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And so for those wondering how my birthday went…

June 4, 2008, 2:07 PM

My birthday weekend went quite well, thank you. I spent my actual birthday at home, where I wrote a Wikipedia article about October Rebellion. Yes, that October Rebellion. I had a great time writing that article, though it’s not often that I’ll sit down and write a new article from scratch and go hunting for reliable sources and such.

Then the next day, Mom and Dad came to visit – just for the day. We went to downtown Silver Spring, where we had a birthday lunch at Austin Grill, a restaurant that serves Mexican food. As we were coming in, rain appeared to be imminent, and yet some people still wanted to be seated outside, and stayed outside, even as the rain started coming down. There was a very small overhang that these people ate under, and I presume they stayed dry for the most part.

At the restaurant, Mom committed what would be considered a major sin if you like to stay in the good graces of your companions. She told the server that it was my birthday. Now I admit that she didn’t mean to let that out in front of the waitstaff. It slipped out unintentionally. But you know how it is… if you say “birthday” to a server, next thing you know, you have ALL of them marching in clapping, and singing happy birthday to you. Once we realized Mom’s error, we flagged the server again about the birthday thing, and good news – Austin Grill doesn’t sing. Very good.

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What a great visit!

April 5, 2008, 11:42 PM

Mom came up for a teachers’ convention during the latter part of this week, and she stayed at my house. And we had a great time. She arrived on Wednesday, and we met up at Wheaton Plaza and then went to my house. Then while I went to work on Thursday and Friday, Mom was at her convention for the Virginia Writing Project. On Thursday, Mom actually lobbied a few Virginia representatives and senators, and then on Friday they had some workshops.

And Mom got to be a DC commuter for two days. She took the 51 and the Red Line just like I do. She left the house ahead of me in the mornings, but we rode back together in the evenings. Thursday, Mom got to see her first big Metro delay, as there was a train having a problem at Van Ness-UDC in the direction of Glenmont (of course). An out-of-service train whizzed by Dupont Circle station, and then I took the next (very crowded) train, to meet Mom at Union Station. Then from there, we rode to Glenmont and took the Y5 back home.

Then on Friday, Mom and I got Breda 3062, which had advertisements on the ceiling. Take a look…

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Categories: Cameras, Family, IKEA, Shopping, WMATA

This was the first time we were all together in a long time…

March 17, 2008, 10:48 PM

Stuarts Draft was, as always, a lot of fun. And note, that is one sentence I never thought I’d find myself saying. But anyways…

So the whole dump-the-car-at-Vienna plan went according to plan, though it did take longer than I had planned to get out of the exit ramp. Of course, look what I had to contend with:

Traffic on I-66 at Nutley Street

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Two days until Stuarts Draft…

March 10, 2008, 2:33 PM

Two days and counting until I leave for Stuarts Draft! And how exciting, since Sis is coming to visit! I haven’t seen her since December when we went to Chicago. Me, I’m close enough to the parents that I can go see them just about any time I want, but Sis is a little further flung, way out in the midwest and all. I’m excited.

Otherwise, though, I’m looking to update Schumin Web’s appearance. It’s not going to be major, but it will involve updating the various section headers, a few page redesigns, and possibly a new background across the whole site. I’m testing what I like, and we’ll see what we come up with. I want something that will look smart, but not something that looks too trendy. After all, the current look has lasted three and a half years, and I don’t want to screw up a good design with something cheesy. So we’ll see. It was a testament to the existing design, however, that I put the same interface back in place with very few modifications when we had that little meltdown last summer.

So yeah, I’m excited on all counts. And Schumin Web celebrates its 12th birthday in a little less than two weeks (March 23).

Categories: Family, Schumin Web meta

Didn’t think I’d be going to Stuarts Draft again so soon…

March 4, 2008, 11:18 PM

Yeah, I didn’t think I would be going back to Stuarts Draft again so soon. But… Sis is coming to visit! Yaaaaaaay! I will happily make the drive to see her, since we don’t get to see her all that much, what with her being half a continent away and all.

