The Schumin Web https://www.schuminweb.com C  e  l  e  b  r  a  t  i  n  g    2  0    Y  e  a  r  s Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:21:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.2 https://www.schuminweb.com/wp-content/uploads/Clouds-Facebook-icon-150x150.png The Schumin Web https://www.schuminweb.com 32 32 37838674 Saying goodbye to Landmark Mall… https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/02/23/saying-goodbye-to-landmark-mall/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/02/23/saying-goodbye-to-landmark-mall/#respond Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:21:42 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25869 About a month ago, Elyse, Brian, Aaron, and I took a field trip to Landmark Mall in Alexandria, visiting it for the last time.  Landmark was slated to close permanently on January 31, and so we came by to get photos before it all shut down.  This trip took a similar form to when Elyse and I visited Owings Mills Mall in September 2015, though in the case of Owings Mills, we didn’t know that in less than two weeks from our visit, the mall would close permanently.  With Landmark, the mall was closing at the end of January in preparation for a redevelopment that would replace the mall with a mixed-use “town center” style development.  The Macy’s and Sears stores would remain through the redevelopment, however, I suspect that may change.  The Landmark Macy’s was included in the round of store closings that Macy’s was doing in early 2017, and I’d suggest that the long-term prospects for Sears’ survival are looking pretty grim, so the plan to include those two buildings in the new development might change, as one of those stores is vacating, and the second may not be far behind.

And then here are photos:

Escalators in the mall's northeast corner, viewed from the lower level.
Escalators in the mall’s northeast corner, viewed from the lower level.

Mall entrances for Macy's, viewed from the lower level. Note the "store closing" signs inside.
Mall entrances for Macy’s, viewed from the lower level.  Note the “store closing” signs inside.

Open area in the mall's southeast corner, between the center court and Macy's.
Open area in the mall’s southeast corner, between the center court and Macy’s.

Escalator entrance to the food court level, which was above the two main shopping levels, blocked off with a barrier and plants. The food court level closed before the remainder of the mall.
Escalator entrance to the food court level, which was above the two main shopping levels, blocked off with a barrier and plants.  The food court level closed before the remainder of the mall.

Center court, viewed from the upper shopping level (the same level as the RK Jewelers store visible in the photo).
Center court, viewed from the upper shopping level (the same level as the RK Jewelers store visible in the photo).

The center court, viewed from the same vantage point as above, showing the play area for children in the middle.
The center court, viewed from the same vantage point as above, showing the play area for children in the middle.

Former Bubbles hair salon, on the upper level next to Lord & Taylor.
Former Bubbles hair salon, on the upper level next to Lord & Taylor.

"Right Time By Wantai" kiosk, stored in a corner next to the upper level entrance to Lord & Taylor.
“Right Time By Wantai” kiosk, stored in a corner next to the upper level entrance to Lord & Taylor.

Upper level entrance to the former Lord & Taylor store. This store closed in 2009.
Upper level entrance to the former Lord & Taylor store.  This store closed in 2009.

Open area in the southwest part of the mall between the center court and Sears, viewed from the upper level.
Open area in the southwest part of the mall between the center court and Sears, viewed from the upper level.

Empty store on the upper level. It appears to have been a clothing store of some sort, but I don't know which company it was built out for. The paintwork on the ceiling also makes me think that another store might have occupied the space after the original tenant left.
Empty store on the upper level.  It appears to have been a clothing store of some sort, but I don’t know which company it was built out for.  The paintwork on the ceiling also makes me think that another store might have occupied the space after the original tenant left.

Sears court, viewed from the upper level.
Sears court, viewed from the upper level.

Former Old Navy space on the upper level. The space was last used for a store called "Furniture & Mattress Outlet".
Former Old Navy space on the upper level.  The space was last used for a store called “Furniture & Mattress Outlet”.

1990s-era signage at the lower level mall entrance to Sears.
1990s-era signage at the lower level mall entrance to Sears.

Open area in southwest part of the mall between the center court and Sears, viewed from the lower level.
Open area in southwest part of the mall between the center court and Sears, viewed from the lower level.

Former Auntie Anne's pretzel store on the lower level.
Former Auntie Anne’s pretzel store on the lower level.

Center court, viewed from the lower level, looking upward.
Center court, viewed from the lower level, looking upward.


Former CVS store on the lower level.  Unlike most CVS stores, this location did not contain a pharmacy.

I also got photos of the company that I was with in the mall:

Elyse and Brian pose for a photo through a set of steps near the Macy's.

Elyse and Brian pose for a photo through a set of steps near the Macy's.
Elyse and Brian pose for a photo through a set of steps near the Macy’s.

Elyse poses for a photo in the former T-Mobile kiosk.
Elyse poses for a photo in the former T-Mobile kiosk.

Brian, Aaron, and Elyse get a photo of the Sears sign.
Brian, Aaron, and Elyse get a photo of the Sears sign.

Elyse and Brian pose for photos on some of the kiddie rides.

Elyse and Brian pose for photos on some of the kiddie rides.
Elyse and Brian pose for photos on some of the kiddie rides.

All in all, we had a fun time.  The other patrons in the mall that we spoke to were also there, for the most part, to pay their last respects to the mall.  We also ended up chatting at length with a person who worked for either the mall management, and he was really awesome.  He knew what we were up to, and said that even though technically, the mall had a no-photography rule, he was more than happy to look the other way, since the mall was closing and all.

And now, I suppose we’ll see what happens with the site’s redevelopment.

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/02/23/saying-goodbye-to-landmark-mall/feed/ 0 25869
I feel like I’m irrationally angry about this… https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/02/10/i-feel-like-im-irrationally-angry-about-this/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/02/10/i-feel-like-im-irrationally-angry-about-this/#respond Fri, 10 Feb 2017 21:00:57 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25854 I am currently am experiencing a bout of tendonitis in my left wrist and hand.  For someone that blogs as much as I do, it happens, and so you deal with it.  It started on Tuesday, and by Wednesday, it was bad enough that I decided to go to an urgent care facility to get it looked at.  I went to Patient First in Rockville.  There, after they took all of my vitals, the doctor came in and looked at my hand.  Turned out that it was tendonitis, and the doctor recommended that I take Advil for it, and gave me this wrist brace:

The brace.

They also told me to schedule an appointment with my regular doctor, which is already set for next month.  They then gave me my discharge paperwork, and sent me on my way.

Two days later, I’m still annoyed about that visit.  I could have told them that it was tendonitis, because I’ve had it before and know the symptoms.  I could have just gone to CVS and bought Advil and a brace and skipped the doctor.  I went to the doctor with the intention of getting a prescription for some drugs that would knock out the pain and/or inflammation.  Specifically, I wanted prescription-grade naproxen, i.e. something that I couldn’t get on my own because it requires a prescription.  However, I didn’t ask for a prescription.  I let the doctor do his thing, feeling that it was untoward to directly ask for a specific prescription drug, and he didn’t prescribe me anything.  And now I’m annoyed that I didn’t get the drugs that I didn’t ask for, that I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t know already, and that I could have self-diagnosed, skipped the co-pay, and gotten the same result from a trip to CVS.

I have mixed feelings about this whole experience.  The question remains unanswered: is it considered acceptable to ask a doctor for specific prescription medications, or is it considered untoward?  And does it matter whether the desired meds are brand or generic?  I think that it is a bit untoward to ask for brand name drugs based on seeing a commercial for something on television, but is it similarly untoward to directly ask for generic drugs?  Add to it that when I went to a different urgent care facility in 2011 for an unrelated ailment, I did ask for a specific prescription drug – meloxicam in that case – and I got exactly what I asked for.  Did I cross a line then?  Sometimes it’s better to go in with a plan, present it, and then get permission to execute it.  Clearly, I had a plan before I came in, but I never presented it in order to get permission to move on it.  As such, I feel like I shouldn’t be surprised that I didn’t get what I wanted, because I never indicated to the doctor about what I wanted.  But it also feels untoward to push someone around who has years of formal training in medicine, when I have no formal training in that field.  I think about how I would react if the doctor tried to tell me how to operate a subway train.  It would probably be something along the lines of telling him to take a long walk off of a short pier.

All in all, I suppose that I’m torn over what is proper and what isn’t in that case.  What do you think?  Leave a comment below, and let’s have a discussion.

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/02/10/i-feel-like-im-irrationally-angry-about-this/feed/ 0 25854
Elyse goes to the inauguration… https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/01/28/elyse-goes-to-the-inauguration/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/01/28/elyse-goes-to-the-inauguration/#respond Sun, 29 Jan 2017 01:24:56 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25813 Sometimes, it’s fun to live vicariously.  Such is what happened on Inauguration Day.  I had to work, and so I spent my Inauguration Day mostly doing support work to help keep trains moving.  However, Elyse came down to DC to see what she could see as far as inauguration-related activities went.  She and mutual friend Dave went out to see what was going on, and I was able to follow along through frequent updates sent to me on Facebook Messenger.  Though this was not intentional, she did a photo shoot in a similar way that I shoot an event that I’m not directly involved in.  The official festivities were kind of “meh” (though she did watch the swearing-in live on television, which I didn’t get to do), but she kept up with a lot of the activism.

I admit: I have more or less hung up my activism hat, having not participated in a political demonstration in a very long time. I stopped doing black blocs in October 2010 after a pair of disastrous demonstrations soured me on the tactic, and I haven’t been to a political demonstration of any kind since August 2013.  However, I still cheer on and support my friends who are still involved in it, even if I haven’t done it myself in years, and in fact, a number of my activist friends helped organize some of the protests that occurred in DC.  So I was delighted to get these updates from Elyse, as well as from elsewhere on Facebook and the Twitter, to see what was up while I was at work.

After I got off of work, Elyse came over and we looked at her take from the day, and the photos were quite good.  She also gave me permission to run some of them on Schumin Web, and so hopefully you can live vicariously through Elyse as well, as people came to DC to protest Donald Trump on the occasion of his inauguration.

First, Elyse caught up with some demonstrators at Columbus Circle, which is in front of Union Station.

Love the sentiment here. Also note the fix over what was most likely a misprint on the original sign.
Love the sentiment here.  Also note the fix over what was most likely a misprint on the original sign.

Jersey barriers became a makeshift dumping ground for drink cups and bottles. As I understand it, people couldn't bring any sort of items into the secure area with them, so this became a place to set down the drinks that they couldn't take with them. You have to wonder about the person who barely touched their Diet Coke before abandoning it, though...
Jersey barriers became a makeshift dumping ground for drink cups and bottles.  As I understand it, people couldn’t bring any sort of items into the secure area with them, so this became a place to set down the drinks that they couldn’t take with them.  You have to wonder about the person who barely touched their Diet Coke before abandoning it, though…

As in past years, Metrobuses were used as street barricades. This particular bus, 6017, normally operates on routes in Montgomery County.
As in past years, Metrobuses were used as street barricades.  This particular bus, 6017, normally operates on routes in Montgomery County.

Then more demonstrators in the street:

The person with the Trump cutout totally nailed it with the "SAD!" part.
The person with the Trump cutout totally nailed it with the “SAD!” part.

Two takes on Trump's uncomfortably close connections to Russia.

Two takes on Trump's uncomfortably close connections to Russia.
Two takes on Trump’s uncomfortably close connections to Russia.

