October 26, 2011, 12:24 AM

First of all, I can’t believe that Halloween is almost upon us again! Feels like just yesterday that it was Labor Day, no?

In the spirit of Halloween, I got together with some friends last Saturday night, and attended the fourth annual Silver Spring Zombie Walk in downtown Silver Spring. For those who don’t know, a zombie walk is an event where people dress up like the undead as commonly portrayed in works of fiction, and then walk through an area as a group, in character. In addition to people dressed as zombies, you also have people dressed as “zombie hunters”, who dress up like commandos and carry Nerf weapons and other similar faux-artillery.

In Silver Spring, my friends went dressed as zombies. I went straight and had my camera out. My goal was to get some photos and have a good time. I’d dare say that both goals were accomplished. The zombie walk gathered at approximately the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Sligo Avenue outside Jackie’s, just north of the point where the Red Line crosses Georgia Avenue (you know, that bright pink bridge). Once we got going, we walked north on Georgia Avenue as far as Ellsworth Drive. Then we made a right turn, walked east on Ellsworth Drive through the “Downtown” development, made a left turn, walked north on Fenton Street for two blocks, and then turned left and walked west on Colesville Road to the AFI Silver theater. There, the theater was showing two horror movies, and was the formal end of the zombie walk. We didn’t go to the movies, and instead continued on to Georgia Avenue, and then went back to the “Downtown” development on Ellsworth Drive, where we got to hang out for a while. Not bad!

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This goes to show that people are really starting to get it regarding the 99 percent!

October 21, 2011, 12:02 AM

So after work today, I spent some time with the “Occupy DC” group doing an anti-Walmart demonstration at Union Station. Basically, this was a demonstration held on the occasion of a $1,000 per plate fundraising dinner attended by a number of big names as far as the rich-bastard types go. Here’s what the description that I got said about it:

Rob Walton, son of Sam and chairman of the board of Walmart Stores, is going to be speaking in DC at a $1000/plate fundraising dinner tonight (Oct. 20) for Conservation International, an organization that helps big corporations greenwash their image. Respect DC is teaming up with Occupy DC to plan an action outside of this dinner to get out an anti Walmart message out to attendees, including Mr. Walton. Apparently Northrop Grumman and Harrison Ford (who is on CI’s board) will be there too.

First of all, I find it wonderful to finally publicly demonstrate against my former employer in a public setting. There are many, many, many reasons that Walmart is the scum of the earth, but considering how they chewed me up and spit me out, I have extra incentive to sock it to them.

So at 6:30, people started gathering at Union Station. This was staged a bit like a flash mob. People showed up, and blended in. Then someone blew a horn, and the demonstration began. The demonstration was very much anti-Walmart and full of energy.

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Categories: Activism, Walmart

Again it makes me think about the whole idea of historical accuracy vs. great presentation…

October 16, 2011, 4:32 PM

So this Sunday afternoon, I’m at my desk at the house, hard at work restoring photo sets from 2003 for Schumin Web. And as I do this, I’m constantly thinking about the work that I’m doing, and how I should be doing it.

I made the decision early on when planning this restoration and conversion to be amazingly thorough. In a few of the quote articles that I’ve restored, I replaced the images with different but similar ones. These were cases where the source of the original images was a little murky due to my not having tracked where these images (that weren’t mine to begin with) came from. It was unfortunate that the handling of that was sloppy, but I was much younger at the time, between 19 and 21, and didn’t know any better. Now I’m much better about image credits and such, and the only images these days that don’t get an image credit are the ones that I own myself. Two quote articles that are getting new images entirely that I can think of right offhand are the fireworks quote from 2001, and the relaxation quote from 2002. It’s nothing drastic, though. Just replacing the images with sloppy sourcing where the specific photo is not crucial to the discussion with similar free content from Wikimedia Commons.

