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And this is why I should never be allowed to go to Micro Center unsupervised…

August 14, 2014, 1:27 AM

First of all, I apologize for my silence as of late.  I’ve been busy working on various things plus having some computer issues, and that’s caused me to neglect the website somewhat, save for changing the photo features and splash photos.

However, the good news is that I’ve received job offers from a few different area transit agencies (that I’m not naming) for the position of bus operator.  I should be starting training with one of them soon, once all of the various onboarding processes are completed.  From what I’ve seen, these are not quick processes, but they’re done correctly the first time, and I’m fine with that.  In deciding to become a bus driver, I realized over the course of the job hunt that my heart just wasn’t in it for more nonprofit work.  I also realized that I wanted a career, and not just another job, and I didn’t really have a passion for the issues that the organizations that I was applying to were about.  In looking at my interests, I came to realize that I had a real interest in starting a career in public transportation.  And a job as a bus driver is a foot in that door.  In pursuing that, I took a commercial driving course at Montgomery College over the winter, and I now hold a Class B commercial driver’s license with passenger and school endorsements, plus no air brake restrictions.  So life is good on that front.

I also had a big day on July 26, checking out the new Silver Line stations.  I received an invitation to ride the VIP train before revenue service began, and I brought my friend Matthew as my guest.  I’m going to do a full-on photo set for Life and Times for this day (along with a few other subjects in the photo set queue), so I’m not going to say much about it now, but we had fun.  I got to see a number of congressmen and other various elected officials, I got to talk to former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, and then Matthew and I rode the first revenue train from Wiehle Avenue to Largo.  Then after lunch, we toured the new stations on the way back from Largo.

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So I found an app that lets you take stereo photos…

July 16, 2014, 10:24 PM

Last night, I found an app called 3D Camera for my Android phone.  The idea behind the app is that you take two photos a few inches apart from each other, you line them up, and then the app makes a stereo image for you to look at.  Depending on how you shoot them, they can come out as either crossview or parallel.  I tested it out late last night on a Wheelock 7002T, and came up with this:

Wheelock 7002T, taken on top of my computer
(By the way, I strongly recommend clicking each of the images on this entry to view them at full size in the lightbox)

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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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“A room that big and not a single fire alarm notification appliance?”

June 10, 2014, 1:43 PM

Today on Facebook, a friend of mine posted this picture:

"This is a room full of people that care about your game requests."

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Categories: Fire alarms, Social media

Singing about five overbearing and overemotional humans…

February 6, 2014, 11:34 PM

So Tuesday night was fun.  I got together with my friend Melissa, and we hung out for a few hours.  We did some computer and phone maintenance over at my house, and then headed out for dinner.  We went to The Potomac Grill, which is located in Talbott Center on Rockville Pike.

For those not familiar, The Potomac Grill hosts Blinkie’s Karaoke, which is run by my friends Ken and Luisa.  I’ve done fill-in work as the engineer for Blinkie’s Karaoke from time to time, but this was my first time going solely as a participant.  Melissa didn’t sing, but I did.  I sang a karaoke version of the theme to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.  Those of you who are familiar with what I’ve talked about know that I’m a bit of a Power Rangers geek (I got into it in high school).  This was a new addition to the catalog, and so I premiered it.  And to top things off, Melissa filmed my performance:

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Categories: Melissa, Power Rangers

Whose opinions are these now? Fix your brand and we won’t wonder…

January 5, 2014, 6:09 PM

One of the most ridiculous things to come out of social media over the last few years is the Twitter disclaimer.  I’m sure you’ve seen these things before.  They usually look something like this:

Allie Burns, @AllieB: SVP Comms at @CaseFoundation & @Revolution, proud board member @sanergy, food, wine & travel lover, runner, sports fan and social citizen. Tweets are my own.
(I promise I’m not deliberately singling @AllieB out by picking her profile to use as the example.  This is not the only one like this, nor is this the worst offender by any means.)

My understanding is that these things are intended to protect employers from liability if their employees say something untoward, and to say that yes, this is, in fact, a personal account.  My view on this matter is that these things are completely unnecessary, and that too many people use these disclaimers as an excuse to be sloppy about how they brand themselves on the Internet.

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Categories: Social media

At last, I found a format that I can work with…

November 19, 2013, 11:18 AM

You may remember that a few weeks ago, I discussed how I’m constantly evaluating my website properties, and determining what is the best course of action for each individual property.  At that time, I mentioned that while the main website (i.e. what you’re looking at now) and College Life have both taken modern forms, with a content management system (CMS) driving everything, the Today’s Special site and Transit Center still had an older architecture, with no CMS driving everything and making things easy to maintain.  The idea with the Today’s Special site was to convert it to a knowledge base about all things Today’s Special, covering the show more deeply and more extensively than I had ever done before.  Transit Center was still a bit up in the air, with my being a bit undecided on what to do with the site.

