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Bye bye, beard…

October 18, 2009, 3:14 PM

And hello, soul patch! Take a look:

No beard!

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Categories: Myself, Vacations

If I go the IKEA route, this will be rather complicated…

October 6, 2009, 11:15 PM

You know, IKEA does some things very well, and some things seem just needlessly complicated. The comforter situation fits the latter quite well. I went over to IKEA this evening to get some ideas for a new comforter for my bed. I got my current one from Target in July 2007, and it’s not looking too good, mainly because it’s faded quite a bit. So I’m looking to replace it. The way IKEA sells comforters is more complicated than I think I like. The comforter itself is white – they only come in white. Then you buy a duvet cover that goes over the comforter that provides the pattern and what have you. While it certainly provides the most options for color vs. warmth and such, it’s WAY beyond what I’m going for. I can really see myself having a rough time getting that comforter into the duvet cover and then snapping it in all nice-like. Something tells me I’m going to go a different route than this. It seems more complicated than I want. Sometimes the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle is a good thing. IKEA’s bedspreads, which, while nice and simple, also failed to impress me. However, I’m probably not going to go to Target for another comforter, either. I think I’m probably going to hit Bed Bath & Beyond or something like that for the new comforter or bedspread.

However, they did have lots of nice things there, and I came to the realization recently that my apartment is really kind of blah as far as decor goes. The carpet is tan, and the color scheme pretty much follows that, as everything is different shades of beige. Schumin Web is all flashy with the rainbow-colored logo and the squares-in-squares background, but my house is less so. I need color and flair. I have a striped fitted sheet that I use for guests, and once, after Mom stayed over, I left the fitted sheet on the couch for a week after I put the futon frame back in the upright position. I loved it. So as things wear out, I need to start thinking about bright, vibrant colors. Plus I need to hang up those bloody picture frames, already…

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And we’re back!

August 29, 2008, 10:00 PM

And we’re back in Silver Spring once again, after a fun vacation. Now we’re refreshed and ready to take on the real world once again.

It’s interesting, though – the way my travels usually go, usually one leg of the trip goes flawlessly, and one has issues. The outbound leg went flawlessly. Perfect driving conditions, and traffic was fairly light. The return trip, however, was not so flawless. Traffic was heavy the entire way, and I had to detour around a bit within Hampton Roads.

First of all, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Hampton Roads area, let me explain for a moment. Hampton Roads is encircled by the Hampton Road Beltway, which is formed from the final 36 miles of I-64, and roughly 20 additional miles of I-664. Inside that, going roughly east-west through the middle, is I-264, which runs from I-64’s terminus to the Virginia Beach oceanfront. Then there’s also I-464, which runs from the Downtown Tunnel in Norfolk (part of I-264) to State Route 168 on a roughly north-south track, intersecting I-64 along the way. Confused yet?

My detour started because I saw a sign on one of those highway message signs: “HRBT 4.5 MILE BACKUP, MMMBT CLEAR”. This told me that the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) had a massive backup nearly five miles long on westbound, while the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel (MMMBT) was going smoothly. My understanding is that these HRBT backups are common, and that they’re looking into a permanent solution to the problem.

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Categories: Driving, Vacations

Thursday was fun…

August 29, 2008, 9:11 AM

Thursday was fun. I spent much of it wandering along the strip, checking out the various stores and such. However, I only spent money at Flipper McCoy’s, which, unlike the visit on Tuesday night, was pretty quiet this time around. I had so much fun. I took both Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man for a number of spins, I played skee-ball, I played Spin-to-Win, and I got to see someone win 1500 tickets on the Deal Or No Deal machine.

