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“Wait, isn’t that…?”

May 12, 2016, 1:01 PM

Imagine my surprise to sit down at my computer this morning to check Facebook, and be greeted by this image from ABC affiliate WJLA:

DAY 15 OF RAIN: ARK NEARLY COMPLETE

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Snowzilla!

January 24, 2016, 10:55 PM

So the “Snowzilla” (as named by The Washington Post) storm has come and gone, and it left a large pile of snow in its wake – enough to kill part of the roof of the Safeway in Bel Air, Maryland, and the roof of Wayne Lanes in Waynesboro, Virginia.  Thankfully, I came through this storm just fine, and it was just a matter of digging out.  This storm dropped light, powdery snow (as compared to wet, heavy snow), and there was a lot of it.  I got more snow on my balcony in this storm than I did in 2009 and 2010’s major winter storms, for one.  Check this out:

The reach of the snow on my balcony: all the way in!

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Categories: Kia Soul, Winter weather

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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Digging out of the snow…

February 13, 2014, 6:55 PM

So considering that the pool is closed tonight due to the snow, I still got my exercise today, pool or no pool.  For those not familiar, the east coast of the United States got hit with a pretty significant snowstorm.  This is the biggest snowstorm that I’ve seen since Snowmageddon in 2010.  And hitting in the same week as Snowmageddon did back in 2010, no less.  However, this snow has mostly been the light, fluffy kind so far, and that’s the stuff that you can clear off the car with the brush part of the scraper with little effort (and really get some distance when slinging it).  However, when more than a foot of it falls in a short time, it does start to compress a bit.  But it looked very pretty while coming down last night:

The parking lot at the Safeway in Olney at around 10:00 on Wednesday night.
The parking lot at the Safeway in Olney at around 10:00 on Wednesday night.

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Categories: Kia Soul, Winter weather

Getting some action out of this snow…

January 22, 2014, 11:37 PM

Let’s admit it: between the wet, heavy snow and the light, fluffy snow, I will always fall on the side of the light, fluffy snow.  Powdery stuff is just nicer snow than the wetter stuff.  And with the recent snowfall to come over the DC area, we got the fluffy stuff.  It’s more likely to blow around and hit you in the face, but it’s easier to clear off of your car, and easy to shovel off of the balcony.

And like any good snowfall, I got pictures.  Of course, I got the obligatory off-the-balcony photo:

Good morning from Aspen Hill, Maryland!

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Categories: Kia Soul, Winter weather

Big anniversaries this weekend…

June 29, 2013, 4:36 PM

So this weekend marks a couple of big anniversaries.  First, tonight marks the anniversary of the big derecho that came through the DC area.  That was a rather interesting time.  I remember that Montgomery County looked like something had hit it, with power out and tree branches down all over the place.  Lots of traffic lights were out as well, which snarled all of the traffic as people had to actually be courteous on the highway.

But as far as I was concerned, that derecho couldn’t have come at a worse time.  See, the next night was the night that I had announced a major upgrade to Schumin Web.  That was the night that the final cutover to WordPress would occur.  That work was the completion of a project that I had codenamed “Falcon” (after a JMU student web server) that converted the entirety of the site to run on the WordPress platform.  Prior to that, the site was a mishmash of different systems put together to make one website.  Some of the site was static HTML.  Some of it ran on a MySQL database.  Some of it ran on a different MySQL database.  Some of it ran on yet another different MySQL database.  And there were some dependencies between the main site and my other sites (in “Major Areas“), where material was shared between them, including one shared database between College Life and the main site (historical note: College Life was part of the main site until October 2004 – thus the shared database).  Thus with the final conversion, that changed some things.  First, it rolled out a single, unified system for the main site, as I could now edit the entire site from a single place.  And second, it broke all of those dependencies with the old site.  On that latter point, I had to do quite a bit of prep work, since the goal was to cleanly “divorce” the main site from the others, while not breaking anything on either side.

