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A little walk down memory lane with Mom…

December 31, 2013, 4:07 PM

I certainly had a fun time this past weekend.  Mom came up to visit for a few days, and on Saturday the 28th, we went up to New Jersey for the day, where we wandered around an old stomping ground: Glassboro.  This is where my parents met while in college, and this is also the first place where I lived, from birth to age three.

The first stop was Rowan University, which was Glassboro State College back in Mom and Dad’s day.  First stop was at the Barnes and Noble, which is now the university bookstore.  I had never been in a Barnes and Noble on a college campus before.  It’s something of a cross between a college bookstore and a normal Barnes and Noble, in that it’s styled like a regular store, it has the cafe, it has a section for books and other stuff that they normally sell, but then it also has a section for school-specific merchandise, a school supply section (smaller than I expected), and a textbook section.  Mom got this:

Mom poses with a Glassboro State hoodie

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Categories: Family, Glassboro

If you think that you take your Christmas light displays seriously…

December 27, 2013, 11:12 PM

You may think that you take your own Christmas light display seriously, but I’ll bet that you’ve been outdone by this house located on Red Hill Way in Ellicott City, which my mother and I took a side trip to visit after going to Arundel Mills today.  First, just take a look at the lighting, which by itself is pretty extensive:

Light show on Red Hill Way in Ellicott City

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Categories: Christmas

Holidays are not about a calendar date, but are about what you make of them…

December 25, 2013, 10:03 PM

Happy Festivus, everyone.  It’s time to air some grievances.  It’s time to discuss this neurotic fascination of some people in trying to force their beliefs on everyone else about how one should spend a holiday.  This year, I have just about had my fill of hearing people insist that all of the stores should be closed on [insert holiday here] so that people can spend time with their families.  It starts around Thanksgiving when the stores announce the hours for their sales.  This is when you hear people say, “What?  They’re open on Thanksgiving?  Why aren’t these people spending time with their families?” or, “You’re taking these people away from their families!”  Recall that there was a story this year about a Pizza Hut manager who lost his job because he refused to open the restaurant that he managed on Thanksgiving.  Then the whole discussion comes around again near Christmas when places make the announcement as to whether or not they’re going to be open on that day.

The thing that these people who raise such a fuss on television, radio, and the Internet tend to forget is that holidays are personal affairs.  Everyone celebrates holidays a little bit differently than the next person.  And not everyone celebrates the same holidays.  For some people, December 25 is “Christmas”.  For other people, December 25 is “Wednesday”.  And the specific dates of many holidays actually have no significance.  The celebration may have significance, but the date itself is usually not directly tied to that celebration.  Thanksgiving is on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States.  It’s that day because Congress set the formal observance on that day, i.e. that day on which the federal government is closed in observance.  Christmas is normally observed on December 25, near the date of the winter solstice.  Why?  Because Christians hijacked some pagan celebrations and made them into their own holiday.  In fact, we don’t know when “Jesus” was born, or if “Jesus” even existed at all.  The dates of some holidays have significance, like Martin Luther King Day (observance of King’s birthday), Washington’s Birthday (I don’t really have to explain this, do I?), Independence Day (marking the date of the Declaration of Independence), and Veterans’ Day (honoring our veterans, on the date that the armistice with Germany took effect, ending World War I), but most of the other holidays’ dates are not significant in and of themselves.  For instance, Labor Day could be the last Monday in August instead of the first Monday in September, and the observance would be unchanged.

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Categories: Christmas, Religion

Look at what I unearthed…

December 24, 2013, 11:22 PM

So I was digging around in the Internet Archive Wayback Machine tracking down some missing text for Project TXL (the Today’s Special site revamp), and I ended up finding this gem from approximately December 1, 1999:

Schumin Web 404 error from December 1, 1999, viewed at modern resolution

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

Ten years after I graduated college, I’m going back to school…

December 23, 2013, 4:08 PM

First of all, yes, it really has been ten years since I finished college.  I finished up at JMU a little more than ten years ago, and then they mailed me the diploma not long after that.  I can’t believe that it’s been that long.  Doesn’t feel like ten years have gone by, that’s for sure.

