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Welcome to Club Acela…

July 18, 2010, 3:05 PM

Welcome to Club Acela in Union Station. This is where the people with sleeper accommodations stay before boarding their train. But first you have to get there, and we got Alstom 6083 from Glenmont. I was disappointed to find that Mom had not read my Distinguishing Metro Rail Cars page, and thus was not able to identify our train as an Alstom. Of course, Mom was a little anxious about the whole thing. I ride Metro every day. I know what to look for, and I know the drill. She was hurrying, and I wasn’t. The destination sign wasn’t lit. The train won’t leave until the destination sign is lit. I quoted Jerry Seinfeld when he spoke about riding horses: “All right, hopalong, I know the trail.”

Then at Union Station, we went to the Swatch store. Mom ended up getting three watches (can never have enough of those), and then we went down to Gourmet Station in the food court. I love that place – it has some really good food. I first discovered it on a DC trip back in 2005 or so, and have always enjoyed it. Then after that, off to the club…

Meanwhile, I’m going to be hitting the Twitter pretty hard on this trip, and so if you’re not already following me, you should. And I’ve already been uploading to Twitpic, like this one where the sign talks about “safety and security”. Don’t you love it when people will throw around “security” for anything? I would dare say that the requirement to be on board two minutes before departure is more about maintaining the schedule than it is about safety or security. After all, they have a train system to run. You can’t run a train system effectively when people are late. Let’s just be honest about it. People have become accustomed to hearing people justifying everything by saying “security” for everything. Honesty is the best policy. You need to do this to maintain the schedule? SAY SO!

So we’ll be on the train in no time… see you in Chicago!

Categories: Amtrak, WMATA

Do what you want ’cause a pirate is free… YOU ARE A PIRATE!

July 17, 2010, 9:34 PM

Yes, today was Anonymous DC’s annual “Sea Arrrgh” raid, where pirates was the theme. We usually do pirates in June, but due to problems with scheduling and then weather, we ended up scrapping the June raid and doing pirates in July.

The big thing about this raid was seeing the most recent development that came out of Sparrow’s solo raiding that he does during the week. Yesterday, Sparrow received an official Suppressive Person Declare, which is the Scientology equivalent of being excommunicated in other religious groups. I got to read his SP declare, and it was absolutely hilarious, with a number of things that just seemed “canned”, but in Scientology’s own little (alien) world, I’m sure it means something totally serious.

And meanwhile, here’s Sparrow, all smiles as a declared Suppressive Person:

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Categories: Family, Project Chanology

No longer a Nutella virgin…

July 14, 2010, 9:27 PM

So on Monday, with the encouragement of Elissar (coworker of mine), I tried Nutella for the first time. I was inspired by photos that Elissar had posted on Facebook of Caitlin (another coworker) doing the same thing – trying Nutella for the first time. The idea was to get a little dollop of Nutella on your spoon, get some “before” pictures, and then taste the Nutella for the camera. So here goes:

Posing with the Nutella and the spoon.  Posing with the Nutella and the spoon.
Posing with the Nutella and the spoon.

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Categories: Food and drink

So I had a fun weekend…

July 12, 2010, 9:21 PM

I certainly had fun this past weekend, spending it in Stuarts Draft. The goal was twofold: to attend the wedding of Patrick Jarrett and Anna Duncan, and to help Mom clean out some of the junk in the house in preparation for new flooring in the bedrooms.

Coming down, I took I-66 to I-81, on what had to have been one of the least stressful runs ever. Seriously, the ride went better than I’ve had in a long time. I made really good time, and I reached Waynesboro before you knew it. I only made two stops. At the second one, at the southbound rest area near New Market, I got an interesting picture:

Anyone want to guess what this is? Anyone have any idea what this might be? I'm stumped, and my gut reaction was joking to myself that BP has been busy, spilling more oil.

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Categories: Family, Friends, Katie

“And every Friday, he calls me a bastard!”

July 9, 2010, 9:23 AM

And he will again, because… it’s Friday, ya bastards!

