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The mildly interesting things that you see in a day…

March 21, 2014, 11:34 PM

So my Friday was fun.  I got together with my friend Matthew, we did some cooking, and then after Matthew and I parted company for the day, I headed over to Dulles Town Center for a bit.  Over the course of the day, I spotted a few things that I found mildly interesting.

On the way in, I stopped over at Aardvark Swim in Chantilly.  I usually go to the Rockville location, but since they were out of goggle straps (the bungee cord kind) in Rockville, and I knew I was going to be out this way sooner than Rockville would get more in stock, I swung by and here to get them.  Those of you who follow me on Instagram may remember that I was contemplating whether or not to buy this:

"Suck it up, cupcake" swim cap at Aardvark

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Staunton Mall sold for $4.5 million?

March 15, 2014, 10:16 AM

So according to The News VirginianThe News Leader, and WHSV, Staunton Mall has been sold to a Delaware LLC for $4.5 million.  Little is known about the new buyer or their intent, however, according to The News Leader, “The sale includes permits for development and land rights and assignment of leases, rents, deposits, profits and other agreements.”  This makes me wonder if someone is finally planning to redevelop Staunton Mall into something better and/or more modern.  At this point, we can only speculate. That said, Staunton Mall does look pretty dismal right now, shown in this file photo from January:

Staunton Mall, from center court facing south towards JCPenney, January 2014

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Categories: Staunton

Driving around Montgomery County…

March 9, 2014, 1:25 PM

For my commercial driving class, I had to watch others’ driving to identify distracted and at-risk driving behaviors and document them.  Normally one would do this while another student was driving the bus, but since I’m the only student in the class, I am doing this as homework.  Since I had some issue with making the arrangements for someone else to drive me around so that I could write, I decided to take matters into my own hands and attach my cell phone to the visor to make a movie of my own driving for later analysis.  In other words, something like this:

Driving along Georgia Avenue in the Soul

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A lesson on how not to behave on the phone…

March 3, 2014, 11:05 PM

I got a very interesting series of phone calls Saturday night (technically early Sunday morning) beginning around 2:00 AM.  Apparently a woman was looking to have pizza delivered from one of the many fine pizza establishments located in the District of Columbia.  So she called my phone number.  At two in the morning.  I believe that the initial call was an honest mistake, but after I told her in no uncertain terms that she had not reached a pizza establishment, she firmly earned her place in the customer hall of shame.

The first call came in at 2:04 AM from a New Jersey number.  I ignored the call.  After all, it was 2 AM, I was beyond tired, and I didn’t recognize the number.  I figured that once the person heard my “You have reached Ben Schumin” voicemail greeting, they would figure out that they had dialed a wrong number.  If it did, in fact, end up being for me, they could leave a message, and I would get back with them at my convenience.  And if it turned out to be important, I would have called them back right away.

A voicemail came in from the unfamiliar number.  It was a woman’s voice, and she was looking for pizza:

Hey, I’m interested in purchasing, um, an order for delivery.  Please call me back.  My phone number is 201-981-7557.  I’ve heard great things, and I’m really looking forward to it.  Thank you!  Bye.  (listen to audio)

This seemed reasonable enough so far.  I occasionally get callers who intended to call someone else.  The way I figure, I have a Washington DC number, i.e. 202 area code, and being a major city, there are lots of similar phone numbers, and so there must be a pizza place with a number similar to mine.  Also, noting that 201 is an area code for New Jersey (more specifically, North Jersey), I wondered if perhaps she misdialed the area code, and meant to dial another 201 number rather than a 202 number.  It happens.  After quickly verifying online that the number was, in fact, a cell phone, and wanting to let the caller know that she had not reached the place that she had intended (but at the same time, not wanting to actually talk to her), I sent the caller a quick text message at 2:07, saying, “So you know: I think you may have dialed a wrong number.  I have no idea what you are referring to regarding orders for delivery.”  I figured that would be the end of it, or, at most, get a quick text back apologizing for the mistake.

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Categories: Cell phone, Some people

At last, my Washington Monument photo set is done…

February 20, 2014, 12:30 AM

At last, I have finished my Washington Monument photo set.  I started work on this photo set in September, finished up the photography for it in November, and now it’s February and with the scaffolding mostly gone (only a quarter or so of the height is now covered) at the time of this writing, the set finally goes out.  This was quite a project, too.

I spent most of the first day, September 5, out on the Mall, shooting photos of the monument under clear to partly cloudy skies.  I was out there from mid-to-late morning until around 5:00.  I got home around 7 PM, after having walked 6.35 miles around the Mall area.  I got off the train at Metro Center, headed to the Washington Monument, and looped around it once at fairly close range.  Then I did another loop around it from a distance, following the path around the Tidal Basin, going past the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the MLK Memorial, the DC War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, Constitution Gardens, and the World War II Memorial.  Then I headed back up to the Washington Monument, and did another loop up close before heading out.  I went over to the Old Post Office on my way out in order to get a few photos of the Washington Monument from up above, before returning to Metro Center to head home.  After I got home, I don’t think I made it to 7:30.  I was out like a light.  Walking all that distance while taking some 900 photos, I definitely earned my sleep that night, as I was both physically and mentally exhausted.

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No more Creative Commons license?

February 20, 2014, 12:00 AM

As of today, The Schumin Web is no longer offered under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.  The site will now be offered under the traditional “all rights reserved” model, i.e. explicit written permission is required for most downstream usages.  I am doing this for one purpose: to make money.  I went to the Creative Commons model back in November 2005 in order to give my work more exposure through downstream uses, and apparently it’s worked.  I now have a portfolio of over 250 downstream usages, both online and in print.  I now have plenty of exposure.  People know who I am, and know about my work, based on multiple usages from a few high-profile entities.  Therefore, I believe that I have reached the point where I can monetize my photography work and bring in a few extra bucks.  The idea is that if you work for some vague notion of “exposure”, that is all you are ever going to get, and it’s very easy to be taken advantage of that way.  As I field more and more licensing requests from companies, it is clear that there is monetary value in what I produce.