That said, a lot has happened lately.  I am now the proud holder of a commercial learner’s permit, which I got on Monday at the MVA in Gaithersburg.  That was a stressful time, but probably not in the way you might think.  I got in there, got my number, and then sat down, figuring that I might as well get comfortable.  I took this picture, and then posted it to Instagram:

Waiting on one of the benches at the MVA in Gaithersburg

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Categories: Driving, School, Work

Lights on the Bay!

December 20, 2013, 3:35 PM

So on Wednesday evening, I got together with my friend Melissa, and we spent much of the afternoon and evening in Annapolis.  We visited the downtown area and Annapolis Mall, we had dinner, and then headed down to Sandy Point State Park, where we saw the “Lights on the Bay” Christmas light display.

In downtown Annapolis, we visited approximately the same area that I explored back in April.  We parked on Main Street, and went down to the harbor, explored around a bit, went up to the traffic circle near the Maryland State House, and then returned to the car.  We were both kind of amused with getting photos of each other, more than anything else.

Case in point:

Selfie.
Selfie.

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Categories: Annapolis, Christmas, Melissa

A little polish and elbow grease is a great way to move on…

December 2, 2013, 10:36 PM

Sometimes you never know what is going to provide a sense of closure to a chapter in one’s life.  In this case, shining up my water bottles provided a sense of closure to a chapter in my life that I have been trying to move on from.  Recall that I left Food & Water Watch in July as I looked to determine what the next chapter in my career would be.  However, it’s hard to move on when I was staring at the branding of my former employer every time that I would take a drink of water.  To put it another way, I love my stainless steel water bottles from Klean Kanteen, but what was screenprinted on the bottles reminded me of something that I would prefer to put behind me.

In other words, this:

My "Take Back the Tap" water bottles

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Reading the book…

November 22, 2013, 11:15 AM

So to bring everyone up to speed on the employment situation, I am still between engagements.  That’s not to say that I’ve not been diligently submitting tons of applications and going to the occasional interview, but I still have yet to land a new full-time job.  However, there’s been a shift in my thinking.  I had an “aha” moment not too long ago when it came to what I wanted to do.  Everyone has said, considering how much of a transit nerd I am, that I should get into public transportation.  I talked it over with my family, and they all think it’s a great idea, so I’m taking steps toward making that so.  I want to get in on the ground floor and then work my way up.  After all, I love transit.  I can’t get enough of it.  So why not make it my career, already?

That said, I’m currently reading the Maryland CDL Manual with the intent of getting a commercial learner’s permit so that I can learn how to drive a bus.  So far, I’ve read Section 1, which is a general overview of the manual and the whole CDL process, as well as a list of many of the various offenses that would cause you to lose your CDL from a period ranging from a few months to life depending on what sort of offense and number of offenses.  I’ve also read Section 2.1, which discusses the pre-trip inspection.

The pre-trip inspection is something that, if you didn’t know to do it, you might not think to do it, but it makes perfect sense considering what you’re doing.  After all, these are very large vehicles that we’re talking about here.  Compare the size of a bus to that of a regular car:

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At last, I found a format that I can work with…

November 19, 2013, 11:18 AM

You may remember that a few weeks ago, I discussed how I’m constantly evaluating my website properties, and determining what is the best course of action for each individual property.  At that time, I mentioned that while the main website (i.e. what you’re looking at now) and College Life have both taken modern forms, with a content management system (CMS) driving everything, the Today’s Special site and Transit Center still had an older architecture, with no CMS driving everything and making things easy to maintain.  The idea with the Today’s Special site was to convert it to a knowledge base about all things Today’s Special, covering the show more deeply and more extensively than I had ever done before.  Transit Center was still a bit up in the air, with my being a bit undecided on what to do with the site.

Now, I have updates for you.

Let’s get this part over with first: The Schumin Web Transit Center will be closing at the end of the year.  It’s closing because it doesn’t meet my current quality standards, and I believe that the site has run its course.  That’s not to say that I’m not still very much a public transportation nerd, but I no longer feel that the separate website is the best way to express that enthusiasm for transit, as I don’t feel that it puts my best foot forward.  So take a good look at it now, because it won’t be there when the ball drops for 2014.

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So there I am, fast asleep, staring down a fire alarm…

November 11, 2013, 12:09 AM

I graduated from high school in 1999.  That means that I have been out of high school for fourteen years.  The question I have is, why am I still having fire drill dreams?  I had one of these on Saturday night, and I don’t get it.