Now, I have updates for you.

Let’s get this part over with first: The Schumin Web Transit Center will be closing at the end of the year.  It’s closing because it doesn’t meet my current quality standards, and I believe that the site has run its course.  That’s not to say that I’m not still very much a public transportation nerd, but I no longer feel that the separate website is the best way to express that enthusiasm for transit, as I don’t feel that it puts my best foot forward.  So take a good look at it now, because it won’t be there when the ball drops for 2014.

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Social media and online privacy and…

October 19, 2013, 6:12 PM

Those of you who have seen me online know that I really get into social media.  I do Facebook, I do the Twitter, I do Instagram, and I also do Reddit.  And in doing social media, I’ve noticed a few recurring trends, and it begs discussing…

Tell me this hasn’t happened to you before: you’re going down your news feed, and you see a status from a Facebook friend.  It says something along the lines of this:

I’m cleaning out my friends list, so if you didn’t make the cut, it’s been nice knowing you.

I’m cleaning my Facebook friends.  Let me know if you want to stay.

I find these messages amazingly annoying.  Especially when, without fail, people make a zillion replies beneath that say something to the tune of, “Don’t delete me!” followed by reassurances from the original poster that certain people are “safe” from their defriending spree.  I personally think it says something about a person’s self-esteem when they feel that they need to post such a self-centered message and then watch people glom onto them like that.  It reminds me of the way that Chuck E. Cheese distributes free tickets to kids during the live shows.  There, Chuck just grabs up a handful of tickets in his hands (paws?) and throws them up in the air in the direction of the audience.  The kids then all then rush the character to grab as many free tickets as they can get their hands on.  It seems a bit demeaning for the kids who rush the character going after free tickets, and this seems on the same level, with a little bit of groveling involved on top of it all.  In any case, it’s a message I could definitely live without.

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Categories: Social media

If you can’t follow a license as easy as mine…

October 9, 2013, 3:21 PM

I am of the view that information deserves to be free, which is one of the reasons that I make my work available under a Creative Commons license.  For those not familiar, I provide my content under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States license.  In a nutshell, that means that you are welcome to use materials found here for any purpose, including commercially, as long as you provide proper attribution, and share it under the same or similar license as you found it (it’s only fair, after all).  I even wrote a guide on reuse of content found here.  When I converted the site to WordPress, one of the changes that I made was to make the images available for download at full resolution.  That was done specifically to help downstream users get what they need and get creating without assistance from me.  That same conversion, with the image restoraton and such that went along with it, also finally allowed me to provide clean images right out of the box.  Recall that at one point, I put my logo and URL in the corner of the large-size images for photo sets.  Then I stopped doing that in 2005 or so, right around when I introduced the Creative Commons license to the site.  The conversion and image restoration work removed all of the remaining tagged images, making every photo “clean” without any extraneous markings.

I like to think that I’m one of the more permissive and lenient content owners out there.  Unlike many other entities that do not allow downstream use without explicit permission, I do allow downstream use right out of the box, as long as two things are present: attribution (preferably as “Ben Schumin/The Schumin Web”), and a free license.  That’s not that hard to do, and by and large, most people who reuse content found here follow the license.  But it really frosts my cookies when people don’t follow that, and because my license is so easy to meet, I take a very dim view toward noncompliance.

It always amazes me how many people think that because something is on the public Internet, that it’s public domain and can be used with wild abandon.  It’s quite common.  I’ve even had to disabuse my own mother of this notion before.  Rather, just like any other medium, just because it exists does not mean that you have carte blanche to do whatever you want with it.  Most material on the Internet is not, in fact, public domain, and therefore potential downstream users have to play by the content owner’s rules (or you don’t play).  Those rules are up to the content owner.

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Oh, there’s something about an album…

September 20, 2013, 10:49 PM

How many of you were aware that there was an album made for Today’s Special?  I’ll bet that many people in the United States were not aware of it.  I was initially made aware of it in the late 1990s, and have been able to listen to it in its entirety.  Recall that when I was going to my first polar bear plunge, I was singing along with the Today’s Special album in the car.  Certainly, there’s been a lot of discussion about Today’s Special over the years, with a lot of it coming from this website.  But most of that has been about the television program itself, rather than the various other things that go with it.  After all, the show itself is the main product, and distributed most widely.  Additionally, since the show originated in Canada, produced by a Canadian television network, I don’t believe that any licensed merchandise for the show ever made it to the United States.  Thus I’ll bet that many don’t realize that the album exists, and I’ve definitely never found a review of it anywhere.  So with this entry, I’m going to review the album.

Giving the album a listen, it seems that the album was released around the time as the stage show, which was shown on television as the episode “Live On Stage“.  No songs from episodes dated 1985, 1986, or 1987 appear in the album.  In addition, no songs original to the stage show are performed on the album.  However, where applicable, those songs on the album that were also performed in the stage show were performed based on the stage show version of the song rather than the television show version.

