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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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A little walk down memory lane with Mom…

December 31, 2013, 4:07 PM

I certainly had a fun time this past weekend.  Mom came up to visit for a few days, and on Saturday the 28th, we went up to New Jersey for the day, where we wandered around an old stomping ground: Glassboro.  This is where my parents met while in college, and this is also the first place where I lived, from birth to age three.

The first stop was Rowan University, which was Glassboro State College back in Mom and Dad’s day.  First stop was at the Barnes and Noble, which is now the university bookstore.  I had never been in a Barnes and Noble on a college campus before.  It’s something of a cross between a college bookstore and a normal Barnes and Noble, in that it’s styled like a regular store, it has the cafe, it has a section for books and other stuff that they normally sell, but then it also has a section for school-specific merchandise, a school supply section (smaller than I expected), and a textbook section.  Mom got this:

Mom poses with a Glassboro State hoodie

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Categories: Family, Glassboro

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

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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The Walters Art Gallery and Great Falls…

January 6, 2013, 9:42 PM

So as promised, this is the photos-from-Baltimore-and-Great-Falls post.  Right after Christmas, Mom came up to visit for three days.  We certainly had fun while we were out.  We went out to Montgomery Mall, we went to Baltimore, we went to Arundel Mills, we went to Great Falls, and we had dinner with friends.

Montgomery Mall was pretty much what you would expect.  After-Christmas sales and all that jazz.  Mom did, however, leave me a bit scandalized when she went into Abercrombie and Fitch just to pay the five-cent bag tax to get one of the bags with the picture of the guy with the six-pack abs on it.  I commented:

My mother went to the Abercrombie store just to get the bag with the picture of the guy with the six pack abs on it. I am scandalized.

This must somehow be payback for all the times that I may have embarrassed her in the past.  Especially when I brought the little green reusable bags that I take with me to go grocery shopping.

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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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The highlights of the visit to Natural Bridge…

September 28, 2012, 10:39 PM

So on this, the night before I pull the wraps off of the new “Modern Blue” design and hang up the “Blue Squares” design for good, I realized that I never showed you the pictures that I took in Natural Bridge last week.  While I was down visiting the family, we all went down to Natural Bridge on the 20th and saw this geological formation.  We realized that in twenty years in the area, we had never seen the Natural Bridge from which Rockbridge County takes its name (and by the way, the town and the rock formation are both properly named “Natural Bridge” – confused yet?).  Mom, Sis, and I saw the wax museum there in 1993, but never the bridge itself.  So we did.  And here are the highlights:

Mom stops for a smile on the stairs down to the Natural Bridge.
Mom stops for a smile on the stairs down to the Natural Bridge.

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Categories: Family, Nature

A train ride with far more excitement than you might expect…

September 19, 2012, 9:21 PM

This is also why, when I’m traveling on a public mode of transportation, the idea is to leave early so that I can be at the boarding location in plenty of time, just in case anything goes wrong in the process.  Today was one of those days where something went wrong.  I described it as a “clusterf—“, and I think that was putting it nicely.

First of all, though, to set things up: I’m in Stuarts Draft right now, and I went there on Amtrak’s westbound Cardinal.  To get there, my plan was to take the 51 from my house to Glenmont, and then take the Red Line to Union Station. Initially, things went well.  I caught the same 51 that I usually get to go to work, and caught my Red Line train.

And then things went downhill from there.

The Red Line was having a power problem on Track 2 at Brentwood Yard.  Thus they had to single track through the yard, during morning rush hour.  Whenever you hear “single tracking” and “rush hour” in the same sentence, by the way, that’s never a good sign.  So at Glenmont, we sat for several minutes before we started the run – much longer than usual.  Then we proceeded to Wheaton and held again.  No hold at Forest Glen.  Then we held for about ten minutes each at Silver Spring and Takoma.

And then things got worse.  There was a second power problem on the Red Line at Van Ness-UDC, with single tracking over there, too.  Lovely.  By this point, Metro was telling people in the e-alerts to consider taking the Green Line.  That’s when you know it’s bad.  With two areas of single tracking, I bailed at Fort Totten and took the Green Line.

