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Why is it that I always seem to finish photo set projects at two in the morning?

March 1, 2009, 2:49 AM

Yep… it’s almost 3 AM on a Saturday night/Sunday morning, and in the last hour or so, I finally finished Midnight March, which is about a protest against the World Bank and IMF during their fall 2008 meetings.

This set was more challenging than most protest sets I’ve shot. I’ve done plenty of protest marches before, both in daylight, as well as at night. I believe my most recent nighttime protest photo before that one was October Rebellion, specifically the Georgetown march. That was shot in some of the worst weather conditions that I had ever experienced during a protest march. After all, it was raining hard, and it was cold. Plus everyone was on edge due to the way that march was promoted. But for Midnight March, I had the weather on my side, as the skies were completely clear. And it was only slightly cool outside, much to my delight. Very comfortable protest weather. But the camera was something of an unknown quantity. I had barely done any shooting at night with the Kodak, with most of the nighttime shooting consisting of two Anon raids, and a day out with Katie. And all those were cases where I could carefully line up my shots. Can’t do that at a protest march, unfortunately. You have to go with the flow and keep up with the crowd.

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Presenting the newest display function for photo sets…

February 25, 2009, 9:51 PM

Yes, I found the coolest new feature for the photo sets. It’s called “lightbox”, and basically, it allows you to enlarge the photos on the page without going to a separate page. What I usually do for photo sets, you may recall, is if you click an image, you go to a separate page where you are presented with an enlargement of the image and the caption. Thus it usually looks like this in this excerpt from the Weekend with Katie photo set:

A Red Line train to Glenmont arrives at Metro Center on the Shady Grove platform.

A Red Line train to Glenmont arrives at Metro Center on the Shady Grove platform.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta, WMATA

A day of railfanning, and then a somewhat disturbing dream…

February 23, 2009, 8:44 PM

First of all, hello! I can’t believe it’s been a week since last I wrote a Journal entry. I guess I haven’t had much to say lately. But now I do.

And by that, let me tell you about the fun I had on Saturday! Matthew Tilley and I got together and hit the Metro, doing a railfan trip on the Blue, Orange, and Yellow Lines. The trip served two purposes. First of all, I really enjoy Matthew’s company, as we always have fun when we get together, and this was no exception. Secondly, I bought a new Canon PowerShot SX10 IS camera in the past week, and so this was also acceptance testing for the camera, as I ran it through all of its paces in the many varied lighting conditions that Metro offers.

Now if you’re wondering about why I got another new digital camera within a year of getting Duckie and the Kodak, and since neither of those cameras have broken down (trust me, I’d tell you), let me explain. When it comes to the Kodak and me, it’s not working out. Basically, the Kodak is a little too automated for my needs, and goes from fully automated to fully manual with very little in between. Big Mavica gave a lot of in-between options for shooting, and I had gotten accustomed to having those, and missed them terribly. So the Kodak will be going on eBay soon. I figure, while it didn’t work out with me, it will almost definitely be perfect for someone else, and so let’s see if I can recover some of my investment in it. Plus I can provide sample images taken with the exact camera being offered for sale, so we’ll see what happens.

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Categories: Dreams, Matthew, WMATA

We had far more than enough win to go around on Saturday night thanks to a model UN conference…

February 16, 2009, 12:35 PM

So I had fun on Valentine’s Day, and it had nothing at all to do with love. After all, I am single, and all these couples getting kissy on Valentine’s Day makes me nauseous after a while. I am one of the many who calls the day “Singles Awareness Day” for that matter.

But yes, the fun came not from actually getting a date or something, but rather, I, along with a small group of other DC Anons, raided outside the Founding Church of Scientology. This was Part 2 of a two-part strategy for that day. Part 1 was a visit to Katsucon, which is an anime and manga convention for enthusiasts of the genre, being held at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, where we had previously held AnonyCon. The mission there was basically trolling, going around and handing out literature in the non-paid areas to Katsucon participants. I’m told it went well until Anonymous was booted due to fire code issues – Katsucon was at capacity with the paid participants, and Anonymous trolling put them over the limit as far as occupancy loads went.

I skipped Katsucon mainly because of Metro. Metro took the entire Presidents’ Day weekend to do a major track maintenance project on the C&L Junction (where the Blue and Yellow Lines join just north of Pentagon), and thus Pentagon station was closed, cutting off Pentagon City and below from the rest of the system. I didn’t want to deal with a bus bridge between L’Enfant Plaza and Pentagon City, so I skipped it.

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Categories: Project Chanology

So I have completed my service to the circuit court system of Montgomery County, Maryland.

February 11, 2009, 12:33 PM

So today, I had jury duty, which involved sitting and doing nothing for a shade under three hours over at the Montgomery County Judicial Center in Rockville.

According to them, they had a small docket today judging by the number of jurors that they called. So I got in and found the jury waiting room, where they gave us our little juror badges. Then we watched an orientation film, where the late Ed Bradley, as well as Diane Sawyer, explained why jury service is such a high calling, and how it basically works and what happens. Then it was time to play the waiting game. I found a nice place to park myself and pull out the Lappy, and I took care of some odds and ends while waiting to see what happened. I did some work Email, I fooled around on Wikipedia for a while, and watched some videos on YouTube.

