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I still think about it twenty years later…

May 15, 2019, 11:46 PM

This month marks twenty years since I did The East Coast Price is Right.  That was a fun experience, and I did all of the legwork myself.  I built the set, chose the pricing games, researched all of the prizes (though we played for fun – no actual prizes were given out), wrote all of the copy, picked out all of the music, and even made and wrote out all of the nametags.  I still think about the production from time to time, and I wonder what I might do differently if I were to do it all again.

That production was the culmination of a series of writing assignments that I had done in high school.  In Mrs. Hevener’s English and composition classes at Stuarts Draft High School, we did freewrite assignments on a regular basis.  I tended to have fun with these, writing on various topics that interested me, much like I still do on here.  Some of my old freewrites ended up on Schumin Web under the now-retired “Writings” section.  In 11th and 12th grade, many of our freewrites were required to be related to the material that we were studying in class, which I resented a bit.  After all, I loved to write, and still do.  But I didn’t really much care about the literature that we were working on, and I didn’t like the poetry much, either, since the way that it was taught essentially beat the life out of it through overanalysis (by the way, what is a good way to teach poetry that doesn’t kill it?).  That said, I tended to stretch the definition of the “based on the literature” requirement until it was holding on for dear life, but doing so enabled me to continue to write about topics that I was interested in.  The problem with the “based on the literature” requirement was that in the case of the literature, we were expected to read it in massive quantities in such a short time that nothing sank in.  I tend to get the best results when I read at a slower, more thoughtful pace.  At the pace that they required, my eyes might have physically read every single word on the pages, but it wasn’t sticking, and I still couldn’t answer any of the questions about the material.  I did no better than when I didn’t read any of the literature and just BSed it, and so I went back to that.  After all, if I wasn’t doing any better in class when I read the literature than when I skipped it, there was no point in reading it.  In 12th grade, where half of the class material was about poetry, I tended to gravitate towards that, because it was easier to base stuff on for the freewrites.  I would take whatever style we were studying or had studied previously, and use that as a template to write about things that were far more interesting than whatever literature we were reading.  It wasn’t ideal, and I found it frustrating at times trying to fit to the format, but at least I could have fun with it.  Others tended to stretch it by saying that their poems were based on a poem called “Dover Beach“, which was in the poetry book.  That’s why I put “Based on the poem ‘Dover Beach'” in the introduction – because it was the catch-all poem that people often used, and that line spoofed that.

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Categories: High school, Television

Where has the time gone?

March 23, 2016, 10:00 AM

So today, March 23, 2016, marks Schumin Web’s twentieth anniversary.  Twenty years ago, the Internet first got to know Ben Schumin.  I was 14 years old, and a freshman in high school.  This was the photo that I used to introduce myself to the world:

The photo that I used to introduce myself to the Internet.

This photo was taken of 13-year-old me at my old middle school in 1995, about a year prior to my starting the website.  We took it with a Connectix QuickCam.  Back then, after all, getting photos on the computer was a little harder to do.  Digital cameras were expensive, so were webcams, and so were scanners.  And the resolution was kind of low on all of them.  After all, it was the nineties.

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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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I still don’t consider myself much of an artist, but I guess I can let you decide…

May 24, 2012, 12:07 AM

So I was doing some scanning work for Falcon this evening, and decided to finally scan some drawings that I did in high school. I’m believe that these are from the fall of 1996. And so away we go…

Lord Zedd in his chamber of command

Yes, that is exactly what you think it is. You are looking at Lord Zedd from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, standing in his throne room. It’s true. I was a nerd even back then. And I was pretty detailed. I got the pedestal, I got Zedd, I got the throne, I got the fan behind the throne, and I put a couple of putties in there.

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With all of this exercise effort lately…

April 28, 2011, 11:20 PM

With all of this exercise effort lately on my part, I went digging around on the Internet to find information on the old presidential fitness test that we used to do in Phys. Ed class in school.  Remember that one?  It’s that test you did where you had to do pull-ups, sit-ups, and a few other things.  And you know what?  I realized, some 14 years after the last time I did one (Virginia does not require Phys. Ed past the 10th grade), exactly how screwed up the implementation of this test was when I was in middle and high school.

