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Well, tonight’s workout was fun…

May 8, 2014, 10:19 PM

I think this describes my workout at the pool tonight:

SO YOU'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR SWIM WORKOUT?  LET ME SING YOU THE SONG OF MY PEOPLE.

Yes, I got interrupted by a fire alarm.  I was simultaneously annoyed and delighted about the situation.  On the one hand, Olney Indoor Swim Center has a Notifier voice evacuation system, and I had never heard it go off in the three years that I have been swimming at Olney.  So I was delighted that I finally got to see and hear it in action.  On the other hand, though, I take my swimming quite seriously.  I find interruptions to my workout to be quite a bother, like the time that a storm-related power outage ended my workout early back in August 2012.  So a fire alarm during my workout annoyed me, because it knocked me out of my groove.

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Categories: Fire alarms, Olney, Swimming

The mildly interesting things that you see in a day…

March 21, 2014, 11:34 PM

So my Friday was fun.  I got together with my friend Matthew, we did some cooking, and then after Matthew and I parted company for the day, I headed over to Dulles Town Center for a bit.  Over the course of the day, I spotted a few things that I found mildly interesting.

On the way in, I stopped over at Aardvark Swim in Chantilly.  I usually go to the Rockville location, but since they were out of goggle straps (the bungee cord kind) in Rockville, and I knew I was going to be out this way sooner than Rockville would get more in stock, I swung by and here to get them.  Those of you who follow me on Instagram may remember that I was contemplating whether or not to buy this:

"Suck it up, cupcake" swim cap at Aardvark

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So there I am, fast asleep, staring down a fire alarm…

November 11, 2013, 12:09 AM

I graduated from high school in 1999.  That means that I have been out of high school for fourteen years.  The question I have is, why am I still having fire drill dreams?  I had one of these on Saturday night, and I don’t get it.

In this dream, I was going to Stuarts Draft High School, which is where I actually went to high school.  Back then, the school had a Simplex system, but the school has since been renovated.  It now has a Notifier system with System Sensor horn/strobes.  The take-home point on this, however, is that the school now contains a horn/strobe in every classroom.  And I am acutely aware of this.  When I was in school, I only shared a classroom with a fire alarm horn once.  That was in kindergarten at Southside Elementary School in Rogers, Arkansas, but the kindergarten room was the size of a basketball court with a really high ceiling.  At Grimes Elementary in Rogers, and Stuarts Draft Middle School and Stuarts Draft High School in Virginia, I never shared a classroom with a fire alarm horn except for in shop classes (where I never had a fire drill) and Phys. Ed, where we did have the occasional fire drill.  However, in middle school, two Edwards horns in a big gym weren’t very loud, but four Simplex 4040 horns in the gym in high school were extremely loud.  But outside from those situations, there were no horns in the rooms where I had class (the horns were out in the hallway).

In this dream, I was sitting in a modern-looking classroom on the first day of school at Stuarts Draft High School.  And across the room from me was this:

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Okay, explain this dream…

February 28, 2013, 10:33 PM

Okay, this is a weird one.  Now you know I’ve discussed some odd dreams in this space in the past, like the surgery dream, the derailment dream, the Power Rangers dream, the countless Walmart dreams, CFW dreams, fire alarm dreams, etc.  But this one from a few weeks ago is hard to explain.  But here goes.

In this dream, I was at the building where I work in DC, and I was in the office doing work.  And outside, at least according to the dream, there was a volcano erupting.  Yes, a volcano.  In the DC area.  I know.  That said, this volcano was one of those explosive types of volcanoes, putting out tons of volcanic ash, but no lava, much like the AD 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried Pompeii.  In fact, in the dream, I even recalled that this was just like Pompeii.  Volcanic ash was falling all over, and the entire city was going to be buried, just like in Pompeii.  And we were all apparently doomed due to falling ash and poisonous volcanic gases.  It didn’t matter in the dream that Pompeii was only buried under nine feet of ash and my office is on the third floor, at least twenty-some feet above street level.  We were all doomed, and our building was going to get buried.  Completely.

With me so far?  Basically: big volcano erupts in DC area, ash falling all over the place, we’re all going to die.

