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This is a bit of a messed-up day…

August 25, 2004, 9:43 AM

If you want to talk about a day without a purpose, this is it. See, I found out a couple of hours after work yesterday that the guy would be coming today to put the finish on the new stairs.

Now note that when I say “new”, I mean that only because in the process of replacing the flooring, the floor people took out the old wood on the stairs, which was intended for carpeting, and thus had a lot of knots in it. And then they put new wood down, which, for the last week or so, we’ve been using bare. Now it’s going to get the finish and the runner on it, which will also finish the entire flooring job.

So as a result of the work being done on the stairs, and my room and such being upstairs, I had to vacate for the day, with the guy showing up at 7:30. So I had to be all ready for work and such by then, even though I don’t have to actually be at work until 2:00. And so I’m kind of wandering around doing whatever until then. I’m actually at the Waynesboro Public Library right now, which I’d not been to in ages. Still, I also drove out to Weyers Cave today.

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“This train will now be off-loaded. All customers must exit the train at this time. This train is now OUT OF SERVICE.”

August 7, 2004, 12:48 AM

Yes, this phrase actually happened to me at Metro Center on Wednesday, on the Red Line platform in the direction of Shady Grove. That was delay number three of three delays I experienced on the Red Line. Let me tell you what happened…

First of all, after going out to Rockville to meet Oren of Oren’s Transit Page, I went out to Shady Grove to see the Shady Grove rail yard, the adjacent Ride-On bus yard, and get a rail-to-bus transfer to use on Ride-On a little later.

So after I got back to the train at Shady Grove and boarded, the train operator made this announcement:

“This is the Red Line to Glenmont by way of downtown Washington DC. Stand clear, doors will be closing.”

This was followed by the “doors closing” announcement and the chime. And we’re off! Or so we thought. Before we’ve even completely cleared the station, the train stops, and the train operator said that we are experiencing a delay and that we will be going back to Shady Grove and opening the doors again. So the train is put into reverse and we are back where we started. “Doors opening!”

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“If you wish to continue on to Shady Grove, the train following me will go to Shady Grove. Train is out of service. Train is out of service.” (Doors opening!)

August 4, 2004, 3:06 AM

And within the hour, I will be in my van, on my way to… (you’re going to be SO surprised on this one) Washington DC. And we’re exploring a little bit out on the Red Line today. What I plan on doing is going all the way out to Shady Grove, taking a Ride-On bus across to Glenmont, and then taking the Metro back down the Glenmont side of the Red Line. In other words, ride Metro’s “A Route” (Shady Grove side of the Red Line) in its entirety, bus across, and then ride Metro’s “B Route” (Glenmont side of the Red Line) in its entirety. The two routes, A and B, meet in the center of the Red Line platform at Metro Center.

And I’m excited about something else, too. I’m meeting my friend Oren for at least a few minutes, and he’s giving me one of Metro’s July 4 maps. These maps are special because unlike the regular WMATA map from 1996 that I have hanging up in my room, the July 4 maps show a special service that Metro runs. On the Fourth of July, Yellow and Blue switch their southern terminals sending Blue to Huntington and Yellow to Franconia-Springfield (interestingly, this is how it was to be normally if not for a temporary car shortage early on in Metro’s history). Additionally, there is no Blue Line service beyond Rosslyn in order to send more trains out to Vienna as Orange Line trains. As such, Orange Line serves trains going to both Addison Road and New Carrollton (normally, Addison Road is Blue). Blue Line trains drop their passengers on Rosslyn’s upper level and then wrong-rail back out of the station on their way back to Huntington, making Blue Line essentially a shuttle. Yellow Line still goes over the bridge to terminate at Mt. Vernon Square. Then Metro short-turns every other train on the Red and Green Lines, with every other train terminating at Fort Totten instead of Greenbelt on Green, and every other train terminating at Silver Spring instead of Glenmont on Red. Oh, by the way, in case you can’t mentally follow my verbal description of Metro’s system map (you mean there are people who DON’T have that map seared into their brains?), here’s a map of the system showing normal service.

