the copier:

Sick copier

This was supposed to be a drawing of the copier, a Sharp MX-5001, with a hot water bottle on its head and a thermometer in its mouth. Basically, it’s a drawing of a sick copier.

Obviously, my drawing was up for interpretation. One of my coworkers described it as a toaster. Another as a stack of pancakes. Then the best interpretation of it was “a muffin smoking pot”. That last one surprised me, but there you go, I suppose.

So there you go. I’m not what you would describe as an artist, but at least I can draw silly out-of-order signs. Total time spent on drawing: 60 seconds.

Categories: Amusing, Work

The parking lot known as Interstate 66…

November 25, 2009, 10:07 PM

First of all, greetings from Stuarts Draft, where I’ve not been in six months. I’m here until Sunday, and left straight from work, which was interesting.

I tried something new this time around. I drove into work, worked a half day, and then left for Stuarts Draft straight from the office. For that, I took 16th Street from P Street to K Street, and then took K Street to I-66. Then I took 66 to the end, where I caught I-81 down to Staunton, and then from there, moseyed around a few back roads to Stuarts Draft and my parents’ house.

Driving into work and then leaving straight from work certainly has its ups and downs. On one hand, I can load up in the morning and then go, and not have to go back home to pick up the car, i.e. go north from the office back to Maryland just to immediately turn south again to go to Virginia. Then the drop-at-Vienna-the-night-before bit is a shade complicated. Recall that the drop-at-Vienna method involves positioning the car with most of the luggage in Virginia the night before, taking Metro and a bus back to Maryland, and then going to work like normal the next day. Then after work, take Metro to Vienna rather than Glenmont, grab the car, and zing off to Stuarts Draft. The idea there was to avoid the inside-the-beltway traffic by putting the car ahead of that and taking Metro to meet the car, but it’s just a bit too much trouble, and involves a lot of advance planning and coordination of what needs to be where. Plus it’s weird stashing the car and one’s luggage in another state for a night.

The whole idea is dealing with the traffic most effciently when there’s a workday involved. See, going into work precludes use of the Beltway for the trip out, since work is in Dupont Circle, near downtown Washington. One would think that it would have been less congested, but I-66 was slow all the way to Vienna. Seriously, I was on the phone with Mom part of the way, and was like, “I’m going eight miles per hour. Oh, wait, now ten. Wait… five.” Yeah, that slow. On the freeway. At least I had people on the phone, plus Randi Rhodes when I didn’t have anyone on the phone.

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It’s not even Thanksgiving yet…

November 25, 2009, 6:31 AM

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and I’m already ready for Christmas to go stick itself where the sun don’t shine. I think this is the earliest I’ve ever written the annual I-hate-Christmas Journal entry. And they haven’t even decorated the lobby of my office building yet.

But yes, I’m already tired of it. And mind you, I have good reason to already be tired of it. My local Target in Wheaton had an aisle of Christmas crap set up in early October. Then on Monday, while I was getting lunch at Metro Cafe, the radio in there was blasting Christmas music – “Frosty the Snowman” to be specific. Then at the dentist’s office yesterday, they were playing WASH-FM, which was belting out the Christmas music like it was going out of style. Though at least the receptionist was commenting that they should change the radio station, since I think he didn’t like the idea of the Christmas music coming through that early, either.

All in all, it makes me want to take a blowtorch to Frosty the Snowman, or at least threaten him with a hair dryer. Imagine this happy little snowman, with the corncob pipe, button nose, and those two eyes made out of coal, right? Then I pull up in my car, brandishing a blowtorch. “Say your prayers, snowman!” And then a few minutes later, only a puddle remains.

Meanwhile, I’m surprised that the retailers haven’t figured out how to turn Christmas into an all-year thing yet. After all, they count down the number of shopping days until Christmas, and so one would think that they’d just roll it over and on December 26, say “364 more shopping days until Christmas”, and keep the Santa Claus music going all year long.

Somehow, I think that the Grinch had it right.

Then on the day after Thanksgiving, Katie and I are getting together, and having a whole lot of fun that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. We’re going to basically do what we often do – run around town and basically troll a few places. Will we buy anything? Probably not. After all, we’re doing our thing for the lulz…

Categories: Christmas

A computer fix-up turned into more adventure than expected…

November 22, 2009, 4:52 PM

So on Saturday, I went down to Reston to visit my friend Matthew Tilley. The DVD drive on his computer was acting up, and so our goal was to confirm that it was actually a bad drive as HP tech support had indicated over the phone, and then if that turned out to be the case, to get a new drive.

So after dealing with traffic getting over there (heavier than usual due to the upcoming holiday), I made it to Matthew’s apartment complex. We hung the visitor’s pass on my car and parked in the designated visitor spots. We tested the drive, and it wouldn’t recognize anything short of one music CD, even after ensuring that the discs were clean of fingerprints. So that confirmed HP’s diagnosis – the drive was busted.

Not to worry, though – I came prepared. I brought tools, and so I popped the cover off his computer. Matthew’s computer is an HP Pavilion “Slimline” computer (like this). One thing about those miniature computers is, they don’t waste a lot of space. I’m used to tower computers with a lot of airspace in them, and this one was jammed with equipment just about everywhere. It certainly makes for a more delicate operation, as you could accidentally slip and take out an unrelated component. On the other hand, computers I’ve had, especially my old Gateway, have a lot of room to get in there with your hands and move stuff around.

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Cleaning off burned-on macaroni is not my idea of a good time…

November 19, 2009, 9:17 PM

Trust me, cleaning the remains of burned-on macaroni is not my idea of a good time. I was cooking pasta for lunches last night, got sidetracked, and forgot about the macaroni until smelling the distinct smell of burned food. That’s when I remembered the macaroni, a bit too late, though. The box of macaroni only cost a dollar and some, but cleaning the pot was no fun. And needless to say, the next day’s lunch was ruined.

