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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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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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Ten years after I graduated college, I’m going back to school…

December 23, 2013, 4:08 PM

First of all, yes, it really has been ten years since I finished college.  I finished up at JMU a little more than ten years ago, and then they mailed me the diploma not long after that.  I can’t believe that it’s been that long.  Doesn’t feel like ten years have gone by, that’s for sure.

That said, a lot has happened lately.  I am now the proud holder of a commercial learner’s permit, which I got on Monday at the MVA in Gaithersburg.  That was a stressful time, but probably not in the way you might think.  I got in there, got my number, and then sat down, figuring that I might as well get comfortable.  I took this picture, and then posted it to Instagram:

Waiting on one of the benches at the MVA in Gaithersburg

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Categories: Driving, School, Work

Reading the book…

November 22, 2013, 11:15 AM

So to bring everyone up to speed on the employment situation, I am still between engagements.  That’s not to say that I’ve not been diligently submitting tons of applications and going to the occasional interview, but I still have yet to land a new full-time job.  However, there’s been a shift in my thinking.  I had an “aha” moment not too long ago when it came to what I wanted to do.  Everyone has said, considering how much of a transit nerd I am, that I should get into public transportation.  I talked it over with my family, and they all think it’s a great idea, so I’m taking steps toward making that so.  I want to get in on the ground floor and then work my way up.  After all, I love transit.  I can’t get enough of it.  So why not make it my career, already?

That said, I’m currently reading the Maryland CDL Manual with the intent of getting a commercial learner’s permit so that I can learn how to drive a bus.  So far, I’ve read Section 1, which is a general overview of the manual and the whole CDL process, as well as a list of many of the various offenses that would cause you to lose your CDL from a period ranging from a few months to life depending on what sort of offense and number of offenses.  I’ve also read Section 2.1, which discusses the pre-trip inspection.

The pre-trip inspection is something that, if you didn’t know to do it, you might not think to do it, but it makes perfect sense considering what you’re doing.  After all, these are very large vehicles that we’re talking about here.  Compare the size of a bus to that of a regular car:

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Road trip to New Jersey…

October 30, 2013, 9:45 PM

Last Thursday, October 24, was a fun day.  I took a one-day road trip to Monmouth County, New Jersey.  The inspiration was my needing a change of scenery for a day, and seeing this as an opportunity to do a few things I’d wanted to do for a while now.

As with any trip, they say that getting there is half the fun, but I was quickly struck by how much it cost to get to New Jersey.  Let’s just say that officials in northeastern states, New Jersey in particular, never met a road or a bridge that they couldn’t slap a toll on.  And tolls have gone up.  The Baltimore tunnels in Maryland (Fort McHenry and Harbor) are now four bucks each way (up from $2), and the Millard E. Tydings Memorial Bridge is now eight bucks(!) for its northbound-only toll (up from $5).  Otherwise, the Intercounty Connector near me was $2.05 from Layhill Road to I-95 (it’s a variable toll depending on time of day – your results may vary), Delaware was still four dollars, the New Jersey Turnpike was $3.50 to Exit 7A, and then the Garden State Parkway wanted fifty cents from me for going one exit.  Kind of surprisingly, New Jersey didn’t want anything for my ride on I-195.  Altogether, it cost $22.05 in tolls alone to get to my first destination.  And that’s just getting there.  I had to run that gauntlet of tolls coming back, too.

The first stop was a very personal one for me.  I went to Temple Beth-El Cemetery in Neptune, where my grandparents on my father’s side, Ruth and Seymour (“Pop”) Schumin, are buried.  I also didn’t realize before I arrived that Aunt Ruth and Uncle Seymour were buried in the same location.  Uncle Seymour died in April 1981, a little less than two months before I was born.  Pop and Grandma died within a month and a half of each other in the spring of 1988, when I was in first grade.  Aunt Ruth died in November 2003, right around Thanksgiving.  Therefore, I never got to know Uncle Seymour, it’s been 25 years since Pop and Grandma died, and it’s been almost ten years since Aunt Ruth died.

