Renovations at Union Station!

July 25, 2012, 2:16 PM

This is my traditional posted-from-Club-Acela-at-Union-Station Journal entry, because I’m going to be on a train to Chicago with my mother within the hour.  Should be fun.  However, at Union Station, I was surprised to see a lot of netting and scaffolding in the Main Hall.  Last time I was at Union Station, which was in October for the anti-Walmart demonstration, this wasn’t there.  From what I can find, this scaffolding and netting is for ceiling repairs necessitated by damage from the earthquake that happened last August.

In any event, it’s pretty neat looking, seeing all of this extra hardware in what is otherwise a very clean looking Main Hall:

Lights under the scaffolding around the statues on the west side of the Main Hall.
Lights under the scaffolding around the statues on the west side of the Main Hall.

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Categories: Amtrak, Washington DC

“Magic” is the latest concept…

July 24, 2012, 10:31 PM

So I’m testing concepts in my sandbox site ahead of a full redesign.  I want to see what I think of potential color schemes and potential new arrangements, and what others think about the same.  So I put something together last night to see what it would look like.  What I did was I went with a dark background color and put a light background behind the content.  I also replaced the logo, mainly just to get my regular logo out of the picture (since I want to change it anyway).  Nothing else changed.  The layout is exactly the same.  Just colors and the logo.

And here is the result:

Main Page
Main Page

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

“I may love the rain, but I… I sure don’t like that!”

July 19, 2012, 10:34 PM

What a crazy storm.  This would be a good time to snap, clap, and chuckle, that’s for sure.  The wind wasn’t that big on this one, but the rain was very heavy, and the thunder and lightning was pretty much constant.  Not the occasional interruption – pretty much one right after the other.

So while all this was going on, what did I do?  I grabbed the camera and the tripod, and set them up on the balcony for some photos.  I set them up pretty far back on the balcony, for that matter, since I’ll be darned if I’m going to lose another camera to rain.  I set myself up even further, as I was standing inside, reaching out the door to manipulate the camera’s controls.  I’m not getting hit by lightning for this.  So the pictures I got weren’t exactly the greatest, but I had never shot lightning before, either.  So this isn’t exactly like those photos of lightning (like this one) that you see in books and such.  I don’t know how to take those photos, plus I don’t usually have the opportunity to practice these sorts of things.  The photos did sort of surprise me, though, mainly because of the amount of light that I caught with the long exposure shots.  Note that these photos were taken roughly between 9:45 and 10:00 at night.

And here they are:

Rain coming off the gutters.  Whenever it rains really hard, the gutter over my balcony gets overwhelmed, and water starts coming really heavily out of one particular spot.
Rain coming off the gutters.  Whenever it rains really hard, the gutter over my balcony gets overwhelmed, and water starts coming really heavily out of one particular spot.

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Categories: Weather

I didn’t want to have this I-told-you-so moment, but…

July 18, 2012, 8:53 PM

You know, I really didn’t want to have the I-told-you-so moment that I had today.  But when it comes to Ride On in Montgomery County and those Navistar Champion cutaway vans, well, I called it right.

First of all, I am talking about these Ride On “buses”:

Ride On Navistar Champion cutaway, bus 5210

Yes, the cutaways.  What’s happened is that today, after yet another fire involving the Champions (bus 5208 in this case), County Executive Ike Leggett announced in a statement that the Champion cutaway vans would be immediately withdrawn from service – permanently.  This supersedes earlier plans to phase out the Champions over 18 months.

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While preparation is good, I really don’t want to have to use it…

July 16, 2012, 11:19 PM

So I’m going to Chicago with Mom in a little more than a week.  Like every time we go to Chicago, we’re taking the Capitol Limited both ways, and we’re going to be taking the “L” to get around the city.  So far, it looks like it’s going to be a fun trip.

And then of course, you’re welcome to place your bets on how long it takes for a CTA employees with a chip on their shoulder to harass me about photography in the system.  Recall that last year, a CTA employee at Fullerton station made a scene about photography.  Additionally, I was harassed about it at Howard station in 2010.  I occasionally get the same crap from WMATA employees in DC, but I have learned that I can shut them down fairly easily just by standing up to them.  I have found that CTA employees are a little tougher to crack than the DC folks, but my lack of access to Chicago transit (living in the DC area and all) makes it harder to figure out what quickly shuts them down.

Now going into this, I have two things in my favor.  First, I have the official CTA photo policy from their website.  It states:

The general public is permitted to use hand-held cameras to take photographs, capture digital images, and videotape within public areas of CTA stations and transit vehicles for personal, non-commercial use.

Large cameras, photo or video equipment, or ancillary equipment such as lighting, tripods, cables, etc. are prohibited (except in instances where commercial and professional photographers enter into contractual agreements with CTA).

All photographers and videographers are prohibited from entering, photographing, or videotaping non-public areas of the CTA’s transit system.

All photographers and videographers are prohibited from impeding customer traffic flow, obstructing transit operations, interfering with customers, blocking doors or stairs, and affecting the safety of CTA, its employees, or customers. All photographers and videographers must fully and immediately comply with any requests, directions, or instructions of CTA personnel related to safety concerns.

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Categories: Amtrak, CTA, Photography

Fun with muffins!