Not breaking things was key there.  And I was more worried about the side that wasn’t the main site.  I wasn’t worried about Schumin Web proper.  Everything was being reworked and moved around over there, and so things were not going to be broken because everything was being placed new again, and checked over multiple times.  But the other sites were being left as they were, and needed to be fixed.  Whether they would be converted to WordPress or another CMS would be a different discussion based on each site’s needs.  But I had to make sure that the shared databases were separated.  I had to make sure that any images were brought in-house for the specific site (i.e. no more cross-hosting).  I basically had to make sure that each site was completely independent of the other, which I should have done from the get-go, but for whatever reason, didn’t do back then.  But I managed to get it all working.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta, Weather

I can now add “commode critic” to my resume…

March 28, 2013, 12:44 PM

So I got back Tuesday night from a trip to Stuarts Draft.  That was fun, though not the fun that I was expecting.  I got to visit my friend Bergit in Charlottesville, and then spent two days spending time with my parents.  The original plan was to go to Roanoke with Mom on Monday and also visit friends and see transportation-related stuff, but that unfortunately got snowed out.

But first, though, in case you’re wondering what the deal with the title is, let me explain.  My trip started out with proof that my kidneys do great work, and that having a cup of coffee before a three-hour road trip is inadvisable.  Yes, I took far more restroom breaks on this trip than I normally would.  I ended up stopping at the rest area on I-66 near Manassas, Sheetz in Madison, the new Trader Joe’s in Charlottesville, and then the rest area on I-64 near Ivy.  Usually I can make it on one restroom break.  But, noooooo… my body decided that this was the perfect time to unload a bunch of water.  And I was not shy about discussing restrooms on social media on the entire trip.  This from the Sheetz in Madison:

This road trip has been brought to you by the letter P, and by the number 1.

And I accompanied this on Instagram with the following caption: “This road trip has been brought to you by the letter P, and by the number 1.”  Yep… that kind of day.

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Hurricane Sandy, early voting, etc…

October 30, 2012, 12:16 AM

First of all, hello from Aspen Hill, Maryland, where I live, and where the power is still on (as of this point in the writing at least) despite the pounding we’re getting from the wind and rain of Hurricane Sandy.  This was the view off my balcony about two and a half hours ago:

View off my balcony during Hurricane Sandy

Note the blurry areas on the trees.  As this was a fifteen-second exposure, the blurry areas are where the trees were moving around in the wind.  I just hope that the lights continue to stay on, and that the 22 cans of food that I bought at Shoppers on Saturday are just my being paranoid about this, and that I won’t actually have to open them with a manual can opener and prepare them on the stove.  So I guess we’ll see how that goes.  I’m rooting for no power outage, but that might be a tall request considering that this is Pepco we’re dealing with, and that the power grid in the Washington DC region is amazingly fragile.  My parents, who live out in the sticks, never lose power, and where I live in the suburbs of Washington DC, you can just look at a power line funny and the entire street goes dark.

But I didn’t start writing this entry to talk about Hurricane Sandy, though I certainly hope that everyone in the storm’s path is in a safe place to wait out the storm, and that everyone who still has their power keeps it throughout the storm.  Tonight, I want to talk about the election.

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And the fruit is photographed…

August 5, 2012, 9:00 PM

At last, it is done.  I went down to Eastern Market earlier today and did something that I said I’d wanted to do for a while: photograph food.  I visited most of the food vendors over there and photographed the fresh fruits and vegetables that were out for sale.  I photographed so many different kinds of tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms that it’s not even funny.  I certainly got a lesson in foods, though.  I didn’t realize that tomatoes came in so many different colors.  First, there’s this one, which looks pretty conventional, at least to my grocery store shopping eyes:

Red tomatoes

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“I may love the rain, but I… I sure don’t like that!”

July 19, 2012, 10:34 PM

What a crazy storm.  This would be a good time to snap, clap, and chuckle, that’s for sure.  The wind wasn’t that big on this one, but the rain was very heavy, and the thunder and lightning was pretty much constant.  Not the occasional interruption – pretty much one right after the other.

So while all this was going on, what did I do?  I grabbed the camera and the tripod, and set them up on the balcony for some photos.  I set them up pretty far back on the balcony, for that matter, since I’ll be darned if I’m going to lose another camera to rain.  I set myself up even further, as I was standing inside, reaching out the door to manipulate the camera’s controls.  I’m not getting hit by lightning for this.  So the pictures I got weren’t exactly the greatest, but I had never shot lightning before, either.  So this isn’t exactly like those photos of lightning (like this one) that you see in books and such.  I don’t know how to take those photos, plus I don’t usually have the opportunity to practice these sorts of things.  The photos did sort of surprise me, though, mainly because of the amount of light that I caught with the long exposure shots.  Note that these photos were taken roughly between 9:45 and 10:00 at night.