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Categories: Asbury Park, Driving, Family, Roads

Two near-identical photo features…

September 2, 2013, 11:54 PM

I can now add “commode critic” to my resume…

March 28, 2013, 12:44 PM

So I got back Tuesday night from a trip to Stuarts Draft.  That was fun, though not the fun that I was expecting.  I got to visit my friend Bergit in Charlottesville, and then spent two days spending time with my parents.  The original plan was to go to Roanoke with Mom on Monday and also visit friends and see transportation-related stuff, but that unfortunately got snowed out.

But first, though, in case you’re wondering what the deal with the title is, let me explain.  My trip started out with proof that my kidneys do great work, and that having a cup of coffee before a three-hour road trip is inadvisable.  Yes, I took far more restroom breaks on this trip than I normally would.  I ended up stopping at the rest area on I-66 near Manassas, Sheetz in Madison, the new Trader Joe’s in Charlottesville, and then the rest area on I-64 near Ivy.  Usually I can make it on one restroom break.  But, noooooo… my body decided that this was the perfect time to unload a bunch of water.  And I was not shy about discussing restrooms on social media on the entire trip.  This from the Sheetz in Madison:

This road trip has been brought to you by the letter P, and by the number 1.

And I accompanied this on Instagram with the following caption: “This road trip has been brought to you by the letter P, and by the number 1.”  Yep… that kind of day.

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What is Afton Mountain, anyway?

March 21, 2013, 5:58 PM

A friend of mine recently sent me a link to this article by Dr. Christopher M. Bailey, a geology professor at The College of William & Mary.  The article discusses the name of a place that many people in the part of Virginia that I grew up with are most likely quite familiar with: Afton Mountain.

The article is titled, “Mind the Gap! Where is Afton Mountain?” and discusses the geology of the area, specifically Rockfish Gap, and a few quirks of the local culture.  First, for those not familiar, Rockfish Gap is a wind gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which separate the Shenandoah Valley and the Piedmont region in Virginia.  Because it is the lowest gap for quite some ways traveling both north and south, the area became an important way to travel east and west.  Today, Interstate 64 and US 250 carry travelers through Rockfish Gap.

Technically speaking, this is Rockfish Gap, seen here in a 2003 Schumin Web file photo:

Rockfish Gap, seen from the junction of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, on a bridge over Interstate 64.

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Categories: Afton Mountain, Nature, Roads

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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Of all the people to cut me off in traffic…

April 19, 2012, 9:41 PM

Of all the people to cut me off in traffic, who cut me off twice while driving south on 16th Street NW? None other than DC Council member Jim Graham of Ward 1. Take a look:

Jim Graham's Volkswagen Bug convertible.
Jim Graham’s Volkswagen Bug convertible.

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Categories: Driving, Some people

Two trade-in bids for the Sable, and some roadgeekery in between!

March 10, 2012, 5:36 PM

First of all, you knew I was also a bit of a roadgeek. I admit – I am. I’m a nerd about transportation in so many different ways. But interestingly enough, I’m not that into cars. But in any case…

So I am coming ever closer to replacing the Sable with a Kia Soul. Today I went to two Kia dealers that my guy at the credit union had previously spoken with and had gotten bids from for a Soul. My goal was to get bids from these dealers for a trade-in on the Sable, and of course they would need to actually see and feel the Sable to do that.

The first place I went to was JBA Kia in Ellicott City. This was surprisingly closer than I expected. Baltimore seems so far off to me, and Ellicott City is a suburb of Baltimore. I felt like I was there in no time. Arriving there, I explained what was going on, how I had been working with my guy at the credit union, etc. So they knew what to do, but they didn’t exactly give me a warm and fuzzy feeling in the process. I had to explain multiple times that I was not interested in discussing new cars with them (since I would do that exclusively through my guy at the credit union), and that I was there only for the bid on the Sable. You could tell that they were none too happy that I wouldn’t give them a chance to swindle me. If it tells you about the vibe that I got from this dealership, I posted this about it to my Facebook:

Did I mention that car salesmen are rotten slimeballs? Can't wait to get out of this dealership.

