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Looks like Virginia is the “Florida” of 2006…

November 8, 2006, 7:15 PM

First of all, just let me say that it was a very challenging ride home from Washington DC last night, because of medium-to-heavy rain for much of the drive home, and wet conditions for the remainder.

However, it was all made more bearable by listening to election result coverage all the way home. On the first half of the trip, I listened on WETA (90.9 FM), Washington’s local National Public Radio (NPR) station. There, instead of the usual BBC World Service feed that they run overnight, we got live election coverage from NPR. On the second half of the return trip, since I finally lose WETA completely at Woodstock, I did a little channel surfing on the radio to continue the live election coverage. For those wondering, I can pick up the local NPR station out of Harrisonburg (WMRA 90.7 FM) from at least as far as Front Royal, but they play classical music during off-times, rather than continuous news and talk like WETA does. And I’m not interested in hearing classical music when I’m trying to stay engaged to drive. I ultimately picked up 750 AM, which is WSB out of Atlanta. I listened to them from Woodstock to Harrisonburg, when I finally switched to WSVA (550 AM) out of Harrisonburg, after I realized that WSB was spending more time on local Atlanta elections that I have no interest in whatsoever, than the races for Congress.

The NPR coverage on WETA was EXCELLENT. They know what they’re doing on there. I quickly found out what was going on before I’d even completely cleared Vienna: the Democrats carried the House of Representatives, and the Senate was still undecided with six races, including those in Montana and Virginia, considered too close to call. As I followed the election coverage through my long, rainy ride home, they, along with WSB and WSVA, were able to call four of them. By the time I arrived home, Montana was still too close to call, but leaning for the Democratic candidate, and Virginia was on a razor-thin margin, flipping back and forth between Allen and Webb. I learned that Allen’s supporters had already gone home with confidence, and Webb’s campaign had already declared victory a little bit after that.

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I met Cindy Sheehan!

November 7, 2006, 8:06 PM

You may remember that previously, the closest that I got to Cindy Sheehan was at the anti-war rally that I photographed at Arlington Cemetery in Octrober 2004. You may recall that this photo was in there, showing a photo of Casey Sheehan. That was before she became a national figure with Camp Casey.

Now, I’ve met her. I even got someone to photograph us together. That will go up once I get home (I’m currently at Pentagon City). I was doing something I do often on my DC trips – walk from McPherson Square station to Lafayette Park, go past the White House, and then walk to Metro Center station. There was a whole bunch of anti-war activity going on this time, and much to my surprise, Cindy Sheehan was there. I was talking to a Code Pink person, and then I saw a familiar face. I said, “Are you who I think you are?” She replied, “Who do you think I am?” I said, “Cindy Sheehan?” It turned out to be her, and my reaction was just like when I met Dr. Ruth at JMU back in 2003. Lack of words for meeting a famous person.

She shook my hand, and I showed her the photo from that rally, which she remembered well. The impression I got from the handshake was that Cindy Sheehan had very soft hands, and surprisingly warm hands! But she was very friendly, and has just an awesome personality. She even described how a Park Police officer helped her pin a number of “Arrest Bush” pins to her shirt in preparation for a vigil in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Hopefully we’ll meet again.

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Categories: Activism, DC trips

An interesting ride home…

October 24, 2006, 10:02 PM

Well, I ended up going against what I said I was going to do in my last entry. I did take Route 1 up through Alexandria, but then plans changed in Arlington. First of all, I took a side trip into Pentagon City, mainly to prove to myself that I could get there by car. So I went over, and drove past the mall. I also discovered some of the space between Pentagon City and Crystal City, and took a fleeting look at a park near the mall.

Then, returning to Route 1, I drove up until just short of the 14th Street Bridge. There, the road forks, with the right fork going to the 14th Street Bridge, and the left fork going to Rosslyn. I took the left fork, and found Wilson Boulevard. From here, I was basically following the Orange Line, station for station. I saw Rosslyn’s buildings (though I didn’t see Rosslyn Center), and continued past the Court House, Clarendon, and Virginia Square-GMU stations. There, I saw a sign for I-66, and turned, and headed into Ballston. I took Fairfax Drive past the IHOP restaurant, past the Hilton and Ballston Metro Center, and past the Metro station entrances. Then, a couple of blocks later, Fairfax Drive turns into the on-ramp for I-66.

