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Let me tell you, I had a really good time on Saturday…

January 31, 2010, 9:35 PM

I had a really good time on Saturday. I went to the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge, aka “Plungapalooza”, and while it was really, really, really cold and snowing, I had a blast.

The event was held at Sandy Point State Park, near Annapolis. The idea is simple: put on a swimsuit, and run into a body of ice-cold water in the middle of winter. The proceeds from the event went to support Special Olympics, and of course, all involved had a great time.

As I mentioned before, I didn’t jump in. Nuh-uh. Too cold. And when you consider all the cold-weather gear I was wearing, I was determined to stay toasty warm, too. And for the most part, I did.

Getting there involved taking the Beltway to Route 50, and then a short distance on local roads to the parking area. Parking involved leaving the car at a satellite location and then taking a shuttle bus to the site. I parked at the Naval Academy Stadium, and took a bus from there. That was like jumping into a time-warp. The bus appeared to be of more recent mint than I would have ridden, but the interior was light green, and the seats were dark green. I thought they got rid of that when they started using the brown interiors in the late 80s. I guess I was wrong. Ugly green on uglier green is obviously alive and well in the 2010s.

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This is a photo set that was long in coming…

January 31, 2010, 2:38 PM

I just released the UNITE HERE Picket Photography set. This was a long time in coming. When I attended this event on June 20, I originally planned to just do a Journal entry about the event. I was going to write about it on the night of Monday, June 22. But then the Metro accident happened that evening, and I ended up writing about that instead. Thus the UNITE HERE event got bumped. It was the Photo Feature that week, but nothing else was said about it.

Now, it’s part of Photography, and is one of two planned 2009 sets (the other being the teabagger march). I suppose it worked out well for the event. Rather than getting some discussion in the Journal and moving on, it got a full-page spread, with 35 pictures rather than a select few. And I got a chance to experiment again with Photography set layout. This time, I went for staggered rows. I’m still deciding how the format will look, and this one looks good, but the photos seem a little too close together.

And the weird thing about this group of photos is that every time I’ve published a photo from this event on the site, Metro has had an accident involving their rolling stock. I posted a photo as the Photo Feature on June 21, and the next day, Metro had a major collision on the Red Line. Then I ran a different photo during the week of Thanksgiving, and while that one was up, the yard collision at Falls Church happened. Very weird coincidence, if you ask me. I’m almost afraid with posting 35 photos from this event that an elevated structure will collapse or something. Let’s hope not.

So with another Photography set published, I want to know once again what you think. I’m trying something out, and so let me know!

Categories: Schumin Web meta, WMATA

But the workahol is so good!

January 27, 2010, 10:23 PM

There’s a reason I haven’t written a Journal entry in a week… it’s because I’ve been working myself ragged at the office. These 12-hour days have caused me to question my own sanity. But I’ve got a really big project I’m working on, and am somehow managing to do that plus all the usual stuff I do all the time. It’s been leaving me physically and mentally exhausted by the end of the day. I barely even have the energy to do Wikipedia, let alone actually write an original thought.

So yeah, I’ve been a little workaholic this last week or so. I’m planning to go to Plungapalooza this weekend, and I’m seriously questioning whether I’ll be able to actually drag myself out of bed to go out there on Saturday. If I do manage to get up to go, though, Plungapalooza ought to be fun. I’m not going to be donning a speedo and jumping in, though. Nuh-uh. I’m bringing my camera along and joining whatever other bloggers happen to be there, in order to write about the event in this space, as well as potentially make a Photography set out of the event. And I’ve been looking forward to going for about a year. I wrote about it last year, and noted that I should save the date. Well, I did. If I can muster up the strength to go, I’m going. And bringing a hat, coat, and gloves.

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Categories: Events, Work

Sometimes I don’t know why I bother…

January 20, 2010, 10:47 PM

Sometimes I don’t know why I bother. I try to get a little discourse going on a political issue with a known hostile crowd on Facebook, and their arguments become so nonsensical that it finally becomes pointless to continue. But then again, it’s also kinda fun. Most recently, it started with this as someone’s status message:

[Name] is lifting up prayers that this healthcare bill DOES NOT PASS

Okay, so we’ve got an opinion. They want to see the healthcare bill fail. So let’s dig in:

Ben Schumin Why don’t you want to see it pass?

So I’ve started the discussion. Why don’t they want to see it pass? Personally, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I won’t get what I really want out of this health care thing (single-payer for all), but it’s still better than nothing, as it outlaws a number of the health insurance industry’s dirty tricks, like denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and recission of coverage. We can then build on this later to ultimately end up where we really ought to be down the road.

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So I am now the proud father of a Motorola Droid…

January 19, 2010, 12:27 AM

So I got my Droid today. I now have what I describe as the iPhone for people who don’t want an iPhone. This thing has the touch screen, it has Wi-Fi, it has downloadable apps and games, and it has a five-megapixel camera.

Yes, five megapixels. That’s right – my cell phone just out-megapixeled the late Big Mavica (which was four-megapixel). That’s obscene. My cell phone still slots below my real cameras, though. Duckie has six, and the Canon does ten. And take a look at a sample of its work:

Digging up the floor at Staunton Mall

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Categories: Cell phone

The 90-day campaign promise has begun…

January 17, 2010, 10:12 PM

How appropriate that I am writing this from my parents’ house in Virginia where, in traveling to get here, I passed three shuttered rest areas. While my sister was out getting married (more on that later), Republican Bob McDonnell was being sworn in as the 71st Governor of Virginia.

