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No more Exeloo…

May 25, 2019, 2:50 PM

Imagine my surprise, when Elyse and I were passing through Huntington station, to see this:

The former location of the Exeloo in the north mezzanine

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Categories: WMATA

I still think about it twenty years later…

May 15, 2019, 11:46 PM

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

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

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Categories: High school, Television

Toronto in a nutshell…

April 24, 2019, 9:30 PM

I mentioned about a month or so ago that Elyse and I were going to Toronto in mid-April.  That trip is now in the history books, and much fun was had.  I’m going to do a more detailed photo set in Life and Times later, but I want to present a high-level view of what we did on our trip now.  Much of the focus of the trip was to visit various locations where Today’s Special was filmed.  We visited the store, as well as other places where various characters visited over the course of seven seasons.  We also rode a lot of the TTC, visited friends, had dessert at a poop-themed restaurant, and rode some vintage elevators.

So here we go…

Main Place Mall, a mostly dead mall in Buffalo, New York, where we met up with a friend.
Main Place Mall, a mostly dead mall in Buffalo, New York, where we met up with a friend.

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Seeing what my innards look like from the inside…

April 15, 2019, 11:18 PM

So on Wednesday, March 26, I had an endoscopy as part of a weight loss program that I’m in.  That involved going to the hospital, getting an IV, getting wheeled into the room on a stretcher, and then getting knocked out while they did their thing.  The good news is that everything looks healthy inside of me, which is what I was expecting to see.

What I found interesting was the difference in the experience in this procedure vs. the last time that I got sedated, back in 2005 when I got a pilonidal cyst removed.  This time was just a diagnostic procedure, though, while it was actual surgery back in 2005.  The endoscopy was done at Montgomery General Hospital in Olney, while my 2005 surgery was done at Augusta Medical Center (now Augusta Health) in Fishersville, Virginia.

Much of the process was pretty similar to 2005.  Come in, check in, change into the hospital gown, put on the hospital bracelet, get all of my information, do vitals, and so on.  The first big difference was the IV.  I’ve had IVs in the hand before, but for some reason, this one hurt like hell going in.  I don’t know why – I’ve never had an IV hurt like that.  Then I met with the doctor, who was scoping me and then a second patient.  I was told that it was good to be the first one to get done.  Then I met with the nurse anesthetist, whose job was to knock me out when the time came.  After she told me what was going to happen, I joked about hitting me on the head with a big cartoon mallet.  I wonder how many times they hear that joke.  I imagine that they hear that a lot.

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Categories: Health issues

Time to complain about Daylight Saving Time…

April 5, 2019, 1:16 PM

So it’s been about twelve years since the last time that I wrote about Daylight Saving Time (DST).  That previous instance was back in 2007, which was the first year that the current date rules were used.  That put “spring forward” on the second Sunday of March, and “fall back” on the first Sunday in November.  And apparently, I was justified in being a bit on edge about the new time change date, because the next day, when it took effect, I ended up oversleeping and showed up for work late.  Oops.  But considering that I got fired from that job a few weeks later… oh, well.

One thing that I’ve noticed since the switch is that no one seems to know when it’s time to change anymore.  2019 is the 13th year of the new schedule, and the changeover date still catches me by surprise.  It feels random to me.  It’s not the first Sunday in March, but the second Sunday.  It’s not a new month with a time change, but rather a mid-month thing.

In any case, I would love to do away with the whole charade of changing our clocks twice a year.  I would lean towards abolishing DST in favor of standard time rather than adopting DST year-round.  Ultimately, standard time is the one that more closely lines up with the sun.  “Noon” is supposed to be when the sun is at the highest point in the sky.  If you’re going to adopt one time standard year round, ditch DST.  Going to DST year-round would essentially mean moving up a time zone, putting the east coast of the United States on Atlantic Time, putting the midwest on Eastern Time, putting the Rockies on Central Time, and putting the west coast on Mountain Time.