Plus this will be the first time that the four of us will have all been together since like June. I moved to Maryland in May, and made trips back to visit in May and June. Then Sis left for Chicago with Chris in August, and she’s not been back since, though Mom and I went out to visit her in December. Dad couldn’t make it due to other obligations that he couldn’t get out of.

So this ought to be a lot of fun. Sis and I are both arriving on Wednesday, March 12, and then we’re both leaving on the 15th, as she flies back to Chicago, and I drive back to Washington.

Then I’m also finally going to put a maneuver into practice that I’ve contemplated for months – leaving for Stuarts Draft directly from work. This involves placing the Sable at Vienna the night before, and then taking Metro back home. Thus I’m essentially making two evening commutes, as I’m going from Dupont Circle to Glenmont and taking the 51 back home, and then turning right around, driving to Vienna, and taking the Orange Line to Metro Center, and from there, back to Glenmont, and then the Y9 back home. This would be the day when it would be worthwhile to shell out the extra ten cents for a paper transfer, since bus drivers treat them like day passes. Then I’d have a normal morning commute, work all day, and then go directly to Vienna from work, and then to Stuarts Draft from there. Not bad. That would also mark the first time since May that I will have been to Vienna.

So yeah, I’m excited!

Categories: Family, Stuarts Draft

When I drive down to see the parents, I’m reminded of why I used to always do the driving on my DC trips in the early morning and late at night.

March 2, 2008, 11:30 PM

First of all, let me say that I had fun in Stuarts Draft and surrounding over the weekend. I came down Saturday morning, and went back up Sunday evening. In the process, I got to see Katie, my parents, and my friend Patrick Jarrett.

And the drive itself reminded me of why, when I did my bi-weekly DC trips for more than three years, I did the driving in the early morning and late at night. Traffic was much lighter than otherwise. On the way up to DC, I’d leave the house around 5:30 AM. Quiet on the highway. Then on the way back, I timed my arrival back at Vienna for around midnight to head back. Traffic was much lighter during those hours than otherwise. On my trip this time, where I took US 29 down, and I-81 and I-66 back, I think the only time when traffic wasn’t thick was on the way down between Culpeper and Ruckersville. Otherwise, it was pretty heavy traffic almost the entire way, including on US 340 going towards Stuarts Draft. Not fun.

However, the rest of the trip was fun. I got to see Katie for a few minutes, and then headed into Stuarts Draft to see the parents. They’ve made some changes to the “Pirate Room” (my old bedroom, which they’ve turned into an upstairs living room) since last I was there, removing my old desk and putting in this dresser with a ship painted on the front in the room in its place. It’s really nice, too. Meanwhile, we also finally named the pair of goldfish that Mom put in there. She hadn’t originally given them names because she couldn’t tell them apart, but I determined that one was more brightly colored than the other, thus we could tell them apart. I named them Castor and Pollux, after the twins in Greek mythology. It has a bit of a personal connection for me, as my astrological sign is Gemini, which is headed up by the stars Castor and Pollux. And in the fish, Castor is the more brightly-colored fish, while Pollux is the one with slightly more subdued colors.

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Stuarts Draft, take two?

February 29, 2008, 2:00 PM

It’s Friday, ya bastards!

And that also means that tomorrow, I am leaving Maryland and the DC area, and heading to Stuarts Draft. No illnesses are getting in my way this time! I feel good, and I will get up and be fresh as a daisy on Saturday morning for the drive to Stuarts Draft. This will also be the first time the Sable comes to Virginia with its new Maryland tags (oooooh!).