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Categories: DC trips, Driving

The new strap is taking some getting used to, but it works…

October 23, 2006, 8:19 PM

Hello from Pentagon City on my Richmond-to-DC trip, where I started from home, drove to Richmond via I-64, and took the driving tour through downtown Richmond, which is best described as the good, the bad, and the ugly – very ugly. I don’t call Richmond the “armpit of the state” for nothing.

Then I swung up I-95 to Fredericksburg, where I explored around a bit. One of these days, I will figure out something to photograph while I’m there. Then from there, I continued to Woodbridge, where I visited Potomac Mills. Very quiet place this time around, with my visit occurring on a Monday afternoon. Then I drove up US 1 a bit, and caught the Metro at Huntington. I visited my friend Tristan, and then went around a bit on the Metro, ending up here at Pentagon City.

So fun stuff. From here, I’m going to railfan over to Franconia-Springfield, then double back to King Street and ride back to Huntington, where the Sable is parked. Then leaving Huntington, I’m going to take US 1 to the 14th Street Bridge, and then drive into Washington. I don’t know what my route will be there yet. Then from there, I’m going to take I-66 to US 29, take 29 to Charlottesville, then catch I-64 again to go back home.

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Categories: DC trips, Driving, Radio

This was perhaps one of my scariest return trips from DC…

October 13, 2006, 12:47 AM

On my DC trips, for the run up to Vienna and the run back home, the goal is for the actual driving to be uneventful, and therefore forgettable. As you probably guessed, having had so many of these things, I don’t always get what I want.

I remember one time in May 2004 when I had a blowout on the way up. It happened on I-81, near Mt. Crawford. Thus this happened about 30 minutes into the trip. AAA put the spare tire on, and I continued to DC. The return leg of that trip was uneventful. Then there was the time in June 2004 when it was raining hard all the way to Vienna, culminating in a soaking of the Previa’s undercarriage right at the Nutley Street exit, which caused the car to strain at 25 mph for that last little bit into the parking space. Then there have been numerous return trips where I’ve gotten so fatigued that I have to stop en route and take a nap. Then there was January 17, 2004, and also January 20, 2005 – on those return trips, I had to battle snow almost the entire way back.

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Categories: DC trips, Driving

I feel like such a loser… a resourceful loser, but a loser nonetheless.

October 11, 2006, 7:39 PM

For those of you wondering about the title, the strap on my camera bag broke. I got off of Breda 2007 at Pentagon City, and was heading for the escalator, and all of a sudden, my camera bag started falling. I caught it, but nonetheless had no working strap. The clip that attaches the strap to the bag on the “leading” end (i.e. the side facing ahead when I’m carrying it, as opposed to the “trailing” side facing behind) snapped off.

Now I’d had warning that the aforementioned clip was having issues. When I was getting ready to go into Union Station today, that same clip slipped off the hook. But then I just reattached it. This time, it actually snapped off, rendering it unreclippable (if that’s not a word, it is now).

So I went to the station manager and asked if he had any string. No string. I didn’t think he’d have any, but it never hurts. So I thought for a second. A rubber band might also work in the same capacity as string in this case. So I asked, “Do you have any rubber bands?” He did! He even offered to give me a few. I took two, and went to work. The station manager even held the strap in place for me while I tied. I tied a number of knots in that rubber band, securing the remnants of that end of the strap to the bag.

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Categories: DC trips

Ben Schumin, your “man on the street” out gathering people’s thoughts…

September 14, 2006, 1:50 AM

As date-stamped on my previous entry, my most recent trip to Washington DC was on September 12. That date coincided with the primary elections in Washington, where, among other things, people were making their choices for the Democratic Party candidate for mayor. In Washington, with the city itself being heavily Democratic, the Democratic primary is considered the actual deciding contest in the mayor’s race. And with Mayor Tony Williams not seeking another term, the field was wide open.