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Categories: Events

Pinball and the Big Apple…

March 23, 2019, 1:55 PM

You know, one of these days, I’m going to realize that doing New Jersey and New York City is too much to bite off for a day trip.  However, that day has not come yet, and so on Tuesday, March 12, Elyse and I did exactly that, going to Asbury Park, where we visited the Silverball Museum, and then we rode a New Jersey Transit train from Long Branch to New York City, and spent a few hours in New York.

All in all, though, it wasn’t a bad trip, but it was very strenuous.  New York definitely needs to be its own thing, and always its own thing.  No bundling it with stuff in New Jersey, because we always end up getting home extremely late.  But unlike the last time that we bundled New York with Asbury Park, this time, New York was planned from the outset.

Our time in New Jersey was pretty typical: in via the Delaware Memorial Bridge, up via 295, make the big right turn near Trenton to get on 195, comment on the sign at milepost 14.6 that says that the trees are treated with a noxious substance, go to White Castle, and then arrive in Asbury Park.

The Silverball Museum was excellent, as always, as I played my way around the facility.  They had some new chairs this time around, and a few new games.  Elyse noticed that besides her favorite baseball game, there were four or five other vintage baseball games to try.  They also now have the arcade version of Asteroids.  I used to play Asteroids for the Atari 2600 all the time, so I knew my way around that game.  The controls are different on the arcade machine, though.  I found that the all-button controls were not as intuitive as the Atari 2600’s joystick-based controls.  That said, I didn’t do very well, but with more practice, I could probably get a decent score.

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A time to heal?

March 14, 2019, 10:00 AM

I was checking my Facebook feed on a break at work on Sunday, and imagine my surprise to see one of my old elementary school teachers post this:

Lost a special teacher friend this morning.  Sharon Bradley made you smile, and was the best story teller!  She was also my neighbor for a few years.  Sharon was good to my children and the students she taught.  Prayers for her family and extended school family who loved her.

Apparently, my old fifth grade teacher, Sharon Bradley, died on the morning of March 10, at the age of 76.  As of this writing, I do not know the cause of her death.

You may recall that I wrote a very long Journal entry last June about my fifth grade experience, after Mrs. Bradley came up in the “people you may know” list on Facebook around that time.  Fifth grade was, without question, my worst year in school, from kindergarten through college.  I suffered so much emotional abuse under her over the course of those nine months, enabled by the school administration and the guidance counselor.  When presented with the opportunity to reconnect through Facebook and potentially make peace, I declined, choosing to keep her out of my life.

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Returning to Toronto…

March 10, 2019, 12:17 PM

In about a month, I’m going traveling.  Elyse and I are going to Toronto for about a week, and we’re going to see as much as we can in the five days that we will have on site.  My goal is to see as many Today’s Special filming locations as possible.  I’ve done a lot of research on these for the new version of the Today’s Special site that I’m still working on, and have written about these filming locations in the past.  I plan not only to visit the store again, but also a whole lot of others.  Meanwhile, Elyse has given me a list of stuff that she wants to see – a lot of it elevators – and we’re going to work as many of those in as we can as well.

It’s funny about what I’m doing similarly to my original trip to Toronto back in 1999, and what I’m doing differently.  We’re staying the Chelsea Hotel at Gerrard and Yonge, just like I did last time.  I booked a deluxe room, just like I did in the nineties, which should place us on a relatively high floor.  Mom and I had room 1667 back in 1999, and then I suppose that we’ll see what they give us this time around.  I would laugh if we got room 2137, which is also the number of Elyse’s favorite Metrobus.  We’ll see, I suppose.  From the photos that I saw, though, the Chelsea has been renovated since we were there before, so the Chelsea will be a very different experience than before, as I imagine that everything will look quite different.  The rooftop bar is now a fitness center, for one.  And speaking of the rooftop, unlike last time, when I was just under the age requirement to go on the roof deck (you had to be 19, and I was 18), and Mom brought me in anyway, I now am well above the age requirement to go in there.