First of all, elementary school is always a bit of an outlier for me when it comes to school experiences.  I went to elementary school in Arkansas, and then we moved to Virginia in 1992.  And considering that I have not been back since, August 31, 1992 (the day we arrived in Virginia) is a bit of a “wall” in my life’s timeline, in that every event either happened before then or after then.  Plus with no Email or Facebook back then, all my people communications with the Arkansas folks ended when we moved as well (though I now have contact with many of them on Facebook).  My move to the DC area in 2007 wasn’t like that, because Washington DC was part of my life before then, and Stuarts Draft has remained part of my life since.  So thus it’s harder to compare elementary school to the rest because it is behind that “wall”.

But in elementary school, when most of us first learned of the physical fitness test, I believe the implementation was done correctly, based on what I read on the site for “The President’s Challenge“, as it’s called.  Basically, you had two award levels: “National” and “Presidential”.  That was something to work towards, but if you missed those benchmarks, it was okay as long as you put your best effort into it.  If you didn’t even try, then you were in trouble, but as long as you made a good-faith effort and tried, then it was good.  I still remember doing a mile in 14 minutes and 15 seconds as a first grader (why I still remember that 14:15 mile over 20 years later is beyond me).  Looking at the published benchmarks, I was only about two minutes off from the time indicated for the “National” award for six-year-olds today.  The numbers may have been and likely were different back then, but for this discussion, I’m going to use the modern numbers because that’s what I have easy access to.  If you have historic numbers circa 1988 or so, send ’em on over.

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I realize it’s been ten years, but I still think about it…

September 30, 2009, 10:59 PM

One AwayOne of the more memorable things I did in high school was The East Coast Price is Right. We followed the rules as they existed in Season 27 (the current season at the time), and I had that set that emulated the classic green, purple, red, and orange colors on the turntable. It’s now been a decade since I did that show, but it’s still something I think about.

Right before I left for Philadelphia, I did a bunch of ironing. Usually, when I iron, I turn on the television and pop a tape of something in, in order to spice up an otherwise boring task. This time, I popped in a tape of old episodes of The Price is Right, from Season 27. That’s when I start thinking about my own version of the game that I did a decade ago. In the intervening ten years, I’ve thought about the games I did, and what I might have played if I could do it all over again. Recall that for that game, I did (in this order) It’s in the Bag, Dice Game, Push Over, Grand Game, Switch?, and One Away.

I think if I were to do it all over today, I would have swapped out two games. I think I did too many cash games, playing both “It’s in the Bag” and “Grand Game”. Additionally, as I messed up “Dice Game” a little bit, I would have done a different car game for the first half of the show. For that, I’ve often thought that Lucky Seven would have been a game that would have fit my production better. All you do for that is have them guess numbers, reveal the correct number, and then take the amount of dollars that comprises the difference (e.g. if they guessed a seven as the second digit and the correct number was five, the host takes two bucks back). Then they just need one dollar to buy the car. That’s the game that stands out most in the would-have-done category. Now as far as the cash games went, I basically had to do “It’s in the Bag” first, because setting it up on stage with the audience in place would have revealed the prices. That game was set up before the show started. But “Grand Game” was too similar to “It’s in the Bag”, and so I probably should have dropped that one, and considering how close I cut it on time, a quickie game like Danger Price or Most Expensive would have fit the bill quite well.

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Today marks ten years since I graduated high school…

June 4, 2009, 8:54 PM

I can’t believe that today marks ten years since I graduated high school. June 4, 1999, at Expoland in Fishersville, I received my high school diploma, officially ending my days as a student at Stuarts Draft High School. That was an interesting day. Rather than go to school, the seniors traveled to Expoland for graduation rehearsal, where we walked through the whole procedure. We lined up. We sat down. We had to sit through every single bloody name getting called. And then I think we were done by noon.