In this dream, I was going to Stuarts Draft High School, which is where I actually went to high school.  Back then, the school had a Simplex system, but the school has since been renovated.  It now has a Notifier system with System Sensor horn/strobes.  The take-home point on this, however, is that the school now contains a horn/strobe in every classroom.  And I am acutely aware of this.  When I was in school, I only shared a classroom with a fire alarm horn once.  That was in kindergarten at Southside Elementary School in Rogers, Arkansas, but the kindergarten room was the size of a basketball court with a really high ceiling.  At Grimes Elementary in Rogers, and Stuarts Draft Middle School and Stuarts Draft High School in Virginia, I never shared a classroom with a fire alarm horn except for in shop classes (where I never had a fire drill) and Phys. Ed, where we did have the occasional fire drill.  However, in middle school, two Edwards horns in a big gym weren’t very loud, but four Simplex 4040 horns in the gym in high school were extremely loud.  But outside from those situations, there were no horns in the rooms where I had class (the horns were out in the hallway).

In this dream, I was sitting in a modern-looking classroom on the first day of school at Stuarts Draft High School.  And across the room from me was this:

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Categories: Dreams, Fire drills, School

Irresponsible beyond belief…

November 8, 2013, 6:16 PM

So this past Monday, I took a day trip down to Augusta County with my friend Pete.  All in all, we had a fun time.  We had lunch at Barracks Road in Charlottesville, I showed Pete the cluster of abandoned buildings on Afton Mountain owned by local businessman Phil Dulaney, we hiked up to Humpback Rock, and we stopped by my parents’ house before heading north again via I-81.

When we visited the abandoned buildings on Afton Mountain, I pointed out the building that had the tree growing through it, we quickly looked at the Howard Johnson’s, but our visit focused mainly on this building:

Former Skyline Parkway Motor Court guest building, now covered in graffiti

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And once again, braaaaaaaaaaains…

October 31, 2013, 10:27 PM

One of the things I enjoy about Silver Spring is the annual zombie walk.  Last year’s zombie event was kind of ho-hum, considering that, for a number of reasons, it wasn’t a formal zombie walk, but rather, more a night for people to go out and drink while dressed up as zombies.  The zombie walk in 2011, which followed the usual model of a meetup, a walk, and then a movie, was much more fun.  This year’s zombie event followed the 2011 model, since as I believe that everyone realized that zombies without a walk was not nearly as fun (even if a lot of it was due to circumstances outside the organizers’ control).

That said, I had a lot of fun, as expected.  The zombie costumes were pretty gruesome, and there were also a few zombie hunters out there, too.  The surprise of the night, though, was that the zombie walk was rerouted at the last minute.  Turns out that someone made a bomb threat at the Majestic, a movie theater at the corner of Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street in Silver Spring.  The theater was evacuated, and since it was along the zombie walk’s route, the undead needed to be rerouted, which took the walk further east than originally planned, and approached the AFI Silver Theater, where a horror movie would be shown, from the east rather than from the west.

I also discovered that, in the hands of the right person, clowns can be made to look very scary.  I had always laughed about the “clowns are scary” bit, but some of the people playing undead clowns on this particular evening created fuel for nightmares.  And yes, you’re going to see them.

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Categories: Halloween, Silver Spring

Road trip to New Jersey…

October 30, 2013, 9:45 PM

Last Thursday, October 24, was a fun day.  I took a one-day road trip to Monmouth County, New Jersey.  The inspiration was my needing a change of scenery for a day, and seeing this as an opportunity to do a few things I’d wanted to do for a while now.

As with any trip, they say that getting there is half the fun, but I was quickly struck by how much it cost to get to New Jersey.  Let’s just say that officials in northeastern states, New Jersey in particular, never met a road or a bridge that they couldn’t slap a toll on.  And tolls have gone up.  The Baltimore tunnels in Maryland (Fort McHenry and Harbor) are now four bucks each way (up from $2), and the Millard E. Tydings Memorial Bridge is now eight bucks(!) for its northbound-only toll (up from $5).  Otherwise, the Intercounty Connector near me was $2.05 from Layhill Road to I-95 (it’s a variable toll depending on time of day – your results may vary), Delaware was still four dollars, the New Jersey Turnpike was $3.50 to Exit 7A, and then the Garden State Parkway wanted fifty cents from me for going one exit.  Kind of surprisingly, New Jersey didn’t want anything for my ride on I-195.  Altogether, it cost $22.05 in tolls alone to get to my first destination.  And that’s just getting there.  I had to run that gauntlet of tolls coming back, too.

