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“This makes me very angry! Very angry, indeed!”

October 29, 2010, 10:57 PM

I have come to the conclusion that if I don’t post this right away, it will become buried under Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and Restoring Sanity and Keep Fear Alive and all of that. So thus we have the take from my office’s Halloween party on Friday. As is usually the case, the costumes ran from political to humorous to tributes to various elements of popular culture. So here’s the spread:

We have, left to right, using character names, Bill Gates, Tim (holding the remains of a brussels sprouts plant), a crazy cat lady, a guy from Aperture Laboratories (from Portal), Christine O'Donnell, then a character that I don't recognize, me in "weekend mode" (wearing pajama pants and unshaven), Marvin the Martian, and a white-trash pregnant woman.

We have, left to right, using character names, Bill Gates, Tim (holding the remains of a brussels sprouts plant), a crazy cat lady, a guy from Aperture Laboratories (from Portal), Christine O’Donnell, then a character that I don’t recognize, me in “weekend mode” (wearing pajama pants and unshaven), Marvin the Martian, and a white-trash pregnant woman.

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Categories: Halloween, Work

Sick days are no fun…

October 28, 2010, 8:03 PM

Ecch… I hate taking sick days. This was the first sick day I’ve taken since 2006. But when I call out sick, I mean it. Talk about an awful time. I tossed and turned the entire night last night, with TBD (formerly News Channel 8) on the TV. And I had a fever the whole time. And I had a major case of nasal congestion and got to know exactly what sinus pressure was all about. I felt like my nose was going to explode, what with all of everything clogged up and in pain. And blowing my nose didn’t do much good. No relief. Just more of the face-wants-to-explode feeling.

And let me be the first to tell you that all-natural nasal sprays are overpriced and ineffective. I bought this all-natural nasal spray from Whole Foods yesterday that was made of saline, glycerin, and – get this – grapefruit seed extract. Lovely. So now the snot smells vaguely like grapefruit, but it’s still there. I went with the all-natural stuff because of the usual concerns about the rebound effect on conventional nasal sprays. However, unlike the natural stuff, the conventional one worked like a charm. When I finally said the hell with the natural spray, I hit my bottle of regular spray, and I could breathe again.

Then you know you’re sick when you call the office to relay some information and they can’t tell who you are by voice. Usually, I’m fairly easily recognized by voice. Not this time. I called twice to attend to various things, and two people each couldn’t tell who I was.

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Categories: Health issues, Work

And for the first time, meet my netbook…

October 25, 2010, 9:54 PM

Another video Journal entry for you:

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Yellow Line to Fort Totten…

October 21, 2010, 9:49 PM

On Tuesday, when I was perusing the Twitter while riding the Red Line home from work, I noticed a tweet that read, “Can’t for life of me figure out why @WMATA stops Yellow trains at Mt Vernon Sq during rush hr. I hear Ft Totten is lovely this time of year.” I gave as good of an explanation as 140 characters would allow, and got a thank you for my efforts along with expression of hope for the addition of a pocket track at Fort Totten. I then explained that it would be far more economical just to send trains to Greenbelt than to reconstruct things north of Fort Totten.

I felt my explanation was a little weak, mainly due to the 140 character limit that the Twitter imposes. So to @jeremycluchey, here’s a better explanation of the Fort Totten situation.

The short of it is that Fort Totten was never designed for turning trains in regular service with the full Green Line. While there is a switch at Fort Totten allowing trains to change tracks, its main purpose for existence there was to allow trains to cross over while the Green Line did not exist south of Fort Totten – thus Fort Totten’s lower level was being used as a stub-end terminal. From 1993 to 1999, one may recall, there was a gap in the Green Line. The segment of the line north of Gallery Place to U Street opened in 1991, and then the segment from Fort Totten to Greenbelt opened in 1993. The mid-city segment linking the two sections (including Columbia Heights and Georgia Ave-Petworth) didn’t open until 1999. That’s why the Green Line Commuter Shortcut existed in the 1990s.

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Categories: WMATA

Is it time for a major overhaul?

October 17, 2010, 11:30 AM

I’ve heard this a few times recently. I was told by a coworker that my site is “kinda Web 1.0”, and at the One Nation rally, one of the Rochester folks said that my site looked “kinda 90s”. Ouch.

So that begs the question: Is it time to give Schumin Web a major overhaul? And by “major overhaul”, I don’t mean just a mere redesign that I could do with a style sheet. I mean big time.

If it gives you any idea about where things stand, this is when the various elements that make up Schumin Web came into being:

  • Logo: July 1999
  • Navigational structure with sections: September 2000
    • Archives section: September 2000
    • Journal section: October 2004 (part of Life and Times prior to that)
    • Life and Times section: July 2003
    • Major Areas: September 2000
    • Odds and Ends: September 2000 (current form since July 2003)
    • Online Store: September 2000 (current form since January 2010)
    • Photography: July 2001
  • Splash Page: August 2002 (current form)
  • Photo Feature: March 2005
  • Current layout: October 2004 (rebuilt to same design twice, in 2007 and 2010)
  • Current “squares” background: June 2008

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

A number of things to discuss today…

October 14, 2010, 9:48 PM

So I have a few things that I’d like to discuss with you today. First of all, I got a new netbook! I got the HP Mini 210, in black. Looks like it ought to be a pretty solid netbook computer, and for how I do computing on the go, it ought to work pretty well. My biggest complaint about the Lappy is that typing would give me fits, because the keyboard didn’t hold up too well. The left control key broke off, and typing would cause nearby keys to fire as well. This new computer has a “chiclet” style keyboard, which actually kind of reminds me of a Mac keyboard. And this thing weighs about three pounds. And this is what the Mini 210 looks like:

HP Mini 210 netbook

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When your entire march’s message is “f— the police”, you have lost sight of the forest for the trees…

October 10, 2010, 10:59 PM

What a frustrating weekend.