Most of the macaroni came off easily. Then a good amount of it came off with some coercion from a cooking utensil. Then I went to Giant for ammunition. I came back with a gallon of vinegar, a box of baking soda, and SOS soap pads. A soap pad used by itself got some of it off, but there was still a bit left to do. I put about an inch’s worth of vinegar in the pot, and let it sit for a bit. Then I came back and scrubbed the hell out of it. That finally got it, and now the pot is clean, and now it’s in the dishwasher getting washed along with all the other dirty dishes.

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Categories: Food and drink

We could be brothers or something…

November 18, 2009, 11:12 PM

It’s amusing what people do when they realize that their clothes match:

Ben and Jon

Yes, we matched. And we took a picture of it on our lunch hour. Each of us was wearing a dark red shirt, and then we each were wearing blue jeans. We were like unintentional twins. Then the hats finished the look. That’s my Gatsby cap that I’m wearing, and then Jon borrowed someone else’s hat since it mostly matched mine.

And what makes this more amusing is that yesterday, I was wearing the green shirt with the black jeans, and matched our communications director. She was wearing a green shirt and black pants. So now I wonder who I’ll match next. No telling what I’m pulling out of my closet tomorrow, though. We’ll find out in the morning, I suppose…

Categories: Work

This is beyond obsession…

November 17, 2009, 8:43 PM

This is beyond obsession:

Hand sanitizer spray

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Categories: Work

We got the cops called on us twice this time…

November 15, 2009, 8:36 PM

Anonymous DC’s November raid, protesting the abusive practices of the Church of Scientology, was a small one over at the Ideal Org. I think we had around ten people in attendance. It’s understandable, though – we crashed their Ideal Org opening party only two weeks prior, and so a lot of folks probably needed time to recharge their batteries and such. But it’s okay – the place was absolutely dead, with only a few staff around, and I think we still managed to outnumber them, even with our small numbers. This raid also returned us to the four-hour raid length (we did eight-hour raids in October), and we also returned to our cooler-weather timeframe of 1-5 PM (we push the timeframe back a few hours in the peak of summer to avoid the worst of the heat in our masks).

This was pretty much standard fare for us, but we did have a few highlights. First of all, we had the cops called on us twice. First time was not long after I arrived:

The police's first arrival

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Categories: Project Chanology

I’ll bet no one realized that the headstone image was not randomly chosen…

November 13, 2009, 11:11 PM

This was the photo feature that I ran to coincide with Veterans’ Day:

Headstone of Jason Redifer

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Categories: Arlington, Holidays

“Ben Schumin wishes that grocery shopping involved just buying a fifty-pound bag of single people chow.”

November 9, 2009, 7:17 PM

The above was a Facebook status that I posted on Sunday, and it really got a lot of attention, with seven “likes” and a lot of comment, including comments from some of my married friends that a fifty-pound bag of single people chow would be a good idea.

See, I have to go grocery shopping tonight, and let’s admit it – grocery shopping is a pain. First I have to drive to the store. Then I have to kind of wander the aisles and pick out all the grub I’m planning to get. Then I have to pay for it. Then I have to load it up in the car and drive back home. Then I have to schlep it all up the stairs. Then I have to put it away.

That’s why I started fantasizing a little. After all, I’m single, and I live alone. And grocery shopping is a bother. Life would be so much simpler if I could just go to Shoppers, haul a fifty-pound bag of single people chow into the cart, pay for that, and be set for a month. And I figure it should cost around $45 for the name brand, and $30 for the generic. Still, I could be in and out of Shoppers in less than fifteen minutes. Just go right to the single aisle, and I’m all set.

What surprised me most, however, was one comment, which indicated that Costco actually sells a product that consists of 275 servings of various types of vegetarian food. Take a look:

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Categories: Food and drink

And Anonymous did its best to make the Ideal Org opening anything but ideal…

November 7, 2009, 5:37 PM

On October 31 (halloween!), the Church of Scientology opened their new Washington DC “Ideal Org” at the corner of 16th and P Streets NW – coincidentally, right next door to the building where I work. And as is the case with any big Scientology event these days, Anonymous was there. Particularly so when Scientology CEO David Miscavige was expected to be present. For this occasion, Anons from Boston and New York also came and joined our raid.

The raid was planned to last eight hours. We started at the Ideal Org, and planned to raid there from 12 noon to 5:00. Then the plan was to move to the Founding Org until 8 PM.

I arrived on scene around 12:30. Nothing, however, prepared me for the scene that would greet me when I arrived. The entire 1600 block of P Street was swarming with activity, and large white tarps blocked the view of 16th Street from the public. The cops were out in force, too, to attempt to maintain order throughout the whole affair.

I met the Anons right in front of the entrance to my office building, 1616 P Street NW. I also met up with MPDC Commander James Crane, whom I’ve encountered at other non-Anon protests. Now it was time to size up the situation and determine what was going on. In speaking with Crane, we soon learned that we would not be allowed in the closed section of 16th Street at all, including on the sidewalk in front of the Carnegie Institution. Additionally, we were not permitted to demonstrate on the same side of P Street as the tarps. We also had to be quiet, so as not to disturb the “religious service”, and if we made a lot of noise, we would be pushed back a block. However, when one questions whether the target of the demonstration is even a religion at all (and more aptly described as a for-profit enterprise), that last part came off as almost amusing. Lastly, Crane offered to assist us across the street, momentarily stopping traffic so that we could cross.

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Categories: Project Chanology