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Leaving for Stuarts Draft in a bit…

January 14, 2010, 11:41 AM

Yes, as soon as the laundry is finished (see, Mom, I am capable of taking clean clothes down when I visit), I’m heading out to Stuarts Draft. I can’t believe that this weekend is almost here. My sister’s getting married this Saturday! She’s going to become Mrs. Chris Lysy on Saturday.

Of course, now I’m going to have to get used to seeing “Ann Lysy” on Facebook and such. That’s just going to be strange to see, but I’m sure she’ll be happy as can be.

Then meanwhile, I am going to get to Stuarts Draft under my own power, despite that the wheel of automotive misfortune has been spinning in my direction as of late. Recall that I’ve not had a good time with the car lately. First the car spazzed out on me on Christmas Eve as I was leaving for work. Then when I was in Roanoke on the 30th with Mom, the car didn’t want to start up. After a trip to the Firestone place in Wheaton when I got back, though, the car was running fine again. However, (automotive) misfortune apparently comes in threes, and on Tuesday, when I went to get into the car to go to work (if I know I’m going to be working late, I drive), I discovered that the right front tire was flat. Greeeeeeeeeat. So I had to call AAA and get the spare put on. Then I was on my way. Then yesterday, another trip to Firestone got my brand-new tire fixed up. The comment was, 20-some thousand miles is what this thing is supposed to last, and it didn’t even make it to 100. But they fixed it, and determined it was probably a bad seal.

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Categories: Cameras, Family, Mercury Sable

I actually got compliments on my bathroom…

August 2, 2009, 3:25 PM

My parents came by as planned, and we had a great time. I actually got compliments on the cleanliness of my bathroom, believe it or not. It certainly pays to really give the place a once-over. Of course, my parents got advance warning that I had cleaned. I posted a status message on Facebook indicating that I was cleaning, and my Aunt Mary, whom, along with Uncle Bruce, my parents visited before leaving New Jersey, saw the status message and commented on it. And Mom noticed that I had missed dusting my printer, and wrote “MOM” in the dust, and then dusted it with a paper towel.

So we got together, and went out for lunch. We originally planned to eat at Umbertos in Wheaton, but much to our dismay, they were closed. I don’t know what was going on, because they were supposed to have been open based on their posted hours, and the restaurant was in a bit of disarray, with the chairs missing, and the tables arranged in a way like they’re doing something or other. So who knows what’s going on. This merits further investigation, but a phone call to the restaurant a few hours later got no answer, and a call to the other Umbertos in Potomac got nowhere. I hope they’re not closed for good, because that would be a disappointment. That’s a favorite of mine for entertaining, and it’s really a diamond in the rough as far as Wheaton is concerned.

So we went to downtown Silver Spring, and had lunch there instead. We went to Austin Grill, which also serves Tex-Mex cuisine, though not as authentic as Umbertos. At Umbertos, the staff consists of mostly native speakers of Spanish and converse amongst each other in Spanish, while at Austin Grill, the employees definitely speak English as a first language. But the food was good. I had the grilled chicken burrito, my father had the burger, and Mom had enchiladas. I also got a hat from the Don Strock Diabetes Classic golf tournament, which Uncle Bruce’s company sponsored.

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Why is it that I always seem to finish photo set projects at two in the morning?

March 1, 2009, 2:49 AM

Yep… it’s almost 3 AM on a Saturday night/Sunday morning, and in the last hour or so, I finally finished Midnight March, which is about a protest against the World Bank and IMF during their fall 2008 meetings.

This set was more challenging than most protest sets I’ve shot. I’ve done plenty of protest marches before, both in daylight, as well as at night. I believe my most recent nighttime protest photo before that one was October Rebellion, specifically the Georgetown march. That was shot in some of the worst weather conditions that I had ever experienced during a protest march. After all, it was raining hard, and it was cold. Plus everyone was on edge due to the way that march was promoted. But for Midnight March, I had the weather on my side, as the skies were completely clear. And it was only slightly cool outside, much to my delight. Very comfortable protest weather. But the camera was something of an unknown quantity. I had barely done any shooting at night with the Kodak, with most of the nighttime shooting consisting of two Anon raids, and a day out with Katie. And all those were cases where I could carefully line up my shots. Can’t do that at a protest march, unfortunately. You have to go with the flow and keep up with the crowd.

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You know, I’d wanted for years to have a life in and around Washington. Now, I’m going to be glad to spend a week away from it next month.