As you know if you read my previous entry, this weekend was the fall 2010 meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, held in Washington DC. I have demonstrated against the World Bank and IMF on seven different occasions prior to this weekend, most recently prior to this in the spring of 2009. This weekend’s demonstrations were perhaps the worst anti-IMF demonstrations that I have ever attended. They were disorganized, and no one was willing to step up to the plate and even so much as try to keep the group on message.

First of all, there was Friday’s demonstration. As it turned out, the 10:30 meeting point at 16th and Harvard Streets was basically a pickup spot for an ongoing demonstration. I showed up in plenty of time, and when the bloc swooped through, I, along with about four others plus Luke, joined it. That should have been a red flag right there – the group was in and out in less than two minutes, rather than staying at the announced meeting point for any appreciable length of time in case people were late or anything.

As it turned out, this bloc had already lost sight of its message. There was no anti-IMF message going on here, but rather they were trying desperately to keep a step ahead of the police. The bloc was going up and down neighborhood streets, moving water-filled plastic Jersey barriers to slow down the police. Additionally, they were dragging newspaper boxes out into the street, again to slow down police. And if all you’re doing is trying to stay ahead of the police, you have lost your way.

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Categories: Black bloc, World Bank

Friday is going to be a VERY long day…

October 7, 2010, 11:04 PM

Yes, indeed… Friday will be a very long day. I’m working all day, and then demonstrating well into the night. See, this weekend is the semi-annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), and as such, demonstrations will be held. I have been really bad about World Bank/IMF demonstrations as of late, having missed demonstrations for both the fall 2009 meetings and the spring 2010 meetings. So I’m itching to go to this one.

The weekend will be full of various events – according to DC Indymedia, there were events on Thursday, and then Friday will have three events. There will be a noontime march that I’m going to miss on account of work, and then a block party in Washington Circle starting at 5:30 that I’m also going to miss (too far plus office social event right around that time). Then at 10:30 PM at 16th and Harvard Streets NW (seriously – that far north), there will be an “Anticapitalist Night of Action”. Then Saturday will have what appears to be a family-friendly event at Freedom Plaza from noon to 8 PM, after which time a “roving street party” will take off. Finally, Sunday will have a consulta to discuss future meetings.

I’m currently planning to attend the “Anticapitalist Night of Action” on Friday and the day event on Saturday, plus the street party. The Friday event, though, makes me nervous. I anticipate it will be a black bloc event, and it also concerns me that it’s starting that far north. No idea what its goals are, but I hope it’s not just to wreak havoc in the town. After all, some of us are in the area on a regular basis, and I don’t like having to explain to my mother why my friends broke windows and such. Likewise, a number of my coworkers live in that general area, and I don’t want to have to explain to them why my anarchist friends messed up their neighborhoods. The meeting point is roughly where Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, and Mount Pleasant come together. This is not an area that is well known for political institutions. Adams Morgan is primarily known as a bar district, Columbia Heights is an area that is quickly gentrifying, and Mount Pleasant is residential.

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Categories: Black bloc, World Bank

“What do we want? BEER! When do we want it? NOW!”

October 3, 2010, 10:32 PM

On Saturday, I was one of tens of thousands down in Washington DC, attending the One Nation Working Together rally at the Lincoln Memorial. My plan was to join the youth and student contingent that was marching to the rally site from Freedom Plaza.

Let me say it up front: I was disappointed with the way the One Nation Working Together rally came off. For the radical community, the whole rally was a bit of a non-starter. We’re the kind of types that thrive on direct action. Take your message to the streets, and do whatever it takes to get the word out and force change. Sitting on the grass listening to speeches for four hours is not how you get things going. I have made fun of the Tea Party for this, and unfortunately, this event was essentially “Tea Party Left”, meaning it was the same type of event, but with left-wing ideas, none of the racism, and correctly-spelled signs.

Thus for me, the most effective part of it all was the feeder, taking it to the street on the way to the big rally. When it comes to speeches, you are very much preaching to the choir. And this was a made-for-TV event, as the only view that many attendees got of the speakers was from the television monitors set up at intervals along the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool. Well, hell – for that, I could have just watched it on C-SPAN in my pajama pants, and used my own toilet rather than a port-a-potty.

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Categories: Activism, Photography

With pupils as big as saucers…

October 1, 2010, 7:06 PM

You know, a trip to the eye doctor can be kind of fun, but let me tell you… recovering from same is less fun. Specifically, recovering from the dilating drops is no fun at all.

I had two different eye exams over the course of the week. One was the standard checkup-type eye exam on Wednesday, and the other was with a specialist on Friday (don’t ask, but I’m not going blind). And in both cases, they give you the little drops to dilate your eyes, in order to be able to see what’s going on inside and make sure all is well. The problem, of course, is going out into the real world afterwards, still dilated and all. Wednesday’s dilation was fine because it was raining out. Thus going home afterwards was fine since the sun wasn’t out. However, for Friday’s exam, it was cloudy in the morning, but after working a half-day at the office and going to see the doctor, it cleared up and was a beautiful day again. It would, of course, normally be beautiful for me, too, except that I would be practically blinded by it all. Yes, they gave me the little horn-rimmed dark inserts that sit behind your glasses in both cases, but they don’t work all that well because they move around a bit and cause their own reflections.

If it gives you any idea what we’re dealing with, here’s what my left eye looked like for Wednesday’s exam:

Dilated left eye on Wednesday

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Categories: Activism, Health issues, Radio