Elyse also caught up with the black bloc, which definitely stole the show as far as coverage went.  She caught one of several trash cans being set on fire.

Trash can on fire.

Lighter fluid being used as an accelerant.

The trash can, on fire.

Close-up of the burning trash can.

Close-up of the burning trash can.

The trash can, buckling as its contents burn.

The crowd surrounding the burning trash can at Franklin Square.

The trash can, now almost completely consumed.

Wow.  Because of this, when Elyse got to my house later on, she smelled strongly of burnt paper.

Meanwhile, I still don’t understand what setting a trash can on fire does for the cause.  Ultimately, this costs the DC government money to dispose of and replace the trash can, and I’d bet that most of the demonstrators here have little, if any, beef with the local DC government.  Their beef is with the federal government, which this trash can has nothing to do with.

The crowd in the street at Franklin Square.
The crowd in the street at Franklin Square.

These sorts of signs always get me, because it's a reminder that we unfortunately haven't progressed as much as we would like to think that we have.
These sorts of signs always get me, because it’s a reminder that we unfortunately haven’t progressed as much as we would like to think that we have.

Holding a "4 Years To Fight" sign in front of a row of police in riot gear.
Holding a “4 Years To Fight” sign in front of a row of police in riot gear.

Another overturned trash can near Franklin Square, with a sign stuck in it. The interior container is the same as the one that was set on fire.
Another overturned trash can near Franklin Square, with a sign stuck in it.  The interior container is the same as the one that was set on fire.

A small trail of destruction, with the burned out limousine in the background.
A small trail of destruction, with the burned out limousine in the background.

The burning of the limousine leaves me unsettled.  I get that it’s representative of the 1%.  However, the people who are most harmed by the burning of the limousine are people who are trying to do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.  And in this case, the owner of the limo was a Muslim immigrant.

Otherwise, though, I still fail to understand what this trail of destruction accomplishes.

And lastly…

Sign making fun of a controversy where inauguration staff taped over the logo of local company Don's Johns, presumably because of Donald Trump's first name, and reports about Trump's sexual preferences that had recently come out.
Sign making fun of a controversy where inauguration staff taped over the logo of local company Don’s Johns, presumably because of Donald Trump’s first name, and reports about Trump’s sexual preferences that had recently come out.

All in all, I was delighted to see these photos of the inauguration.  It reminded me of my own inauguration protest experience in 2005 and so much other activism from years past.  And, coupled with the Women’s March the following day, it’s good to see such vocal resistance to Donald Trump and his beliefs.  This is going to be a very rough four years with Donald Trump in the hot seat, and so this enthusiasm need to be kept up, in order to wrest the House and Senate from Republican control in 2018, and the White House in 2020.

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/01/28/elyse-goes-to-the-inauguration/feed/ 0 25813
Eight years of growth and change… https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/01/19/eight-years-of-growth-and-change/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/01/19/eight-years-of-growth-and-change/#respond Fri, 20 Jan 2017 04:19:03 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25806 This evening is Barack Obama‘s last in office as President of the United States.  At 12:00 tomorrow, Donald Trump will be sworn in, and then the Obama family will leave for a well-deserved vacation to Palm Springs.  Meanwhile, based on what we’ve already seen from Trump’s camp as president-elect, what I said in my post-election Journal entry rings true: “In the end, the expression, ‘May you live in interesting times,’ seems like a fitting description of what we may have these next four years in a Trump administration.”  Hold on tight, because it’s going to be a crazy ride, and there is no emergency stop mushroom to dump the country and apply all of the brakes.

Meanwhile, I really have to question whether Donald Trump will serve out his full term.  Considering how much of a loose cannon he has been, I have a feeling that he will last only until the Republicans in Congress have had enough of him, i.e. when he starts jeopardizing their chances for reelection.  Then they will, at the very least, find a reason to impeach him, likely for one of his many conflicts of interests that he has refused to rectify before he takes office.  Don’t know if he’ll get removed or not, but I consider an impeachment likely.  That or he will pull a Nixon and resign prior to the whole thing.  We shall see.  All I know is that Trump is making George W. Bush look like a true statesman by comparison, and Bush was an idiot.  But Bush at least started acting presidential once the election was over.  Trump, on the other hand…

But this Journal entry isn’t supposed to be about Donald Trump.  It’s more of a look back over the last eight years, and a reflection on personal growth.  In 1980, then-candidate Ronald Reagan said in a debate, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”  I consider the question to oversimplify a number of factors, plus it overestimates the president’s influence on your individual life (the actions of your state and local officials affect your life far more than those of the president), but I consider the question to be a good way to judge how one’s life has progressed over a defined period of time, regardless of who the president is and what they did during their term.

To answer the question of whether I am better off now than I was eight years ago, the answer is definitely yes.  Eight years ago, in January 2009, I was 27.  I had been working for a year and a half in a dead-end job at Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit working on consumer issues.  I had a ridiculous amount of credit card debt due to several big repairs on my car, a 2004 Mercury Sable.  I lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Aspen Hill.  My interests mostly related to transit and activism.  Exemplifying this, the weekend before the 2009 inauguration, I attended an Anonymous raid in extremely cold weather, and took Metro to get there.

Now, eight years later, I have a new career in public transportation with an agency where there is plenty of room for growth.  I’m in a union, and most people that work in this agency stay until they retire.  I have a different car that I bought new, and which will be completely paid for in a few months.  My credit card balance is completely paid off.  I still live in the same place, but that will hopefully change soon, as I’m currently working to make a major upgrade to my living situation.  And needless to say, I’m still quite interested in transit, though activism has somewhat fallen by the wayside in the intervening years, having become somewhat burned out of it after six years at the aforementioned nonprofit, and ten years attending demonstrations overall.

Of course, this also points to another thing: I probably would have had a similar path had Republican John McCain been in office.  In other words, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” is kind of a bullshit question, since the president works his magic at very high levels, and our being better of worse off, individually, is usually far more attributable to factors that have nothing to do with the president.  I didn’t feel compelled to quit my job at Food & Water Watch because of Obama.  Rather, it was my weasel of a boss that was the main influence on that.  Likewise, Obama really had nothing to do with my decision to go into public transportation.  That was all me.  And then the car?  I’m not going to point to the Sable’s need for major repairs and say, “Thanks, Obama!”  Nor will I credit Obama for my new car, or the paying off of my credit card.  I will, however, thank the Republicans in Congress for cutting unemployment benefits while I was still looking for a job, but in a raised-middle-finger sort of way, since that was directly their doing.

And truth be told, end-to-end, I did all right under Bush as well, as my personal situation definitely improved over those eight years, but he had little, if anything, to do with it, just like Obama had little, if anything, to do with my self-improvement in his eight years.  In 2001, I was a college student working towards a bachelor’s degree in public administration.  I lived in the dorms when school was in session, and at my parents’ house when it wasn’t.  I worked in a call center doing directory assistance.  By the end of Bush’s eight years, I had my degree, I was living on my own, and I had a “real” job (albeit one that turned out to be dead-end).

Similarly, I’m guessing that I will be better off by the time that Donald Trump leaves office, whether at the end of a term or not.  And Trump probably won’t have much to do with it.  I have plans for my own growth and improvement, and I will see to it that they are executed.

Meanwhile, I will certainly miss Barack Obama and his family.  They have been a class act all the way, though I’m sure that they are looking forward to moving on (i.e. Michelle Obama will never run for president).  Considering Barack Obama’s various press club speeches over the years, I think he definitely could do stand-up comedy, as he outshined more than a few of the “real” comedians at those events in his eight years.

In any case, though, it’s going to be an interesting ride with Trump in the hot seat.  Hold on tight…

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/01/19/eight-years-of-growth-and-change/feed/ 0 25806
“Ride all of the 2000-Series railcars” wasn’t one of my resolutions this year, but… https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/01/14/ride-all-of-the-2000-series-railcars-wasnt-one-of-my-resolutions-this-year-but/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/01/14/ride-all-of-the-2000-series-railcars-wasnt-one-of-my-resolutions-this-year-but/#respond Sun, 15 Jan 2017 04:40:18 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25766 Catching a ride on all 76 of Metro’s 2000-Series railcars wasn’t in my list of new year’s resolutions, but that was my accomplishment today, as I caught car 2018 on my way up to Glenmont, therefore completing my second railcar series.  In other words, I have conquered these:

Car 2075, seen here at Huntington in 2004

The 2000-Series, manufactured by Breda in the early 1980s and rehabilitated by Alstom in the mid 2000s, is the second car series where I have ridden on every single car.  Back in 2010, I finally logged a ride on every single 4000-Series railcar.  Considering that I nailed the 4000-Series in just under five years (I started logging my rides in August 2005), it surprises me that it took nearly twelve years to finally log a ride on every 2000-Series car.  The 4000-Series, after all, is 100 cars, and the 2000-Series is only 76.

With the completion of the 2000-Series, this also seems like a good time to give you an update on my fleet-riding percentages.  I am using the same car number totals from the 2010 list in order to keep the comparison apples-to-apples, so this does not account for any car retirements since 2010, since, for one thing a lot of Rohr cars are now gone.  So here it is:

  • 277 Rohr 1000-Series (96.8% of 286 total, up 12 cars and 4.2% from 2010)
  • 76 Breda 2000-Series (100% of 76 total, up 10 cars and 13.2% from 2010)
  • 271 Breda 3000-Series (94.7% of 286 total, up 36 cars and 12% from 2010)
  • 100 Breda 4000-Series (100% of 100 total, no change from 2010)
  • 174 CAF 5000-Series (92.5% of 188 total, up 28 cars and 14.9% from 2010)
  • 165 Alstom 6000-Series (89.6% of 184 total, up 60 cars and 32.6% from 2010)
  • 43 Kawasaki 7000-Series (5.7% of 748 total when delivery complete, did not exist in 2010)

With the 2000-Series under my belt, my goals shift.  First of all, I’m not worried about riding the nine Rohr cars that I’m missing, because that may be an impossible task due to their ongoing retirement, which is planned to be completed by the end of the year, along with the 4000-Series.  Thus my next goal is to find the 14 remaining 5000-Series cars that I’m missing, because the 5000-Series is slated for early retirement instead of rehabilitation.

So I guess now, it’s time for me to ride some more railcars.  I enjoy this passive project, of logging rides on as many railcars as possible.

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2017/01/14/ride-all-of-the-2000-series-railcars-wasnt-one-of-my-resolutions-this-year-but/feed/ 0 25766
Returning to Scott’s house… https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/12/30/returning-to-scotts-house/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/12/30/returning-to-scotts-house/#respond Sat, 31 Dec 2016 04:29:38 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25719 You know how it goes when you have like-minded friends.  On December 28, Elyse and I got together with mutual friend Aaron Stone, and we took a field trip to the Baltimore area, revisiting various places of interest in order to show Aaron, including the Ames at Diamond Point Plaza and Scott’s house.  The way that we planned the trip, since our main objectives were mostly dependent on having daylight, the plan was to spend a little time at Diamond Point, a little bit of time at H&H Outdoors (a military surplus store in Baltimore), and then have a large block of time at the Bauers’.

The Ames at Diamond Point was, for the most part, unchanged from our previous visit.  We spotted a set of movable stairs near the front of the store that wasn’t there in our previous visits, but otherwise, it was the same:

Ames in Diamond Point Plaza

Note the moss on the floor in this photo. This corresponds to a rectangular hole in the roof, due to a panel's being left open.
Note the moss on the floor in this photo. This corresponds to a rectangular hole in the roof, due to a panel’s being left open.

