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Protesting leaves you SO sore…

January 29, 2007, 2:07 AM

Marching around DC for six hours at a relatively fast pace leaves you sore the next day. Specifically, my legs hurt. Whatever muscle runs along the outer sides of the thigh must have gotten quite a workout, because it’s aching today. Going down the stairs has been hell. Going up is no problem. Go figure.

Otherwise, I thought it was interesting to read this in this ABC News article:

The rally on the Mall unfolded peacefully, although about 300 protesters tried to rush the Capitol, running up the grassy lawn to the front of the building. Police on motorcycles tried to stop them, scuffling with some and barricading entrances.

I was part of that group of 300-some protesters. And it was quite an event, as this picture attests:

The J27 demonstrators at the southeast corner of the Capitol

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Categories: Anti-war, Cameras, DC trips

The protest was interesting…

January 25, 2007, 2:10 AM

The 2007 State of the Union Address protest next to the Grant statue at the Capitol Reflecting Pool was okay (map here), though it fell below all expectations as far as attendance went.

The protest was sponsored by DAWN and World Can’t Wait. The format was two-staged. Before Bush’s speech began, speakers spoke from the “stage”, which was about three steps higher than the rest of the area. Then when it was time for Bush’s speech to start, they turned on a local radio station carrying the speech and played that over the sound system. Attendees were encouraged to react openly and loudly to the speech as they saw fit. And while the speech was going on, David Barrows, dressed as George W. Bush as the devil, acted out the speech.

The protest was less successful than expected, with attendance estimated at around 30 people (compare to an estimated 300 last year). I believe that there are several reasons for this. First of all, it was really cold out. The temperature was in the 20s – that’s pretty darn cold. But at least there was no wind. Then access to the location was a bit troublesome. From the south, the nearest Metro station was Federal Center SW, and from the north, the nearest station was Union Station. The obvious station to the uninitiated, Capitol South, was out since it’s on the wrong side of the Capitol. I went in from Federal Center SW. That turned out to be a wise decision, though I admit it was a long walk to the venue. Due to security arrangements in place related to Bush’s arrival, there were police cars at every corner, with markings for the Metropolitan Police, the Capitol Police, and the Park Police. To get to the reflecting pool from that way, you had to approach the area from 3rd Street SW and then walk around the reflecting pool to reach the Grant statue. That’s a long walk in the cold and the dark. But at least it was a clear way in. From the north, you had to deal with the streets being blocked off for Bush’s motorcade. People reported having to wait for some twenty minutes before being allowed to cross the street. Then because of the cold, the whole event broke off early.

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Categories: Activism, DC trips

Sable got slimed…

January 24, 2007, 2:39 PM

First of all, just to let you know, I did go to the protest, though I wouldn’t consider it to be as successful as many would have liked. I’ll discuss it in more detail later, because I want to look at the photos and movies from it first.

Otherwise, though, this was the Sable’s 31st trip to the DC area (my 85th since starting going to DC regularly in 2004, but who’s counting), and it was not looking all that nice after the trip was over.

The reason was the snowfall we had on Sunday. The area where I live, as well as the Washington DC area, was hit by a snow and ice storm on Sunday, January 21. As a result, the roads were salted. With the snow and ice on the ground, I took the Sable on two back-and-forth trips to work on Sunday and Monday. It still looked all right after that. And then on Tuesday, it went to northern Virginia. I-81 and I-66 were perfectly clear, though I managed to catch my fair share of residue from snow and snow removal.

I was surprised to see water laden with dissolved de-icer dripping from the ceiling of both parking garages at Vienna (where I was unable to find a parking space this time). That fell down on my car as big white drops.

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It’s never good to have your whole trip’s going on as planned in jeopardy when you’re already in the DC area…

January 23, 2007, 1:10 PM

I so hate it when I can’t find parking at Vienna. The North and South Garage were both completely full. Therefore, I had to get back on I-66 and ride the four miles or so to West Falls Church, where I finally found parking in their garage on the top level, with about five spaces remaining. So this makes the third time parking at West Falls Church, and the ninth time overall that I’ve started out from somewhere other than Vienna (three at West Falls, three at Huntington, twice at Franconia-Springfield, and once at Pentagon City).

But the important part is that I eventually found parking, even though not finding parking at my regular station kind of throws me off kilter a bit, since I have to remember to get off at West Falls Church and not Vienna at the end of the day.

Otherwise, though, my itinerary is kind of mixed up today due to the late-night protest. I went from West Falls Church to Rosslyn and did my Rosslyn thing as usual, then headed right to the Infoshop after that, where I’m writing to you now. Then from here, I’m going straight to Pentagon City, then possibly to Alexandria, and then off to Federal Center SW, to head to the protest.