Then after about an hour, my number, 73, was called up, along with the numbers of about 30 other people by my best estimate. I went up to Courtroom 14 on the sixth floor with the other prospective jurors, and we sat down in the gallery. At the front of the courtroom, the attorneys for the prosecution and the defendant were seated at tables, as was the defendant himself. Then the judge, the Honorable Mary Beth McCormick, came in, and things began. She explained that this was a criminal case related to an alleged violation of a protective order. The jury’s job was to determine guilt by the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, and sentencing would be up to the judge. We were all sworn in, and things got started, as the process of voir dire began. The judge asked a number of questions to us related to disclosure of information that might affect our service as a juror in this particular case, and in the event that anyone had something to disclose, those individuals were called up, one at a time, to make their disclosure to the judge and the attorneys for both sides. While disclosures were going on, the judge activated a “husher”, which turned off the microphones and played white noise over the sound system.

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So we had a meeting of about fifteen people, all named “David”, outside the Founding Church of Scientology on a Saturday afternoon. And that means…

February 9, 2009, 9:27 PM

Yes, a meeting of about fifteen people, all named “David”, outside the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington DC on a Saturday afternoon means that it was once again time for Anonymous DC to have its monthly raid, protesting the practices of the Church of Scientology. And as always, we had fun, we had epic win, and we had more than enough lulz to go around. And in Anonymous, everyone is “David”.

This time around, the theme was “Space Opera”, taking a science fiction theme, mainly centering around Star Wars.

MisterTastee wore two cinnamon buns on his head, imitating Princess Leia's distinctive hairstyle.
MisterTastee wore two cinnamon buns on his head, imitating Princess Leia’s distinctive hairstyle.

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Categories: Project Chanology, WMATA

New fire alarms at work…

February 5, 2009, 10:54 PM

You never know sometimes what you’re going to come home with some days. I came home from work today with fire alarms in my bag. That’s not what most people would come home with, but then again, I’m not most people.

So today, they upgraded the fire alarms in our office. The Wheelock 34s and the Space Age light plates went away, and they installed Wheelock NS horn/strobes to replace them.

As such, we went from this:

Old fire alarm setup at the office

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Categories: Fire alarms, Work

I so want to go to one of these…

February 5, 2009, 9:02 PM

I so want to go to a polar bear plunge – one of those events where a whole bunch of people run into a body of water in the middle of winter to raise money for a charitable cause. They look like a lot of fun, based on the photos I’ve seen. One of the bigger events, Plungapalooza, is held at Sandy Point State Park in Maryland. According to Google Maps, it’s a shade under an hour’s driving time to Sandy Point State Park from my house.

The reason I bring it up is because I saw an article in the “Fit” section of the Express on Tuesday about this year’s Plungapalooza event that happened on January 24. They ran three photos of the event with the article. Two in particular caught my attention:

Plungapalooza 2009  Plungapalooza 2009
Photos: Jonathan Newton/TWP (left), AP/Baltimore Sun/Monica Lopossay (right)

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Categories: Events

How Metro turns an eight-car train into six…

February 3, 2009, 7:37 PM

Both yesterday and today, I got to watch Metro separate the train I was on following the completion of its run to Glenmont. That’s kind of interesting to see. First of all, they put the train out of service and close the doors. Then two employees board. Each goes in the cab adjacent to where they’re splitting. One guy removes the ropes between the two cars, and then gets back in his cab. Then you hear a slow “fsssh” sound as the pairs release and the headlights come on at the end of the pair that’s being detached. Then that car goes back to taillights, and the other end goes back to headlights so they can open the doors for the remaining six cars. And then the split-off pair leaves to go to Glenmont Yard, and the now-shorter train goes to Shady Grove for another revenue run.

And I got photos:

Removing the intercar barriers between Rohr 1200 (left) and 1057 (right).
Removing the intercar barriers between Rohr 1200 (left) and 1057 (right).

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Categories: WMATA

25 random things about me…

January 30, 2009, 7:12 PM

The latest meme around Facebook is posting 25 random things that you might not otherwise know about them as a “note”. And as of right now, I’ve been tagged three times in people’s notes about it. It’s quite interesting reading about all of these different things about people, since while I know many of these people very well, a lot of these facts are things I didn’t know.

With this meme, the rule is as follows: “Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.” Then you’re supposed to tag 25 people in the note, including those who tagged you.

Since I’ve been tagged three times, in deciding whether or not to do this, I had one of those what-the-hell-why-not moments. I will admit this up front – this is going to be hard, since I’ve discussed so much on Schumin Web over the past twelve years, that it’s hard to find stuff I haven’t discussed on here.

So here goes.

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Categories: Myself, Social media

So the weatherman was right – it snowed today.