And it’s going to be a fun, though fast-paced, trip. I’m coming in midday, and going to see Katie on the way in. Then I’m going to my parents’ house, where we’re all going to do something somewhere (don’t know what yet – sorry, Mom, I still haven’t decided!), either eat out somewhere or eat in, etc. Then on Sunday afternoon, I’m heading back to DC. I’m stopping in Harrisonburg on the way back up to see my friend Patrick, and we’ll probably do lunch or something. And then, back to DC!

The only thing that’s going to be difficult to handle, though, is there being no dog at the house. I can’t believe it’s been more than a month since Greta died. But I’ll get to see where she was buried. Still, that will be strange. After all, it’s one thing to be told that Greta is gone, and it’s something entirely diffferent to actually see Greta not be there.

Then of course the futon that Mom got to replace my old bed is hard as a rock. That I tolerate, but barely. Nonetheless, sleeping on that is no fun. But it will be neat to see all the new furniture that Mom got. There’s this dresser with a ship on it that’s new that’s in the Pirate Room (my old bedroom), plus Mom and Dad both got new dressers from IKEA for themselves. Mom’s is exactly like the one in my apartment, and Dad’s is the taller but narrower version.

And meanwhile, I get to be Linux man for the weekend, as the Lappy currently only has Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) on it.

Categories: Family, Stuarts Draft

“Prince George’s Pizza”?

February 10, 2008, 12:40 PM

My parents – both of them this time – came up to visit this weekend. They arrived Saturday morning, and left midday Sunday. What a fun time we had! We went to IKEA in College Park, and bought stuff. Mom got a new computer chair for her classroom (replacing one I got for free at Potomac Hall), and I got some mirrors that I’m planning to mount on the wall above my bed. I was also interested in getting some picture frames, but as they didn’t have the kind I wanted, we skipped on that.

These little mirrors are really cool. I got the idea after visiting my cousin Kate and her husband Nathan, and seeing these same mirrors over their fireplace arranged 3×3. The whole mirror unit is one square foot, and about four inches square in the center is mirror, and the rest is a wide wood frame. I think it will look great in the bedroom, after I stain the wood to match the bed. The style is called Malma.

Also, a surprise at IKEA: In those little “Living in [whatever] square feet” displays they have where they show an entire house, they of course show the bathroom. The surprise came when, being silly, I lifted up the toilet seat to make it look more “lived in”:

The display toilet at IKEA

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Categories: Family, IKEA, Shopping

In Memoriam: Greta, February 12, 1994 – January 24, 2008

January 24, 2008, 7:18 PM

Greta by her bowl in the kitchen, December 25, 2007

This is the entry I’d hoped not to ever have to make. Sad to say, Greta has passed on at the age of 13 years and 11 months. She died peacefully at home. Everyone whose lives she touched will miss her dearly.

Greta was quite the dog. She was very protective of the family, barking loudly and continuously at anyone who would visit that she didn’t know. She knew the drill when the doorbell rang, too – she would be the first at the door, barking her little head off. She would also do the same thing if a doorbell would sound on the TV. But she would always give a little doggy smile whenever she saw us.

She also knew how to give love and receive love, as Greta was Mom’s little baby, always small enough for Mom to hold in her arms. The two of them had a great time, too, as they would sit and watch television together, and Greta could always be found near Mom in the house. And as all domestic dogs should be, Greta was spoiled rotten, getting just about anything she wanted. Talk about a great life.

And now, all I have to say is, Greta, you will be missed…

Categories: Greta

And Greta’s back home again.

January 18, 2008, 10:34 PM

Well, we can all now breathe a sigh of relief. Greta’s back at home, and doing better. She’s on a special food for kidney patients, and she’s drinking her water. But at least now she can sleep in her own bed again, because the vet’s office stresses Greta out tremendously. Always has, too.

Is Greta totally out of the woods yet? Probably not. But at least she’s improved to the point of being able to return home.

Categories: Greta

Please get better, Greta…

January 16, 2008, 8:24 PM

Many of you know Greta, our brown dachshund, who has been part of our family since 1994. In fact, you may recall just yesterday, I was delighted to receive a picture of Greta from Mom.