And now… it’s off to the shower for me, so I can hit the road to Washington and roll into Vienna at 9:30 or so.

Categories: DC trips, Friends, WMATA

The deck construction continues!

July 23, 2004, 10:18 AM

I had forgotten what it was like being in a place where construction was occurring on the outside of the building. I think that the last time I lived around construction was from 2000-2002, when, while I was living in Potomac Hall, JMU built Phase II of the College Center (aka “The Festival”). Then there was the time in 1993 at Stuarts Draft Middle School when they built on eight new classrooms while school was in session (but doing all the tie-in work after school was out for the summer).

But now it’s at home, and there is a group working on our new screened-in porch, which has replaced the old deck. It has also incorporated the structure of the old deck, as the workers didn’t demolish the framework, but built new framework around it. Right now there’s no roof on there yet, nor any evidence that one will be there yet except for tall support columns holding nothing at this point.

It’s been a few days since I’ve taken photos due to my work schedule. I took photos on Monday and Tuesday, then haven’t taken any since then. Next I photograph will probably be on Saturday or Sunday. I’m going to show you the progress photos in a Life and Times photo set. That will be neat.

Otherwise, my Washington DC trip on Wednesday went really well! I have now officially railfanned the entire system at the railfan window, and also visited all 83 operating Metro stations. There are three stations currently under construction that will open at the end of this year, which I will be visiting soon after they open. Still, that’s quite an accomplishment, no? Riding into Branch Avenue station at the extreme southern end of the Green Line and saying, “I did it!”

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Wednesday’s DC trip report

July 10, 2004, 1:14 AM

I can’t believe it’s Friday night/Saturday morning, and I still haven’t told you about my Washington DC trip from last Wednesday (July 7).

First of all, the date is significant. You may recall that some three years ago, on July 7, 2001, I did my first full Washington DC Photo Essay (that’s what we called Photography back then – Photo Essays). That was the first one that was all Washington DC. We had Thanksgiving 2000 before it, but that also had a lot of Stuarts Draft in it. So what was this photo set? It was the massive photo set called “The Schumin Web Salutes America”. Remember that one? If you recall, I visited a bunch of sites in Washington DC that were strongly American. After all, we were following on the coattails of the Fourth of July, and it was fitting. I visited the Library of Congress (quick pass-by from the street), the Supreme Court (went to the front doors, but didn’t go in), the Capitol (partly circled the building, didn’t go in), the outdoor sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of American History, the Washington Monument (inside was closed, but the grounds were open), the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, and the White House (just passed by and snapped a few photos).

But that’s about where the similarity ends. In 2001, July 7 was a Saturday. In 2004, it’s a Wednesday. In 2001, I walked the entire length of the National Mall from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, which is essentially the length of the Blue Line from Capitol South to almost Arlington Cemetery. Seriously, if I’d gone further out, going beyond the Lincoln Memorial, I’d have ended up at Arlington Cemetery station, and then Arlington National Cemetery. In 2004, I was providing support for Mom while waiting for Bill Clinton to sign her copy of “My Life”, as well as railfanning the Blue and Orange Lines.

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Categories: DC trips, Weather, WMATA

“WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS!”

June 8, 2004, 2:04 AM

It’s been a few days since I last posted, and so I thought I’d fill you in on what’s happened in my life.

Biggest event was on June 5, where I attended an International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) protest in Washington DC. That was FUN. We went from Lafayette Park in front of the White House to Donald Rumsfeld’s house at 2206 Kalorama Road NW. To get there we left Lafayette Park and took H Street to 14th Street. From there we went several blocks up to U Street, where we caught Florida Avenue to Connecticut Avenue, and finally to Kalorama Road.

