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Montgomery County is definitely not itself right now…

June 30, 2012, 5:06 PM

And that’s putting it lightly.  A very big storm blew through the DC area on Friday night, and the results were not pretty.  As I understand it, the weather event was called a derecho, and the effects of such a phenomenon were painfully obvious for those of us in Montgomery County.  Remember back in 2010, when that big storm came up out of nowhere and left much of Montgomery County without power?  It seems that history has repeated itself.  This storm blew through, and took out trees all over the place, and with that came power lines, and that left Montgomery County in the dark.  According to WUSA, out of 305,000 Pepco customers in Montgomery County, 210,000 of them currently don’t have electricity, and out of 800 traffic lights in the county, 500 of them don’t work on account of power outages.  And unfortunately, I am part of the two-thirds of Montgomery County that doesn’t have power.  I lost power on Friday night.  The lights went on and off a few times, and then went out for good.  And they’re still out.

And with so much of the county in the dark, people’s patterns changed.  First of all, getting around is a real pain.  With five out of eight traffic lights down (and no rhyme or reason about which lights are dead), we have been told all over to treat dark traffic signals like four-way stops, which slows things down.  From what I can tell, there are four ways that intersections with traffic lights are treated in these sorts of situations.  First are the lights that work.  Those function as they always do.  Then there are the really big intersections, which have police officers directing traffic through them.  Then the bigger intersections but that aren’t as big as the others get these little portable stop signs between the lanes to remind drivers that they are supposed to treat the intersection as a four-way stop.  And then finally, most intersections with dark lights are just left dark without any signage or personnel on scene, and drivers are expected to be courteous to each other and stop before proceeding.

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The arrival of a new statue…

June 28, 2012, 10:18 PM

So apparently my office building is getting a new statue in the courtyard.  They closed off the 1600 block of P Street NW around 4:30 or so this afternoon to deliver it, no less.  The statue is of a firefighter and a dog, and is, as best as I can tell, the National Fire Dog Monument for the American Humane Association, which is headquartered in the other building of the office complex where I work.  This certainly caused a fun little interruption to the day just before it was time to go home.  And here it is:

The statue, on the truck.
The statue, on the truck.

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Categories: Work

“…you’re in Angel Grove…”

June 27, 2012, 2:47 PM

So now that Falcon is done and pretty much just waiting a few more days to launch on July 1, I’m starting to turn my mind towards other endeavors again.  First of all, I significantly curtailed the amount of Wikipedia contributions that I would make while doing Falcon.  I want to keep the level of my contributions at that lower amount, because Wikipedia has started to annoy me as of late, and I’m happier making far less edits.  Plus I spent too much time on Wikipedia before, and that caused work on Schumin Web to suffer, and so it’s time to spend more time taking care of my first creation.  The time between shooting and publication on photo sets had become far too much, with many months between becoming the norm.  And that was unacceptable.

But looking at what I want to do, aside from the aforementioned Transit Center update, I’m thinking about doing some creative writing.  I’ve been watching a bunch of Power Rangers episodes lately, and I want to try something in that vein (you wondered why I mentioned Angel Grove in the title, didn’t you?).  No, I’m not dressing up in spandex and fighting monsters.  Though that would be kind of fun – three guesses as to what Power Ranger costume I would be wearing, and the first two don’t count.  But no.  I want to do something along the lines of the adapting of stock content into a completely new story and making it believeable.  Realize that the way Power Rangers works is that first the Super Sentai television show is made in Japan for Japanese audiences.  Then Saban acquires the rights to the season, and cuts the episodes up to make a completely new show, adding their own original scenes, and recording new audio to go over the Japanese footage of the suit battles, zord battles, and (sometimes) villain scenes.  A careful viewer of Power Rangers can usually notice when it changes between original footage and the source material from Super Sentai, because the quality of the footage is a little different with regard to lighting and colors, the Power Rangers’ costumes are shiny in the Sentai footage but not in the American footage, and occasionally elements of some costumes are changed (like Elgar’s face in original Turbo footage, vs. in Carranger footage).

