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New couch!

May 29, 2016, 6:30 PM

Sometimes, you just have to go out with the old.  After fifteen years, I finally got rid of my old futon from college.  In other words, this:

The couch in my living room, photographed 2014

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Categories: Elyse, Furniture, Glasses, IKEA, Melissa

The only constant is change…

April 5, 2016, 6:06 PM

On March 30 and 31, I went on a road trip down to Stuarts Draft with Elyse, where I showed her a whole bunch of stuff.  I showed her the mountain, we visited my ex-store, we went to Staunton Mall, and we saw JMU.  All in all, a fun trip.  The lesson to be learned from this trip, however, is that change is inevitable, as many things that I had hoped to show Elyse had changed, and other things were going to change.

Coming down from Maryland via US 29, we visited Afton Mountain.  I have photographed this area many, many many times before.  So I more or less know what’s there.  I did spot a few new things in the process of going about things, like this vintage television:

An abandoned RCA XL-100 television set

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I feel like I was shooting the photos for those motivational posters…

October 25, 2015, 11:12 PM

This past Thursday, I went up to High Rock, which is a rock outcropping on South Mountain in Pen Mar, Maryland, in Washington County near the Pennsylvania border.  It reminds me a little bit of both Humpback Rock in Virginia, and the Aqueduct Bridge stub in DC.  Like Humpback Rock, it’s high on a mountaintop, however, unlike Humpback Rock, you can drive up to it and park right next to it, rather than parking down below and then hiking a mile straight uphill.  Like the Aqueduct Bridge, it’s covered in graffiti and a popular overlook point, but unlike the Aqueduct Bridge, it’s a natural feature rather than manmade.  I went up there with the intent of scouting out the location for a potential future set for the Photography section on Schumin Web.  I knew it had a view, but I wasn’t so sure about it.  I arrived just before 5:00 PM, and stayed for about an hour and a half.  While there, I let my curiosity lead the way, as I checked things out at the site and just kind of followed what I found interesting.  I don’t know which intrigued me more: the formation itself, the view, or the graffiti.

So here’s what some of the take from this outing looked like:

View from High Rock facing approximately north, towards Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. The bit of stone in the foreground is actually manmade. As much as I can tell, this is some of what remains of an observatory that once stood at this site.
View from High Rock facing approximately north, towards Waynesboro, Pennsylvania.  The bit of stone in the foreground is actually manmade.  As much as I can tell, this is some of what remains of an observatory that once stood at this site.

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How stupid do they think that I am?

March 31, 2015, 1:08 AM

I recently received an envelope in the mail that looked like this:

I saw this envelope, with just an address and what appeared to be a handwritten address, and thought “bill”, since this is how I’ve seen some smaller doctors’ offices do billing.

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I completely nerded out on Sunday, and it was awesome…

June 24, 2014, 10:21 PM

I went out on a miniature road trip on Sunday, and I had a blast, taking photos of anything that vaguely interested me.  It was more or less spur of the moment, when you consider that for what ended up being a photography trip, I only had my cell phone, and then, I didn’t bring my spare battery along.  Thus it was a bit of a continual battle to keep a sufficient charge on the phone with only the car charger, but somehow, I managed, and the results came out pretty well despite my leaving my real camera at home.  The way this trip came about is that I wanted to go up to and explore Westminster, Maryland.  I’ve been wanting to explore Westminster for a while, ever since my father took an overnight business trip to Westminster a few years ago and I didn’t find out about it until it was too late in the day to go up and visit, because Dad didn’t realize that Westminster was as close to me as it was.  That sucked, because I would have totally gone up if I had known.  I’ll gladly travel an hour or so on relatively short notice to hang out with family.

So early Sunday morning, I just decided to go up and see what there was.  I like doing these sorts of trips, because it’s basically a scouting trip, seeing if there’s anything that I want to explore and photograph in more detail in the future.  Getting to Westminster is pretty easy: turn onto Georgia Avenue (MD 97) and take it all the way to Westminster.  Seriously, it’s that easy.  I got to Westminster just as the sun was coming up.  After a quick drive through the main commercial area along Route 140, I located the downtown area.

The downtown area in Westminster has what I consider an unusual feature: a single-track rail line for the Maryland Midland Railway running diagonally through the main intersection in downtown.  Main Street goes one way, and Liberty Street and Railroad Avenue (both MD 27) go the other way, and the rail line runs diagonally across the intersection.  I would have loved to have seen a train come through here while I was in the area, but unfortunately, I did not get to see that this time.