I ended up connecting with a group of relative strangers from Chicago who drove a long way to come to this event. It was a very diverse group, too. One of the women had their hair colored purple. Another carried a bucket being used as a makeshift drum. Another was dressed for the weather (cool and wet) and were ready to follow the protest. The two men in the group appeared to be my age or slightly older, and were dressed for a Black Bloc, wearing all black and masks over their faces. Considering that I came to the protest alone, I was very pleased about how well this group from Chicago that I never met before and will probably never meet again accepted and welcomed me into their group. Very friendly folks. Me from two hours away, and them from half a continent away.

Chants at this protest ranged from “Occupation is a crime from Iraq to Palestine”, “Ain’t no power like the power of the people ’cause the power of the people won’t stop!”, chants about Mumia Al-Jamal (Free Mumia), “Whose streets? Our streets!” and others I can’t remember off the top of my head.

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“Arlington Cemetery station is closed! Please get back onto the train and go to the next station!”

May 31, 2004, 9:36 PM

Well… my birthday trip to Washington DC that I took a day early (my birthday is the 30th, and I went on the 29th) went very well. A friend of mine actually put it this way…

Um, do you realize what is going on in DC this weekend? I’d leave Transit Deprived Town in the Middle of Nowhere, VA now if you want parking at Vienna come Saturday morning.

I do not take offense to “Transit Deprived Town in Middle of Nowhere, VA”. I am both transit-deprived locally, and also in the middle of nowhere. And Staunton’s trolley-bus system, the closest thing to transit around here, doesn’t even follow a schedule, but rather, they just say that they run a 20-minute loop, and so a trolley-bus should be there about every 20 minutes or so when service is running. They do call their two services “Green Line” and “Red Line”, which amuses me, though.

But anyway, though, the main concern in the comment was that DC was supposed to be swamped with tourists for the World War II Memorial dedication, which I was already aware about. The concern, of course, was that I would not be able to get parking at Vienna. Hadn’t planned for that, but after thinking about it, I determined that if I didn’t get parking at Vienna, I would head over to Franconia-Springfield on the Blue Line and park over there.

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This was one of those days…

May 7, 2004, 9:54 PM

We were very busy. Busy is good, I must say, though. Makes the day go by, and means job security. But nonetheless it makes you want to pull your hair out. Ah, well. Could be worse, though.

Meanwhile, I’m going to Washington DC tomorrow to do some serious railfanning. The goal of the day is to visit some stations I’ve never been to before, and look ’em over. Let’s admit it – I have plenty of pictures of Vienna. I have plenty of pictures of Rosslyn. I also have plenty of pictures of Ballston-MU, L’Enfant Plaza, Pentagon City, Metro Center, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Farragut West, King Street, Huntington, and such. But there are a number of stations that I only visited briefly, or only visited inside a train. Those are the stations where I’ll be visiting tomorrow.

And if I get a chance, I may also swing by the new World War II memorial, though I may forgo that on this trip, and just stick to WMATA. See, the WWII memorial is some distance out of my way, since the nearest Metro is McPherson Square, which is under Eye Street. That puts the Washington Monument a number of blocks out of my way. But we’ll see. If not, I’ll do it on my next trip.

So it sounds like I have an interesting day ahead! Now to go to sleep and rest up for it…

Categories: DC trips, Walmart, WMATA

Yesterday was fun…

April 24, 2004, 11:11 AM

I went to DC yesterday, with the intention of checking out the protest activity surrounding the World Bank’s meeting. Unfortunately, there wasn’t all that much to see, with the big event planned for today, a day I couldn’t get off work for.

I did, however, take several laps around the area looking for activity at various times during the day. And it was hot outside. I did pretty well for the most part out in the heat, though. I did, however, have one thing that concerned me. On one lap, all of a sudden my hands and face went dry in the middle of the heat, which I took as a warning sign to get out of the sun, fearing the early stages of heatstroke. So I went to this little urban shopping mall in DC and went to Au Bon Pain, where I had a little something to eat (some pineapple chunks) and a soda. That took care of that.