So, yeah, a number of people are going to see me really early today. And I found out that people really do notice me, as the greeter at the Wal-Mart in Manassas mentioned to me that I didn’t show up on my regular day last week. Of course, that’s because I shuffled things around. The January 16 trip became the January 23 trip for the protest, and then the January 30 trip got moved to January 27 for another protest. Mom asked me how I can afford two trips in the same week, and I told her that it’s fine, because it’s not any additional trips – just a reshuffling of the DC calendar. I’m guessing that I won’t double-dip DC for a while at this point unless something comes up. Maybe a shuffle if my work schedule doesn’t work out or if weather conditions make a scheduled trip unwise, but not any additional ones.

So this ought to be a fun day. I’ll let you know how the protest goes.

Categories: DC trips

First time to DC in nearly three weeks…

January 23, 2007, 4:32 AM

Today is a DC day, and I’m ready to go, as it’s been nearly three weeks since January 4 when I last went. This trip was supposed to happen a week ago, but it got rescheduled for political reasons. You see, today is the day Bush gives the State of the Union address, and so I’m going to be at a counter-rally at the Capitol reflecting pool.

The Capitol reflecting pool, by the way, has special significance to me due to some comments Mom made. On our second-ever trip to DC in 1994, we walked from the White House to the Capitol – not a walk to be sneezed at. And in sub-freezing weather, no less. Nearing the Capitol reflecting pool, Mom said, jokingly of course, that it was the spot where all the congressmen and all the senators went to try to snap off Hillary Clinton’s bikini top. The Clinton administration was also the first time in twelve years that they’d been able to partake in snapping off the First Lady’s bikini top, too, as Rosalynn Carter was the last one that they’d been able to do it with. Nancy Reagan was “too small”, and Barbara Bush was “too old”. No word about whether Congress can have fun in the reflecting pool with Laura Bush, because Mom now denies that the exchange ever happened, but we know better.

So who knows. While Bush is blathering on about the poor state he’s left this country in after six years, maybe we’ll see a few representatives who skipped the speech playing in the pool, going after Laura Bush’s bikini top.

Otherwise, this is the first trip since the January 7 derailment at Mt. Vernon Square. And guess what one of my stops will be today – yes, Mt. Vernon Square. I’m going to the Infoshop today, and thus E01 is on the itinerary.

So wish me luck at the protest.

I went to a World Can’t Wait rally today, and met Cindy Sheehan again…

January 4, 2007, 4:00 PM

I went to a rally today in Upper Senate Park that was put on by World Can’t Wait. That group’s goal is to drive out the Bush administration. Cindy Sheehan spoke at the event, as did a host of others.

I said hello to Ms. Sheehan, finally gave her the address to Schumin Web, and also briefly talked with her about her meeting with Rhonda Winfield. Winfield is a local woman – local to me, as she’s from from Stuarts Draft. Her son, Jason Redifer, was killed in Iraq on January 31, 2005. I’ve described Winfield as “the anti-Cindy Sheehan”. Winfield is pro-war, and supports the Bush administration, while Sheehan does not. They actually met at Vienna the day before I first met Cindy Sheehan. I’ve not met Rhonda Winfield, as far as I know (I very well could have waited on her at work, however).

I also asked Ms. Sheehan about what she was charged with regarding her November arrest for hefting the list of signatures over the White House fence. Turns out she was never charged. Good deal.

I got a lot of photos and movies from the event, including excerpts from Cindy Sheehan’s speech. Some of that will likely end up on the Web site, and I’m likely going to post the movies on YouTube. Again, we’ll see, once I get home and can take a good, hard look at the take from today.

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Categories: Anti-war, DC trips

Unlocking Mom’s inner railfan…

December 27, 2006, 3:53 PM

Slowly but surely, I am unlocking Mom’s inner railfan. Today, on a trip to Washington that consists of Mom, Sis, Sis’s boyfriend Chris, and me, she chose to sit at the railfan window out of Huntington, commenting that she used to do this on the high-speed line in Philadelphia in the 1970s. It seems Mom thoroughly enjoyed her time at the railfan window of Breda 3087 from Huntington to Pentagon City.

Otherwise, we’ve had a fun trip. Sis did a bit of shopping, as we hit a vendor at Rosslyn, and right now, she and Chris are running through Pentagon City Mall. We also went to Chinatown in DC, where Mom learned that Chinatown’s not so Chinese anymore. Da Hua Market is gone, and a number of the restaurants are closed as well. It’s become very gentrified as of late, especially with the first thing you see when exiting via the Chinatown exit of the Gallery Pl-Chinatown station being a United Colors of Benetton store. But we still had a good time. Then we also visited the George Washington Masonic Memorial. All in all, a fun time was had by all.