The thing that got me in this dream was actually my own reaction.  Of course, I’ve noticed that in dreams, I seem to often “have a copy of the script” and know many details that are taken as indisputable fact within the dream’s fictional universe as things play out.  Thus how I knew volcano, ash, and pending death.  The only thing I saw in the dream was the inside of my office building.  Which had orange-red walls in my dream.  (Go figure.  The real office has mostly eggshell walls.)  But as my coworkers were panicking due to our impending burial by volcano, my reaction was indifference to our fate, because I had stuff that I had to take care of.  Yes, I was doing work as we were about to be buried under ash, decay completely, and then become plaster casts when we were rediscovered a thousand and some years later.  And yes, the idea of plaster casts of our final positions like happened in Pompeii came up in the dream.  I know.

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Categories: Dreams, Fire drills

New fire alarms at work… again…

August 24, 2012, 10:17 PM

So apparently the folks who run the building where I work are looking to improve the fire alarm system.  Recall that in 2009, the fire alarm notification appliances were replaced after an incident where someone pulled a fire alarm in our building due to smoke from a car fire in an alley behind the building, and those of us looking out the window at the fire couldn’t hear the alarm going off.  For that, we started with Wheelock 34 horns and Space Age AV32 light plates:

Wheelock 34 and Space Age AV32

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Categories: Fire alarms, Work

Didn’t think I would have a “Fox issues the power” moment, but…

June 8, 2012, 10:41 PM

…but it looks like Falcon is going to have one.  First of all, though, if you’re wondering what I’m even talking about, it’s a Power Rangers reference.  Before Power Rangers Zeo began, they ran “It’s Coming” previews, and then ran the full song before the first episode of the show.  One line was difficult to understand.  The correct lyrics were, “Unleashing the power”, but Sis and I thought it was “Fox [something] the power” (Power Rangers was airing on Fox at that time).  Back in 1996, we wrote to Mark Oxman (aka “Maxmouze”), who ran a Power Rangers newsletter at the time, about the lyrics.  He indicated that the words were “Fox issues the power”.  Even though Mark Oxman got it wrong, the mondegreen has become how I describe hyped up premieres.

And Falcon’s becoming Schumin Web isn’t that big of a deal visually.  The site will look mostly the same.  But the Fire Alarm Collection pages are getting a big upgrade.  That’s because the restoration of that area is coinciding with some long overdue updates, including added alarms, and all new illustrations.  Realize that many of the photos in the alarm collection pages are more than ten years old.  That’s back in the era of my original Mavica camera.  And I wasn’t nearly as meticulous about how I kept photos early on, and the originals for the old photos had been lost.  So there would be no restoration at all if I kept the old photos in place.  So over the last week or so, I configured part of my kitchen as something of a photography studio, and took new photos of every alarm in the collection.  I’ll leave the final result under wraps for now (mostly because I’m not done with the pages), but I want you to see some of the behind-the-scenes work, as the alarms went in for their closeups…

The tablecloth on my kitchen table does double duty as a backdrop for fire alarms.
The tablecloth on my kitchen table does double duty as a backdrop for fire alarms.

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Yes, I am probably the only one who would make fire alarms out of Legos…

February 19, 2012, 1:27 PM

So I went to Arundel Mills yesterday. Trips to Arundel Mills are always fun because there’s so much going on in that place. My goal was to get shoes, and at that I was unsuccessful. I need to buy new shoes because my existing shoes are, according to my podiatrist, a bit too long for me. When you have feet as wide as mine, you see, shoes that fit are hard to come by. Historically, I had always compensated for the width by buying longer, but I’m told that’s a contributor to the foot problems that I’ve been having lately. In trying shoes out, I think I’ve got the length about right (size 9½ – surprise!), but I’ve got to go far wider than I could get at the places I went. “Extra wide” in most places doesn’t do my feet justice, it seems. I have big feet, it seems.