And here they are:

Rain coming off the gutters.  Whenever it rains really hard, the gutter over my balcony gets overwhelmed, and water starts coming really heavily out of one particular spot.
Rain coming off the gutters.  Whenever it rains really hard, the gutter over my balcony gets overwhelmed, and water starts coming really heavily out of one particular spot.

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Categories: Weather

Montgomery County is definitely not itself right now…

June 30, 2012, 5:06 PM

And that’s putting it lightly.  A very big storm blew through the DC area on Friday night, and the results were not pretty.  As I understand it, the weather event was called a derecho, and the effects of such a phenomenon were painfully obvious for those of us in Montgomery County.  Remember back in 2010, when that big storm came up out of nowhere and left much of Montgomery County without power?  It seems that history has repeated itself.  This storm blew through, and took out trees all over the place, and with that came power lines, and that left Montgomery County in the dark.  According to WUSA, out of 305,000 Pepco customers in Montgomery County, 210,000 of them currently don’t have electricity, and out of 800 traffic lights in the county, 500 of them don’t work on account of power outages.  And unfortunately, I am part of the two-thirds of Montgomery County that doesn’t have power.  I lost power on Friday night.  The lights went on and off a few times, and then went out for good.  And they’re still out.

And with so much of the county in the dark, people’s patterns changed.  First of all, getting around is a real pain.  With five out of eight traffic lights down (and no rhyme or reason about which lights are dead), we have been told all over to treat dark traffic signals like four-way stops, which slows things down.  From what I can tell, there are four ways that intersections with traffic lights are treated in these sorts of situations.  First are the lights that work.  Those function as they always do.  Then there are the really big intersections, which have police officers directing traffic through them.  Then the bigger intersections but that aren’t as big as the others get these little portable stop signs between the lanes to remind drivers that they are supposed to treat the intersection as a four-way stop.  And then finally, most intersections with dark lights are just left dark without any signage or personnel on scene, and drivers are expected to be courteous to each other and stop before proceeding.

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Metro has officially let the cat out of the bag…

July 25, 2011, 9:43 PM

It’s true. The cat is out of the bag. Last week, because of the extreme heat, Metro relaxed its longstanding prohibition on consuming beverages in the system, allowing riders “to carry and consume bottles of water on the system.” Take a look:

Metro's press release allowing water on trains
(Click it to see the full view of it, screen-capped from Metro’s site)

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Categories: CTA, MBTA, Weather, WMATA

Wednesday’s commute home was perhaps one of the most challenging driving experiences I’ve ever had…

January 28, 2011, 9:09 PM

It was also the most unpleasant, for that matter. Wednesday, January 26, you see, the DC area was hit by a fairly large snowstorm. I think the area got about eight inches of snow, which, by last winter’s standards would be just a dusting, but by this year’s standards so far was a major snowstorm.

I think my biggest mistake was that since I had the car with me (due to work-related errands that I needed to run), I decided to wait to leave until it was likely too late. So I ended up getting a six-hour snow tour around Washington DC, watching transformer explosions light up the sky and testing every nerve in my body in the process. And both the car and I came out just fine, thank you.

I left the office around 5:30 on Wednesday, sending a tweet to announce my departure:

I’m outta here: LSMFT @capitalweather: Heavy snow overspreading entire region http://wapo.st/gp0zP2
January 26 5:27 PM

It was in the early stages of being dark, and I figured I was doing fairly well. Traffic was heavy, but moving, albeit slowly.

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This morning’s commute was a time that I would have liked to have been Luigi.

January 18, 2011, 11:08 PM

Yes, that Luigi.

You have to realize, you see, that when it comes to Mario games, I am in the minority on which one I like best. My favorite of the early Mario games is Super Mario 2, which, based on what I see on the Internet, most people don’t like. So when I say that today would have been a good Luigi day, I’m thinking of that version of Luigi. I’m talking about the one who kicks his legs when he jumps way further and higher than everyone else.

See, coming to work today, it was icy, being on the heels of a bout of sleet, snow, and freezing rain (in that order) overnight. And so getting to the bus and then to the office were both a little treacherous this morning. So if I were Luigi, you see, I would look like this going to the bus on a morning like this morning:

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So why don’t you just tell us what you really think?

January 11, 2011, 10:02 PM

So I drove to work today, and then going home, I put the phone in my GPS mount and did a Video Journal entry from the driver’s seat. And here it is:

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