Google Maps image showing the open panel on the roof. I have no idea what such a panel would be used for. Any idea?
Google Maps image showing the open panel on the roof.  I have no idea what such a panel would be used for.  Any idea?  Likewise, I have no idea why the panel is open now, as the most recent flat aerial imagery, from October 2014, shows the panel secured in place.

However, the rest of the shopping center had changed, as Diamond Point Home Furnishings, which had moved into the old Sam’s Club building, was using much of the shopping center for storage.  Remember the old Tandy Leather store space that I showed you before? It’s now stacked full of mattresses.  Same goes for almost all of the stores along that row.  The only places that weren’t used for storage were the restaurant space at the west end of the building, the Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant (which is still in business), and the former Ames.  Kind of a shame that the shopping center isn’t housing stores in that area, but at least the spaces are leased.

I also got a photo of one of the road-facing signs for Diamond Point, which I had missed on my earlier visit:

The street-facing sign
This sign is the one facing Diamond Point Road, behind Ames.  Note that the Sam’s Club signage is turned around, while the Ames signage is still facing out.  I suppose that’s because Sam’s Club was (and still is) a going concern when this location closed, whereas with Ames, the whole chain was going out of business, therefore, there is no Ames anywhere and thus no potential for confusion.

Meanwhile, following a trip to H&H Outdoors, possibly the last one that I make to the store at its present location, as they are moving this spring, we headed over to Scott’s house near Elkridge.  This was the part of the trip that we were all looking forward to, since I wanted to check out a few parts of the house that I had missed back in March, plus Elyse and I wanted to show it all to Aaron.

Making the hike up, there it was:

The former home of Scott Alan Bauer and family.

Other than the mattress sticking out of the side window, it looked mostly the same as it did in March.  Approaching from the front, it was clear that others had been through, as a few items were in different places and in different condition than they were in March.

The tractor was now missing its seat. We found the seat on the ground nearby.
The tractor was now missing its seat.  We found the seat on the ground nearby.

The Fisher television set was now in two pieces, as the front had been pulled off of the back and was now lying separately from the rest.
The Fisher television set was now in two pieces, as the front had been pulled off of the back and was now lying separately from the rest.

The typewriter, meanwhile, made me sad. It had been moved from where we found it before, and now it was missing a number of keys, and those keys that remained had clearly been smashed.
The typewriter, meanwhile, made me sad.  It had been moved from where we found it before, and now it was missing a number of keys, and those keys that remained had clearly been smashed.

And now onto new territory.  I had previously not explored the sides and rear very thoroughly, as Elyse and I focused on the front yard and the interior, and so there were new treasures to find.  When I watched a video of the house from 2013 after all of the photo set work was completed, I noticed a phone booth laying on the ground.  My assumption was that the phone booth had been removed, and that was why we had missed it.  We found it, lying north of the house:

"Phone" sign

The booth itself

The “C&P Telephone” name makes me think that this booth is from the 1970s or 1980s, but no later than 1994, when C&P became Bell Atlantic.  No idea why it’s here, though.

Then on the northwest corner of the house, we found a screened in hot tub:

The hot tub, which I had missed in March.
The hot tub, which I had missed in March.

I took this shot to provide context for the location. The window here is the window in the back of the family room. The boarded-up door to the right, I believe led to the kitchen. We never got close enough to this corner in March out of concerns over structural integrity in this area.
I took this shot to provide context for the location.  The window here is the window in the back of the family room.  The boarded-up door to the right, I believe led to the kitchen.  We never got close enough to this corner in March out of concerns over structural integrity in this area.

Aaron and Elyse look at the corner of the house.
Aaron and Elyse look at the corner of the house.

Going around the back, we saw the tree that had fallen on the house:

This tree fell on the house some time between 2010 and 2013, using Google Maps imagery and the 2013 video. Clearly, if the house had not already been abandoned by this point, it might have been after this event.

This tree fell on the house some time between 2010 and 2013, using Google Maps imagery and the 2013 video. Clearly, if the house had not already been abandoned by this point, it might have been after this event.
This tree fell on the house some time between 2010 and 2013, using Google Maps imagery and the 2013 video.  Clearly, if the house had not already been abandoned by this point, it might have been after this event.

The basement, taken from an opening in the wall on the rear of the house. The basement was not accessible from inside, instead accessed from an exterior entrance on the house's south side.
The basement, taken from an opening in the wall on the rear of the house.  The basement was not accessible from inside, instead accessed from an exterior entrance on the house’s south side.

When we went to enter the house, much to all of our surprise, Elyse discovered that the front door was locked.  That was concerning, as it was possible that an unknown person was already inside the house.  In March, the front door was unlocked, and therefore we entered the house via the front door.  Thus, for our own safety, we stayed outside until we could verify that it was clear.  However, I did get some photos of the living room through the window:

Since our visit, there was some new graffiti, as the blue, red, and light gray markings were not there when we came through in March.  Additionally, the hearts on the ceiling were new.

Aaron gets a photo of the living room, through the window. The entrance to the basement is to his right.
Aaron gets a photo of the living room, through the window.  The entrance to the basement is to his right.

Not long after this, we left the area immediately around the house in somewhat of a hurry, as Elyse heard footsteps coming from upstairs.  We had no idea who might be in the house, and we didn’t want to stick around to find out, either.

As we were leaving the house, we found an abandoned tractor just downhill from the Bauers’ house:

A Fordson F tractor, abandoned down the hill from the Bauers' house.

A Fordson F tractor, abandoned down the hill from the Bauers' house.

I ran it past Reddit, and as it turns out, this is a Fordson F tractor, manufactured from 1917 to 1928.  I never expected that this tractor was as old as it turned out.  I wonder if someone could restore this, or if it’s too far gone to restore.

I’m curious about whether it is part of the Bauer property or if it’s unrelated.  Considering that there are a few items that boggle the mind on the property, like that refrigerated case and the phone booth, it’s possible that it may have been abandoned independently nearby.  I suppose we’ll never know, but in any case, it’s been there long enough to become partially embedded in the ground.

Due to the house’s being occupied by someone, as Elyse spotted a person upstairs from a distance while we were checking out the tractor, I consider it unlikely that we will revisit Scott’s house again any time soon.  There are plenty of other abandoned structures around that are worth checking out, though, so we’ll see what we come up with next.

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/12/30/returning-to-scotts-house/feed/ 0 25719
Photo licensing returns in a new form… https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/12/16/photo-licensing-returns-in-a-new-form/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/12/16/photo-licensing-returns-in-a-new-form/#respond Fri, 16 Dec 2016 05:00:37 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25659 You may recall back in October, I announced that I had removed Pixels.com as a photo licensing service, and that an in-house replacement would arrive in the relatively near future.  Well, the future is now:

The Schumin Web Photo Licensing

This is The Schumin Web Photo Licensing, codenamed “Finch” (after another JMU web server) during development, which does the same as what Pixels did, i.e. licensing content from The Schumin Web for third-party usage.  However, unlike Pixels, this site is completely in-house.

So why did I take licensing in-house rather than leaving it as an outsourced service?  Licensing information.  When I licensed an image through Pixels, I was only informed that I had made a sale, and what image was licensed.  I didn’t know who had licensed it – just that it had been licensed.  That fouled other processes that I use for image licensing that require that I know all of the places where my images have been licensed.  The new system, being operated entirely in-house using Photo Video Store Script, captures all of that information so that I can maximize my revenues.  It’s also allowed me to lower the prices slightly, because there’s no middleman involved.  I’m still making the same amount, but there’s no one else making commissions on it.  Seems like a win-win to me.

Meanwhile, I’ll be the first to admit: the site, as it currently stands, looks ugly.  That’s because it’s wearing one of the default themes that comes with the software, which I hacked up a little bit in order to put my branding on it.  The site works beautifully, but just looks ugly.  Recall that I did something similar when I converted the main site to WordPress.  In that case, the site was completely rebuilt under the hood, but it was wearing a theme that copied the design that the site had been using for about seven years at that point.  I was both slightly pleased and a little bit offended when a then-coworker commented that he couldn’t figure out what I was doing and why I was doing it, because the site looked the same.  That meant that despite the massive changes to the underlying structure, it still looked and felt like Schumin Web.  That was a goal of that project, to ensure that it still looked and felt like Schumin Web when I was done, so I was pleased to have met that goal.  I didn’t want to convert the site to a CMS if it meant that Schumin Web would be mangled up to fit in it.  WordPress fits like a glove.  However, I was admittedly a bit annoyed to have my work pooh-poohed, because it did take me a year to do.  Then about three months after the launch of Schumin Web under WordPress, I launched a brand new theme, which gave the site a brand new look, which it still sports today.

All that said, I’m launching with the default theme, and then once the site is in production for a while, I’ll put a new theme in place that makes it feel a bit more like Schumin Web ought to look.

This whole launching of a new service, though, reminds me of another byproduct of the Schumin Web conversion from 2012: I consider it a factor in my departure from the Wikipedia project later that year.  I had significantly decreased my involvement on Wikipedia while I was working on Schumin Web.  Then when the conversion was finished, I came back to Wikipedia, but it wasn’t the same anymore.  I had grown during that period, and Wikipedia was still the same toxic environment that it always was.  Coming back, there was a certain feeling of I’m too old for this nonsense, and not surprisingly, I ended my involvement entirely not long after.

It’s also funny how history repeats itself.  This new site is essentially Almond Street revived.  Recall that Almond Street was an earlier attempt to run a photo licensing site, but a number of things made it clear that the time was not yet right for it, and thus the concept was ultimately abandoned.  However, unlike Almond Street, which was entirely designed and built in-house, this site is an off-the-shelf solution, built by someone else, and comes with its own tech support forums.  I see no need to reinvent the wheel when I can get a product that works right out of the box without much effort on my part.  Let me do the creating, and let other people do the programming.  Additionally, note the branding difference between now and then.  Almond Street was created as a separate brand for photo licensing because I didn’t think that Schumin Web was “good enough” of a brand to use to market photography.  Almond Street was promoted on Schumin Web, but not vice versa.  Nowadays, with the passage of time, Schumin Web is much more established and a much stronger brand, plus much of my in-house licensing inquiries are from people who originally found the photos on Schumin Web.  Thus it only makes sense to make it a direct offshoot of the main site.  The catalog, meanwhile, is almost entirely different, as I now consider most photo work from the Almond Street era to be subpar – the work of a much younger man.  I no longer have the Almond Street catalog (lost to the ages, I suppose), but if I were to guess how much overlap there is between the two, I’d say maybe one or two photos, tops.

So all in all, there you go.  Enjoy the new service.

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/12/16/photo-licensing-returns-in-a-new-form/feed/ 0 25659
Yes, that is a star costume… https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/12/08/yes-that-is-a-star-costume/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/12/08/yes-that-is-a-star-costume/#respond Thu, 08 Dec 2016 14:48:15 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25638 For this month, the splash photo shows child me wearing a star costume.  I normally lean towards running a vintage photo for December, because December photos, owing to the Christmas elephant in the room, are typically harder to do than most because of that extra holiday element.  I own very little Christmas junk, and so a new photo requires a shopping trip and some spending to do.  That or I do the photo right in the store, as I did in 2008.  The December splash photo had nothing to do with Christmas in 2012, 2013, and 2014, owing to some recent non-Christmas photos of me taken in those years, but in 2015, Christmas returned to the splash photo.  However, I inadvertently duplicated my work in 2015, as I had run the same photo in December 2006 – a mistake that I didn’t didn’t discover until I did the prep work for this Journal entry.