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Categories: New car, Roads

“I feel braver when I’m holding a weapon!”

August 19, 2011, 10:37 PM

And now, back to Chicago following that little detour into complaining about pain. After all, I’ve only told you about half the trip!

On Saturday, we headed into the greater Chicagoland area – much further out than our hotel in Evanston. We actually went out to Lisle, Illinois, which is home to the Morton Arboretum. We went to the Morton Arboretum to participate in a Theatre Hike, where we see a play as we walk all around the arboretum. We saw a classic – The Wizard of Oz. Chris, my brother-in-law, was playing the Cowardly Lion. The whole day was a lot of fun from the moment that Sis and Chris picked us up at the hotel in their 1997 Saab.

First of all, Mom and I had never done much exploring outside the city, and so we were seeing the scenery, as we went through Skokie and a couple of other towns. We were also amazed to see how many companies had large corporate campuses in the greater Chicagoland area. It was something, all right. Plus we got to see Sis and Chris interact as they figured out where Morton Arboretum was and how exactly to plug it into their GPS. As it turned out, they had to Google it on Sis’s phone since the address they had didn’t work on the GPS, and so they navigated off the phone. Whatever works, I suppose.

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Categories: Amusing, Chicago, Family, Roads, Shopping

This is what vacations are good for…

May 18, 2011, 11:34 PM

Vacations are great for Schumin Web. Usually, every time I take a vacation, I manage to finish a photo set. This time, it’s Plungefest 2011. Normally this wouldn’t be notable, except that I ran out of time to finish this “in-studio”. See, I normally do all my photo sets at home, on my real computer. However, I ran out of time on Tuesday night, and I had planned a trip to Stuarts Draft from Wednesday to Friday. So first of all, hello from my parents’ house in Stuarts Draft. Thankfully, I was able to complete enough of the set on Tuesday night that I could do the rest of the work on the road from the netbook. So I did all the captions on my parents’ couch, and then pulled the covers off the menu entry, and then voila! Done.

On that last part, that was kind of interesting. Before I left the house, I put the menu entries in and then commented them out. Kind of reminds me of when banks change names, which, as you know, happens on a fairly regular basis anymore. They change the signs ahead of time, and then put a cover over the new sign with the old logo on it. I believe Wachovia is in this process right now, with their eventual change to the Wells Fargo nameplate. Then when the time comes, they just yank the cover off and the name is changed. Same here. I just removed the comment tags, and boom – the menu item is revealed.

Of course, this kind of stuff will all change when I eventually convert the site to WordPress. Then I’ll be able to do all of the site from anywhere, rather than the current situation of being restricted to my home computer for some parts and being partially mobile for others. I’m looking forward to that, but it’s going to be a long time still before that happens.

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Go for main engine start… 3… 2… 1… we have booster ignition, and liftoff!

April 23, 2011, 10:58 PM

One of the fun things about living in the DC area is the fact that you have the Smithsonian Institution right in your backyard. Of course, it’s not like DC area locals go there on a regular basis. We don’t. But when I have guests over, I have a place to take guests that’s fun and educational. And in the case of this weekend, I hosted Mom from Thursday evening to Saturday afternoon, and on Friday, we went to the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center out by Dulles Airport. The goal: see the Space Shuttle Enterprise before they swap it out for Discovery.

Let’s admit – I’m a bit of a space nerd. I just got finished reading a couple of books about the history of human spaceflight, and have edited quite a few articles on spaceflight-related topics on Wikipedia. I’ve never seen a rocket launch in person (but would like to one day), and I think actually flying in space might be fun, but launch and landing kind of scares me.

And the Space Shuttle, the technological marvel of its time, though in practice seriously flawed in its design, was interesting to see live and in person. First of all, photos do not quite give you a good idea about what the scale of this beast is. In looking at Enterprise (the prototype orbiter used for atmospheric testing that never flew in space), what you find out is that parts of the shuttle are a lot bigger than one would think. But at the same time, a lot of the shuttle is a lot smaller than one might think.

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Categories: Driving, Family, Space