The reason I mention this is because during the gubernatorial campaign, McDonnell made a promise to reopen the rest areas that were closed last summer. I certainly could have used one or two of those on the way down here. It is very convenient to exit the highway into a rest area, get out of the car, go in, do one’s business, and then hop back in the car and go. Compare that to the alternative. That involves taking an exit to a local road and finding a place, and you’re never sure what you’re going to get, plus having to battle local traffic. I got off at Woodstock to use the restroom on the way down, and battling local traffic was not exactly a walk in the park. And if you’re stopping just to take a potty break with no intention of buying food or gas or otherwise, that’s what rest areas are for. Otherwise, you’re just clogging up local roads and such and eating up parking spaces for a non-revenue (for the private operator) visit. If you are also buying food or gas or what have you, then by all means, take the exit and use the restroom while you’re at it. But otherwise, that’s what rest areas are for. Get off, use the restrooms, stretch your legs, and then get going again.

So Mr. McDonnell has 90 days – until April 16th – to hang out the welcome sign on the rest areas that were closed. It appears that he intends to honor that promise (he’d better).

Either way, the clock is now ticking. McDonnell had better get cracking.

So the question is… legal or not?

January 14, 2010, 10:04 PM

So the question is, is this a legal move in Maryland, or is it not? Take a look:

School bus stop - legal or not?

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Categories: Driving

Leaving for Stuarts Draft in a bit…

January 14, 2010, 11:41 AM

Yes, as soon as the laundry is finished (see, Mom, I am capable of taking clean clothes down when I visit), I’m heading out to Stuarts Draft. I can’t believe that this weekend is almost here. My sister’s getting married this Saturday! She’s going to become Mrs. Chris Lysy on Saturday.

Of course, now I’m going to have to get used to seeing “Ann Lysy” on Facebook and such. That’s just going to be strange to see, but I’m sure she’ll be happy as can be.

Then meanwhile, I am going to get to Stuarts Draft under my own power, despite that the wheel of automotive misfortune has been spinning in my direction as of late. Recall that I’ve not had a good time with the car lately. First the car spazzed out on me on Christmas Eve as I was leaving for work. Then when I was in Roanoke on the 30th with Mom, the car didn’t want to start up. After a trip to the Firestone place in Wheaton when I got back, though, the car was running fine again. However, (automotive) misfortune apparently comes in threes, and on Tuesday, when I went to get into the car to go to work (if I know I’m going to be working late, I drive), I discovered that the right front tire was flat. Greeeeeeeeeat. So I had to call AAA and get the spare put on. Then I was on my way. Then yesterday, another trip to Firestone got my brand-new tire fixed up. The comment was, 20-some thousand miles is what this thing is supposed to last, and it didn’t even make it to 100. But they fixed it, and determined it was probably a bad seal.

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Categories: Cameras, Family, Mercury Sable

Go stand in a walk-in freezer for about three hours and then report back to me.

January 10, 2010, 11:24 PM

Yeah. Go stand in a walk-in freezer for about three hours and then report back to me about how it was. That’s pretty much what it felt like out there while we raided Scientology on Saturday, January 9. But add some wind. It was pretty bloody cold, if I do say so myself (and I do).

But we raided. We had a small but dedicated group out there for this one. You had HT, Sparrow, MaidofWin, Purple Hair Anon, and myself out there giving Scientology hell. MaidofWin and Purple worked the corner, and HT and I took the entrance to the Ideal Org. And Sparrow did his usual thing, confronting the Scientologists on camera. And it was cold. Very cold. Everyone was wrapped up for the cold, and I wore the setup that I wore last year at the January flash raid. It may look like I came straight out of the hazmat unit, but it’s warm, and I had every square inch of skin covered.

And here we are:

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Categories: Project Chanology

Yes, it is possible…

January 10, 2010, 12:19 PM

Yes, it is possible that Metro can have all of its elevators working at the same time. Take a look:

Elevator Outage: No Reported Elevator Outages

I saw this at Glenmont on the way into DC on Saturday for an Anon raid. I know – I’m as surprised as you are. But Metro actually did get all 200-some elevators working at the same time for once. This just amazes me.

It’s kind of like when Metro actually has all three escalators at Dupont Circle’s south entrance working at the same time. I am similarly amazed whenever I see that. That happens about once a month or so, and yesterday was it. Otherwise, it’s fairly common to see one or two escalators down for repairs, with one running up, one gated, and one as a walker.

Categories: WMATA

Computer rehab time already?

January 6, 2010, 9:14 PM

Next month marks three years since I got my Dell. And that means it’s almost time for my computer’s mid-life rehabilitation. Why get a new computer when you can make your current one last another few years with a little TLC, eh?

Yes, I do my computer like transit systems do rolling stock. Go for such an amount of time and then rehab the thing. It’s just like Metro recently did with the Breda cars. Rail cars generally last 40 years. So at roughly the 20-year mark, they do a mid-life rehabilitation on them. That brings them up to more modern standards, and gets them ready to go another 20 before retirement. Computers have about a three-year life span in my experience, and so a mid-life overhaul makes it go another three. Which means that I won’t need to replace my current box until 2013 or so. Now my last computer lasted nearly nine years. It went three years, had its mid-life rehabilitation, and then went almost six years before it finally was put out to pasture. That was for financial reasons, though – I couldn’t afford a new computer, since I wasn’t doing as well money-wise.

On my last computer’s rehab back in 2001, I upgraded from 128 MB to 384 MB of RAM, upgraded both optical drives, went from a 10 GB hard drive to an 80 GB hard drive, upgraded the video card, and upgraded the TV tuner card. I deliberately didn’t replace the motherboard and upgrade the processor, because that’s about where I reach my level of incompetence. Everything went quite well in the rehab, and it got me to 2007. I was pleased. I had contemplated a second rehab around that time, but I ultimately determined that a second rehab was more than I wanted to do for an eight-year old computer, and so I replaced it.

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