For this month, my original plan was to run a photo taken in 1987, showing my sister and me with Santa Claus.  However, in a routine check of the archives to prevent duplicates, I discovered that I had run it eleven years prior.  So that went out the window.  I went hunting in my scans of old photos, and found this:

In costume as Andro Star

That is me in costume as Andro Star for our church’s production of the musical Oh My Stars, It’s Christmas! on December 15, 1991 – almost 25 years ago, when I was in fifth grade and still living in Rogers, Arkansas.  That is the story of how Andro, a young star that couldn’t sing worth a lick in a heavenly choir, and who was ridiculed by the other stars for his lack of singing ability, became the Star of Bethlehem and, well, you know the Christmas legend.  The play is based on the children’s book Andro, Star of Bethlehem by Anne Claire, published in 1983.  I located and purchased a copy of this book in 2001.

My sister was also in this play, playing a minor star character.  Here she is in her costume:

My sister in her costume

I had a lot of fun with the production.  This was also the first time that I ever participated in an honest-to-goodness play. Previously, the most that I had ever done were those little elementary school programs where all of the kids stand on stage and sing songs together.  This was a play with characters and a script with lines that we had to memorize.  Additionally, the songs in this play were much hipper than you typically heard in church.  No organ music to be found here.

I still remember the songs and could probably sing them all back to you from memory.  I can’t say that I endorse the religious aspect of it all anymore, but the songs were fun and memorable.  The introductory song, “Zip Zappity Zoom”, was upbeat and catchy, even though it didn’t have much to do with the rest of the play.  One song incorporated the melody of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, and the finale was a split between a bouncy arrangement of “Joy to the World” and a reprise of “Zip Zappity Zoom”.  Great songs, all of them.

Here’s a video of another church’s production of the play, showing the lead song, “Zip Zappity Zoom”, with a very different interpretation of the star costumes than what we did.  You can see how much hipper the music is compared to a lot of other stuff that gets sung in church:

Looking back on this, I’m still amazed that I pulled the Andro role off.  I had never acted in anything prior to this, and then, there I was taking the lead role in a musical.  I remember auditioning for the role of Andro just for fun, and I never imagined that I’d actually get it.  Color me surprised.  I was one of the older kids, and we all tended to get the larger roles because we were older and more mature, so even if I didn’t get the Andro role, I would have likely had a larger role regardless, but I was still quite shocked nonetheless.  In any case, I had the most lines out of anyone, and somehow, I managed to memorize all of them.  I consider that an amazing feat in and of itself.

That play was my first and last major acting gig.  I acted one more time after this, doing a small role in a play about King Arthur for social studies class in sixth grade.  That play was also a lot of fun.  The King Arthur play was part of a larger interdisciplinary unit that the team did about the Middle Ages.  I later managed to get into the gifted-and-talented drama program based on those two plays, but after getting in, I never really did anything with it.  Let’s admit – I’m not much of an actor, and that is fine.

All in all, I love sharing these embarrassing old photos, because there is usually a fun story to tell along with them.

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/12/08/yes-that-is-a-star-costume/feed/ 0 25638
Trying my hand at planespotting… https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/18/trying-my-hand-at-planespotting/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/18/trying-my-hand-at-planespotting/#respond Fri, 18 Nov 2016 16:02:38 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25605 On Tuesday, November 16, Elyse and I went down to Gravelly Point in Arlington and photographed airplanes taking off from National Airport.  In the past, I had photographed airplanes casually, usually when I’m over in Rosslyn, i.e. near the airport, while doing other things (the raw photo set for Urban Demolition II is peppered with random airplane and transit photos, if that tells you anything).  However, this was my first dedicated outing for planespotting.

So I put the big lens on my camera and took it out for a spin, putting the camera in sports mode and going to town with it.  My first takeoff, however, left something to be desired:

That's a nice photo of the sky, though, don't you think?
That’s a nice photo of the sky, though, don’t you think?

Yes, I quickly discovered that this is not something that you should use live mode for.  Out of focus and out of frame.  I usually shoot using the screen rather than the viewfinder, which is a practice that I picked up early on, as neither the original Mavica nor Big Mavica had a viewfinder.  However, when you shoot using the screen in sports mode with my current camera, the screen goes black.  And the result was as you might expect, as I quickly lost track of my subject because I was shooting blind.  Whoooooooooops.

Once I switched to the viewfinder, things started flying far more smoothly.

N128HQ, an Embraer 175LR, operated by Republic Airlines for American Eagle. Formerly painted for US Airways Express.
N128HQ, an Embraer 175LR, operated by Republic Airlines for American Eagle.  Formerly painted for US Airways Express.

N500AE, a Bombardier CRJ-701ER operated by PSA Airlines. This plane was always painted for American Eagle, though previously in the old scheme.
N500AE, a Bombardier CRJ-701ER operated by PSA Airlines.  This plane was always painted for American Eagle, though previously in the old scheme.

N715UW, an Airbus A319-112 for American Airlines. Formerly painted in US Airways colors.
N715UW, an Airbus A319-112 for American Airlines.  Formerly painted in US Airways colors.

N512AE, another Bombardier CRJ-701ER. Always painted for American Eagle, though previously in the old scheme.
N512AE, another Bombardier CRJ-701ER.  Always painted for American Eagle, though previously in the old scheme.

N810MD, an Embraer 170SU, was a blank plane. According to historical photos on Airliners.net, this plane was previously painted for US Airways Express, but it's been blank for around two years. Does anyone know why it now carries no branding?
N810MD, an Embraer 170SU, was a blank plane.  According to historical photos on Airliners.net, this plane was previously painted for US Airways Express, but it’s been blank for around two years.  Does anyone know why it now carries no branding?

N826UA, an Airbus A319-131 operated by United Airlines.
N826UA, an Airbus A319-131 operated by United Airlines.

N7812G, a Boeing 737-76N operated by Southwest Airlines.
N7812G, a Boeing 737-76N operated by Southwest Airlines.

N858RW, an Embraer 170SE operated by Shuttle America for United Express.
N858RW, an Embraer 170SE operated by Shuttle America for United Express.

N348JB, an Embraer 190AR operated by JetBlue.
N348JB, an Embraer 190AR operated by JetBlue.

At this point, Elyse and I swapped lenses.  I let her take my big lens for a spin, and I put my regular lens back on.

N591NN, an Bombardier CRJ-900LR operated by PSA Airlines for American Eagle.
N591NN, an Bombardier CRJ-900LR operated by PSA Airlines for American Eagle.

N204JQ, an Embraer 175LR operated by Shuttle America for Delta Connection.
N204JQ, an Embraer 175LR operated by Shuttle America for Delta Connection.

N638JB, an Airbus A320-232 operated by JetBlue.
N638JB, an Airbus A320-232 operated by JetBlue.

N74856, a Boeing 757-324 operated by United Airlines.
N74856, a Boeing 757-324 operated by United Airlines.

Due to the angle that I photographed this one (more or less directly overhead), I was unable to capture the tail number. Pretty cool shot, though. All I can tell you is that this is likely in the Bombardier CRJ family, and it's Delta Connection.
Due to the angle that I photographed this one (more or less directly overhead), I was unable to capture the tail number.  Pretty cool shot, though.  All I can tell you is that this is likely in the Bombardier CRJ family, and it’s Delta Connection.

At this point, I was able to get my big lens back from Elyse, and did a little more shooting as we entered the “golden hour“.

N302DN, an Airbus A321-211 operated by Delta Airlines.
N302DN, an Airbus A321-211 operated by Delta Airlines.

N932AN, a Boeing 737-823, was the big surprise of the day. After seeing so many airplanes painted in the new American Airlines livery, Elyse and I were quite surprised to find this plane still sporting the older livery, where the aircraft is mostly unpainted.

N932AN, a Boeing 737-823, was the big surprise of the day. After seeing so many airplanes painted in the new American Airlines livery, Elyse and I were quite surprised to find this plane still sporting the older livery, where the aircraft is mostly unpainted.

N932AN, a Boeing 737-823, was the big surprise of the day.  After seeing so many airplanes painted in the new American Airlines livery, Elyse and I were quite surprised to find this plane still sporting the older livery, where the aircraft is mostly unpainted.
N932AN, a Boeing 737-823, was the big surprise of the day.  After seeing so many airplanes painted in the new American Airlines livery, Elyse and I were quite surprised to find this plane still sporting the older livery, where the aircraft is mostly unpainted.

N708PS, a Bombardier CRJ-701ER, operated by PSA Airlines for American Eagle. Formerly painted for US Airways Express.
N708PS, a Bombardier CRJ-701ER, operated by PSA Airlines for American Eagle.  Formerly painted for US Airways Express.


The last plane that we photographed was N560GJ, a Cessna 560XL, which was the only general aviation plane that we spotted taking off the entire time that we were there.

All in all, I’d say that Elyse and I both had a good time.  And the photos didn’t come out too badly for an outing where the purpose was not so much about getting gorgeous photos, but about figuring out the technique.

Also, check out Airliners.net when you get a chance.  It’s a site where planespotters share their photography, and you can search on the tail numbers to get historic photos of different planes.  That’s how I found out some of the historical details for the planes that I photographed.  I captured the tail number in the photos, and then just plugged it into the site.

Meanwhile, it’s kind of funny that I had so much fun planespotting and doing some research into all of these planes, because I haven’t flown in an airplane since 1999, when I took that trip to Canada.  The last plane that I flew aboard was N911HA, a Dash 8 operated by Piedmont Airlines for US Airways Express, from Philadelphia to Charlottesville.  It’s been so long that I’m still surprised when I see the regional carriers using jet aircraft, because the last time I flew, the regional airlines all used turboprop planes.

In any case, I fully intend to do this again, not only at National, but also eventually at BWI and Dulles.

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/18/trying-my-hand-at-planespotting/feed/ 0 25605
Painting pottery… https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/16/painting-pottery/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/16/painting-pottery/#respond Wed, 16 Nov 2016 05:21:33 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25521 The day before Elyse and I went to Pittsburgh, we got together with our friend Dave, whom we know through transit-enthusiast circles, and we went over to Color Me Mine in Rockville.  This is one of those places where they have premade pieces of pottery for customers to paint in the store, and then they glaze and fire it all afterward, and you pick it up a week or so later.

Going in, Elyse and Dave both picked train-shaped coin banks for painting.  I got a big plate, because I felt more like drawing, and thus I got myself a nice, blank canvas to paint.

But first, here are Elyse and Dave at the table:

Elyse and Dave, painting away

Meanwhile, I took my painting seriously.  While Dave and Elyse were in more of a transit mood, I was in a fire alarm kind of mood, so I decided to paint the Wheelock 7002T from Zane Showker Hall, which I most recently photographed last March on my trip to JMU.  In other words, this:

Wheelock 7002T at Zane Showker Hall

However, before you paint, you have to draw.  And before you draw, you have to math.  No one can say that I didn’t take this task seriously:

Determing the size of the plate, and the dead space around it  Determining how big to make the fire alarm horn
Yes, I did a good bit of math to determine (A) how much space I had to work with, (B) how much dead space I wanted around it, and (C) how big I wanted the subject.