January 27, 2009, 7:37 PM

Yes, nothing like waiting for the bus in the snow. But at least I had my coat, my hat, and my iPod, where the headphones I use are large enough to cover my ears and therefore keep them warm. And what a wonderful sight this was:

The 51 arrives, in the snow.

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Categories: Ride On, Winter weather, WMATA

And the forecast calls for snow!

January 26, 2009, 11:29 PM

You know, when I was younger, the word “snow” meant the potential for an unscheduled play-day, since in Augusta County, Virginia, you could dump an ice cube tray out on the road and they would cancel school. As an adult, there is no such thing as a snow day, and so snow is a colossal pain in the behind. I remember last winter going back to the Metro after work, and slipping and sliding on the sidewalk on P Street. Not the most enjoyable thing in the world.

For that matter, really cold days are a bother, too. Today, I had a very cold commute to work. It was well below freezing, and that would have to be the day I got a 5000-Series on the way in to work. 5000s are a bit of a novelty for me since they are uncommon on the Red Line, but they’re well known for being the coldest cars in the fleet, and from what I understand, Metro isn’t going to fix the problem (cold CAFs are fine in the summer, but not in the winter). I got to Glenmont, and boarded CAF 5120 to ride to work. I sat down, and the seat was cold. It wasn’t just the air that was cold, but the seat cushion itself was cold. Not a good way to start the day. Good thing I have a nice, warm winter coat and that dashing hat of mine.

And then of course the walk down P Street to my office building was cold, too. But at least things warmed up from there, as the building was nice and toasty.

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So, wait, what happened to…?

January 25, 2009, 12:19 PM

In case you haven’t heard, I recently brought back The Schumin Web Transit Center from what had turned into a year and a half long slumber. Looking around, though, you might be asking me, “But Schumin, where are the Alstom photos? Where are the bus photos? Where are the videos?” Well, they’re coming back, but just not right away.

Realize that the big reason for the delay was because while the site looks visually similar to the old site, it is a completely new Web site under the hood. The database was rebuilt in MySQL from scratch, and all of the pages had to be rewritten in PHP. This all goes back to the July 2007 server failure, which was on a Microsoft server (figures, doesn’t it?). That was the inspiration to complete my planned conversion of the whole site to PHP and MySQL, as I was already in the process of changing hosts when that happened. This just sped the process up. Since the new server isn’t a Microsoft server, the existing site was unusable, and had to be converted over. It took me a month to get the main Schumin Web site going again, a few weeks to bring College Life back online, and then Today’s Special resumed last summer.

With Transit Center, I knew I could just straight-convert my databases like what happened with the other sites. But I didn’t want to. I realized as the Transit Center site grew that updates had become a colossal pain in the butt. So I was planning to scrap the existing database anyway and build a new one. That new one is designed and was made ready for a release, but I’ve not entered everything into it yet.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

And this is why I watched the inauguration on the TV!

January 20, 2009, 8:04 PM

As many of you know, I said in this space about a week ago that I was going to watch the inauguration on the TV. And you know what? It was a smart move. Check it out:

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Categories: National politics

Wheaton Plaza is starting to look kind of sad…

January 19, 2009, 12:25 PM

My local shopping mall, Wheaton Plaza, otherwise known as Westfield Wheaton, is starting to look kind of sad with the poor economy taking its toll. Currently, Office Depot and Circuit City are holding going-out-of-business sales. Office Depot is doing a round of store closings to stave off bankruptcy, and for Circuit City, the Wheaton location survived an initial round of closings, and only started its closing sale after the company announced it was shuttering all locations. Combined with the closing of the family-owned Montgomery Cinema and Drafthouse (a movie theater outfitted with tables and chairs so people could dine and enjoy a beer while watching movies on the big screen), the outparcels on the south side of Wheaton are going to be looking really empty in short order.

Combine that with the fact that one of the two-story anchor buildings in the mall itself has been empty for more than a year, and things are really starting to look sad. That empty anchor location appears to have been built as a Hecht’s (see photo), and closed when the merger with Macy’s was completed (Wheaton Plaza already had a Macy’s).

When I moved to the area in mid-2007, that anchor location housed a store called IFL Furniture, selling overpriced furniture. That location closed in the fall of 2007, and it’s been empty since. There were rumblings that a Kohl’s and a Steve and Barry’s would be taking over that space, but something tells me that’s not happening any time soon. Steve and Barry’s is closing all its locations, and so the Wheaton location is presumably stillborn. Then with Kohl’s, I don’t know what to think. When IFL vacated the location, work started on that building. Trailers came in, black coverings were put on all the doors so you couldn’t see in, and an area in front of the south entrance was fenced off for various construction stuff. That whole fenced off area is now gone, and it looks like nothing’s happening there anymore. Inside the mall, the entrance to the former Hecht’s/IFL space has been walled off, and it’s as if they’re pretending that there is no building behind that wall. The wall is being used to promote DSW Shoe Warehouse, which recently opened in the former Hecht’s wing, and made for a small reshuffling of tenants as locally-owned Wheaton News was moved elsewhere in the mall, and a Payless Shoes was relocated as well.

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Categories: Wheaton