Perhaps the most interesting was skee-ball. They have two different versions. One named along the lines of your typical skee-ball game and styled as such, and then the other was called “Ice Ball”. The gameplay between regular skee ball and Ice Ball was exactly the same, but the Ice Ball balls were white, and they felt ever so slightly heavier, which I preferred. In play, I somehow managed to hit every spot, including the 10,000 spot, except for 5,000. Why not 5,000? Dunno. Got 1K, 2K, 3K, and 4K no problem. Go figure. I also found that I scored better by changing my angle. I was initially playing like it was bowling. Underhanded roll, hitting the rolling surface fairly close to the edge. When I changed to a different style throw, aiming for it to start rolling along the track towards the back, I did a lot better. Go fig.

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And while I’m on vacation, the Democrats put an end to the nomination fight once and for all…

August 28, 2008, 1:43 AM

Let me say that the fourth day in Virginia Beach was a lot of fun. It started with a walk down the beach. Recall that on Monday, I took Duckie into the water for a swim, and got those amazing wave photos. Today, I again took Duckie to the water, though this time I was mainly out to cover the beach. I got people making sandcastles, as well as completed sandcastles. Some people made forts for themselves, while one person dug a small tunnel system in the sand. Metro for the sand crabs, maybe? Looked as though he had just completed his system’s equivalent of Metro Center when I passed by. And most people, by and large, were very friendly, even offering to pose with their creations as they were building them. However, considering the style of photos I normally like to take, the phrase “act natural” became a fairly common phrase for me.

This, by the way, is the pièce de résistance when it comes to Virginia Beach sandcastles today:

Sandcastle

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Late start, but not bad.

August 27, 2008, 11:28 AM

I got a late start on Tuesday, owing to a sore foot. But the day definitely made up for the late start. I kind of explored around the city a bit by car, and it was certainly worth the time, as I got to see what kind of city Virginia Beach was in the “local” department, vs. the resort area. Not bad. I don’t think I’d want to ever live here, if nothing else but for the constant sound of jet noise due to the presence of the Oceana Naval Air Station in the town. You can hear those jets even when you’re driving in your car. Very disconcerting, because I’m thinking it’s something wrong with the car or something, and it’s the military flying jets overhead. And then a jet flew directly overhead – that’s ear-splittingly loud. Give me a Wheelock 7002T to the face any day, thank you.

Due to a strong wind blowing over the area, the ocean was a bit rougher than usual. The strong waves actually reshaped the beach somewhat – it was a smooth slope down to the ocean from the main beach on Monday, but today, there was a noticeable step down to the water, as the waves carved it out as they took sand out to sea. I went down to the water in the early evening, and got in this rough surf, and the waves were noticeably more forceful than the day before. And I got sand up my suit. No fun. But it was a good experience out there.

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Categories: Vacations, Virginia Beach

Cold water is COLD!

August 25, 2008, 10:24 PM

It’s Day 2 of vacation! And let me just say that the cold water in the ocean is as cold as longcat is long. I went swimming in the ocean today. And it was interesting how the temperatures turned out. I believe the majority of the water around here was quite cold. But as the waves crashed, the heat off of the beach would warm the water up, and then it would roll back in, it made a warm layer in the water. It was quite a weird feeling. But on a warm day, the cold water in the ocean was quite refreshing.

I also took Duckie out in the ocean today, and I had a great time. Duckie is a great in-the-water camera, and I had fun taking up-close photos of the waves. Check it out…

Big Mavica would certainly never have gotten this close to the ocean!
Big Mavica would certainly never have gotten this close to the ocean!

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Categories: Vacations, Virginia Beach

Watch as the highway narrows…

August 24, 2008, 10:39 PM

So I made the trip to the beach today, and I am now writing from the Travelodge Suites on the Virginia Beach oceanfront.

And the best way to describe the trip down is watching the highway as it gets narrower and narrow. I started in Silver Spring, where I caught the beltway – each side four lanes wide. Then after I cleared the DC area, I-95 dropped a lane and was down to three lanes. This was the configuration all the way to Richmond and onto I-64. Then once I cleared Richmond, I-64 dropped down to two lanes, and stayed this way into Newport News, when it fluctuated between two and three lanes as we went through Newport News, Hampton, and Norfolk, and finally three lanes to the oceanfront.