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Discovery looked like it had made many trips into space…

September 12, 2012, 12:00 AM

So this past Sunday, I was involved in a day out with family.  It was a lot of fun, and I don’t get to see any of them nearly as much as I would like.  Uncle Bruce and Aunt Mary came down from New Jersey, and Dad (Mom couldn’t make this one) came up from Stuarts Draft, and we spent the afternoon at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center seeing the Space Shuttle Discovery, among other things there.  Of the four of us, I was the only one who had been there before.  So I sort of knew what was where in there, though I admit that on my last trip there with Mom, we spent like 95% of our time there in the space wing.

Personally, the thing I was most excited about seeing was Discovery, since the last time I was there, Enterprise was the shuttle on display.  It was interesting to see the difference in how a test article looked vs. the real thing.  And as you might expect, Discovery looked like it had made no less than 39 trips into space over the course of nearly three decades, and had been put through its paces.  Enterprise, on the other hand, was perfect black and white.  So most of my photos focused on Discovery:

The nose of Discovery
The nose of Discovery.  Compare to a similar view of Enterprise.

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Categories: Family, Space

…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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Build-A-Bear…

May 11, 2012, 9:06 PM

What a fun day today! Mom came to visit for the weekend, and so we spent the day on Friday kind of out and about. First stop: Montgomery Mall. Mom wanted to go to Lush for some bar shampoo and such. I’m not that big on that kind of soap, but it’s kind of fun to go. Then after Lush, we kind of wandered around the mall for a while. We eventually ended up at Build-A-Bear Workshop, where we made a bear for Adelle, who is the daughter of my cousin Kate and her husband Nathan.

And while we were there, we got photos. So for Adelle, this is how it happened when your cousin Ben and your Aunt Jane built your bear:

Getting the bear ready for stuffing.
Getting the bear ready for stuffing.

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Categories: Family, Shopping

The rule on pricing at Tysons II is, “If you have to ask, you cannot afford it.”

March 4, 2012, 4:17 PM

This weekend was certainly a blast. My mother came to visit, and we went to Tysons Corner on Saturday.

The plan was for Mom and I to meet at Vienna. It made sense, since she was coming from Virginia, Tysons is in Virginia, and I could take Metro to meet her, thus only have to take one car out. And Vienna is somewhere that all of us were familiar with from countless visits to the DC area before I moved up here. So my plan was to take the bus to Glenmont and then Metro the rest of the way. First thing I learned was that Nextbus, while useful for the most part, is still very much not perfect. I left the house based on a prediction of a Y8 in 12 minutes, and so I headed down to the corner. It does not take 12 minutes to get down to the corner, but when I got there, there was no bus, and the bus that I was tracking had dropped off the screen, with the next bus not supposed to show up for 45 minutes, which would make me very late. So I ended up walking to Glenmont, because I knew I could walk there in less time than it would take to wait for the bus. I had never walked to the Metro from my house before. I had done from Metro to home many times, but never the reverse. The uphill walk was very good for working the calves, since my legs were sore by the time I got to Glenmont. I might have to do that more often. It was a good workout, and helpful on a week where I had missed a pool session.

Once I got to the Metro, I got a seat on a train, and all was well. Mom, however, for reasons that neither one of us can quite figure out, got turned around a bit, and so my lateness ended up working out for her. I don’t know if she missed a sign for Vienna or what, but she managed to get lost. No idea how. And it’s frustrating when she’s lost in an area that I’m not entirely familiar with myself. Usually, I can guide someone over the phone to get wherever they need to, but I’m not that familiar with the neighborhood around Vienna station. I know how to reach the station from both sides of I-66, I know how to get to Route 123 from Vienna via Nutley Street, and I know how to reach the shopping center with the Safeway and Micro Center in it, and I know that there’s a high school northwest of the station, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge of that area. So I couldn’t help her as much as I usually can, since she didn’t know where she was very well, and neither did I. Somehow, she ended up at Dunn Loring station, and told me as much. My response: “Good. Stay there.” After all, she managed to get to an Orange Line station, and so all was well. None of us quite know how she managed to get to Dunn Loring, though, since I would have expected, if she was going to land at a different Metro, to end up at West Falls Church, which is also very close to I-66 and easily accessed from there. Dunn Loring, not so much. I don’t even know how to get to Dunn Loring by car. Only time I’d ever been to Dunn Loring before is for railfanning, since I think station visits are just as important as riding in the first car.

