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I saw this picture, and…

July 2, 2009, 9:32 PM

I saw this picture on the front page of the Express on my way to work this morning, and it scared the heck out of me at first:

Sears Tower ledges
Photo: Kichiro Sato/AP

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Categories: News, WMATA

A week after the accident, and…

June 29, 2009, 9:56 PM

Well, it’s been a week since Metro had its big collision, and this was my first day back on Metro since my four-hour commute, and after driving to work for the remainder of the week due to my not wanting to deal with the shuttle bus service. Monday was the first workday that the Red Line was running on both tracks, much to my delight. Metro may have its hiccups, but at least I can sleep on the way home from work when I’m taking Metro. Can’t do that in the car. Have to stay alert for driving.

And today was one of those days where I slept well on the way home. In fact, I don’t think I’ve slept this well on Metro in a long time. I had my iPod going, and I kind of leaned my head along the edge of one of the windows. And the reduced speeds (as a post-accident safety precaution) made for a smoother ride. I vaguely remember New York Avenue station, and then the next thing I knew, we were outside Silver Spring, where we were waiting for what felt like eternity due to single-tracking caused by a track jumper at Forest Glen. That single-tracking made me miss my bus, causing me to have to wait ages for a Y bus at Glenmont. Not fun.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Metro General Manager John B. Catoe held an online chat to discuss the accident. The Lunchtalk chats that Metro does were something that Catoe inherited from his predecessors, Dick White and Dan Tangherlini. However, I got the distinct feeling that Catoe really didn’t want to do this chat, and that his hand might have been forced in doing it. Usually, you can submit your questions in advance. Not this time. For this chat, questions could only be submitted during the chat. And then for a chat that was advertised as an hour long, Catoe bolted after 45 minutes, saying, “Unfortunately I have to move on to my next appointment,” as he signed off early. And he didn’t answer my question:

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Categories: WMATA

After a four-hour commute, I am home.

June 22, 2009, 11:55 PM

Today was one of those days where I was glad to be home again after work. Metro had its deadliest accident in its history today, with six confirmed dead as of this writing, as two inbound Red Line trains collided between Takoma and Fort Totten stations:

June 22, 2009 Metro collision
Photo: Carole Watson (WRC)

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Categories: DC area local news, WMATA

She just had to go there, and didn’t like what she heard…

June 18, 2009, 7:54 PM

So I was talking to my mother on the phone today after work, as I do most days. At some point, our discussion had moved toward discussion of Anonymous and its protests against the Church of Scientology. My mother supports Anonymous’ work, and often tries to learn more about it, while explaining to her friends about Scientology’s being a dangerous cult (go Mom!).

But then Mom went a step further. She asked what I thought about atheists. I responded that I thought atheists had their head on straighter than most people, and in the interest of full disclosure, indicated that I considered myself amongst their numbers. I don’t think Mom was expecting that response. I also don’t think that she really wanted to hear that, based on her noticeably more down-sounding tone after that disclosure.

See, here’s my take on religion. If you look at various religions objectively, they all make some very interesting points. However, most if not all believe that their religion is the way to whatever happens after death, whether its a cloudy or warm place after shuffling off the mortal coil, or whether you are going to be reincarnated over and over again until you defeat the load-bearing boss at the end of World 8. And if all of them are proclaiming to be the right way, then I consider it more probable that none of them are right.

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Categories: Religion

“Do what you want ’cause a pirate is free, you are a pirate!”

June 17, 2009, 9:54 PM

This past Saturday, Anonymous DC held its June raid, protesting the Church of Scientology. This time, we took the always-popular pirate theme for our raids, which means that we dressed in stereotypical pirate garb. As was the case last year, the pirate-themed raid was a LOT of fun. And like last year, our raid was the same weekend as the Capital Pride festival, which ties in nicely with Scientology protests. After all, Scientology can arguably be labeled as homophobic.

Early on, we got visited by two people in bikinis. One of them went into the Org wearing just the bikini. Not all that surprisingly, she got kicked out, with the Scientologists citing that she wasn’t wearing enough clothes.

Exiting the Org after being kicked out, and making a sad face for the camera due to her getting kicked out of the Org.  Exiting the Org after being kicked out, and making a sad face for the camera due to her getting kicked out of the Org.
Exiting the Org after being kicked out, and making a sad face for the camera due to her getting kicked out of the Org.

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Categories: Project Chanology

So this is me at the end of the work week…

June 12, 2009, 8:18 PM

So this is me at the end of the work week:

Me at the end of the work week

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Categories: Family, Myself, Work

Now those are some serious-looking storm clouds…

June 10, 2009, 9:38 PM

So this is what my commute looked like from the moment we emerged from the tunnel north of Union Station:

Storm clouds over Washington DC

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Categories: Weather, WMATA

Why can’t DC set all the traffic signals in Dupont Circle to flashing red more often?