I also wonder if the fire alarm will go off this time, like it did back in 1999.  I remember being a little uptight about that whole situation before.  After all, all of my experience prior to this was that if the fire alarm sounds, you leave the building.  They only evacuated three floors: the fire floor, and the floor immediately above and below.  I found out later that it was a relatively minor electrical fire on the 20th floor that was the source of all of the commotion.  Nowadays, I know a lot more about how high-rise fire alarm systems work, and might be a bit more sedate should something like that happen again.  I wonder if it still has those Pyrotronics pull stations.  Funny, though – I still remember what their alarm sounded like almost twenty years later.  That was the first time that I had ever heard a voice evacuation system, or a two-stage system.  It was memorable, but also a bit unnerving, since this was well outside of my experience, plus it was getting close to the time that we needed to leave to head home.

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Categories: Vacations

Home organization…

February 28, 2019, 8:33 AM

I suppose that home design is a continuing evolution.  There’s the first wave of home organization, which is mainly about making moving boxes disappear, and then there’s that second wave later on where you come up with a more sustainable solution, after you’ve had time to think about how things should go.  I recently did this with the back bedroom, where I put it through a second wave of organization.  The back bedroom has always been a bit of a multipurpose room.  I can inflate my air mattress in there, and it becomes the guest bedroom.  It’s something of a playroom as well, as Elyse has used it to build Lego sets.  It’s also the home library, as that’s where I keep my books and videos and such.  The closet is a “miscellaneous storage” area, and is an open design.  It had an Elfa shelving system in it when I moved in, and it was laid out for hanging clothes at that time.  I organized the linen closet in the hallway at the same time that I did this project, since I was moving things between both spaces.  I had previously reorganized the linen closet in order to make the shelving arrangement more compact, and discovered how inefficient that space was.

Here’s what both spaces looked like before I started working on them:

Back bedroom closet.  Note that everything is just kind of thrown in there.
Back bedroom closet.  Note that everything is just kind of thrown in there.  We did this in order to quickly get the room operational ahead of a guest’s coming to visit, so that we could put them in here rather than in the living room.

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Categories: House

I want to see a primary challenge in 2020…

February 18, 2019, 2:20 PM

So with the 2018 midterm elections behind us, that means that it’s presidential season again.  This one is already shaping up to be an interesting one, with a large field of Democratic candidates, and a few possible primary challengers for Donald Trump.

As of this writing, there are eleven declared candidates on the Democratic side of things.  A big field like that should produce a good nominee.  By comparison, in 1992, the last time that the Democrats (or anyone) unseated a sitting president, there was a field of nine candidates.  At this point, I am taking a watch-and-see attitude, because I consider it to be too early to really judge it all yet.  I expect that we will see even more candidates emerge on the Democratic side before it’s over, and there is still much to happen before I really dive in and pay attention to them like I mean it.  I’m more hopeful about certain candidates than others, but again, it’s still too early.

In the meantime, I am more interested in what the Republicans are doing at this stage in the process.  As I indicated in the title, I want to see Trump fend off a primary challenge from within his own party.  I have seen lots of discussion and speculation on possible Republican candidates to primary the president, and they all seem like they have potential.  I’ve heard Utah senator Mitt Romney‘s name get thrown around as a potential primary challenger, along with former Ohio governor John Kasich, former Senator Bob Corker, and Maryland governor Larry Hogan.  In addition, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld has formed an exploratory committee, though hasn’t formally declared.  All of them seem like decent enough politicians.  They should run.

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It’s been a year since the car fire…

February 7, 2019, 1:18 PM

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the day that I lost my Kia Soul in a massive fire.  I’ve chosen to commemorate the occasion with a photo set called “Remembering the Soul“, which looks back over the entire life of the Soul, from test drives to the end.  I made the set in part for Elyse, because she had a harder time getting over the fire than I did, and I also wanted to put the fire in perspective with the rest of the Soul’s life in an attempt to somewhat curate the way that she is remembered.  In the past year, it’s been very easy to think of the Soul only for the fire, because the last memories with her involved standing on the roadside and watching her burn to death.  But there were quite a few happy years and wonderful memories made prior to that, and the photo set is a reminder of that, even if she never made it to 100,000 miles.