That work created this sketch on the pottery:

One fire alarm, sketched on pottery

By the way, I didn’t realize until it was too late that the design was slightly off-kilter.  Ah, well.  But I think that translated pretty well from photo to plate, no?

Then on the back side, I decided to go with the classic Wheelock logo:

The classic Wheelock logo.

Now it was time to paint.  First thing I did was the back:

Wheelock

I chose this flecked blue color as something similar to the box style from the 1990s, which was dark blue with some kind of star pattern on it.  Also note that the colors that you see during the painting process are lighter than the colors on the final product.  Firing and glazing and such darkens all of the colors.

Then the first thing that I did on the front was paint the background a light blue color:

The background.

And then this was the finished product:

The completed product, prior to firing

Elyse got a photo of me painting the edges black:

Painting the edges of my plate.

She also got a photo of Dave at work on his:

Dave, painting his train bank.

Here’s Elyse’s final product:

Elyse's train, in a green color scheme

Elyse's train, in a green color scheme

And here’s Dave’s, painted in SEPTA colors:

Dave's train bank, in SEPTA colors.

Dave's train bank, in SEPTA colors.

Then this is what my plate looked like when I picked it up a week later:

Front side of my plate, glazed and fired.

Back side of my plate, glazed and fired.

That plate will look very nice on display in my living room, don’t you think?

All in all, we had a good time.  Painting pottery with friends is a lot of fun.  Definitely need to do this again.

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/16/painting-pottery/feed/ 0 25521
That wasn’t at all what I expected to happen… https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/14/that-wasnt-at-all-what-i-expected-to-happen/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/14/that-wasnt-at-all-what-i-expected-to-happen/#respond Mon, 14 Nov 2016 15:30:33 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25531 So like much of America, I watched the television on the night of November 8, 2016 in stunned silence as the news media called the race for Donald Trump.  I started watching around 7 PM, when the first polls closed, and kept the television on until 2 AM, when I finally had to go to bed.  Considering the way I wrote about the election around a month ago, I expected that this would be an early night.  I figured that I would watch the returns come in until 11:00, and then once the polls closed in California, they would project California for Hillary Clinton, and then call the race for Hillary Clinton.  Then I would turn the television off and do something else until bedtime.  But that was not the case, as many states were too close to call.  Then I watched as Hillary Clinton’s path to victory narrowed, and it started to become apparent that we were not going to elect the first woman president on this election night.  Once they called Ohio for Trump, I knew that it didn’t look good for Hillary.  After all, Ohio picks the president, because almost no one wins the White House without Ohio.  Then as the night wore on, I ran a few scenarios through an electoral college calculator, and realized that in order for Hillary Clinton to win, she would have had to take every single remaining state that was still in play.  That seemed highly unlikely.  I went to bed kind of stunned, because this was most definitely not how I expected election night to go.  When I woke up the next morning, I checked Reddit, and found out that yes, Donald Trump had, in fact, actually won the election.  Whoa.  I definitely did not expect to have to eat my words about this election.

In hindsight, however, I can’t say that I’m very surprised about this result.

Before even getting into factors specific to this election, in the last 60 years or so since the 22nd Amendment, which formally limits the president to two terms, took effect, the White House has tended to switch parties every eight years.  Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, served two terms, and he was succeeded by John F. Kennedy, a Democrat.  Then after eight years of a Democratic administration, we got Republican Richard Nixon.  The only exceptions to this have been Democrat Jimmy Carter, who was defeated by Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980 after only a single term, and Republican George Bush, who was elected president in 1988 after eight years of Reagan.  After Bush’s electoral defeat in 1992, the eight-on-eight-off cycle resumed.  Thus after eight years of the Democratic Obama administration, history indicated that it was time for the party to flip again.

Additionally, history in the same 60-year period has indicated that the electorate tends to frown on candidates who run because it’s their “turn” to run.  In 1960, Richard Nixon was the sitting vice president under Eisenhower, and ran for president.  He lost to Kennedy.  In 1968, Hubert Humphrey, then the sitting vice president – ostensibly his “turn” –  ran against Nixon and was defeated.  George Bush was an exception in 1988, where, as a sitting vice president, he actually won – first to do so since Martin Van Buren in 1836.  Since then, Bob Dole, Al Gore, John McCain, and Mitt Romney were all “my turn” candidates, having run for president once before, and it was now their turn to become the nominee.  All were defeated in their respective elections.  Clearly, the voters don’t take kindly to heirs apparent or political dynasties.

Additionally, I’ve noticed that there are two ways to vote for a candidate: because you support them and want to see them succeed, or because you oppose someone else and want to unseat them or otherwise keep them out of office.  One of these strategies tends to work, and the other doesn’t do as well.  I remember in 2004, the Democrats put up John Kerry, who was, by most measures, a pretty awful candidate.  About the only redeeming quality that Kerry had was that he was a warm body that wasn’t George W. Bush.  We checked Kerry’s name on our ballots as a vote against George W. Bush, and not for any reasons related to Kerry himself.  And Kerry got defeated pretty well, which in hindsight, wasn’t surprising.  It’s hard to turn out the vote for someone when it’s not because you’re in love with the candidate, but rather, because you’re trying to defeat their opponent.  Plus it’s also relatively hard to unseat an incumbent, which is what Bush was.  I think that this sign from the DAWN demonstration on the occasion of Bush’s second inaugural sums it up quite well:

"I voted Kerry. Now I'm holding this fuckin' sign."
“I voted Kerry.  Now I’m holding this fuckin’ sign.”  Seems about right.

In regards to this most recent election, I’m at least glad that it is settled, even if I was taken back and disappointed by the results.  There will be no protracted legal battle over the results like happened in 2000.  It’s over.  I do think that the Democrats bombed pretty badly this election cycle, losing the White House and failing to retake the Senate, and they really only have themselves to blame for it.  There are many lessons to take from this, and let’s hope that the Democrats learn them and take them to heart if they expect to retake the White House in 2020.  Otherwise, history will repeat itself.

First of all, it is worth noting that Hillary Clinton now joins the ranks of Andrew Jackson, Samuel J. Tilden, Grover Cleveland, and Al Gore, all of whom also won the popular vote while losing in the electoral college.  The electoral college, where individual votes in a state determine slates of electors based on congressional representation that actually choose the president (I explained how it works in 2013), because of how it’s designed with its first-past-the-post and winner-take-all allocation of votes, requires that candidates get broad support across the country in order to be elected, requiring a plurality of votes in an individual state to take all of the electoral votes in that state (except Maine and Nebraska, which allocate their electoral votes differently).  Thus in a hypothetical state with twelve electoral votes, if Hillary Clinton got 48.1% of the vote, Donald Trump got 48.2% of the vote, and Gary Johnson got 3.7% of the vote, Trump would get all twelve votes.  Likewise, it doesn’t matter if a candidate in this hypothetical state just barely pulls out a win or wins by a landslide.  It’s still the same twelve votes.  So why did Hillary Clinton lose the electoral college despite winning the popular vote?  Because her support was too concentrated in “blue” states, i.e. states where the Democratic candidate is expected from the outset to win the state’s electoral votes.  When it came to “swing states”, i.e. states where it could go either way, Hillary Clinton did poorly.  Among all of the different swing states, she only won in Virginia, which is where her running mate, Tim Kaine, is from – and even that was a much narrower win than expected.  She even lost Pennsylvania, which had gone to the Democrats in every election since 1992.

Considering that it is possible for the electoral college to elect someone who didn’t receive the most votes, and that it happened again this time around, I think that it is definitely time to reform the electoral process to allow for direct popular election of the president and vice president, either by abolishing the electoral college directly, or to bypass it, rendering it strictly ceremonial.  The former method would be accomplished by constitutional amendment, repealing the 12th Amendment and laying out a new system of some sort, because something tells me that they will never go back to the method provided in the original Constitution, where electors voted for two people for president, and first place (provided that they have a majority of electors) becomes president, and second place becomes vice president.  What the details of such a replacement system would be, however, are not known, and would be worked out in Congress during the amendment process.  I would imagine that such an amendment would look similar to the 17th Amendment, which provided for direct popular election of senators.  The latter method, which would bypass the electoral college, is the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, an agreement that would award the participating states’ electoral votes to whichever candidate wins the national popular vote.  As of this writing, the compact covers ten states plus DC, which together control 165 electoral votes.  It will go into effect when enough states have joined so that it would cover a majority of the electoral votes, i.e. 270.  However, I feel that the interstate compact method would probably be best only as a stopgap measure, until a constitutional amendment can be worked out.

And for all of the people who helped circulate a Change.org petition around on social media in an attempt to sway the electoral college to give Hillary Clinton the presidency in some sort of last-ditch hail-Mary move, that entire concept just seems like a tremendously bad idea.  Technically, the electors could probably do it, but I don’t think that they could necessarily get away with it by the public.  We all still have to live here, after all, and half the country would – probably rightly – claim that the election was stolen from their candidate if it were to happen, and the other half would almost certainly be uneasy about it.  Imagine the level of civil unrest that would come to this country if such a thing were to come to fruition.  It would be something the likes of which we have never seen before in this country.  It would make the post-election anti-Trump demonstrations that we saw look like child’s play.  Plus such a scheme would require that Hillary Clinton cooperate, and there’s no evidence that such a thing would happen.  Hillary Clinton has already conceded.  She’s out.  Imagine the constitutional crisis should Clinton be installed via this method that overrides the voting (even though she did win the popular vote), and then decline to serve, citing the impropriety of the method.  I don’t think that we as a country want to go there.  Better to move on and change the process for next time.

Meanwhile, noting Hillary Clinton’s poor showing in swing states, it points to another strike against the Democrats in this race: Hillary Clinton was a “my turn” candidate.  People thought it was her turn in 2008, when she ran for president and competed against then-Senator Barack Obama.  She was defeated in the primary, and Obama went on to become president, running against John McCain, another “my turn” candidate, as well as a candidate who would have also kept the White House in Republican hands for a third term (two strikes against McCain).

In 2016, Hillary Clinton was again running for president, this time against Bernie Sanders in the primary.  The feeling that I got during the primaries was that come hell or high water, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was going to make absolutely sure that this was a coronation for Hillary Clinton.  It later turned out that we were spot on with this feeling.  That said, it is probably time for the DNC to take a long and hard look at how it operates, since the effects of its processes have far-reaching consequences (we are, after all, electing the leader of the free world here).  The first thing that the DNC needs to do is reform the way its delegates are allocated, i.e. get rid of the superdelegates.  The superdelegates, the ranks of which include elected officials, as well as party activists and officials, and are automatically seated at the convention and can vote for whoever they want, lend an air of impropriety over the entire process, and a feeling of mistrust of the electorate.  Recognize that the message that having superdelegates sends is something along the lines of, “We don’t believe that you, the Democratic primary voters, are capable of picking the correct candidate.  Therefore, if you don’t vote the right way, the grownups will pick the correct person for you.”  I recognize that the superdelegates have never used their influence in this way in the past, but it is still a “trust us” matter, because the power exists to make it happen.  Additionally, the media’s reporting of Democratic delegate counts typically lumped in the superdelegates’ endorsements with the pledged delegate counts, making an establishment candidate who is close to the leaders of the party appear like they are running away with the nomination, when the race may actually be much closer.  Such is what happened with Clinton and Sanders, where Clinton’s superdelegate lead made it look like it was a fait accompli.  Did that keep Sanders voters home?  Quite possibly.  And it sounds like without Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee, a lot of those supporters stayed home for the general election, and opted to elect Donald Trump by their inaction (and that’s their prerogative, I suppose).  Of course, even the pledged delegates are technically on the honor system when it comes to voting for their pledged candidate, so how much your Democratic primary vote is actually worth is definitely debatable.