Because of this, there are a few changes in the way that things will operate as far as image licensing goes, as I attempt to reconcile the old Creative Commons license with the new all-rights-reserved model.  First of all, please note: as of today, no new downstream usages of any Schumin Web content are allowed under any form of Creative Commons license.  Please see the new Content Licensing page for information about new downstream usages of Schumin Web content.  All existing downstream content usages that were made using the old Creative Commons license are grandfathered.  Thus, for example, if you used a picture under the Creative Commons license last year, nothing affects that past usage.  However, if you want to use another image today, you need to receive explicit written permission to use that image, even if the image was originally published during the period when the Creative Commons license was in effect.

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Digging out of the snow…

February 13, 2014, 6:55 PM

So considering that the pool is closed tonight due to the snow, I still got my exercise today, pool or no pool.  For those not familiar, the east coast of the United States got hit with a pretty significant snowstorm.  This is the biggest snowstorm that I’ve seen since Snowmageddon in 2010.  And hitting in the same week as Snowmageddon did back in 2010, no less.  However, this snow has mostly been the light, fluffy kind so far, and that’s the stuff that you can clear off the car with the brush part of the scraper with little effort (and really get some distance when slinging it).  However, when more than a foot of it falls in a short time, it does start to compress a bit.  But it looked very pretty while coming down last night:

The parking lot at the Safeway in Olney at around 10:00 on Wednesday night.
The parking lot at the Safeway in Olney at around 10:00 on Wednesday night.

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Categories: Kia Soul, Winter weather

Singing about five overbearing and overemotional humans…

February 6, 2014, 11:34 PM

So Tuesday night was fun.  I got together with my friend Melissa, and we hung out for a few hours.  We did some computer and phone maintenance over at my house, and then headed out for dinner.  We went to The Potomac Grill, which is located in Talbott Center on Rockville Pike.

For those not familiar, The Potomac Grill hosts Blinkie’s Karaoke, which is run by my friends Ken and Luisa.  I’ve done fill-in work as the engineer for Blinkie’s Karaoke from time to time, but this was my first time going solely as a participant.  Melissa didn’t sing, but I did.  I sang a karaoke version of the theme to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  Those of you who are familiar with what I’ve talked about know that I’m a bit of a Power Rangers geek (I got into it in high school).  This was a new addition to the catalog, and so I premiered it.  And to top things off, Melissa filmed my performance:

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Categories: Melissa, Power Rangers

Brace yourselves…

January 29, 2014, 12:22 PM

On the morning of Saturday, January 25, I started the day with this post to Facebook:

BRACE YOURSELVES: SPEEDO PIX ARE COMING

See, January 25 was polar bear plunge day, i.e. the day that I would head over to National Harbor and go for a quick swim in the cold Potomac River in support of climate change work with Chesapeake Climate Action Network.  And for those of you who are unfamiliar with my practice on these things, it should be noted that I follow my own advice, which I first gave in 2010, and thus I wear a speedo when I do the plunge (and if you don’t like it, don’t look).

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Categories: Events, Friends

Getting some action out of this snow…

January 22, 2014, 11:37 PM

Let’s admit it: between the wet, heavy snow and the light, fluffy snow, I will always fall on the side of the light, fluffy snow.  Powdery stuff is just nicer snow than the wetter stuff.  And with the recent snowfall to come over the DC area, we got the fluffy stuff.  It’s more likely to blow around and hit you in the face, but it’s easier to clear off of your car, and easy to shovel off of the balcony.

And like any good snowfall, I got pictures.  Of course, I got the obligatory off-the-balcony photo:

Good morning from Aspen Hill, Maryland!

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Categories: Kia Soul, Winter weather

The future is riding on Metro…

January 12, 2014, 10:52 PM

On Monday, January 6, at 10:30 AM, the future of Metro arrived, as Metro debuted its new 7000-Series railcars for the press at Greenbelt station.  First thing that happened is that they brought the train into the station:

The first 7000-Series quad set arrives at Greenbelt station

Once the train stopped in the station, the last set of doors on the trailing car (7006) opened, and out stepped Metro General Manager Richard Sarles to greet everyone.  As the train had come in signed as a Green Line train to Branch Avenue, the new canned announcements were running.  I only heard two: the line announcement and the door open announcement.  The voice is female, but it’s not Randi Miller, whose voice currently makes Metro’s door announcements.  The new voice is higher in pitch than Miller’s.  The door announcement, while in a different voice, is otherwise still the same: “Doors opening!  Step back to allow customers to exit.  When boarding, please move to the center of the car.”

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Categories: WMATA

Whose opinions are these now? Fix your brand and we won’t wonder…

January 5, 2014, 6:09 PM

One of the most ridiculous things to come out of social media over the last few years is the Twitter disclaimer.  I’m sure you’ve seen these things before.  They usually look something like this:

Allie Burns, @AllieB: SVP Comms at @CaseFoundation & @Revolution, proud board member @sanergy, food, wine & travel lover, runner, sports fan and social citizen. Tweets are my own.
(I promise I’m not deliberately singling @AllieB out by picking her profile to use as the example.  This is not the only one like this, nor is this the worst offender by any means.)

My understanding is that these things are intended to protect employers from liability if their employees say something untoward, and to say that yes, this is, in fact, a personal account.  My view on this matter is that these things are completely unnecessary, and that too many people use these disclaimers as an excuse to be sloppy about how they brand themselves on the Internet.

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Categories: Social media