After enjoying that small snack and generally cooling off, I went to this newsstand in the same mall and looked around. They had all the magazines you could imagine (I stopped to check out an issue of “The Economist”, among others), including some more “mature” titles. Near the mature area as I was making my lap around the store were the men’s magazines, where I found a familiar title. Remember Front? You may recall that my site was featured as “Geek of the Month” in the June 2000 issue. I actually mentioned this to the lady who was working there, who remembered that issue, and thought I looked familiar (a fan?). I bet she hadn’t seen my hilarious parody of that issue’s cover. Still, I was peeking through Front, and it seems the magazine isn’t nearly as wholesome as it once was (wholesome by comparison to its former self). While back then it was about guy stuff and had a reasonable amount of scantily clad women in it, now it’s a lot less guy stuff and a lot of women with their boobs hanging out. And a LOT of ads for naughty things in the back. Basically, it’s a little closer to a magazine like Playboy than it is to Maxim anymore. And no “Geek of the Month” feature, which I specifically hunted for in there.

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Categories: DC trips, WMATA

“I’d like to know if you all sell vibrators, but not the sexual kind.”

April 15, 2004, 1:00 AM

A customer actually did ask one of our associates that one time (not to me). But that’s besides the point.

You see, I have found a non-sexual vibrator. Let me tell you about my experience with my cell phone today. I went to DC as planned. I was planning to meet up with Dad midway through the day, since he was coming up to DC as well. Well, I was concerned with being able to hear my ringtone (which is Sakura Saku from Love Hina, a Japanese anime cartoon) on the Metro, with all the other background noise from trains and people and such. So I set it to ring and vibrate.

Now I keep my cell phone in my right front pocket when I’m out and about. So there I am railfanning on a Rohr train, on the Blue Line between Pentagon City and Pentagon. Next thing you know, I feel this fierce vibration on my leg, and Sakura Saku starts playing. Let me tell you, I nearly SCREAMED when that thing started vibrating on me. That’s definitely one way to wake up a 28-year-old rail car. I’m sure the other passengers would have really appreciated it if I’d let loose with a scream. As it is, I jumped up from my railfan seat when that thing went off on my leg.

Needless to say, I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever put my phone on vibrate again.

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I finally took the advice of a friend…

April 2, 2004, 11:41 PM

In taking the advice of a friend, I went and bought a six-pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade after work. And it’s pretty good. It tastes like lemonade, but has a little kick. So far, so good.

Meanwhile, I’m in pursuit of some new pants. As you know, I’ve stayed the same size for about five years now. And so I don’t have to buy new pants because I outgrow them. Instead, I buy new pants because I wear out the old ones. And considering I have some pants I bought in 1999 and still use, plus replacements in between, they’ve done quite a job for me. And now I’ve worn out enough to make it where I need to get some new ones.

I went to Casual Male in Roanoke, and tried out a lot of pants. Different sizes, different styles. I don’t want jeans, but I also don’t want dress pants. I actually tried out some cargo pants that I really liked, but we had a slight problem when it came right down to it. If they were the right waist, they were the wrong length. If the length was right, the waist was wrong. We figured out what the magic combination would be, but of course they didn’t have it in stock. Quite frustrating. So now I’m trying to figure out what to do next. I want something that will be able to take some abuse, be comfortable, and look good. Probably will find another Casual Male location or find another store that has what I’m after.

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I went to Washington DC on Saturday…

March 23, 2004, 2:40 AM

I went to DC on Saturday, March 20, the year anniversary of the beginning of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (a name that still doesn’t sit right with me). Originally, there was supposed to be a big ANSWER anti-war rally in DC, but it unfortunately never materialized. I found it strange that there were rallies in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc., but not the obvious choice for a political rally, Washington DC.