In general, I like the album, as it contains many songs that I have always considered favorites, and also includes a few that I was not familiar with as a child due to editing by Nickelodeon (commercial networks that aired Today’s Special usually deleted some scenes in order to allow time for commercials).  However, there are times that the album really grates on me a little bit, and that comes from the non-song dialogue that’s included, as much of it seems quite out of character compared to the show.
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Categories: Music, Today's Special

ELI5: the American electoral system

August 19, 2013, 12:23 PM

On Reddit, there is a forum (“subreddit”) called “Explain Like I’m Five” (ELI5).  It’s not intended for literal five-year-olds, but rather, it’s a venue for people to ask questions, and (hopefully) get a response explaining it all in plain English, with any jargon defined plainly, and complex concepts explained as clearly as possible.  Post titles typically begin with “ELI5” with the topic following.

Today on the ELI5 subreddit, this question came up about the American electoral system, as far as presidential elections go:

I’m Australian and having seen a lot about the election last year I couldn’t really find an explanation that I understood about things like swing states, etc.

I feel quite a bit of sympathy for this person.  The presidential electoral system in the United States is unique, and let’s admit it: the average American doesn’t even understand how our electoral system works, and many of them have lived with it for their entire lives.  For someone who does not live in the United States and is used to a different electoral system, I can imagine that trying to figure out our system can be headache-inducing, to say the least.

So I did my best to explain how it works, including the discussion of how swing states work into it all.  The guidelines for this subreddit say that while discussion of politics and controversial topics are allowed, “try to remain textbook-level fair to all sides, for both questions and answers.”  I think I did pretty well on that, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.  So here’s my (somewhat long-winded) explanation, in plain English:

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Categories: National politics, Reddit

This should become an Internet meme…

March 3, 2013, 10:01 PM

So you may have seen the new splash photo, showing me holding a monkey wrench at Home Depot.  I was amused enough by it that I decided to make an “Internet meme” version of it.  Take a look:

PLEASE TELL ME MORE ABOUT YOUR PLANS

After all, what’s the fun of having a monkey wrench if you can’t throw it in someone’s plans, right?

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Categories: House, Matthew, Netculture

Best grammar lesson ever…

February 6, 2013, 10:26 PM

Sometimes, the best lessons in life are subtle and just sort of fall out of the sky.  This is one of them.  And also remember a few very important rules of the Internet:

  • The rules of proper spelling, capitalization, and punctuation still apply on the Internet.
  • There is no privacy on social media, no matter how much you think otherwise.
  • The Internet does not forgive, nor does it forget.  Once you put it out there, it is out there for everyone to see, and it’s out there forever.
  • The average Internet user is not required or otherwise obligated in any way to protect your identity if you say something stupid online.
  • It is not a violation of anyone’s privacy to circulate a message posted in a public venue.

That said, you are probably starting to realize one thing: someone is about to get nailed for something that they posted on social media.

You are about to find out why it’s best to use the language the way the rest of us learned how to use it.  However, while you may certainly be creative in your ideas and in the ways that you express them, those of us with a healthy respect for the proper usage of the English language request that you please not exercise your creative tendencies when it comes to grammar and spelling.

The incident in question happened on Facebook.  It was in response to a public post on the Power Rangers Facebook page.  The original post had something to do with Power Rangers Megaforce, and really isn’t too germane to what I’m talking about.  I made a comment about the original discussion (I know way too much about Power Rangers, by the way).  And then someone else made a post.  And it was a real doozy.

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Who ever thought that I would be researching, among other things, Canadian mannequin manufacturers?

December 25, 2012, 1:35 AM

So I’m working on creating my new Today’s Special wiki, and I’m “deep in the weeds” in fleshing out what articles and other titles should exist, and creating the categorization scheme.  If it tells you anything, I have titles for nearly every character that was on Today’s Special (though most of the one-off characters will be redirects to the episodes where they appeared), and did a lot of research on filming locations that were used.

By the way, for those of you who aren’t familiar with Today’s Special, you may get a tad lost in this, because I’m about to get very detailed.  For a basic overview of Today’s Special, check out my existing T.S. site, which this wiki is going to replace.

Probably the biggest bit of research that I’ve done for this so far is the filming locations.  I quickly discovered that almost all of the location filming done for Today’s Special was done in the Toronto area.  I believe that the furthest afield that they ever went for a location shoot was the Trent-Severn Waterway, for the episode “Sam“.  Just about everything else was done right in Toronto.  In researching locations, I looked into any public place that I had a good chance of locating.  Thus I did not bother to research location scenes shot in private homes, such as the home of Jodie’s Aunt Millie in “Being Alone“, nor did I research places like the doctor’s office in “Soup” or the barber shop in “Hair“.  The likelihood that I would never find them was too great.  But I did have quite a bit of success in other areas.

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Categories: Today's Special