July 13, 2012, 2:05 PM

Remember how I said that I want to go photograph food?  Well, I got to do that a little bit today.  I went over to Metro Cafe, a little sandwich shop in the office complex where I work, for lunch.  And while I was waiting for my sandwich, I had a little fun with my cell phone camera and the muffin case.  And here was the result:


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Schumin Web after dark…

July 8, 2012, 7:38 PM

And apparently my life after dark, at least last night, was a bar, two buses, and four Green Line trains.  So cue up the “Fireside” music, because here it is.  I went into DC in order to hang out with Christina, a friend and former coworker, one more time before she moves to Hawaii.  I’m quite happy for her, because she’s wanted to move to Hawaii for a long time.  However, I’ll miss her in DC.  That’s why this evening was special.

Getting there, though, was a little more exciting than I expected.  The bar where we were going to was The Passenger, across 7th Street NW from the convention center.  I considered this to be a good opportunity to go see some of the new Rush+ signage that Metro had put up, that would include new station names and slightly different train movements.  I had originally decided to go in on the Green Line to avoid a shutdown on my neck of the Red Line, but after a heat kink fouled the Green Line on Friday evening, the planned shutdown on the Red Line was cancelled and it moved to the Green Line instead.  I didn’t realize that there was a shutdown on the Green Line until I got to Greenbelt station, but decided to just roll with it rather than get back in the car.  It’s okay, you see.  I did, however, spot an amusing license plate on the way in at Greenbelt station:

“CIAO BB”, a play on “Ciao, baby!”

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Categories: Friends, Washington DC, WMATA

The post-launch tweaks…

July 5, 2012, 9:15 PM

So the launch of The Schumin Web under WordPress is now five days in the past.  And now that it’s all in production, that’s when things start to come out.  Since the launch on Sunday, I have fixed a few errors in the Stuarts Draft High School photo set, I have changed the way I present RSS feeds on the site, I’ve connected all the various feeds to Facebook, and the comment system is a little different than when it launched.

On that last point, I am also slowly but surely getting used to the concept of comments and how to handle them.  For one thing, since comments are moderated, I get notified on my phone when comments come through so that I can review and approve them wherever I happen to be.  So now I have two notification tones.  I have this tone for regular text messages and such, which I’ve had on three different phones since 2008.  Now I also have this sound for comments through the Disqus app.  And I’ll bet that a lot of people are not surprised at all that I would have that for the comments tone (if you haven’t listened to it yet, I’ll wait).  Considering what it is, though, it certainly has great comedic potential around friends.  First time it went off was for some test comments that I threw at the site to see what would happen.  But then the first time that it went off “for real” while I was out and about was on Monday night.  I was leaving the pool and walking towards the car, and it went off.  Felt like real Power Ranger right there.  It was a comment, but with that kind of sound, it could have been a monster attacking Angel Grove (or at least a few putties).  You never know with these things.  But I’m slowly but surely getting used to it.

A few folks have questioned why I’m locking down my comments to the extent that I am.  Realize that right now, registration is required through one of a choice of six different services (Facebook, the Twitter, etc.), and all comments require approval before they’re visible.  As I see it, since the comment system is brand new right now, I’m taking a very cautious approach to things starting out.  Realize that, outside of my old discussion forums, the last time I allowed people to post on Schumin Web was about nine years ago.  I used to have a guest book on my site, and it eventually became more of a hassle than it was worth.  I spent far too much time removing rude and uncivil comments from my guest book that people posted there.  So on April 16, 2003, I locked the guest books down, and then removed them.  I do not regret that decision.  The memory of that incident four months before the Journal launched, along with my inability to program such a thing on the old site, led me to not include comments on the Journal when I started that in August 2003.  Now, though, the Internet has changed, and I think I can allow commenting directly on the site once again.  Why let a group of morons derail good “Web 2.0” discussion, right?  The discussion guidelines lay out the ground rules, and anything that falls below the guidelines won’t be allowed through.  Additionally, I am not allowing anonymous comments in an attempt to bring some civility and prevent the abuses that happened with the old guestbooks, since the names and emails on the abusive posts were fake, and just as mean-spirited as the comments themselves.  So the idea there is that people have to associate their comments with an already established identity on a third party’s site.  Thus you have to throw a reputation of some sort behind your posts.  I’m not worried so much about whether it’s a person’s real name or not, because regardless of whether you’re posting as “John Smith” or “Unsuck DC Metro”, you’re not using my site to establish a brand for yourself.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

Welcome to The Schumin Web, now powered by WordPress!

July 1, 2012, 12:01 AM

So how does it look?  This is The Schumin Web under WordPress in production – the culmination of about a year’s worth of effort in converting content from the old platform (a mishmash of whatever seemed to work) to the WordPress platform.  The work of the project known as “Falcon” is complete, and Falcon is now The Schumin Web.

I would also like to take a moment to thank the folks who beta tested Falcon over these last two weeks to make sure that everything was perfect and ready to go.  It’s always good to have a few extra sets of eyes looking at things to make sure that any mistakes are caught, and I appreciate your helping me check things over.

As far as changes go, there is a lot that’s different in this new build of the site – far more than I can say in a one-sentence site update message.  Here’s a rundown of some of the changes that have come with the conversion to the WordPress platform:

  • No more Splash Page.  After more than a decade, the Splash Page is no more.  The first page that a user entering through the main URL now sees is the Main Page.  The Splash Photo feature is now on the Welcome page.

  • Completely new URL structure.  If you are linking to or bookmarking anything on this site other than itself, then your links or bookmarks will no longer work.  It will probably take a few days for the search engines to catch up, so contact me if you were linking to something and can’t find it on the new site.

  • Fully restored content.  All photos have been restored from the originals.  I believe that the photos now look better than they ever did.  Additionally, all internal and external links have been updated for the new locations of things.

  • Full size images online.  I now offer my images online at the largest size that I have available.  See for yourself.  Click and download (but follow the license).

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Categories: Schumin Web meta