Then the other part of this is the photo sets. The images there, like everywhere else, are being reprocessed from the original material to improve their appearance. Let me give you an example of what this entails, from the “Autumn Leaves” photo set:

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

My first Breda ride…

October 11, 2011, 10:22 PM

So I was scanning again on Sunday, since I brought all the old photos up from Stuarts Draft a few weeks ago.  Among other things, I scanned in the photos from our family’s first trip to Washington DC, which we did with friends of ours visiting from out of town, on June 21, 1994.  The night before, all of us had stayed with another friend in Tracys Landing, Maryland, and then drove over to Pentagon City Mall, where we caught the Metro at Pentagon City.  We rode into DC from there to McPherson Square.  That first ride was on a Rohr (1000-Series) car, since I specifically remember the red door release covers from that ride.

Getting off the Metro, we toured the White House, went to the Natural History museum, and then saw the Air and Space Museum.  Not too bad.  We were definitely all tourists on that trip, and so we did the tourist thing.

Then on the way back, we took Metro from Smithsonian back to Pentagon City.  As chance would have it, either Mom or Dad took a picture of me on the return trip home.  And much to my surprise, in looking at the photo this weekend, it turns out that the return trip was on a Breda:

My first Breda ride, from June 21, 1994

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Categories: Washington DC, WMATA

What an, um… unfortunate… placement right there…

October 6, 2011, 11:02 PM

This is a rather unfortunate design:

A rather unfortunate design

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Categories: Amusing, Products

Who would have ever thought that “A Protest Against the War” would be such a pain to prepare for restoration?

October 5, 2011, 12:16 AM

This falls under the category of things-you-did-back-in-the-day-that-you-didn’t-realize-would-be-such-a-pain-to-deal-with-today. I’m currently getting things together to restore all the photo sets from 2003 for the WordPress site, and right now I’m specifically working on A Protest Against the War.

First of all, you remember that set, right? That was the first time I had ever been to an anti-war demonstration, and thus the character of this set is different than most other photo sets for political demonstrations. After all, it is in the Photography section, and thus is formatted like Photography sets (“Photo Essays”, as they were called back then) were formatted at that time. Protests now normally go in Life and Times, and take the form of a heavily-illustrated narrative. Then the wording sounds a little too academic in places, which was unusual for a photo set then, and still is today. When I wrote the text for that set, I had just completed a course in western political theory, which explains where all the academic-sounding wording came from. In rereading it this evening, I really had to think about what I was talking about back then.

The quality of the photos is all right, but the post-production processing was poor, as the color is a little washed out and the images are too light. That’s what this whole restoration is about, though – redoing the post-production work on the photos and generally making it all look better, plus fixing any mistakes, writing in more context (for instance, a lot of older photo sets lack explanation for some things because I considered them a given at the time), adding more links, and updating the photo set to match any new conventions being introduced on the WordPress site.

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Categories: Myself, Schumin Web meta

When writing Metro’s customer service, remember: be polite, be specific, and keep it to the point.

October 3, 2011, 6:31 PM

So many people complain on the Twitter about having a bad time contacting Metro’s customer service. Take this exchange from earlier today between @jb_martin and myself, for example:

#WMATA‘s cust srvc dept needs a complete sandblasting from top to bottom…a child could handle complaints better than they could.
October 3 10:23 AM by @jb_martin

@jb_martin @FixWMATA WMATA customer service gives good service as long as you are polite, specific, and to the point. Doing that? #wmata
October 3 10:45 AM by @SchuminWeb

@SchuminWeb do you happen to have the coordinates for the gateway to the parallel universe you’re obviously referring to? @FixWMATA
October 3 12:08 PM by @jb_martin

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who has nice things to say about Metro’s customer service department. But if I have a concern that I need addressed, I am polite, specific, and to the point. I do not provide my personal opinion about what I may or may not consider the value and importance of what I am bringing to their attention. Obviously, if I am still thinking about it when I get to a real computer and go to Metro’s comment form to send Metro a note, it is assumed that it is important to me. However, while I make no explicit value judgments, I will try to give an educated guess as to what I believe the problem might be if I can.

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Categories: Social media, WMATA