June 9, 2009, 2:39 PM

Let me tell you… Dupont Circle was definitely different this morning coming out of the Metro. DDOT had milled the pavement overnight in preparation for resurfacing, and all of the traffic signals were set to flashing red in all directions. This traffic light configuration lasted through rush hour, which is when I saw it.

And let me tell you… I haven’t felt this safe crossing the street at Dupont Circle in a long time. Nine times out of ten, when I’m navigating Dupont Circle, I’m doing so as a pedestrian, and am pretty much at the mercy of the cars. I’ve heard people describe the signals in Dupont Circle as “suggestions”, and people really do drive like maniacs through Dupont Circle, going too fast through the intersections, honking at pedestrians, and cutting pedestrians off. I’ve told people numerous times that the most dangerous part of my commute is right near work – specifically, crossing Massachusetts Avenue NW in the southeastern part of Dupont Circle.

At that location, you have several movements going on. You have people turning from Dupont Circle onto Massachusetts Avenue. You have Massachusetts Avenue through traffic in Dupont Circle (separated from local traffic) going back onto Massachusetts Avenue. Then you have traffic from Massachusetts Avenue going into either the through lanes in Dupont Circle or the local lanes. Now the traffic entering the circle from Massachusetts Avenue is okay. That tends to go in pulses, and there are long breaks where the roadway is clear. But the traffic going past that intersection that’s already in Dupont Circle is no-holds-barred. People go too fast. People cut other people off while making illegal turns. And the pedestrians are like little targets, or at least that’s what it feels like sometimes.

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Categories: Roads, Washington DC

Today marks ten years since I graduated high school…

June 4, 2009, 8:54 PM

I can’t believe that today marks ten years since I graduated high school. June 4, 1999, at Expoland in Fishersville, I received my high school diploma, officially ending my days as a student at Stuarts Draft High School. That was an interesting day. Rather than go to school, the seniors traveled to Expoland for graduation rehearsal, where we walked through the whole procedure. We lined up. We sat down. We had to sit through every single bloody name getting called. And then I think we were done by noon.

Then that evening, we went through the ceremony for real, with all of our friends/family/etc. watching. And we got our diplomas. And each student got their photo taken as they received their diploma, in the cover that we were required to buy (I did not appreciate that). And then after that, we were done! No more Stuarts Draft High School for me. No more block scheduling. No more AP classes. No more nonsense from Mr. Schindler (principal), whom I didn’t really get along with all that well.

Of course, for me, this graduation was simply a formality, because for all intents and purposes, I had already accomplished what I came to accomplish. I got accepted at James Madison University for the fall 1999 semester, and so from the beginning of April onwards, I basically enjoyed myself. Or at least tried to. Less than two weeks after I got my college acceptance, I fell at home and dislocated my right shoulder, which caused me to miss my first day of school since fifth grade, and put me in a sling for a month while it healed. Then Columbine happened a week and some change after my injury, which put everyone a little bit on edge. And I managed to get myself suspended for two days for making some remark about it (yes, I got suspended – get over it). I don’t even remember what the remark was, but obviously, Schindler thought it was important enough to warrant kicking me out for two days. Not like I particularly cared, though. I had already sent in the deposit for JMU. And I enjoyed my two days off. My mother was not so laid back about it, though, as she came into school and handed Bill Schindler his behind on a platter for the whole incident. Let’s just say that my mother is awesome for that.

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Categories: High school

Two fire alarms in one day?

June 3, 2009, 7:04 PM

Well, it certainly was an exciting day at work today. We had not one, but two fire alarms today. The first was just before 1:00. I was walking down the hall in our suite, and then the fire alarm started sounding. Thus we got to hear those new fire alarms that we had put in a few months ago come to life. Needless to say, we heard these Wheelock NS horns loud and clear, which is more than could be said for the old Wheelock 34 horns that they replaced.

So I immediately got into my floor-monitor mode, getting my safety vest and hard hat out of my man-sized safe and doing a sweep of the floor, along with the other floor monitor. Then we did the same for the other suite on our floor before heading down to the street.

Down on the street, the fire trucks arrived, and checked things out. Amusing: The man in the rear steering position of one of the fire trucks was in there smoking a cigar! Kind of odd for the firefighter to be smoking on their way to a potential fire, where there’s the potential for lots of smoke.

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Categories: Fire alarms, Work

“I don’t want you to see how I really live!”