Otherwise, Hillary Clinton wasn’t a particularly inspiring candidate.  We knew exactly what we were getting with her through her 30-some years in public life, and her message was not that of hope and change like Obama or Sanders brought to the table for their respective candidacies, and could not be easily distilled down to something that could be easily understood and talked about by average Americans who aren’t “into” politics.  She had no slogan like “Change You Can Believe In” (which she once derided as “Change You Can Xerox“), or Trump’s “Make America Great Again”.  The “I’m With Her” slogan that they ended up using made the campaign seem like it was all about Hillary Clinton, and not about America.  Not “us”, but “me”.  In other words, it was Hillary’s turn, and this was to be her coronation.  She represented the establishment in what was turning out to be a “change” election from both sides, with a heavy presence of Bernie Sanders supporters on the Democratic side, and Donald Trump’s running away with the nomination on the Republican side.

Hillary Clinton’s choice of Virginia senator Tim Kaine was also rather uninspired.  I remember when Kaine was governor, and I voted for him in 2005, back when I still lived in Virginia.  What sticks out most to me about his otherwise fairly uneventful tenure as governor was in 2009 when, in an effort to balance the state budget, he closed a large number of highway rest areas.  Seeing so many closed rest areas along the highway, including consecutive rest areas, sent a very bad message about the state.  In fact, it was such a blunder that both candidates for governor that year made reopening all of the rest areas a part of their campaign platforms.  The only difference in Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds‘ platforms in that area was how quickly they would reopen them (90 days for McDonnell vs. 60 days for Deeds).

In any case, there were so many different directions that the Clinton campaign could have gone for vice president.  Kaine was a real snooze, likely picked because of where he was from, i.e. a swing state, and because he wouldn’t outshine Clinton.  He was a traditional, if uninspiring, pick.  He wasn’t able to reunite the party after Sanders’ defeat in the primaries, which I’m sure left many voters feeling disenchanted, and led them to stay home.  Choosing Bernie Sanders as a running mate would have done much to reunite the party, and would have ensured that the progressive issues that Sanders voters championed were represented.  Such a move, where the runner-up from the primaries gets the VP nod, would not be without precedent.  George Bush was Ronald Reagan’s rival in the Republican primaries in 1980, and clearly, the trick worked, as Reagan and Bush ran away with the election that year.

And if not Sanders, perhaps the Clinton camp could have gone with Elizabeth Warren, the senior senator from Massachusetts, who, like Sanders, is also a strong progressive.  The Clinton ticket didn’t need geographical balance as much as it needed ideological balance, by including a strong progressive to capture that “change” momentum from the Sanders campaign and keep those people in the fold.  With Kaine, they willingly gave up the progressives.

Ultimately, though, Hillary Clinton lost control of the conversation, as it became more and more about Donald Trump and his outlandish statements.  Hillary Clinton became a warm body who wasn’t Donald Trump, and in the end, the election felt like it was a referendum on Donald Trump.  I admit – I wanted to see Hillary Clinton win, but mainly because I didn’t want Donald Trump to win.  I wasn’t exactly impressed with Hillary Clinton based on her own merits, but I viewed her as better than the alternative.  Therefore, I feel like many on the left, myself included, were voting for her as a default choice, i.e. voting against Donald Trump, rather than voting for Hillary Clinton on her own merits.  And rarely do such votes produce a winning result.  After all, it’s hard to vote for a candidate that you’re not in love with.  I did for the reason that I stated a month ago: because I still had to live with myself should Donald Trump somehow pull out a victory – and he did.  My conscience is clean.

In the end, the expression, “May you live in interesting times,” seems like a fitting description of what we may have these next four years in a Trump administration.  And in any case, I hope that the Democrats take heed of the lessons to be learned in the aftermath of this election, and not make those same mistakes again.

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/14/that-wasnt-at-all-what-i-expected-to-happen/feed/ 0 25531
I’ve seen Christmas lighting, Halloween lighting, but never election lighting… https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/08/ive-seen-christmas-lighting-halloween-lighting-but-never-election-lighting/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/08/ive-seen-christmas-lighting-halloween-lighting-but-never-election-lighting/#respond Tue, 08 Nov 2016 05:00:22 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25525 So Elyse and I were driving down 16th Street in DC last night, and we spotted a house near the intersection of 16th and Corcoran Streets NW with red and blue lighting in the front yard.  Hmm.  So we turned around and took a look:

Election lights in DC

Election lights in DC

Yes, folks, this is an election lighting display.  I’ve heard of Christmas lights and Halloween lights, but never before had I seen election lights before.  That was definitely a new one on me.

I have already gone over my opinions on the election, and so I don’t feel that I need to repeat them here.  However, the big day is now upon us.  If you are eligible, registered, and haven’t done so already via absentee or early processes, please go out and vote today.

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/08/ive-seen-christmas-lighting-halloween-lighting-but-never-election-lighting/feed/ 0 25525
A “lost” photo set of sorts… https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/06/a-lost-photo-set-of-sorts/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/06/a-lost-photo-set-of-sorts/#respond Sun, 06 Nov 2016 15:10:51 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25484 In doing the writing for an upcoming photo set for Life and Times about a trip that Elyse and I recently made to Pittsburgh, I quickly realized that much of the discussion about the trip up builds on a photo set that I shot in May 2006 with the intention of publishing in Photography, but that I ultimately never completed.

In this case, the subject of the “lost” photo set was Breezewood, Pennsylvania.  For those not familiar, when one travels to Pittsburgh from the DC area, one of the places that you go through is Breezewood, a settlement best known for a quarter-mile stretch of US 30 that carries Interstate 70 traffic to the Pennsylvania Turnpike – a stretch of road that is loaded with gas stations and motels and restaurants.  I first traveled through Breezewood in 2003 during the LPCM trip to Pittsburgh, and it piqued my interest – even more so when I later learned that there was an abandoned stretch of the Pennsylvania Turnpike nearby, including two tunnels.  I discussed a potential trip to Breezewood for a photo shoot in 2005, and then made a trip from Stuarts Draft to Breezewood – a three-hour drive each way – on May 2, 2006.  About the only bit of evidence of the trip on here was five photo features showing Breezewood, a short Journal entry with no photos, plus a few things here and there on Wikipedia and Panoramio, as was my practice at the time.  The intended Photography set, with the working title “Town of Motels”, was never made.  Kind of a shame that, for a trip that was that far away and entirely dedicated to photography, so little was actually published from it.

I’m pretty sure that I never published the set because I didn’t feel like the photos were up to par, even for the (lower) standards that I operated under at the time, and thus couldn’t find the inspiration to complete it.  Most of the photos had a yellow cast over them, and I clearly didn’t take enough time in composing my shots.  In hindsight, while I had fun doing the shoot, the idea was something of a loser.  After all, it was, for the most part, just a clustering of chain businesses along a unique stretch of highway.  The road configuration, created due to regulations in place at the time that precluded the use of federal funds to build direct connections to toll facilities, was what was unique, but that wasn’t the focus of my photography.  I focused mostly on the chain businesses themselves, which weren’t particularly unique.  The chain businesses looked a lot like “Anytown USA”, i.e. they were much the same as you would find anywhere.

In any case, after ten years, I now need it to provide context for more modern work.  I suppose that this set’s publication was inevitable, as I would eventually need to build on that experience, so here it is, more or less in the order that it was photographed.

Taken just east of the Breezewood strip on Route 30, this signage was the first indication of Breezewood. According to Google Street View, the Quality Inn sign is now gone, having disappeared some time between 2009 and 2012.
Taken just east of the Breezewood strip on Route 30, this signage was the first indication of Breezewood.  According to Google Street View, the Quality Inn sign is now gone, having disappeared some time between 2009 and 2012.

The Breezewood strip, facing east, taken from approximately halfway down.
The Breezewood strip, facing east, taken from approximately halfway down.

The old Sheetz in Breezewood. This same area looks different today, as the building is now boarded up, having closed some time between 2011 and 2013 when the Sheetz moved two doors down the road. Additionally, the gas canopy has been demolished.

The old Sheetz in Breezewood. This same area looks different today, as the building is now boarded up, having closed some time between 2011 and 2013 when the Sheetz moved two doors down the road. Additionally, the gas canopy has been demolished.
The old Sheetz in Breezewood.  This same area looks different today, as the building is now boarded up, having closed some time between 2011 and 2013 when the Sheetz moved two doors down the road.  Additionally, the gas canopy has been demolished.

Gas prices at Sheetz on the day of the 2006 shoot. My recollection is that these were relatively high for the time. Prices were in the $2.40 range when Elyse and I went through recently.
Gas prices at Sheetz on the day of the 2006 shoot.  My recollection is that these were relatively high for the time.  Prices were in the $2.40 range when Elyse and I went through recently.

North side of US 30, facing east, from halfway up the strip. Taco Bell, Exxon, KFC, Mobil, and Gateway Travel Plaza. Not much has changed here, other than the closure of the KFC and the conversion of the Mobil station to Valero.
North side of US 30, facing east, from halfway up the strip.  Taco Bell, Exxon, KFC, Mobil, and Gateway Travel Plaza.  Not much has changed here, other than the closure of the KFC and the conversion of the Mobil station to Valero.

Crawford's Museum,on the south side of US 30 in Breezewood. Still there today, and looks exactly the same.

Crawford's Museum,on the south side of US 30 in Breezewood. Still there today, and looks exactly the same.

Crawford's Museum,on the south side of US 30 in Breezewood. Still there today, and looks exactly the same.
Crawford’s Museum, on the south side of US 30 in Breezewood.  Still there today, and looks exactly the same.  Interestingly enough, though, the owner of Crawford’s was convicted in 2015 of selling knockoff sports merchandise, and sentenced to five years’ probation, house arrest, restitution, and community service.

Signage directing I-70 travelers onto the Turnpike. Yes, this stretch of road through Breezewood carries an Interstate designation!
Signage directing I-70 travelers onto the Turnpike.  Yes, this stretch of road through Breezewood carries an Interstate designation!

The Breezewood KFC, now vacant, having closed some time between 2011 and 2014.
The Breezewood KFC, now vacant, having closed some time between 2011 and 2014.

US 30, facing west, showing, more or less, the full Breezewood strip.
US 30, facing west, showing, more or less, the full Breezewood strip.

Big Pennsylvania Turnpike signage.
Big Pennsylvania Turnpike signage.

Trucks along Route 30. Owing to this road's technically being an Interstate, it gets a lot of truck traffic.
Trucks along Route 30.  Owing to this road’s technically being an Interstate, it gets a lot of truck traffic.

The Breezewood strip, viewed from the Turnpike entrance.
The Breezewood strip, viewed from the Turnpike entrance.