One place I always have fun at, though, is the Lego store. They have Legos out on a table where you can play with them, and I have gone to town on them. The time before this back in December, I built a house with a small retaining wall around it, and then helped a little girl build the postmodern office building of her dreams. Seriously, it was pretty cool. This is said postmodern building:

The postmodern office building

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Categories: Arundel Mills, Fire alarms

This is the interesting part of all the photo work I’m doing on the site…

September 5, 2011, 1:28 AM

I made quite the interesting find while digging around for a few images. Take a look:

The locations of all the fire alarm notification appliances in Potomac Hall

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And fun was had in Chicago, too!

August 11, 2011, 6:10 AM

So before you think that all I did in Chicago was fight with CTA employees, I did a whole slew of other things in Chicago that were fun. First of all, the train trip over was interesting, as Mom and I shared a lower level Superliner I roomette on the Capitol Limited. That was certainly a different experience from before. Each time we’ve traveled before, it’s been on the upper level of the rail cars. The view isn’t that much different, except that you are just about at eye level with people in the stations that you go by, and your window doesn’t necessarily get above the sides of a few bridges. But otherwise, not bad.

And the Superliner I sleeper that I was on had been slightly refurbished. First of all, the three reading lights in the room were all LED (oooooh, ahhhhh), plus the panels above each seat had been refurbished. Take a look:

 

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Categories: Amtrak, Chicago, Family, Fire alarms

So let’s go swimming!

May 16, 2011, 6:09 PM

So… I went swimming today at the Graham S. Little Natatorium, aka Olney Swim Center. I had never been before, so while I had an idea about what to expect from going online, it was still a new experience. For those wondering, the Olney Swim Center is an indoor swimming pool in Olney, Maryland, owned and operated by Montgomery County.

I got there just before 2:30, and, after changing in the locker room, I got in the water right at 2:30, and swam mostly continuously for an hour. I believe that this marks the first time that I’ve done any serious swimming since I quit Rhonda Dossey’s class, and that was twenty years ago! And I certainly got a workout from this, that’s for sure. I started doing the front crawl for a few laps, and then switched to backstroke. I did that for a while, then did the breaststroke for a bit. Then I spent the rest of the time doing the backstroke. I did the backstroke most because when you consider that I’m just getting back into things, I couldn’t quite manage to get the multitasking together to stroke, kick, and breathe doing the front crawl and the breaststroke. So I decided to work on just stroke and kick, and we’ll deal with the breathing in another session. Something tells me I should work on the breathing with a kickboard for a while and then try to put it all together later. It’s okay – don’t want to overdo it, and I don’t have any swim instructor standing on the pool deck yelling at me about my stroke.

There is one other thing that I need to work on, and that’s direction. When I was a kid, I had no problems swimming in a straight line. Tell me where to swim, and I could get there in a straight line. Kind of like this:

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Categories: Fire drills, Olney, Swimming

Nice weather, fire drills, FIOS, and stupid Comcast…

February 16, 2011, 8:22 PM

So I did a Video Journal tonight. And here it is:

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When the fire trucks show up in the middle of the evacuation, that should be your clue that it’s not a drill…

December 11, 2010, 7:29 PM

So I’m a little bit annoyed. Yesterday afternoon marks the second time I’ve missed a fire alarm at work on account of being out to lunch. Let’s admit it – building evacuations on account of a fire alarm of unknown cause are kind of exciting. First there’s the system aspect of it. The Wheelock NS horn/strobes and Wheelock RSS strobes in my office building come to life, and start making a Code-3 pattern and start flashing. That right there is always cool, since these devices are, for the vast majority of the time, silent fixtures on the wall, which I’m sure many forget about. But then there’s the other part of things, and that’s where a little suspense and excitement comes in. The building might actually be on fire! After all, if you don’t get out quickly, the fire might get you, and no one wants that.

And as mentioned, this is the second time in a row that the fire alarm has gone off this year that I’ve missed. And for anyone to miss it, it would be me. I’m just the person with the Wheelock 7002T on his desk, after all. Both times were during what we call “Schumy Lunch”, which is where a bunch of us go out on Fridays to have lunch. The first time was in August, and we were out at Logan Tavern, about two blocks away from the office. We saw a fire truck go by during lunch and didn’t think anything about it, until I got a text message during lunch. Turns out that hey, the fire alarm went off. Put two and two together, and aha – that fire truck was headed to our building! As I understand it, it was an accidental alarm caused by maintenance work. It happens, I suppose.