And then we’re going to Murali at Pentagon Row for dinner. After that, our group parts company for a few hours, as Mom, Sis, and Chris are going to a play at the Kennedy Center. While they see a play, I’m meeting my friend Matthew Tilley, and we’re going to, like, chill for a few hours. Then we’re all getting together after the play, and riding back to Vienna. Then we go drop Matthew off at his house, and the rest of us go back home. All in all, a fun time shall be had by all.

And I have to figure out what to buy with a $40 Circuit City gift card, and a $25 Best Buy card. Hmmm…

Categories: DC trips, Family, WMATA

I found an article for the incident on U Street

December 19, 2006, 9:06 PM

I Googled it, and indeed I did turn something up. It turns out that what was going on over by the 7-Eleven at the corner U and 12th Streets was about a 51-year-old man shooting another 51-year-old man on the street.

What gets me is that at the time the incident took place, it was broad daylight, and U Street was bustling with people. Therefore, lots of witnesses around. I think I can attest to that considering there were a lot of civilians (as in non-cops) right there. I did not witness the actual event, just to make that perfectly clear. I didn’t see the shooting, and I didn’t hear the shooting. The closest I got to the action was the 13th Street entrance to the U St/African-Amer Civil War Memorial/Cardozo Metro station, which was nearly a block away. Police and ambulance units were already on the scene when I came out of the station.

If you can imagine this…

December 18, 2006, 7:53 PM

Picture with me if you will…

I’m walking up Diagonal Road in Alexandria towards the Old Town Transit Shop, and right when I get there, I hear a loud crashing sound and see sparks. Then I see a tire rolling down towards King Street station. A gentleman in a red SUV actually dropped a wheel! Literally dropped a wheel, as the left front wheel separated from the car and, now liberated, went rolling on its own down the hill. My exact reaction was to say a four-letter word that I can’t say in this space. So I went in to see my friend Tristan, and what did we do? We went outside to look. We both couldn’t believe that this guy had dropped a wheel. But the car was visibly off-kilter, leaning down in the direction of that missing wheel. I’m sure that the guy was not happy about that.

Otherwise, I had a lovely walk in Georgetown, discovering The Shops at Georgetown Park, which is a very expensive three-story shopping mall on M Street. I got a few pictures of it, and I’m going to tell Sis about it, since she loves to shop. Those of you who have seen the movie First Kid will know Georgetown Park, since that is the place where the big hostage/shootout scene happens.

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DC on a Monday…

December 18, 2006, 4:08 AM

And now at this early hour, I’m getting ready to go to Washington DC. This would be the second time going to DC on a Monday, and the first “regular” trip (the previous one was done via Richmond).

This will also be the last truly regular DC trip for a little bit, as stuff is planned for the next four. December 27 is when I’m going with Mom, Sis, and Sis’s boyfriend Chris and doing what I call “refereeing”. My job is to keep Mom entertained, and to pull Sis and Chris apart whenever they begin a public display of affection, which makes both Mom and me uncomfortable. Then January 4 will likely be a demonstration – World Can’t Wait demonstrating against the Bush Administration on the opening day of the new Congress.

January 16 will be a trip with my friend Katie, finally making up for a trip that never happened on February 2, 2005. That trip was one I called the morning of and cancelled, since I was in so much pain due to an inflamed pilonidal cyst that I couldn’t move, and I certainly couldn’t imagine myself in DC with that much pain. That ultimately resulted in this, where the pilonidal cyst was removed, which put me out of work for two weeks. The DC trip itself was made up the next week, but Katie couldn’t come with me. Now this will finally tie up that loose end, because despite having a very legitimate reason for cancelling, I still felt bad about having to cancel. Normally, I don’t cancel as a rule, but there you go. Likewise, my “snow rule” is that if it’s not snowing at the scheduled start time, we’re going. We might have to abort en route or leave early if it starts snowing hard, but that’s the criteria for starting up.

Then January 27 will be a United for Peace and Justice demonstration, where we will be demonstrating against the Iraq War. That ought to be exciting, and I’ll be interested to see who shows up to that one.

So there you go! And my plans today will hopefully take me into Georgetown from Rosslyn via the Key Bridge. It will be a bit of a walk, but it should be fun.

Categories: DC trips

I’m pretending it’s December 5 today…

November 28, 2006, 7:54 PM

Hello from Pentagon City. This trip was supposed to happen on December 5, but since my work schedule didn’t work out, it ended up happening today, a week early. That makes four consecutive weeks where I ended up in Washington.