Unfortunately, when a dog reaches an advanced age, though (Greta’s 13, almost 14), things don’t work as well as they once did. Greta had to be taken to the vet today, and it turned out to be some serious kidney problems. So Greta’s staying at the vet for the next two days for some serious treatment, getting all of her fluids in harmony again, and seeing what the deal is. I hope Greta makes it through this.

Meanwhile, if you could also think nice thoughts about Greta as she gets through this rough time, I would really appreciate it.

Categories: Greta

I so love it when Mom sends photos of Greta…

January 15, 2008, 6:43 PM

And here she is:

Greta in the kitchen

Yeah, Greta is perhaps the one I miss most being in Maryland now, as Greta, unlike the rest of them, doesn’t use the phone.

Categories: Greta

As someone who comes from an area where the transit system is mostly concrete, seeing this much wood is really a surprise.

December 28, 2007, 7:22 PM

Mom and I are on our second day in Chicago, and it’s been a lot of fun. I met the parents of Chris Lysy, Sis’s fiance (that still sounds so weird), and we’ve seen a bit of the city. This is certainly not DC, let me tell you that.

So where have we been? We arrived at Union Station yesterday, met Sis and Chris, took the Brown, Red, and Purple Lines of the “L” train to Evanston, where our hotel is, met the Lysys, and then we went around the city a bit. We arrived in the Loop, and went to the observation deck of the Sears Tower. We waited in SO many lines for that. First line was to take the elevator down to the ticketing area. Then the line to go through security. Then the line to purchase the tickets. Then the line to wait to see the orientation film. Then the line to wait for the elevator. Then the line at the observation deck to take the elevator back down. Quite a production. But it was pretty good. The film was informative, and the observation deck offered a 360-degree view from the 103rd floor. I was disappointed that it wasn’t open-air, but hey, it was still fun, and I got a LOT of photos.

One thing about it, though: big elevators loaded with people make me nervous. This was after living in Potomac Hall, where the elevator would make a sudden drop when it arrived at the desired floor. The higher the floor, the bigger the sudden drop. Additionally, the more people in the elevator, the bigger the drop. Scared the crap out of you if you weren’t expecting it, and even if you were expecting it, it was still somewhat unsettling. Thus it’s left me with a slight fear of elevators loaded with people. However, this one went off without a hitch, and they had a video monitor with some cartoons on it in the elevator near the ceiling for people to watch. Still, even with all the various safety features on the elevator, the idea of having a 103-story hole right below me makes me somewhat uptight.

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Categories: Chicago, CTA, Family

Had lunch with the parents today…

December 2, 2007, 1:54 PM

I had a fun time today. My parents went up to New Jersey over the weekend, and I managed to talk them into a stop in my neck of the woods on the way back down. That was fun, as they came in Mom’s Scion. We went to downtown Silver Spring, and went to this place called Redrock Canyon Grill. Nice place. All three of us had the rotisserie chicken. It came with red potatoes and green beans. It was awesome.

Speaking of which, expect to eventually see downtown Silver Spring in a Photography set. It’s a beautiful area, and looks like a good place for a nighttime set.

Then I took Metro back to my neighborhood, and got Breda 4038. I also got to see two photos on the phone – one that Mom sent me, and one that Sis sent me.

Our house in Glassboro in 2007

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Categories: Family

“Greta says HI!”

October 30, 2007, 7:28 PM

Just before I left work for the day today, I got a text message from Mom with a photo:

Greta says HI!

And Mom added, “Greta says HI!” It’s always nice to see Greta. I haven’t seen her in a while, after all, since I’ve not been to Stuarts Draft since September. Plus with Greta being a dog, she can’t talk on the phone.

So that was awesome, seeing Greta and all. Next time I see Greta will be on November 22, when I come down to Stuarts Draft for Thanksgiving.

Categories: Greta