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The last update on the old platform…

June 24, 2012, 8:07 PM

Boy, this is a weird feeling.  But it’s true – this Journal entry is the last update I’m doing on the old system.  The final conversion to WordPress happens in less than a week (12:01 AM on July 1, 2012, to be exact), and so at this point I feel like it’s more trouble than it’s worth to continue to cross-post updates on Falcon and the production site.  I’ve been writing new Journal entries in Falcon and then converting them down to the old system for a few weeks now (vs. converting for Falcon), and so it will be nice to not have to do that anymore, since the conversion was entirely manual, and prone to mistakes.  And once beta testing began a week ago, that took the wraps off of Falcon, it got particularly annoying to do the extra work for a site where its days were numbered in the teens, and where the successor website was already publicly available (albeit in beta test form).

That said, if I do any Journal entries between now and July 1, I’m not cross-posting them to the old site.  I’m going to post them on Falcon only, and then they will come over when Falcon becomes the production site.

Meanwhile, beta testing is going quite well, thank you very much.  People have been combing through Falcon, and interestingly enough, not a single technical problem has been uncovered.  I figured I’d have a small list of errors that needed to be corrected after a week of testing.  Apparently I did my work fairly well.  The only mistakes that have turned up are minor factual errors in the Fire Alarm Collection pages, and a date error on the new James Madison University photo set that’s being released with the conversion.  Nothing technical at all – entirely “human” problems, i.e. I could be the biggest WordPress whiz in the world and still have made those mistakes because they had nothing to do with WordPress.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

Safety is important on Metro, but let’s not tiptoe around the elephant in the room…

June 18, 2012, 11:05 PM

So I was at Judiciary Square station today on business, and noticed a few new things in the station:

New wall-mounted camera

Three-way camera mount on top of the PIDS screen

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Categories: CTA, MBTA, Security, WMATA

The world’s loudest swim jammer…

June 14, 2012, 11:08 PM

I believe that I have found the world’s loudest swim jammer.  Take a look at this:

My Dolfin Winners jammer in "Firefly Blue"

Oh, yeah.  I’ve been going swimming in this suit all week.  Dolfin Winners, “Firefly Blue“.  The way I figure, swimming ought to be fun.  And companies like Speedo and Tyr will make exciting suits for women, but the equivalent jammer suits for men are decidedly blah.

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Categories: Clothing, Swimming

Didn’t think I would have a “Fox issues the power” moment, but…

June 8, 2012, 10:41 PM

…but it looks like Falcon is going to have one.  First of all, though, if you’re wondering what I’m even talking about, it’s a Power Rangers reference.  Before Power Rangers Zeo began, they ran “It’s Coming” previews, and then ran the full song before the first episode of the show.  One line was difficult to understand.  The correct lyrics were, “Unleashing the power”, but Sis and I thought it was “Fox [something] the power” (Power Rangers was airing on Fox at that time).  Back in 1996, we wrote to Mark Oxman (aka “Maxmouze”), who ran a Power Rangers newsletter at the time, about the lyrics.  He indicated that the words were “Fox issues the power”.  Even though Mark Oxman got it wrong, the mondegreen has become how I describe hyped up premieres.

And Falcon’s becoming Schumin Web isn’t that big of a deal visually.  The site will look mostly the same.  But the Fire Alarm Collection pages are getting a big upgrade.  That’s because the restoration of that area is coinciding with some long overdue updates, including added alarms, and all new illustrations.  Realize that many of the photos in the alarm collection pages are more than ten years old.  That’s back in the era of my original Mavica camera.  And I wasn’t nearly as meticulous about how I kept photos early on, and the originals for the old photos had been lost.  So there would be no restoration at all if I kept the old photos in place.  So over the last week or so, I configured part of my kitchen as something of a photography studio, and took new photos of every alarm in the collection.  I’ll leave the final result under wraps for now (mostly because I’m not done with the pages), but I want you to see some of the behind-the-scenes work, as the alarms went in for their closeups…

The tablecloth on my kitchen table does double duty as a backdrop for fire alarms.
The tablecloth on my kitchen table does double duty as a backdrop for fire alarms.

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