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Categories: Family, Matthew, Shoes, Shopping, WMATA

You would think that an event that happened eight years ago wouldn’t be such an issue today…

January 11, 2012, 1:58 AM

And tonight I’m losing sleep over it, and I feel that I need to unload. You may recall that, back in 2003, I deliberately did not attend my college graduation. At the time, I wrote about how I planned to not attend on the Main Page, which carried an article at that time. And since then, the whole thing has come back to haunt me time and time again. My mother and I still occasionally get into arguments about the matter, even eight years later. The arguments only last a few minutes and always end in stalemate, but it’s kind of annoying to have to rehash. I want to finally bury the issue. So if you’re thinking this is going to be a “happy” Journal entry, skip down to the next one, because this is a tale of things losing meaning and my losing control over my own destiny.

My whole thing when it comes to things done in my honor is that if I can’t control what’s going on, I don’t want to have any part of it. What’s the point of doing something in my honor if I don’t get any input into it, right? And I really got soured on awards ceremonies and things early on.

Back in spring 1996, I was a freshman in high school, and doing quite well, I suppose, having managed a 3.75 GPA (for whatever that’s worth) for my second semester classes (we were on a semester block schedule). For my grade-A performance in Spanish class, I was invited to the Stuarts Draft High School academic awards ceremony. So I got my little certificate for doing so well in Spanish class. Woo hoo. So instead of celebrating my accomplishments as a family after that, my parents decided to pick a huge fight with me before we even got home about why I wasn’t involved in more extracurricular activities. I was in Spanish club as a freshman, and that was basically it. Maybe they had a point, but I really didn’t appreciate how they basically stomped on my achievement and turned what should have been a happy occasion into one that I still get angry and upset over whenever I think of it. I don’t have the certificate anymore. I probably threw it away, and just as well – it was worthless to me.

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Categories: Family, JMU, Myself

So I believe that the spirit of Patrick’s Christmas lights have attacked my camera…

December 4, 2011, 10:39 PM

Yeah, it’s only been a week since my Thanksgiving trip to Stuarts Draft ended, but better late than never, I suppose. I’ve kicked production work on Falcon into high gear, and just about everything on my Internet life has taken a back seat to that, including Wikipedia (I’m taking a Wikibreak!). I have a feeling that if you look into my eyes, you’ll see that blue squares-in-squares pattern that I use burned onto my retina.

But this is a Video Journal. So that means one of these, which I shot on the drive home from Stuarts Draft along Route 29:

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Why on earth did I photograph…?

September 30, 2011, 10:35 PM

In my work in restoring the site content for the upcoming WordPress conversion, I’m currently working on Photography sets from 2002 – everything done after “The Schumin Web Photo Essay Blitz” that was done in March 2002. That means I’m working on Old Town Alexandria, Protesting the World Bank, Autumn Leaves, The Iwo Jima Memorial, and Botanic Garden. So this encompasses the last of the material from the original Mavica period, and the beginning of the Big Mavica period.

The last two photo sets that I mentioned – Iwo Jima and Botanic Garden – were both done a DC trip that Mom, Sis, and I took on November 29, 2002, while I was home from college for Thanksgiving. Big Mavica was still really new to me, so apparently I was taking more photos than usual just to get used to the equipment during the time home. I came back to the CD that these files were on when locating the source material for those two photo sets for purposes of restoration, and got lost in all of the other photos from my time in Stuarts Draft in late November 2002. I apparently really went to town on photos, and some of them, particularly at my parents’ house, were ones where I was looking at them and thinking, why in the hell did I take this photo? I just have to remember that this was the work of a much younger man, and with nine more years’ experience, well… there you go.

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