Then this one on Friday was caused by construction work. They’re renovating the small fitness center that’s in our building, and, well, they presumably tripped a smoke head. Oops. We got back from Schumy Lunch at Chipotle in Dupont Circle, found out coming in that we missed a fire alarm by about ten minutes, and found out what the source of the alarm was. My first reaction was being annoyed that I missed another one, and commenting that they need to stop accidentally setting off the alarm while I’m out of the building (and waiting to do it when I’m around). Then I suggested, in jest, “Can I just pull the alarm so we can do the evacuation with me?” They said no, and I was like, “Darn!” in that I-knew-that-was-going-to-be-the-answer kind of way.

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Categories: Fire alarms, Work

Time to do a total clean of my refrigerator, I believe…

September 28, 2010, 10:58 PM

Indeed, I believe it’s time to do a total clean on my refrigerator. I’ve been living in my apartment for nearly three and a half years, and the refrigerator hasn’t really gotten that much of a cleaning since then – just rotating food in and out as a part of living. And it’s not like my refrigerator is all that nasty, either. It’s not like some of the stuff I’ve seen at work. Some of the stuff in those refrigerators would make grown men retch. It’s just, well, after three years and four months, it needs a thorough cleaning to remain at its best.

Of course, it’s not like I don’t have experience with these things. The refrigerators at work recently finally surpassed my tolerance level for uncleanliness, and so over the course of a month, I took each of the refrigerators through an out-of-service period, where the refrigerator was completely emptied, powered down, and the entire interior and its various components were cleaned. The end result was a spotless, like-new appearance. I don’t do these things half-assed, you see.

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Categories: Fire alarms, House

Everyone say, “Xenu!”

August 15, 2010, 2:18 PM

It’s funny how Fridays work out sometimes. Last Friday, a few of us went out after work, and ended up at Maddy’s in Dupont Circle, on the west side of Connecticut Avenue between R and S streets. All in all, it wasn’t a bad time. We had a couple of beers, and some other bar food. They actually had a baked potato on the menu, which I had. Not too shabby if you ask me.

Then afterwards, some of us were heading back to the Metro and others back towards the office, and our path took us past the Fraser Mansion, which, as you know, is the old Founding Church of Scientology before they moved right next door to my office (someone should consider a cult moving in next door as creating a hostile work environment). So we got a photo while we were there, especially when one considers that one of my coworkers ended up briefly visiting the last Anon raid (after I left).


Photo: Sarah Alexander

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Computer rehab time already?

January 6, 2010, 9:14 PM

Next month marks three years since I got my Dell. And that means it’s almost time for my computer’s mid-life rehabilitation. Why get a new computer when you can make your current one last another few years with a little TLC, eh?

Yes, I do my computer like transit systems do rolling stock. Go for such an amount of time and then rehab the thing. It’s just like Metro recently did with the Breda cars. Rail cars generally last 40 years. So at roughly the 20-year mark, they do a mid-life rehabilitation on them. That brings them up to more modern standards, and gets them ready to go another 20 before retirement. Computers have about a three-year life span in my experience, and so a mid-life overhaul makes it go another three. Which means that I won’t need to replace my current box until 2013 or so. Now my last computer lasted nearly nine years. It went three years, had its mid-life rehabilitation, and then went almost six years before it finally was put out to pasture. That was for financial reasons, though – I couldn’t afford a new computer, since I wasn’t doing as well money-wise.

On my last computer’s rehab back in 2001, I upgraded from 128 MB to 384 MB of RAM, upgraded both optical drives, went from a 10 GB hard drive to an 80 GB hard drive, upgraded the video card, and upgraded the TV tuner card. I deliberately didn’t replace the motherboard and upgrade the processor, because that’s about where I reach my level of incompetence. Everything went quite well in the rehab, and it got me to 2007. I was pleased. I had contemplated a second rehab around that time, but I ultimately determined that a second rehab was more than I wanted to do for an eight-year old computer, and so I replaced it.

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