Meanwhile, in the intervening year, I’ve watched as Hyundai and Kia have gotten some major criticism for other fires in their vehicles, including another 2012 model Soul in Virginia.  From what I can tell, it’s involved the Hyundai Sonata and Santa Fe, and the Kia Optima, Sorento, Sportage, and Soul.  Most recently, I’ve seen a recall that focuses on the above named models, minus the Soul, and it seems to explain everything adequately as far as my fire goes.  According to an article on the subject:

Hyundai and Kia started recalling 1.7 million vehicles in 2015 – about 618,000 of which are Kias – because manufacturing debris can restrict oil flow to connecting rod bearings.  That can cause bearings in 2-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines to wear and fail.  The problem can also cause fires.  The repair in many cases is an expensive engine block replacement.

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Categories: Honda HR-V, Kia Soul

Looking back on some old photos…

January 29, 2019, 1:32 PM

Recently, Elyse and I were coming home from Frederick on a night with a very bright full moon.  The discussion turned towards how it was moonlight that was making everything so bright.  I was no stranger to this concept, and remembered a set of photos that I shot on July 31, 2004.  There, I was up on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia near Rockfish Gap, shooting photos after work using Big Mavica with the tripod, under a full moon.  It was late at night, but the photos might have almost led you to think otherwise:

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Why was I afraid of this as a child?

January 18, 2019, 1:16 PM

Remember this segment from Sesame Street episode 1578, where Gordon talks about rain?

For some reason, that segment, which I called “Gordon in a wig”, terrified me as a small child.  I watched it once, and apparently, didn’t like it.  After that first viewing, I would turn the television off whenever it came on.

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Categories: Television

I have so many great ideas for photography, and I want a banner year…

January 12, 2019, 1:24 PM

Let’s admit – 2018 was kind of a bust when it came to photography.  I had plans, but none of them really came to fruition, with the exception of my trip to Centralia in May.  Even the big road trip in October produced only tepid results.  Most of that can be attributed to extremely poor luck when it came to the weather.  I got rained out almost every single time I planned to do something exciting.  Sure, we’re not in a drought situation anymore (far from it), but I have a shortage of newer material, which affects other parts of the site.

That said, I have lots of plans for photo sets.  I keep a list of ideas, but unfortunately, due to the rate that these shoots get accomplished, I have referred to the list as “The place where photo set ideas go to die.”  A lot of the list contains infrastructure sites, such as tunnels and bridges, both locally and on the road in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.  I also want to do some explore-the-town photo sets, again both locally and on the road.  I also want to do a few reshoots of old subjects that I think that I can do better now than I did way back in the day.  See Richmond’s Canal Walk from 2002 and Richmond 2013 for an example of this.  Here are two photos of the same subject – one from the 2002 set and the 2013 set:

2002 photo
2002 photo.

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So Christmas in Montgomery Village was a tad underwhelming…

December 27, 2018, 2:44 PM

Elyse and I drove around our immediate area in Montgomery Village looking at lights after I got home from work on Christmas Eve.  The sense that we got from driving around was that this wasn’t a big year for decorating.  There were some houses that were decorated, but on the whole, there was not a whole lot going on.  Last Christmas was definitely better, though admittedly, it is more of a challenge to successfully decorate townhouses than single-family houses.  Nonetheless, I have a few highlights to share:

These were the only decorations of note on my street.  It appears that these two houses coordinated their efforts, as the decorations in the second-floor windows match, and the lighting on the hedges on both properties also matches.
These were the only decorations of note on my street.  It appears that these two houses coordinated their efforts, as the decorations in the second-floor windows match, and the lighting on the hedges on both properties also matches.

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