On the way in, I swung by the site of the former Coliseum Mall in Hampton, which I visited back in 2005. Recall that they had Edwards horn/strobes, and that I visited in 2005 to positively identify the mystery mall that I had briefly visited back in 2003. Now, though, Coliseum Mall is very different. The mall was demolished in early 2007, and construction of a new open-air “town center” style shopping center called Peninsula Town Center is well underway. Currently, the only stores open are JCPenney in a new building, and Macy’s in its original building. I never thought I’d see an anchor store with one of those “STILL OPEN” signs on the side in person like I’ve seen in various retail blogs, but there it was. These signs are generally used to indicate that the anchor store is still open despite that the rest of the mall is being torn down. In this case, the regular Macy’s logo is on the side, and a sign saying “IS OPEN” was right beneath it. This was the case on all of the Macy’s building’s logos. The new town center is certainly cute-looking, but the 1970s-era Macy’s building will look really strange next to the rest of the buildings. Of course, they may renovate the exterior of Macy’s and make it match, but we’ll see.

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I am now officially on vacation…

August 22, 2008, 7:02 PM

Yes, today marks the beginning of vacation. I am excited, and looking forward to it. And the last day at work prior to vacation was exciting, as we had an all-staff retreat at our executive director’s house. That was a lot of fun.

And so now I get to clean up and pack. I need to finish the milk in the fridge, since that expires during vacation (and we don’t like spoiled milk), do my laundry, and then pack for the beach.

And then the beach is going to be exciting, too. I’m taking both cameras – Duckie and the Kodak. Duckie will be used for some in-the-water shots, and then the Kodak will be used for the stuff on dry land. I’m taking my tripod, and I’m going to be giving the Kodak its first experience with night photography.

I’d hoped to practice locally doing night photography on the Kodak, but stuff happens, and I never got a chance to. One of the things for my to-do list is to do some night photos in downtown Silver Spring, since it’s so close to me. I also want to eventually cover the memorials at night – start at Jefferson, and then do the full circuit, going from Jefferson to FDR to Korea to Lincoln to Vietnam to World War II. I would love to take a friend along for that shoot – mainly so I can have someone to talk to while I do my thing. My JMU photo shoot in December was one of the loneliest photo shoots I’ve ever done, because due to my schedule, the shoot had to be done over Christmas, and the campus was deserted.

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Categories: Vacations

The big vacation starts in three weeks, and the mini-vacation starts in mere days… I’m excited!

August 1, 2008, 11:17 PM

Yes, August is going to be fun, since I’m spending about a week and a half of it away from the office, recharging my batteries.

First of all, I will be on a “mini-vacation” for three days next week plus the weekend. I’m spending half of it up here with Katie, who’s coming up to see me. We’re going to be running around DC one day, cooling off at Splashdown Waterpark the next, and then wandering around Potomac Mills on the third day before we head down to Stuarts Draft. I’ll be returning Katie home, and then going to see my parents, whom I’ve not seen in Stuarts Draft since May (they have come up to DC on a few occasions since then).

However, seeing my parents in Stuarts Draft is kind of a mixed blessing for me. On one hand, I love seeing my parents, and enjoy spending time with them. Our relationship has improved greatly now that we don’t share a house anymore. We have a blast together. On the other hand, there is nothing to do in Stuarts Draft and vicinity. There is this plethora of new shopping in Staunton and Waynesboro… but I can get all of it two or three times over in Montgomery County, Maryland, where I live, with the most important places for me within five miles of my house. But yeah, aside from maybe cow tipping, there’s not much to do in Stuarts Draft. Why do you think I was always going up to Washington DC every chance I got while I was living in Stuarts Draft?

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Categories: Vacations

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

So this will be an interesting summer, I’d say…

June 24, 2008, 10:48 PM

I’m looking at what’s coming down the pike for this summer, and I can tell right now that this is going to be a great summer. First of all, look at Schumin Web! It’s all refreshed for the summer as we’ve gone “square” with this new background. No more fades here as it’s been for nearly four years. The color gradient is gone, and we’ve moved on to a pattern. Hopefully this will make things look a little more festive.