And I spent the day railfanning for the most part. I went out to Largo, New Carrollton, and Greenbelt. I got two of my favorite operators, and have ridden twelve trains thus far. Add another two to that, and it will about do me for the day (those being Pentagon City to Rosslyn on Blue, then Rosslyn back to Vienna on Orange). And I got to use the emergency intercom on CAF 5191 to report to the operator that the lights were not turned on in the train. She fixed the destination code, which was initially displaying Blue Line to Greenbelt on the side destination signs, to the proper destination code for the Orange Line to Vienna before I could call. Though that one I wouldn’t have mentioned, because I wanted photos of the odd message. Blue doesn’t go to Greenbelt station! I remember that on a Richmond-to-DC trip, I saw a Breda rehab at Gallery Pl-Chinatown showing Blue Line to Glenmont (for which a destination code does not exist), but the train left the station before I could snap a photo – drat! I remember another time a while ago, a CAF train arrived at Vienna signed as a Red Line train to Farragut North. The destination signs turned off seconds before I was ready to take the shot, so no photo there, either.

And I got my two SmarTrips linked. The five bucks that were on my old, cracked SmarTrip will go to my new SmarTrip, and all shall be well again. The lady on the phone was very nice, and incredibly helpful. And I also hope I don’t lose my farecard at Pentagon City this time around. Last time, I lost my day pass somewhere at Pentagon City, and so I had to use my SmarTrip to get back to Vienna. That was $2.35 in fare I didn’t want to have to spend. But it’s either that or walk to Vienna, I guess. Of course, I can’t complain TOO much… more often than not, I leave Vienna after LAZ Parking opens the gates for the night, ending parking revenue hours, and so then I don’t have to pay for parking. So this is payback, I guess. Of course, we wouldn’t have this problem if Metro would hurry up and institute passes on SmarTrip…

Categories: DC trips, WMATA

It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.

November 27, 2006, 9:06 AM

Whenever I go to Washington, this line spoken by Elwood in The Blues Brothers comes to mind. Reason I mention this is because, aside from the cigarettes and the sunglasses, it’s fairly accurate for me. When I leave on my bi-weekly trip to Washington, it’s dark, I have a full tank of gas, and it’s 100+ miles to DC.

If you want to get somewhat specific, it’s roughly 150 miles. That accounts for four miles on I-64, 79 miles on I-81, and another 62 miles on I-66. That comes to 145 miles right there. Then when you consider the distance traveled on local roads, meaning the distance from my house to I-64, as well as the little bit of driving on Saintsbury and Vaden Drives in Vienna to reach the North Garage, it comes to slightly over 150 miles. I’ve been meaning to actually measure the distance with the Sable’s odometer, but by the time I think of it, I’m too far downrange for it to be worth setting at that point.

The only time I’ve actually reset the odometer to measure the distance was for my August 31, 2005 DC trip, which meant that it was the Previa’s odometer and not the Sable’s. You may recall that the August 31 trip was characterized by a confrontation with some Metro employees who basically wet their pants when they saw me photographing trains, which led to a meeting with a Transit Police officer. Regardless, it didn’t work out. The reason was twofold. First, I forgot to take the reading at the end of the trip, and made a few trips to work and back before realizing this. Secondly, even if I had remembered to take the reading, it wouldn’t have been accurate, since there was a detour around a work zone on westbound I-66 on that return trip, as well as the next one. Traffic was funneled off I-66 at exit 47, sent down some dark local roads, and then funneled back onto the highway at exit 43.

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Categories: DC trips, Driving

I got that new winter coat, and did some serious driving…

November 16, 2006, 1:41 AM

First of all, I had fun on my latest Richmond-to-DC trip, where I go up to Washington DC via Richmond, which takes me east on I-64, onto US 250 near Richmond, through downtown Richmond, and then north on I-95. While on I-95, I take US 1 through Fredericksburg before returning to I-95, then continue on I-95 to Potomac Mills.

Potomac Mills put me a hair behind where I wanted to be on this trip, but it was worth it. I went to the Casual Male store, and got a new winter coat. This one is similar to the one I used from 2001 up until last winter, but is a little bit longer, has different sleeve cuffs, and has a detachable hood, which my other coat lacked. The only thing that I didn’t like was the price tag: $99.99. Ouch. Then add another $5.00 in sales tax, and it starts to hurt a bit. But I like the coat, and it feels really good on me. Now I just want a really cold day so I can give it a whirl for the first time.

I also tried on a number of other coats to see what I liked. I even tried on a black trenchcoat to see how it fits. It was interesting, but it was a bit longer than I felt comfortable with, plus buttons to keep it closed seemed kind of cumbersome. Plus I just couldn’t imagine it as a “me” kind of coat. I made the Chuck Taylors very much “me”, but I wasn’t able to pull that same feat off again with the coat. Still, I know what I like, and that wasn’t it. But the coat I did pick is just going to be a dream.

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Categories: DC trips, Shopping

It seems that we did it…

November 13, 2006, 10:12 PM

And here’s the photo!

November 8, 2006, 10:21 PM

Here’s the photo of Cindy Sheehan and me:

Ben Schumin with Cindy Sheehan

There we are, right in front of the White House. Also notice the new camera bag strap on my shoulder, to replace the one that broke a little less than a month ago.

Categories: Activism, DC trips