Then that evening, we went through the ceremony for real, with all of our friends/family/etc. watching. And we got our diplomas. And each student got their photo taken as they received their diploma, in the cover that we were required to buy (I did not appreciate that). And then after that, we were done! No more Stuarts Draft High School for me. No more block scheduling. No more AP classes. No more nonsense from Mr. Schindler (principal), whom I didn’t really get along with all that well.

Of course, for me, this graduation was simply a formality, because for all intents and purposes, I had already accomplished what I came to accomplish. I got accepted at James Madison University for the fall 1999 semester, and so from the beginning of April onwards, I basically enjoyed myself. Or at least tried to. Less than two weeks after I got my college acceptance, I fell at home and dislocated my right shoulder, which caused me to miss my first day of school since fifth grade, and put me in a sling for a month while it healed. Then Columbine happened a week and some change after my injury, which put everyone a little bit on edge. And I managed to get myself suspended for two days for making some remark about it (yes, I got suspended – get over it). I don’t even remember what the remark was, but obviously, Schindler thought it was important enough to warrant kicking me out for two days. Not like I particularly cared, though. I had already sent in the deposit for JMU. And I enjoyed my two days off. My mother was not so laid back about it, though, as she came into school and handed Bill Schindler his behind on a platter for the whole incident. Let’s just say that my mother is awesome for that.

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Categories: High school

What a fun weekend!

November 25, 2007, 8:38 AM

All in all, I had a fun Thanksgiving weekend in Stuarts Draft, but I’m still very glad to be home again.

Thanksgiving itself involved the usual – turkey, and all the various fixings to go with it, and then falling asleep afterwards.

Then I spent Friday with Katie. We had a blast, as we did anything but shop. We went on the Blue Ridge Parkway for a while, then rode back around to Charlottesville, where we went to the Mellow Mushroom, where we had a vegetarian pizza with a pesto base. Twas awesome.

However, before Katie and I started out, we got a movie of Katie’s cat Peabo chasing a laser pointer around…

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“Remember this?”

October 18, 2006, 4:47 PM

Dad went to a meeting at my old high school today, and caught a photo with his cell phone of a piece of artwork that had my name attached to it.  What the meeting was about, I have no idea.  But this is what he got, seen here in the art room of Stuarts Draft High School:

Old artwork

Dad texted the photo and the message to me this morning, with the message “remember this?” with it.  When it first buzzed in, I looked at it, and I was like, nooooooo… since I wasn’t even quite sure what I was looking at.  I honestly don’t remember making that.  It must not have left that big of an impression on me.  We can assume that this was a group project, considering that my name appears on top, and Samantha Hensley’s name appears at the bottom.  I’d say it was probably done about mid-semester in the spring of 1998, during the acrylic paint unit.

So, yeah.  I’m sure Dad was quite proud, though, to see my name on the wall from some eight years ago.

Categories: High school

The time I got backhanded…

September 18, 2006, 11:11 PM

I still remember the time I got backhanded in high school, and I was thinking about that recently. It was in Mrs. Dixon’s English class way back in 1998, and I got decked by a girl, whom we’ll call “Wilma Eyeball” (this person gave herself this nickname in sixth grade back in 1992, so they know who they are), who sat in the seat in front of me. I had presumably managed to tick off this particular girl, and while I was discussing something with another classmate, she just up and backhanded me. She just swung her arm back and kapow. I was kind of stunned. I got decked by Wilma Eyeball. I must have really gotten on her nerves. And it marked the only time I ever got decked in school. And thankfully, no injuries came about – not even a bruise.

After I got decked, Mrs. Dixon took us both out in the hall to discuss this between the two of us. This ultimately led to a seating change, where Wilma Eyeball was moved to a seat across the room. It ended up working out for the better.

Meanwhile, now I find out that Wilma Eyeball lives near Los Angeles and seems to be having a great time…

Categories: High school