However, there were two small rallies that I kind of swung by in passing. One was at Constitution Gardens a few blocks from the White House, which was a pro-Aristide march for Haiti. The other was a silent anti-war vigil at the Capitol, which is documented in the “A Sunny Day at the Capitol” Photography set that I just posted.

The Haiti rally was interesting, as it was interesting seeing the rather small group on the sidewalk along Constitution Avenue saying “Whose streets? Our streets!” That one chant just seemed out of place, what with the difference in how it was presented last April, where it was the anarchists’ call as they actually marched out into the road, and shut off a lane of traffic.

Meanwhile, the silent vigil at the Capitol seemed to go well, as the small group stood in silence (for the most part). Between the Capitol group and the Haiti group, the Haiti group was a lot more united. The Capitol group didn’t seem as “together” and presenting as strong of a message due to their appearance.

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Categories: Activism, DC trips, WMATA

“You retard!”

March 12, 2004, 2:14 AM

Yes, when I came back up to the Service Desk after my lunch break, before I could even say hello to anyone, I’m greeted with a familiar voice saying, “You retard!”

It was Sis.

And returning a printer cartridge that I bought two weeks ago. Seems I bought the wrong one. I just followed the list that Dad gave me. So it’s not my fault.

Still, it was amusing to see Sis and her friends (Matt and Ben, both of whom I also like) at the Service Desk as I came back. And amusing is what my coworker asked of Sis: “Is he as hyper at home as he is at work?” She answered, “Worse!” All in all, I was amused. Plus I got to find out about their trip to New York, which I couldn’t partake in due to work.

Plus this was the first time Sis got to see me in my vest, since the last time she was at our store while I was working, I was on lunch and carrying it in my hand as I was ringing up my food on the self-checkout.

Still, amusing.

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Categories: DC trips, Family, Walmart, WMATA

This is one day I was glad to have end…

March 5, 2004, 11:48 PM

Yeah, this was just one day that I was glad to see end and go onto the list of days completed. Today just seemed to drag, with the Service Desk just hopping at the same time. I don’t know what it was, but I just am glad that the day is over.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out what to do. I need to get out on one of my days off for this coming up week. Don’t know where I want to go. I just know that I am taking one day and going AWAY for the day, and dragging Big Mavica, my tripod, and my cell phone with me.

And I really don’t know where I want to go. All I know is that I am craving some city. I want to see tall buildings, I want to see people enjoying manmade surroundings, and I want to see the streets light up at night.

You see, I think that despite having lived in the country for quite a while, I find that I am still an urban person at heart. Realize that my parents both grew up less than an hour away from New York City (my mother in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and my father from Asbury Park), and then they lived near Philadelphia for about sixteen years (in and around Glassboro, New Jersey).

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Categories: DC trips

Went to DC on Saturday…

January 19, 2004, 5:49 AM

What a day I chose to go to Washington DC as well! First of all, the good part: I got an opportunity to ride the rehabilitated Bredas on the Metro, and I scoped out some sites for possible future photo sets. And I of course was all over that Breda train like stains on white. It even had that new train smell, if you can imagine that.

Now for the unfortunate part. Of all the things to happen when you’re more than two hours away from home, it started SLEETING while I was still in Washington. Sleet. And it was accumulating. A shame, too, since I’d planned this for my evening: Go back to Vienna, get the tripod, and then return for some fancy night photography. Change of plans: Go back to Vienna, and leave the DC area. I got in the car around 8:00. The platform at Vienna, an outdoor station, was decent, since it had been treated with de-icer.

The roads, now, were interesting. Local roads in Vienna were fairly icy, but not impossible. The Interstate close into DC was a little treacherous, but as I got further out from DC, the roads got better. Nonetheless, my average speed going home was 50 (despite the 65 mile speed limit). Took me ages to get home, but I made it.

And so then I posted on Subtalk about the Bredas. Fun…

Categories: DC trips, WMATA