In fact, there were seven candidates on the ballot: Adrian Fenty, Linda Cropp, Marie Johns, Vincent Orange, Michael Brown (name remained on ballot despite exiting the race), Artee Milligan, and Nestor Djonkam. Fenty ultimately won the race (see here), and therefore, Fenty will likely be the winner in the general election in November.

Now let me remind you that I presently do not live in Washington DC, nor do I live in the Washington DC metropolitan area (though I’m working hard to change that part, but no success yet). I’ve followed the race to an extent, as I spend the equivalent of a month in Washington each year (a day in Washington every two weeks plus a few double-dips). I also really hate it when our national leaders step on the local leaders’ toes or leave them out of critical incidents, such as on May 11, 2005 (one of my DC trip days, by the way) when the White House and Capitol were evacuated due to an idiot who got lost in restricted airspace over Washington. There, the DC government wasn’t informed that something was up until it was all over. Mayor Williams was not happy, needless to say.

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Just make them an offer that they CAN refuse…

August 17, 2006, 8:11 PM

First of all, hello from Pentagon City.

I went over to Brookstone while here, and they have this new device that you sit on that’s supposed to work your body as if you’re riding a horse. Okay, fine. So I got on, I sat down, and I gave it a whirl. I made some interesting faces while riding that thing, trying to maintain my balance on there.

So then this group of teenaged girls comes in. They see me on the thing, unbeknownst to me. I got off. They want to see me ride it again. I said, “No thank you, I’ve already ridden it. Why don’t you give it a try?” They declined. They want to see ME do it again. I declined again. Then they start offering me money. One girl offers a quarter. Another a penny. Then someone ponies up a dollar. I still refuse.

I got this feeling that they were making fun of me. And I was through riding that contraption and that was all there was to it. So when they asked how much it would take to get me to ride it again, I went for the big guns. “Fifty bucks,” I said. They were quite shocked at the price I named, and left, which is what I wanted them to do. Because when you’re being made fun of, it’s best to one-up them. And one-upping a group of unsupervised teenaged girls that all share one brain amongst the lot of them is not hard to do.

Seeing these groups of teenagers at Pentagon City makes me think that putting these various groups from out of town in chain gangs is not a particularly bad idea. Since the adult leaders of these groups use Pentagon City as a way to cut these children loose while they go take a smoke or something. So they subject the rest of us, the well-behaved members of society, to these obnoxious children.

I took a crew with me to DC this time…

August 3, 2006, 12:36 AM

First of all, welcome to August, boys and girls. July is just so last month.

And August 1 saw me taking the Sable on its sixteenth DC trip, and this time with people in tow. Mom and Sis went with me on this particular trip. Mom came along because she was seeing a friend from high school, and then Sis came along as a what-the-heck kind of thing.

And amazingly, I did my whole routine. I made both my up-stops, though we got to Vienna really early compared to my usual arrival time. But not to worry – we made up that “early” time with what I’d call a “drop job”. Usually when I take these trips, my first stop is Rosslyn, without exception. I can’t think of a DC trip that I’ve taken since I started doing this regularly in 2004 where I did NOT stop at Rosslyn first thing. This trip would be that exception. Since Mom was meeting her friend at Union Station at 10:30, we did that first. So thus instead of Rosslyn, we went straight to Metro Center, and then took Red to Union Station. And once we got Mom to her friend, Sis and I got to have some quality time together.

So what did we do? Back to Rosslyn, duh… I had errands to run, and it was also right about my Rosslyn time, too, so it worked out. Sis also had a snack at Tummy Station in Rosslyn Center, so it worked out.