The Breezewood strip, viewed from the Turnpike entrance.
Mileage sign at the Turnpike entrance.

Stub end of the abandoned turnpike, though this area is still owned by the Turnpike Commission. The Breezewood exit ramp, which uses part of the old turnpike, is visible in the distance in the top photo. In the lower photo, the road used to lead to the rest of the abandoned turnpike, but was truncated when a bridge over Route 30 was demolished, separating the PTC-owned section, and the Pike-to-Bike trail that the remainder became.

Stub end of the abandoned turnpike, though this area is still owned by the Turnpike Commission. The Breezewood exit ramp, which uses part of the old turnpike, is visible in the distance in the top photo. In the lower photo, the road used to lead to the rest of the abandoned turnpike, but was truncated when a bridge over Route 30 was demolished, separating the PTC-owned section, and the Pike-to-Bike trail that the remainder became.
Stub end of the abandoned turnpike, though this area is still owned by the Turnpike Commission.  The Breezewood exit ramp, which uses part of the old turnpike, is visible in the distance in the top photo.  In the lower photo, the road used to lead to the rest of the abandoned turnpike, but was truncated when a bridge over Route 30 was demolished, separating the PTC-owned section, and the Pike-to-Bike trail that the remainder became.

This, by the way, left me quite confused.  I was told prior to this trip that access to the abandoned turnpike was via this road behind the (now closed) Ramada Inn, and was checking this out for a potential future trip to see the abandoned turnpike, and the tunnels therein.  A stub-end like this was not what I had expected to see.  I was left questioning whether I had gone to the right place or not.  Only later did I learn of the bridge removal, which occurred not long before my visit, which confirmed that I was in the right place, but that what I was led to understand was no longer the case.  I still want to do a trip to see the abandoned tunnels, but such a trip is not currently planned.

Gateway Travel Plaza, one of two truck stops in Breezewood.
Gateway Travel Plaza, one of two truck stops in Breezewood.

The Holiday Inn Express in Breezewood. Since this photo was taken, the hotel built a one-story addition on the right side of the building, adding an indoor pool and gymnasium facility.
The Holiday Inn Express in Breezewood.  Since this photo was taken, the hotel built a one-story addition on the right side of the building, adding an indoor pool and gymnasium facility.

Fat Jimmy's Outfitters, housed in a former Howard Johnson's restaurant. I considered this a strange place to have an outdoors store, considering that Breezewood is very much a gas-eat-go kind of area.
Fat Jimmy’s Outfitters, housed in a former Howard Johnson’s restaurant.  I considered this a strange place to have an outdoors store, considering that Breezewood is very much a gas-eat-go kind of area.  After Fat Jimmy’s moved to a different location, a bar and grill moved in and did some heavy remodeling.

I don’t know about you, but a bar seems like a strange thing to have here, considering that Breezewood’s whole existence is based around drivers who are just passing through.  Having a drinking establishment in Breezewood seems incredibly out of place, and so I’m not surprised that such a place was short-lived.

Sac's convenience store, Sheetz (since relocated), Wendy's (now closed), Holiday Inn Express, and then country beyond. Recognize that Breezewood is basically just the strip, with open land all around.
Sac’s convenience store, Sheetz (since relocated), Wendy’s (now closed), Holiday Inn Express, and then country beyond.  Recognize that Breezewood is basically just the strip, with open land all around.

Family House Restaurant. All of this is now gone, as the restaurant closed around 2008, and the new Sheetz was in operation on the site by fall 2013.

Family House Restaurant. All of this is now gone, as the restaurant closed around 2008, and the new Sheetz was in operation on the site by fall 2013.
Family House Restaurant.  All of this is now  gone, as the restaurant closed around 2008, and the new Sheetz was in operation on the site by fall 2013.

The Breezewood strip, viewed from the western end. This photo is on display at The Henry Ford, a museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
The Breezewood strip, viewed from the western end.  This photo is on display at The Henry Ford, a museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Vintage sign for the Penn Aire Motel.
Vintage sign for the Penn Aire Motel, at the western end of the Breezewood strip.  This facility is now abandoned, though it was once quite nice.

Overhead sign for I-70 facing eastbound Route 30. Funny that it lists DC as the control city, since Interstate 70 goes to Baltimore, not DC. Mind you, Interstate 270 breaks off at Frederick and heads towards the Beltway, but I-70 proper takes a more northerly route and ends up in Baltimore.
Overhead sign for I-70 facing eastbound Route 30.  Funny that it lists DC as the control city, since Interstate 70 goes to Baltimore, not DC.  Mind you, Interstate 270 breaks off at Frederick and heads towards the Beltway, but I-70 proper takes a more northerly route and ends up in Baltimore.

Denny's "Classic Diner".
Denny’s “Classic Diner”.

Signage for Interstate 70. I believe that the numbers on the white sign at the bottom are part of Pennsylvania's Location Referencing System (LRS).
Signage for Interstate 70.  I believe that the numbers on the white sign at the bottom are part of Pennsylvania’s Location Referencing System (LRS).

The Starbucks in Breezewood, where the staff graciously allowed me to park for the several hours that I spent shooting this set.
The Starbucks in Breezewood, where the staff graciously allowed me to park for the several hours that I spent shooting this set.

The Sable, with Virginia plates. That really dates this set, doesn't it? I had owned the Sable for less than three months when I did this trip. The Sable has now been gone for nearly five years.
The Sable, with Virginia plates.  That really dates this set, doesn’t it?  I had owned the Sable for less than three months when I did this trip.  The Sable has now been gone for nearly five years.

Leaving Breezewood, I took the scenic route home.  Considering that this trip revolved around the Pennsylvania Turnpike, it only made sense that I take the Turnpike.  I also got some photos of the three tunnels that I went through on the way:

Western portal of the Tuscarora Mountain Tunnel.
Western portal of the Tuscarora Mountain Tunnel.

Inside the eastbound tunnel at Tuscarora Mountain. Note the sodium lighting, which was unique to this tunnel complex at that time.
Inside the eastbound tunnel at Tuscarora Mountain.  Note the sodium lighting, which was unique to this tunnel complex at that time.

Eastern portal of the eastbound tunnel at Tuscarora Mountain.
Eastern portal of the eastbound tunnel at Tuscarora Mountain.

Western portal of the Kittatinny Mountain Tunnel.
Western portal of the Kittatinny Mountain Tunnel.

Inside the eastbound Kittatinny Mountain Tunnel. Note the fluorescent lighting.
Inside the eastbound Kittatinny Mountain Tunnel.  Note the fluorescent lighting.

Western portal of the Blue Mountain Tunnel. The Kittatinny and Blue Mountain tunnels are back-to-back (only 600 feet apart), separated by the Gunter Valley. This was taken at Kittatinny's eastern portal.
Western portal of the Blue Mountain Tunnel.  The Kittatinny and Blue Mountain tunnels are back-to-back (only 600 feet apart), separated by the Gunter Valley.  This was taken at Kittatinny’s eastern portal.

Western portal for the eastbound tunnel at Blue Mountain.
Western portal for the eastbound tunnel at Blue Mountain.

I vaguely remembered going through back-to-back tunnels on a road trip from Arkansas to New Jersey in 1987, and I remembered the name “Blue Mountain”.  I was glad to get some confirmation on what I saw as a child.  These Pennsylvania Turnpike tunnels were also the first highway tunnels that I ever went through.

Also, please don’t do what I did in taking these photos.  I took them while I was driving, i.e. one hand on the wheel, the other hand on Big Mavica, and eyes not entirely paying attention to the road because I was lining up a shot.  In hindsight, what I did was very unsafe.  So don’t do it.

And lastly, I stopped at the Cumberland Valley Service Plaza after the tunnels:

Cumberland Valley Service Plaza building. This building, along with all of the service plaza buildings, has been demolished and replaced with a larger, more modern building.
Cumberland Valley Service Plaza building.  This building, along with all of the service plaza buildings, has been demolished and replaced with a larger, more modern building.  Also, note the Roy Rogers sign.  Growing up, I always associated Roy Rogers with road trips, because at that time, the only time that you saw a Roy Rogers restaurant was in a highway service plaza like this one.

The Turnpike next to the Cumberland Valley Service Plaza, part of a 12-mile straightaway between Blue Mountain Tunnel and the Carlisle interchange.
The Turnpike next to the Cumberland Valley Service Plaza, part of a 12-mile straightaway between the Blue Mountain Tunnel and the Carlisle interchange.

From Carlisle (home of another Breezewood-like strip between the Turnpike and I-81), I took I-81 all the way down to Staunton, and that was the end of the trip.

And that’s my “lost” photo set of Breezewood and such from 2006.  I suppose that the missing piece of the puzzle has been placed, as these decade-old photos finally make it to publication, though I would have never guessed that they would end up being published in the Journal.

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/11/06/a-lost-photo-set-of-sorts/feed/ 0 25484
Horns with bugles attached… https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/10/27/horns-with-bugles-attached/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/10/27/horns-with-bugles-attached/#respond Fri, 28 Oct 2016 00:24:04 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25397 As I mentioned earlier, the trip to Philadelphia that Elyse and I made on October 3 was primarily about fire alarms.  In short, I now am the proud owner of 16 Federal Signal Model 53 fire alarm notification appliances, and 12 Couch coded fire alarm pull stations.  This was the total haul:

12 pull stations and 16 horns

It’s funny how this all came about.  As a fire alarm enthusiast, I’m in contact with other enthusiasts, some of whom work in the industry.  As an example, Elyse and I got to know each other on account of fire alarms.  In any case, a friend and fellow enthusiast let me know about another person who had some vintage equipment in Philadelphia that had just been removed from a building that would be disposed of if not saved.  My friend couldn’t make it to Philadelphia due to distance, but I could.  So they put me in contact with them, and we made all of the arrangements.  We built a trip around the alarms, planning to visit Christiana Mall on the way up, and then photograph some infrastructure on the way to King of Prussia Mall.

However, due to a late start, we ended up having to delete Christiana Mall from the itinerary, as well as any sort of Delaware stop.  Ah, well – there’s always next time.  But we made it to Chinatown right on schedule, and parked right next to Ho Sai Gai.  We made the exchange, and that was that.  I got a photo of Elyse holding one of the horns in the back of my car as proof to send to my friend:

Elyse with one of the horns in Chinatown

That was also when we realized something important: these alarms are very heavy.  Realize that these are old-school alarms.  They are made entirely out of metal, plus they have that bugle-like thing on the end, which is also metal.  The pull stations are also all metal, and they’re the older, bigger size.  And there were lots of them.  I ended up keeping some of these in the back of my car for about a week because of the need for assistance in bringing them in.  I could carry the smaller of the two boxes in by myself, but the second one… no way.  Too heavy to carry up the stairs alone.  I got help for that one.

Meanwhile, I don’t know about you, but I find horns that have projectors on them to be especially intimidating.  Take this horn (long since removed), from JMU’s Harrison Hall:

That sound projector makes it seem way more intimidating than it would be without.  Behind that projector is a Standard 4-350 horn, one of which I have in my collection.  The horn itself is not that bad, but that projector seems to say, “Watch out, I’m really loud.”

And this horn, with that bugle-like projector, fits the character.  It is very loud, as demonstrated in a video that Elyse took:

Even from that far away, that will blow your ears out.  These were installed in a residential building prior to an alarm system upgrade.  I can’t imagine being woken up by these in the middle of the night.