Of course, yesterday is what really felt like Friday for me, because I took the day off today. See, I’m going down to Stuarts Draft today, because then on Saturday, Mom and I are going to Buena Vista for my friend Patrick Jarrett’s wedding. Pretty cool, if you ask me. I’ve known Patrick for around ten years, and I’m really excited and happy for him that he’s getting married. And of all the places for Anna (his bride) to be from, she’s from Stuarts Draft! How cool is that.

Of course, that means I have to drive down, which I’m not particularly looking forward to. It’s just a dull drive is all. I try to alternate taking I-81 and US 29 down and back, and so since I took 29 down and 81 up last time, I’m taking 81 down and 29 back this time. So I get to deal with a sea of tractor-trailers early on this time, and then deal with traffic lights on the way back.

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Categories: Friends, Stuarts Draft

So I decided to talk and drive again…

July 8, 2010, 2:19 PM

So on Wednesday evening, I decided to talk and drive again. I set the cell phone in the GPS holder once again, and started talking. I started at approximately 16th and T Streets NW, heading north on 16th Street:

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So we went from box to parts to bike…

July 6, 2010, 10:50 PM

So I finally finished the birthday present process. My parents got me an exercise bike for my birthday, and the monthlong process of actually getting it ready for use is finally complete. It wasn’t supposed to take a month, but you know how things happen. But yeah, about a month ago, we ordered the exercise bike from Sears – a ProForm recumbent cycle. A couple of hours later, it was ready for pickup at the Sears in White Oak.

As a side note, by the way, the Sears in White Oak is the biggest Sears store I’ve ever seen, and the only standalone Sears I’ve ever seen. It’s got a footprint the size of a large grocery store, and it’s two stories. If that building used to be something else, I would be surprised, because it looks like your typical mall-based Sears with multiple exterior entrances, but without the mall attached to it.

So I headed over to Sears, and picked the thing up. The gentleman in the store helped me get it in the car (it’s things like this that make me glad I have a station wagon), and I took it home. However, getting this massive thing up the stairs was another issue altogether. But I somehow managed, and ended up with this:

The exercise bike, still boxed up (but in the house!)

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Categories: Furniture

My favorite phrase in the evening…

July 2, 2010, 7:12 PM

My favorite phrase in the evening is definitely “51 NORBECK P&R“. That’s my bus, and it means I’m going home. And it looks like this:

51 to Norbeck Park and Ride

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Categories: Ride On, WMATA

“We’ve got a store that I explore when the customers aren’t here anymore…”

June 27, 2010, 12:14 AM

Tonight I learned some very disturbing news. G20 protesters in Toronto broke windows at The Bay’s Queen Street store on Saturday. Fans of Today’s Special will know this place best as simply “the store”. I was shocked, and it actually briefly brought tears to my eyes. But they did:

Broken windows at the store  Broken windows at the store
Photos: Karen Liu/Toronto Life

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Welcome to the new site!

June 25, 2010, 7:46 PM

Welcome to the newly-redesigned Schumin Web! Since February, I’ve been busy at work on the site, reworking the code and generally cleaning the site up, and now it’s finished and launched.

The main thrust of this redesign was to finally get away from using tables for layout, and do the layout entirely in CSS. I also pledged to do everything “right” this time, and not do anything kludgy. If I didn’t know how to make something work the way I wanted, then by golly, I researched it to find out how to make it work as intended.

However, the site still generally looks like the old site, since I admit – I really like the layout, and I saw no reason to make major revisions to that at this time. Why fix what’s not broken, after all? But that doesn’t mean I didn’t take the time to do a lot of smaller changes.

Let me give you a quick rundown on some of the stuff that’s new…

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

So I tried my hand at video blogging today…

June 23, 2010, 10:36 PM

So I tried my hand at video blogging on the way home from work today. I used my phone, setting it up it in the holder clipped on my air vent that I usually use for the GPS while I was stopped at a red light. Then I started it recording and just started discussing things:

And there you go, I suppose. It’s a first try, and so I kind of want to know what you think. Did I plan out what I wanted to say? No. I just kind of discussed it as I thought of it. And I managed to go on for just about ten minutes. So what do you think? Like it? Hate it? Think it’s got potential but needs to be refined? I want to know.

The Sable’s all mine!