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Categories: DC trips, Family, Shopping

Meanwhile, at the Infoshop…

July 18, 2006, 4:32 PM

While on the same DC trip, I made a visit to the Infoshop. The last time that I’d been there was on June 6, and since that visit, DC had a so-called “100-year” flood. And during that flood, the Infoshop, being a basement location, took on some water. This caused the Infoshop to close for a few days. There wasn’t too much damage, but they did lose the carpet. Sis can be seen sitting on said carpet in this photo from the A16 photo set:

Sis on the carpet at the Infoshop

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Categories: DC trips

Fire alarm at Hecht’s!

July 18, 2006, 4:20 PM

So I was in DC today, and was on the fourth floor of the large Hecht’s department store at Metro Center, which I visited to get out of the heat and make a visit to a men’s room. So while I was washing my hands…

WHOOOOOOOOOOP! WHOOOOOOOOOOP! WHOOOOOOOOOOP!

I initially figured that someone had accidentally tripped the alarm for a fire exit door that was nearby. Coming out of the restroom, I noticed a very old-looking red light on the wall was flashing. The light said “FIRE” on it in white letters. Hmmm, I thought. It seems that the fire alarm is going off. I asked a store employee what was going on, and they had no idea. I was getting ready to leave anyway, and so I took the escalator back down. But not first before reaching into my camera bag and turning on Big Mavica. This was the first time that I’d been somewhere with a fire alarm going off in a LOOOOOOONG time, and so I set it to movie mode and started filming.

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Categories: DC trips, Fire alarms

Twenty-three different trains!

July 5, 2006, 6:14 PM

I chose to go to Washington on July 4 to do a little railfanning, since Metro runs a special service pattern on that day, which means that some of the lines go to different places.

In the final accounting, I rode twenty-three different trains. That breaks down to four Rohrs, four Breda 2000s, three classic Breda 3000s, four rehabbed Breda 3000s, three Breda 4000s, and five CAFs. That also breaks down to ten Orange Line trains, seven Blue Line trains, four Yellow Line trains, one Red Line train, and one Green Line train.

One Metro employee tried to give me a map of the July 4 service, and I did not take it, because I admitted I had the whole thing committed to memory. I really impressed them when I then rattled off the entire service change, including no service to Smithsonian, and shuttle bus service from L’Enfant Plaza to the Pentagon.

All in all, it was a lot of fun railfanning Metro’s July 4 service. It’s all a matter of remembering that one cannot catch a Blue Line train before Rosslyn, and that every westbound train from Washington to Virginia goes to Vienna.

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Categories: DC trips, WMATA

An interesting little trip…

June 29, 2006, 5:37 PM

I took a little trip to the DC area via Richmond and I-95 on Wednesday. Fun trip. I went that longer way instead of my usual I-81 to I-66 route because I wanted to visit Fredericksburg and Potomac Mills.

My visit to Fredericksburg was fairly simple. The question before the house was whether it was worth it to make a trip to Fredericksburg, which is somewhat hard to reach for a day trip, to do a photo set. My determination for Fredericksburg was that while it was indeed charming, and definitely a place to visit when I eventually find a job in the DC area and move up that way, I didn’t see anything on this drive through that I would really want to make a special trip for, and that I couldn’t do using a similar feature in another city that is easier to reach.

However, I did see a sign that was, to say the least, surprising.

Gas allegedly for $1.00 per gallon

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Made it! No work for nine days!

June 27, 2006, 7:19 PM

I have made it to my vacation, and I don’t have to return to work until July 7 at 7:00 AM. Very nice, indeed.

And then tomorrow, I’m going to go to Washington DC by way of I-95 to do a few things on the way up.

All I have to say, though, is that I hope that when I do go back to work, that I feel totally refreshed and ready to continue, because I was about at the edge of my tolerance threshold.

Categories: DC trips, Vacations

Rohr relaxation…

June 22, 2006, 2:48 AM

I went to Washington DC on Tuesday, and it was a fairly typical “regular” trip. I got in right on time, parked at Vienna, and then the main mission this time was to check on some jobs I’d applied for. I also paid a visit to my friend Tristan and then paid a visit to Pentagon City.

On the Red Line en route to Rockville, I encountered a person that knows how to relax on a Rohr train:

"Rohr relaxation"

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Categories: DC trips, Video games, WMATA