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Sometimes you have those weekends where you just have to get out of the house…

June 11, 2014, 6:06 PM

Ever get that feeling of “I just have to get out of the house”?  I recently had that feeling, where I just needed a change of scenery for a little bit, and so I planned a weekend trip down to Stuarts Draft to visit the parents, going down Friday, and coming back Sunday.  They were, as always, delighted to see me, and on the whole, we had a good time.  I also made some extra space in my house, as, on Mom’s request, I brought my sister’s old bicycle back to my parents’ house.  Gave me some practice in “beheading” a bicycle by removing the front wheel, and then reattaching it at my destination.  But it travels much more easily without the front wheel:

The bicycle has been beheaded!
The freshly-liberated front wheel.

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This really isn’t rocket science, I promise…

January 10, 2013, 1:28 AM

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the act of placing groceries in bags and giving them back to the customer is really not rocket science.  And in Montgomery County, Maryland, a jurisdiction where there is an excise tax on disposable shopping bags, i.e. a financial incentive to use reusable shopping bags, I don’t believe that it is unreasonable of me to think that a grocery store cashier should know how to handle reusable shopping bags.  Apparently this is an unreasonable expectation.  I went to the Safeway store in Olney this evening after I went swimming, and the cashier did not understand how to handle reusable bags.

This what I bought:

My haul from Safeway in Olney

(And for those of you who are wondering, I took this photo in the store with the intention of posting on Instagram.)

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Driving in Virginia on Thanksgiving morning…

November 22, 2012, 7:04 PM

First of all, greetings from Stuarts Draft, where I will be through Sunday.  And so far, so good.  The drive went surprisingly well, and then Thanksgiving dinner was absolutely wonderful.

Considering how well my drive went today, though, I don’t know why anyone would want to go driving on the day before Thanksgiving.  Seriously, this was one of the easiest drives to Stuarts Draft that I’ve had in a long time.  I left the house around 8:45, and it was more or less smooth sailing the entire way.  Georgia Avenue in Montgomery County, from my house to the Beltway, was no problem.

On that note, by the way, does anyone know what’s going on with the Freestate gas station on Georgia Avenue at Layhill Road?  This is how it looked this morning:

The Freestate station on Georgia Avenue

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Walmart worker strike on Black Friday?

November 20, 2012, 1:29 AM

So like many people, I got wind that there are strikes planned at Walmart stores this Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.  These leave me with very mixed feelings.  First of all, some of you may recall that I am a former Walmart employee, who worked for the company for a little over three years, from late 2003 to early 2007.  My employment ended there when I was fired for what I would consider to be questionable reasons.  And then I have made it no secret that I am quite pro-union.  I think that Walmart employees need a union badly, because Walmart is not looking out for its employees’ interests, no matter what kind of anti-union propaganda they throw at their employees, and their anti-union manuals prove it.  Thus employees must stand up for themselves.  But at the same time, I’m not sure about these tactics, because I fear that the groups behind these actions may, though well-intentioned, be leading these people off of the proverbial cliff.

First of all, on the matter of Walmart and what they provide their employees, I don’t think I ever made more than $7.50 per hour the whole time I was there.  For the first six months of my employment there, the insurance was a joke.  Full-time employees were eligible for the real insurance only after six months’ service, and before that, you were offered coverage through a company that I’d never heard of, and it was basically a reimbursement plan.  In other words, you had a plan where you would go to the doctor, pay out of pocket, and maybe – just maybe – the insurance company would pay you back for it.  I never had to use that insurance, thankfully, so I can’t speak for how well it worked out.  But it felt like a scam from the get-go.  After six months’ service, I got the real insurance, which was Blue Cross.  That was better than the junk insurance that they offered the new employees, but not by much.  If I recall, the package for one person was around $15 per pay period, and it came with a $1,000 deductible.  Yes, before the insurance would actually pay for anything, you had to spend a thousand dollars.  Thus in most years, you paid $390 per year for the privilege of paying out of pocket for all of your health care expenses anyway.  The only time the insurance actually paid for anything was in 2005 when I had that pilonidal cyst taken out, and I hit my deductible in February (yes, $1000 in medical bills in a month’s time).  And even then, it didn’t cover much, and the copays were pretty ridiculous.  I will say that I don’t know how much Obamacare will affect what Walmart provides its employees, though, and this information comes from my experience from several years ago.