The first stop was a very personal one for me.  I went to Temple Beth-El Cemetery in Neptune, where my grandparents on my father’s side, Ruth and Seymour (“Pop”) Schumin, are buried.  I also didn’t realize before I arrived that Aunt Ruth and Uncle Seymour were buried in the same location.  Uncle Seymour died in April 1981, a little less than two months before I was born.  Pop and Grandma died within a month and a half of each other in the spring of 1988, when I was in first grade.  Aunt Ruth died in November 2003, right around Thanksgiving.  Therefore, I never got to know Uncle Seymour, it’s been 25 years since Pop and Grandma died, and it’s been almost ten years since Aunt Ruth died.

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Categories: Asbury Park, Driving, Family, Roads

Constantly evaluating my website properties…

October 27, 2013, 2:29 PM

You may not realize it, but I am constantly evaluating my various online properties.  After all, technology changes, systems change, interests change, quality standards evolve, plus I’m always coming up with new ideas.  My goal is to always have things looking fresh and exciting.  When sites start to look stale or otherwise dated, it reflects kind of poorly on me.  That’s one reason why the splash photo changes monthly, and the photo feature changes weekly.  It’s all about keeping things fresh.  You know that if you’re going to Schumin Web, there’s a good possibility that it’s going to look different the next time that you see it.

Of course, things don’t always look as fresh and new as I’d like.  Sometimes things do become stale.  Schumin Web carried the same design, more or less, for nearly eight years before getting a full redesign in September 2012.  What looked fresh and exciting in October 2004 looked dated by 2012, and many things were shoehorned into that design over the years, with some being integrated more successfully than others.  Even the current “Modern Blue” design got a refresh, updating holdovers from the earlier design, and making a more consistent appearance.

But now, I’m looking at my subsidiary sites, i.e. what you find in the “Major Areas” section.  I’ve always had subsidiary sites, going back to shortly after the website began in 1996, when I spun out a links page into its own website.  Such subsidiary sites have come and gone over the years.  The spun-out links page is long gone.  A jokes site came and went, spun out from a page on the main website before being closed down.  I had a game show fansite, which was a completely new creation and not a spinoff from Schumin Web, and then was later handed off to another webmaster (who has since closed it down).  I had a site about ocean liners for a while, before handing that off to another webmaster (who has since closed it).  Then of course, my old discussion forum site, The Schumin Web Community, is alive and well as The Fire Panel.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

Social media and online privacy and…

October 19, 2013, 6:12 PM

Those of you who have seen me online know that I really get into social media.  I do Facebook, I do the Twitter, I do Instagram, and I also do Reddit.  And in doing social media, I’ve noticed a few recurring trends, and it begs discussing…

Tell me this hasn’t happened to you before: you’re going down your news feed, and you see a status from a Facebook friend.  It says something along the lines of this:

I’m cleaning out my friends list, so if you didn’t make the cut, it’s been nice knowing you.

I’m cleaning my Facebook friends.  Let me know if you want to stay.

I find these messages amazingly annoying.  Especially when, without fail, people make a zillion replies beneath that say something to the tune of, “Don’t delete me!” followed by reassurances from the original poster that certain people are “safe” from their defriending spree.  I personally think it says something about a person’s self-esteem when they feel that they need to post such a self-centered message and then watch people glom onto them like that.  It reminds me of the way that Chuck E. Cheese distributes free tickets to kids during the live shows.  There, Chuck just grabs up a handful of tickets in his hands (paws?) and throws them up in the air in the direction of the audience.  The kids then all then rush the character to grab as many free tickets as they can get their hands on.  It seems a bit demeaning for the kids who rush the character going after free tickets, and this seems on the same level, with a little bit of groveling involved on top of it all.  In any case, it’s a message I could definitely live without.

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Categories: Social media