May 29, 2009, 11:15 PM

Once again, this place is clean. And it looks quite nice, if I do say so myself. After all, Mom’s coming tomorrow morning, and so this place has to look its Sunday best. And when it comes to Mom, you see, I must pay extra attention to cleaning, because Mom just can’t help herself. If it doesn’t look spotless, she’ll clean. I still remember the time she “accidentally” swept the kitchen floor.

Still, though, having visitors over on a somewhat regular basis is one way I keep the place all neat and tidy. After all, I don’t want people to see the place the way I see it when I’m just kind of doing whatever. I want to put its best face forward.

Of course, if I really want to make the place look sharp, I need to get serious about decorating. I’ve had a whole bunch of picture frames from IKEA, still in their original shrinkwrap, in a corner in the blue IKEA bags for nearly a year and a half. The idea is that I’m going to take a bunch of my pictures to somewhere to have them printed on nice paper, and then frame them. After all, what better way to decorate than to have selections from your own body of work on the walls, right? And I have plenty of photos that would look very nice on the walls here. It’s just a matter of actually doing it already

Categories: House

What an odd coincidence…

May 23, 2009, 12:47 PM

What an odd coincidence that all these new anti-war photo sets end up hitting the site on Memorial Day weekend of all times. That’s just slightly awkward, but it’s right in line with my policy on photo sets. They are published as soon as they are finished. I do not hold sets for a certain pre-designated “street date”.

Still, this brings a few things together. For one, it explains why there have been few Journal entries this month, as I took production of these sets into high gear. It also explains how MPDC Captain Jeff Herold knows me, plus lends context to a Journal entry I wrote from home between the two G20 events. Then I also kind of went silent about Funk the War 7 and ANSWER’s alleged march on the Pentagon, which I referred to as the March on Crystal City. I did that partly because we spent more energy in Crystal City than at the Pentagon, and partly because I just don’t like ANSWER all that much, and calling it what it was drew attention to ANSWER’s off-the-wall march plan.

Still, I believe I’ve outdone myself with this. 218 photos and seven pages in the Crystal City set still just amazes me. This is why record-breaking photo sets are few and far between, with a few years between record-breakers. After all, from mid-2003 to February 2007, An Urban Comparison was the largest set, a distinction it held for nearly four years. Then on Valentine’s Day 2007, J27 became the largest by a small margin. Now today, March on Crystal City blew that distinction clear out of the water, as I broke that record by 77 photos (J27 has 141, and Crystal City has 218).

Of course, just because this project is finished doesn’t mean my work is done. I still have lots more waiting to be posted in photo set form…

Categories: Schumin Web meta

Dueling advertisements at Dupont Circle!

May 21, 2009, 7:44 PM

Nothing like a mid-spring day to hawk some stuff for the rush hour crowd. Today, there were two groups out doing advertisements.

First, the sign spinners, on the west side of 19th Street:

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Categories: Advertising, Washington DC

If trains were planes?

May 15, 2009, 9:44 PM

I’ve been known to comment about Metro’s YouTube videos as being beyond corny, but this one was actually pretty good. This time, Metro did a spoof of the in-flight safety videos that the airlines do. Take a look:

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Categories: WMATA

No more beautiful a day to get kicked out of the WMATA Rail Rodeo…

May 11, 2009, 8:05 PM

So Saturday was fun. I got together with Matthew Tilley, and we went to the WMATA Rail Rodeo at Branch Avenue Yard, went up to Dupont Circle (I had to stop by my office), and then checked out Amtrak’s National Train Day events at Union Station. The day didn’t go quite as expected, but we still had a lot of fun.

Starting out, of course, I picked Matthew up at his house. This would put my new GPS device, an early birthday present from my parents (thanks, Mom!), to the test. It did very well, and sent me on a very quick and easy route there, and one I would not have thought of – essentially the back way into Matthew’s neighborhood.

After I picked Matthew up, we got back on the Beltway, and rode over to Branch Avenue Yard to watch the rail rodeo in action. The WMATA Rail Rodeo, for those not familiar, is an annual event where Metro’s rail employees get to show off their skills in various competitions. The event is usually open to the public. I’d been wanting to go to the Rail Rodeo for some time, and this year, I finally did my homework ahead of time, writing Metro’s customer service department back in late February to find out the tentative date, and following up in late April to confirm that date.

Arriving at Branch Avenue Yard, we stopped at the security checkpoint at the gate, and indicated that we were here to see the rail rodeo. The security guard asked if we worked for Metro (we didn’t), checked my driver’s license, and waved us in. We parked, and asked a few Metro employees we found where the activity was. They weren’t too sure themselves. Okay, fine. We’re resourceful. So we went about finding out for ourselves. Matthew and I soon found ourselves in the shop building, where WMATA mechanics perform routine maintenance on the trains.

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Categories: Amtrak, Matthew, WMATA