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Categories: Walmart

Nothing like shopping with an arsenal of snarky tweets…

October 7, 2012, 1:42 AM

So I went shopping in Gaithersburg and Germantown on Saturday night. This was a follow-on from Friday’s shopping trip in Wheaton and Aspen Hill. Today’s goal, as with Friday’s goal, was to find some shirts in my current size that I could wear to work. The shirts that I wore last winter (the thrift store clothes) are now too big on me. So I went off in search of clothing.

First of all, Friday’s mission consisted of Old Navy and JCPenney in Wheaton, and then Kohl’s in Aspen Hill. I quickly discovered that Old Navy was not what I was looking for. It was clear that Old Navy was not catering to my demographic. It caters to the teenage set and to adults who are way hipper than I am. However, I did find a winner at Penney’s:

The shirt I found at Penney's  The shirt I found at Penney's

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Categories: Clothing, Kia Soul, Shopping, Target

…and later, Chuck E. Cheese!

May 11, 2012, 10:37 PM

After spending a few hours at Montgomery Mall where we got Adelle’s bear, among other things, Mom and I headed home, and then later, for dinner, headed over to the Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant in Laurel, Maryland.

Now you’re probably thinking: aren’t you a little old for Chuck E. Cheese’s? Answer is, yes, probably so. But we had a good time. It had been just over 20 years since the last time that any of us went to one of these sorts of places, and so this was the time to revisit some fun childhood memories. In fact, the Laurel location was specifically chosen because it was a former Showbiz Pizza location, and had the three-stage setup just like at the Showbiz Pizza in Fayetteville, Arkansas that we used to go to when Sis and I were growing up. Recall for a moment, from 1987 in Fayetteville, on the occasion of the party for my sixth birthday:

Billy Bob's stage, with the "Smitty's Super Service Station" background.
Billy Bob’s stage, with the “Smitty’s Super Service Station” background.

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So what’s the other seven percent, then?

February 14, 2012, 11:46 PM

So I was perusing the Target store in Wheaton this evening, and ran across this:

Justin's Maple Almond Butter: 93% organic!

So if it’s “93% organic” as the manufacturer of Justin’s Maple Almond Butter claims, what’s in the other seven percent that’s not? Remember that USDA regulates the use of the word “organic” when it comes to food. So since they’re not carrying the organic certification mark, one would presume that it’s not really “organic” food. So why even bring it up, then? That seems odd to say the least.

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A new year means a new workstation…

January 2, 2012, 11:26 PM

First of all, I hope that everyone had a wonderful new year. I had a wonderful time, spending New Year’s Eve with friends. And then today, I finally put some Christmas presents into service. While Mom was up last week, we went to IKEA, where I got a new desk to replace my old desk, which was falling apart. This is a “Galant” glass top desk. Very minimalistic. We got that last Wednesday, and as soon as I got home, I put that puppy together. My rule when it comes to IKEA furniture is that when I get it, I have to put it together right away, because it will otherwise sit in the corner forever, like some picture frames that I got for Christmas in 2007 and still haven’t put them to use. Yes, it’s been four years since I got these and I haven’t done jack with them. One of these days, I promise!

So first of all, this was our haul from IKEA:

Our haul from IKEA

The desk is on the cart to the right (sans the picture frame), and then the item on the left cart is a “Besta” bookshelf that Mom got, similar to ones I have.

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Categories: Furniture, IKEA

Safeway photo set update for you…

November 7, 2011, 11:17 PM

Remember my “Abandoned Grocery Store” photo set, where I took photos of the board-up on the Safeway store in Wheaton, Maryland? They’re finally tearing the building down. Let the record show that I did the photo set on December 27, 2009. The store had closed eight days prior to this. They’re just now getting around to demolishing the building – nearly two years later. Admittedly, it didn’t look quite as rough as it looked in my photo set the whole time. The board-up was painted gray by spring 2010, and then a “Coming soon your new SAFEWAY” banner was hung from the front of it for a year and a half. It looked like this:

The board-up on Safeway in Wheaton, seen here on January 25, 2011

Of course, that banner was none too reassuring, because the closed store was still there, and the new building replacing it couldn’t go up until this one was gone.

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Categories: Safeway, Wheaton

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