And then I’m going to be busy in July, with two Anon events – July 12 and July 19. By then I ought to have something really cool figured out for a costume, since here’s the thing – the “black bloc” look doesn’t seem to work at Anonymous events. When I hang out with the anarchists, yes – black bloc is the style. For Anonymous, it’s more like a masquerade ball, since many people really get into the dress of the event, and dress in wild outfits while including the all important mask (don’t want to get fair gamed, after all – or R2-45’d for that matter). And as I learned on June 14, the Guy Fawkes mask is too warm for the summer. However, we must admit – I had fun at Operation Sea Arrrgh with my Guy Fawkes mask and all:

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Vacation’s over…

July 10, 2006, 7:06 AM

Unfortunately, my vacation is over, and has been over for a few days now. As I write this, I have three post-vacation workdays under my belt, and am going to start another one in less than two hours. However, the vacation did do what it was supposed to do – it left me refreshed, and not feeling like I want to strangle someone by the end of the day.

Otherwise, I’m just tickled about the new Transit Center design that I’m implementing. I’ve already got the section on the rail pages, and I’m getting ready to make the changeover for the buses. It’s got a tan-colored background, and the Transit Center logo is now orange. And you know how I describe the color scheme? I refer to it as the “Breda” color scheme. For those of you who are unfamiliar, I based the color scheme here on Metro’s 4000-series cars, which were manufactured in 1991 by a company called Breda. I was tempted to add “Made in Italy by Breda Costruzioni Ferroviarie S.p.A.” to the page somewhere, complete with horse logo, but I don’t want anyone to think that the page was actually made in Italy by Breda.

And then as far as reconfigurations go, I’m also launching a new main page design. This reconfigures the photo feature so that I can carry horizontal images on the site, and also sweeps the sidebar menu off the main page to make room for it. Losing that side menu isn’t too much of a loss because the main-page menu just carries information that’s linked to the bottom of every page. So we’ll still get along fine if we lose it. I’m just tickled, though, to be able to run horizontal photos in the main-page space.

Made it! No work for nine days!

June 27, 2006, 7:19 PM

I have made it to my vacation, and I don’t have to return to work until July 7 at 7:00 AM. Very nice, indeed.

And then tomorrow, I’m going to go to Washington DC by way of I-95 to do a few things on the way up.

All I have to say, though, is that I hope that when I do go back to work, that I feel totally refreshed and ready to continue, because I was about at the edge of my tolerance threshold.

Categories: DC trips, Vacations

June 28 couldn’t come sooner…

June 17, 2006, 12:33 AM

June 28, as you may recall, is my first day of vacation. And I can’t wait. What do I have planned? Not much. I’m planning on going to Washington twice during that time – once on both ends of the vacation.

June 28 will be a trip similar to the “accidental” DC trip, where I approached DC from the south (I-95), rather than my usual westerly approach (I-66). This time, though, I’m going to run it on local roads. Instead of I-95, I’m going to take US 1. I believe this will take me close to the Huntington station, which is one that I’ve never originated from before. That ought to be exciting. That would bring the number of Metro stations to which I can confidently drive up to four.

Currently, I can confidently drive to Vienna, West Falls Church-VT/UVA and Franconia-Springfield. And when I say “confidently”, I mean that I could give someone good directions to drive to the station from outside the DC metro area. Now mind you, I can get to a good many stations by walking – more than I want to list. I can follow the route of the Blue and Orange Lines on foot from Foggy Bottom all the way to L’Enfant Plaza, Green all the way from Shaw to L’Enfant Plaza (and Yellow by extension), and Red from Cleveland Park to Judiciary Square, among other little station-to-station walks. But driving is a whole different ballgame, especially with the suburban stations. Trust me here.

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