July 17, 2008, 11:25 PM

Yeah, it’s time for a change of scenery. After all, I’ve been living in Silver Spring and working in Washington for a year and two months now. Amazing how time flies. But yeah, in a little more than a month, I’m taking my vacation! I’m going to Virginia Beach, and I’m excited. You do realize I’ve not been on a get-out-of-town vacation in three years, don’t you. The last time I went was in 2005.

This one ought to be a lot of fun, though. Usually when I go to Virginia Beach, I go by myself, and tend to concentrate on my photography, with a bit of a change in scenery. And this year… new equipment! While we certainly miss Big Mavica, its optical zoom sucked. And that was a real bummer in 2004 and 2005 when I hit the beach with it, and I couldn’t get close-in ocean shots from the hotel balcony. Now mind you, I think Atlantic Sunrise in 2004 was a great photo set. But I didn’t get a lot of the close-in detail that I really enjoyed in Sunrise at Virginia Beach from 2000. The close-ups really made the earlier set special, and technical limitations prevented me from doing that again in 2004. Now I’ve got a 12x optical zoom, and different nighttime settings, so we’ll see what happens this time around.

But what really excites me is the idea of using my waterproof “duckie” camera. I’d love to take that one out into the surf and see what I can get. After all, the thing is waterproof, so we might as well make good use of it. Big Mavica, to quote Fenton Crackshell from Ducktales, was “more gizmo than duck” when it came to water. So taking “duckie” in the ocean really ought to be fun. Might even cause me to spend a little more time in the ocean than I did last time. I think last time, out of four days, I spent a grand total of three hours in the water. But yeah, with “duckie”, it ought to be fun.

Yeah, I can’t wait until August 24…

Categories: Cameras, Vacations

And we are once again fully operational. Now I just need something to photograph…

May 4, 2008, 9:16 PM

I finally got a chance to test the new Kodak Z1012 IS camera tonight, and let me say that this is a big leap from Big Mavica. So here’s a quick round of test shots:

My kitchen

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Categories: Cameras

I have about 7 GB of SD card volume now – think that’s enough?

May 3, 2008, 2:23 PM

After a trip down to Stuarts Draft on Friday night, Mom and I went to Costco in Harrisonburg to get various odds and ends. Among other things, I got two 2 GB SD cards to use on the new cameras. Thus I have the two 1 GB Polaroid SD cards I bought at Target, the free 1 GB card I got from Kodak along with a fanny pack of some kind (I wouldn’t call that thing a camera bag), and now these two 2 GB ones from Costco. And I hope I’m all set. I get like 200 photos on a single 1 GB card on the Vivitar, and that’s 6.0 megapixels. Then I’ve been too busy to give the 10.1 megapixel Kodak a test run yet (it arrived on Wednesday), so I don’t know about how that will go, but hopefully I’ve got enough capacity now.

That’s the thing about this – I have no track record at all with the Kodak, and then I’ve only done about three photo sets with the Vivitar. That was a test set, then Operation Reconnect with Anonymous, and then counter-protesting the Nazis with my regular activist buddies. Going by Big Mavica’s standard’s doesn’t work, since everything’s bigger now. The Vivitar is 1.5 times “bigger” than Big Mavica, and the Kodak is roughly 2.5 times “bigger” than Big Mavica (remember that the “big” in Big Mavica referred to the resolution). Plus the movies are different, too. The Vivitar shoots in AVI format at 320×240 (Big Mavica shot MPEG), and then the Kodak shoots really high-resolution videos.

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Categories: Cameras

Done for another year, and good riddance to it.

April 6, 2008, 3:26 PM

You know what they say. There are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. The former only comes once, and most of us try to put it off as long as possible. The latter comes annually, and it comes due on April 15. And so I can now put it behind me again.

What’s weird, though, is doing it now, vs. in January when I usually do taxes. But this year was more complicated. I changed jobs and states, after all. I left Wal-Mart (yaaaay!), and found work with Food & Water Watch. And I moved from Virginia to Maryland. So for that, I bought TurboTax, and did the whole thing on the computer. Usually, I just sit down with a 1040, a calculator, and a pen, and do it. For the forty bucks or whatever TurboTax cost, it’s normally worth it to just do it manually. But for more complicated years – I was more worried about the state stuff than the federal stuff – TurboTax is handy.

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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

Big Mavica is gone…

March 31, 2008, 9:05 PM

Well, Big Mavica is officially on its way to that big photo set in the sky, as I shipped it to Recycling For Charities on my lunch hour today. And I got photos of this solemn event, too, which a friend of mine has described as the end of an era.