The horns themselves are very large, with the horn unit itself measuring 6″ in diameter, and 12″ from the wall to the end of the projector.  Here are a few views of them:

Federal Signal Model 53  Federal Signal Model 53

Federal Signal Model 53  Federal Signal Model 53

Federal Signal Model 53, label

Meanwhile, the pull stations were more familiar to me:

  

This pull station is identical to the Simplex 4263-10 that I already have in my collection, except that this is the original equipment manufacturer’s branding, rather than a rebrand like the Simplex one is.

So that’s the new fire alarm equipment that I now have.  Not too shabby, if you ask me.  That horn, however, will be a challenge to formally photograph for the website, considering its large size and the size of the area where I typically photograph these sorts of things.

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/10/27/horns-with-bugles-attached/feed/ 0 25397
A day trip to Ocean City that definitely felt rushed… https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/10/23/a-day-trip-to-ocean-city-that-definitely-felt-rushed/ https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/10/23/a-day-trip-to-ocean-city-that-definitely-felt-rushed/#respond Sun, 23 Oct 2016 17:20:25 +0000 https://www.schuminweb.com/?p=25408 On Monday, October 10, I finally visited Ocean City, Maryland and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  You would think, having lived in Maryland for nine years, that I would have gotten out there before this, but better late than never, I suppose.

This was a trip where the journey was probably more interesting than the destination itself.  I’m also pretty confident that we did not meet my usual rule for a trip where you should spend as much time at the destination as it takes to get down there and back.  I also felt rushed when we actually got to the destination, but I suppose that such is what happens sometimes.  However, with this being an “overview” trip, where the goal was just to get a feel for what was there for future exploration, meeting my time rule wasn’t as important as it might otherwise be.

In any case, we left a little later than I would have liked, and the trip began fairly uneventfully.  Things went smoothly until we made a planned stop at the Wawa near Annapolis.  There, my low tire pressure light came on as we were getting ready to leave.  Okay.  Wawa has free air, so no problem.  The way that I figured, it had been a while since the last time that I had checked the tire pressure, so one of them may have reached the threshold for the warning light from normal whatever.  So I topped off the tires.  The left rear tire was a bit lower than the others, but the light went away.  Cool.  Problem solved.  Continue on trip.

After going over the Bay Bridge (my first time), I learned far more than I expected about center pivot irrigation systems from Elyse.  If it tells you anything, I’m no longer surprised when I learn that Elyse knows a lot about something medical or industrial.  But her information always checks out.  In this case, I learned about the different brands of center-pivot irrigation systems, and how to distinguish between them.  The main brands are Valley, Reinke (pronounced like “rinky”) and Zimmatic.  Those names, for whatever reason, made me think of the Pacman ghosts: Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde/Sue.  I said, “Valley, Reinke, Zimmatic… and Sue.”  Maybe you had to be there, but we got a laugh out of it.  In any case, though, you saw a lot of them, as the Delmarva Peninsula has a lot of farmland.

For that matter, Route 50 is one of those roads where you can really “see America”.  The road stops being a freeway after the Bay Bridge, and you go through a number of little towns on the way to Ocean City.  I could totally see doing a trip out this way just to photograph the small towns along the way.

Then as Elyse and I approached Salisbury, the tire pressure light came on again.  One time could be as simple as needing to top off the tire.  Two times means that I have a problem.  Considering how much distance we traveled before the problem came back, I knew that it was a slow leak, and therefore I likely had some time to play with before the tire went flat, but didn’t know exactly how much time.  Thus it was time to quickly get the car to a shop to get this fixed.  Elyse knew that there was a Walmart with a tire center nearby, so we started making moves towards that, but we ended up finding a Sears Auto Center before we got to the Walmart.  I normally refuse to patronize Sears because they’re mean to Elyse (and seeing the same behavior toward Elyse at multiple stores tells me that this is standard practice), but in this case, any port in a storm.  They were able to get me fixed and on my way for $18.  Deal.

And in the meantime, Elyse and I got to check out a new mall, The Centre at Salisbury.  As far as malls go, this was a fairly unremarkable one-story facility.  I did, however, find a few interesting things in the mall:

Spotted this sign at Picture People, and if I were looking for a job, this sign, with a grammatical error, would probably give me pause.
Spotted this sign at Picture People, and if I were looking for a job, this sign, with a grammatical error, would probably give me pause.  To me, it’s like how they say that if your resume has a single error, it automatically hits the trash.  Same thing applies the other way as well.  When I was on the job market a few years ago, if I saw a typographical, grammatical, or spelling error, it made me question the level of professionalism that I would find in an organization that couldn’t even be bothered to proofread its job advertisements.  When I was at Food & Water Watch, the job ads that I got were routinely loaded with simple errors.  Part of what I did before posting was to go over them very carefully and fix all of the errors that I found, because you have to put your best foot forward at all times.

Someone needs to tell the person who wrote this sign at the Auntie Anne's that (A) the public does not need to see these sorts of communications, as this sign was in plain view of everyone walking by, and that (B) "quote marks" are not used for "emphasis".
Someone needs to tell the person who wrote this sign at the Auntie Anne’s that (A) the public does not need to see these sorts of communications, as this sign was in plain view of everyone walking by, and that (B) “quote marks” are not used for “emphasis”.

Mystery bags, especially at this sort of price, seen here at Hot Topic, seem like a ripoff waiting to happen. Especially with the all-sales-final note on the bag.
Mystery bags, especially at this sort of price, seen here at Hot Topic, seem like a ripoff waiting to happen.  Especially with the all-sales-final note on the bag.  Trust and believe that if it were me, and I was contemplating the purchase of one of these things, I would absolutely open the bag in the store before purchasing to verify the contents.  If an employee complained about it, I’d tell them to go buzz off.  My thought is that this is the exact opposite of standing by your products, if you have to conceal them to move them, and then not allow returns.

Then once the tire was done (turns out that I had run over a nail), we were on our way.  Our next stop was a planned side trip into Delaware, to go to The Military Exchange, which is a military surplus store in Delmar.  Elyse is also interested in and knows a lot about MRE packs, and so she took a look.  Among other things, she found Menu 19, which is the one that contains beef patties.

Elyse holds the beef patty MRE.
Elyse holds the beef patty MRE.

Trying on a helmet and goggle set.
Trying on a helmet and goggle set.

She ended up buying three MREs from them, including the beef patty one.  Look for a review of some of these on her YouTube channel at some point.  This place also did handwritten receipts, which we were both surprised to see.  I commented that I expected to see one of those old manual credit card imprinters as well, but alas, the credit card machine was modern.

We finally made it to Ocean City around 5:00.  As far as the kind of time that we made, I think “terrible” covers it quite well.  But I suppose that such is what happens when you have a tire problem midway through your trip that costs you about two hours.

In any case, we parked on the street, and headed to the boardwalk, and then to the beach, seeing what there was to see:

Elyse stands on the beach.
Elyse stands on the beach.

Beach selfie.
Beach selfie.

Two chairs set up on the beach.
Two chairs set up on the beach.

Spotted this eroded mound of sand near the water, and my guess is that this was once a sand castle of some sort, that has since been reshaped by nature.
Spotted this eroded mound of sand near the water, and my guess is that this was once a sand castle of some sort, that has since been reshaped by nature.

Waves breaking on rocks.
Waves breaking on rocks.

More waves breaking on rocks. Look at the horizon on this photo, though. That's the only thing about photographing around the ocean: the horizon is supposed to be level. This photo looks pretty nice, except that the horizon is all cockeyed.
More waves breaking on rocks.  Look at the horizon on this photo, though.  That’s the only thing about photographing around the ocean: the horizon is supposed to be level.  This photo looks pretty nice, except that the horizon is all cockeyed.

The boardwalk in late afternoon/early evening.
The boardwalk in late afternoon/early evening.

Spotted this tip jar in an Auntie Anne's on the boardwalk.
Spotted this tip jar in an Auntie Anne’s on the boardwalk.

Sky at sunset.
Sky at sunset.

Guy in a wetsuit, about to go surfing.
Guy in a wetsuit, about to go surfing.

Coming off of the beach, we then headed north on the boardwalk for a few blocks.  We then walked back towards the car along Baltimore Avenue.

Also got an unexpected trip down memory lane on this walk.  Remember in College Life, there was that photo where Bridget was wearing that “Bad Ass Cafe” shirt?  We found the cafe:

Bad Ass Cafe in Ocean City. Good to know that they're still doing well.
Bad Ass Cafe in Ocean City.  Good to know that they’re still doing well.

I don't know about you, but this sign struck me as tacky. I get the need for lodging facilities to preserve their parking lots' spaces for their guests, but the "PERMIT MUST BE VISIBLE!!!" (with three exclamation marks) part just rubs me the wrong way. This could have been done far more tastefully.
I don’t know about you, but this sign struck me as tacky.  I get the need for lodging facilities to preserve their parking lots’ spaces for their guests, but the “PERMIT MUST BE VISIBLE!!!” (with three exclamation marks) part just rubs me the wrong way.  This could have been done far more tastefully.

Returning to the car, we moved down to the far south end of the town, and visited Marty’s Playland, a boardwalk arcade. Most of the games were the same as you would find at Dave & Buster’s, but what made this place interesting was the presence of several vintage claw machines.  Check these out:

The vintage claw machine

The way these worked was that you set the crane to the position that you wanted, and then you put in your money to activate the claw.  I can’t imagine these claws’ actually being able to grab anything in the machines due to their shape, but it was fun to watch.

We then headed around to check out the fishing pier, which had already closed for the night by the time we got over there.  Something for next time, I suppose.  But I did get a photo of Elyse with this traffic light that was flashing yellow, presumably to warn pedestrians of bicycle traffic:

Elyse poses with the traffic light.
Elyse poses with the traffic light.

Elyse stands in a giant tire outside the Ripley's building.
Elyse stands in a giant tire outside the Ripley’s building.

From there, we headed back to the car and turned north.  Time to go up to Rehoboth.  Surprisingly, when we put Rehoboth Beach into Google Maps to navigate us over, it dumped us into a random apartment complex near the ocean.  We then had to backtrack to find the resort area, locating the area where we were supposed to be on the map, and then dropping a pin and having Google navigate us to the pin location.  When we got there, we walked around the boardwalk a little bit, and I got a photo of Elyse in front of a dolphin statue:

Elyse with the dolphin statue

I was also surprised how close we were to New Jersey.  I knew that the Cape May-Lewes Ferry was nearby, but I never realized that it was this close:

See those lights in the distance? That's New Jersey.
See those lights in the distance?  That’s New Jersey.

Then from there, we were done.  We had dinner at Rehoboth Diner, and then headed back.  Surprisingly, Google Maps sent us down every back road imaginable towards Route 50.  Certainly got to see a lot of “slower lower Delaware”, that’s for sure.  We got home around 2:30 AM.

The impression that I got from these two towns is that Ocean City is very much a dumpy resort town, similar to Virginia Beach, in that it’s a bit run down and dated, though still doing well.  Rehoboth seemed like a much nicer town than Ocean City.  All in all, this was a fun trip, even if the execution was less than ideal.  I definitely want to come back here in the future.

]]>
https://www.schuminweb.com/2016/10/23/a-day-trip-to-ocean-city-that-definitely-felt-rushed/feed/ 0 25408