June 21, 2010, 2:45 PM

Certainly you’re familiar with the Sable:

My 2004 Mercury Sable LS wagon

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Categories: Mercury Sable

Now I understand why Randi Rhodes says that the news has been cancelled…

June 15, 2010, 9:25 PM

I recently had a request for an interview by Kathryn Blaze Carlson of the National Post. It’s a Toronto-based newspaper, and according to its Wikipedia article, has a conservative-leaning editorial section. I was asked for an interview about black blocs due to my having participated in more than a dozen black blocs. I figured that since this was a news article and not an opinion piece, that some journalistic integrity would be in effect here, and my comments would be quoted truthfully. Not so, I’m afraid. As political pundit Randi Rhodes has so eloquently put it many times in the past, “The news has been cancelled.”

Now I’ve definitely done interviews with the media before. I was interviewed on WHSV back in 1996 about Virginia’s Standards of Learning, I had an interview in 2001 about Schumin Web in Turf (a short-lived supplement to JMU’s The Breeze newspaper), and then I was interviewed in 2006 by The News Virginian about the Skyline Parkway Motel at Rockfish Gap. This was my first interview about political issues.

What I found out after reading the final story, called “Black Bloc & Blue“, is that I could have said anything, and the story would have come out the same. Seriously, I could have said that when a black bloc forms at a demonstration, the sky turns yellow and people all start singing “La Marseillaise”, and it wouldn’t have made a difference. Carlson seemed to have it already set in her mind that “black bloc” was a movement and a defined group, and despite my best efforts at talking her down from it, it seemed that my assertions that the whole thing was a tactic and not a movement fell on deaf ears.

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Categories: Black bloc

Here’s some advice: Don’t eat a five-day-old salad…

June 14, 2010, 11:48 PM

That’s my advice for you, because on Saturday, I wasn’t feeling too well, and I blame it on Friday’s lunch. You know how it is – you wake up feeling icky and with a fever, and then by the end of the day, the fever has broken, and all is feeling well again. I have a feeling it was food poisoning on Saturday. At least that was my theory until recently.

Except now I don’t know what to think, since I started feeling bad again on Monday, too, and I’d not eaten anything else that I could pin down as questionable. I hope I’m not getting sick. That would be really unpleasant. But as of right now, I have a fever, and my chest hurts from all the coughing I’ve been doing. I really don’t want to have to call out at work tomorrow, because I’ve got stuff I need to do down there, so hopefully I’ll be in a state where I can make it in tomorrow.

Meanwhile, now I’m trying to figure out where I caught this. It’s been two weeks since Boston, so for all I know, I might have caught something up there, because after all, that was a perfect breeding ground for colds, with people sharing rooms and coming together from all sorts of cities. I consider that most likely, because since coming back, I haven’t done anything, other than the aforementioned salad that was a shade past its prime, that would have made me sick.

Actually, I take that back. We got all of our summer interns in recently at work, and I wonder if I didn’t catch something from one of them. That would certainly be unpleasant, wouldn’t it?

Either way, it certainly shot my weekend. I was planning to go out, and ended up staying in all weekend. That did, however, do wonders for the Web site, where I got a lot of work done on new content (by the way, look for the CSS version of the site to go live around July 1 with at least two new photo sets at launch).

You know, driving is starting to look really attractive…

June 7, 2010, 2:37 PM

Well, Metro announced its fare increase, and it’s now going to cost me $11.00 round trip for work. Multiply that by 22 workdays per month on average, and you’ve got $242 in commuting costs per month. By comparison, the cost of a monthly parking pass at my building is $230. Transit still edges out driving when you factor in the cost of gas and increased car maintenance, plus that early-evening nap that I like to take on the Metro going home. Plus I’ve made friendships on the bus, and I would miss those folks if I started driving to work every day. It’s those little intangibles that are keeping me on transit, even as the costs are coming close to being a wash.

But with this new fare increase, one really has to start wondering if Metro isn’t starting to price itself out of the market. For folks like me who commute from the suburbs and have a choice between driving and commuting, if driving becomes cheaper than public transportation, I’m driving. I don’t care that I’m a public transportation buff. If it’s more expensive than driving and parking, then the hell with it. I’ll add one more car to the road, spewing noxious fumes out its tailpipe.

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Categories: WMATA