Big Mavica is in the box, the last anyone will see of it.
Big Mavica is in the box, the last anyone will see of it.

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Categories: Cameras, Walmart

Big Mavica’s fate is now sealed.

March 29, 2008, 12:18 PM

It looks like Big Mavica will have a happy ending after all. I’m recycling Big Mavica with an organization called Recycling For Charities, with the proceeds from the camera’s recycling going to support Stage Left Theatre, a Chicago-based theater that produces plays intended to raise debate on social and political issues.

So after more than five years of documenting various political mobilizations, among other things, Big Mavica’s recycling will likewise help raise awareness of various political and social issues. Yay!

Categories: Cameras

And we’re back in business!

March 25, 2008, 10:43 PM

Yes, we’re back in business! The Vivitar 6200W waterproof camera has arrived, and I’ve fired off a few test shots. I hope you like looking at my kitchen:

Test photo, showing the stove and the microwave in my kitchen

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Categories: Cameras, Project Chanology

Well, the Big Mavica era is over.

March 21, 2008, 12:22 AM

The era of Big Mavica has officially come to a close, as the screen is busted, wrecked due to water at the March 19 anti-war protest in DC. Due to the age of the equipment, I determined that a repair is not worthwhile. And the new camera is on order. The new camera is a Vivitar ViviCam 6200W, a 6.0 megapixel waterproof camera.

Well, that’s actually only half the story. This Vivitar will be my all-weather “hazard conditions” camera. This would be the one I’d take on the beach, to protests where showers are expected, and any other situations where I would expect the camera to take some abuse. In theory, this camera should be able to withstand a pepper spray to the face and keep on firing. Just don’t forget to wipe the lens. Isis, a photographer friend of mine, actually recommended this camera to me for bad-weather imagery. And I got a really good deal for it on Amazon.

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Categories: Anti-war, Cameras

After almost five and a half years, Big Mavica may very well be done for…

March 19, 2008, 5:38 PM

First of all, the “Funk the War” protest in downtown Washington, for which I took the day off at work, went very well. I got a lot of great photos, but it was really rainy. It rained. Hard.

Which brings me to point number two. Big Mavica took on water, as it’s done in the past, but this time, I think it might be a goner. It quit shooting photos, and the screen is all white. Something tells me that something might have shorted out in the camera. Hopefully once Big Mavica gets time to dry, it will be up and kicking again. And if not, well, it might be time to finally upgrade. After all, five years is a long time for electronic equipment. So if it’s to the point where I’m faced with sending it out for repair or just replacing it, I’m going to replace it, and retire Big Mavica.

And if this is the end for Big Mavica, at least it went out in a blaze of glory. In Part 3 of the Virginia Beach 2005 photo set, I said, “If I’m going to lose Big Mavica, it might as well be in the process of shooting a great photo set.” And when it comes to shooting a huge protest, I can’t think of a better time or place to lose it.

And the photo set won’t be toast, either. I can still recover everything that I had shot prior to the camera’s going out on me, and my friend Isis is going to help me fill out the remainder of the set.

So we’ll see what happens. Hopefully it won’t be the end of Big Mavica, but we’ll see…

Categories: Anti-war, Cameras

Looking back, I’m like, whoa…

August 16, 2007, 2:56 PM

As I restore all these photo sets, it struck me – my photography has evolved over the course of seven years of doing photo sets. The older stuff definitely looks like the work of a younger, less experienced man. Let’s just say that half the stuff that made it onto the Web site for some of those older sets (The Schumin Web Salutes America comes to mind) would never have made the cut today. Plus the way I covered some of it back then would never have happened today.

A good comparison is with the treatment of the US Capitol. Back in 2001, I covered the Capitol as part of “The Schumin Web Salutes America”. The writing was so-so at best, and it came off as a walk-around in a hurry (which it was). The focus was on the building, with tourists in place. Then compare it to the Capitol’s most recent appearance, as part of the J27 set. There, the Capitol’s appearance was incidental, but we told more of a story. In fact, the writing is often king in Life and Times sets. But Photography also tells a “story” as well, and more emphasis is placed on telling the “story” now than before.

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A whole bunch of miscellaneous stuff I’ve been meaning to show you…

June 17, 2007, 10:07 AM

I realized recently that I’ve gotten a little bit of a backlog of stuff I’ve been meaning to show you that I’ve captured with my cell phone over the last week or so. So here we go.

A deer in the vacant lot next door to me
So there you go – photographic proof that deer do wander through the vacant lot next door. Apologies for the blurry picture, but this is the cell phone, and not Big Mavica.

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