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New fire alarms at work… again…

August 24, 2012, 10:17 PM

So apparently the folks who run the building where I work are looking to improve the fire alarm system.  Recall that in 2009, the fire alarm notification appliances were replaced after an incident where someone pulled a fire alarm in our building due to smoke from a car fire in an alley behind the building, and those of us looking out the window at the fire couldn’t hear the alarm going off.  For that, we started with Wheelock 34 horns and Space Age AV32 light plates:

Wheelock 34 and Space Age AV32

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Categories: Fire alarms, Work

So tonight, I had an “aha” moment…

August 21, 2012, 11:39 PM

So I had an “aha” moment tonight while trying to figure out how to shoehorn an above-the-fold ad into the otherwise nice looking design concept that I showed you a week or so ago.  I was looking at this page and noticed how it had advertisements to the side, and made good use of all of the space regardless of screen size.  I resized my browser window to make it really narrow, and the site rearranged itself to work in the smaller space that it was now in without horizontal scroll bars.  I studied its CSS and then did a little research on what I found.

And then I had my “aha” moment.  I can use CSS to design for different resolutions.  I can design for a wider resolution than I’ve been designing for, and use CSS to optimize it for netbooks.  As of late, the ultimate arbiter on width for Schumin Web has been my netbook, with its 1024 pixel width.  If I got horizontal scroll bars for my design, then I was designing too wide.  Complicating things is that my site uses a content panel that’s around 750 pixels wide and makes good use of all that width, especially in Photography.  Having another 250 pixels to work with is a game changer.  So I sat down and doodled, and this is what I came up with:

My 1280 pixel doodle

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

It pains me to say this…

August 20, 2012, 8:12 PM

Yes, it pains me to say this.  Literally.  It only took 25 years of using a computer to do it, but I have managed to give myself a repetitive stress injury from typing.  I know – I’m as surprised as you are.  And it’s not what you think, either.  I figured that eventually, I would do something to my wrists from all of the stuff that I do on the computer despite the precautions that I take, like using a wrist pad.  Turns out that my use of the wrist pad, which is a habit that I picked up from my job at the phone company more than a decade ago, has done me a lot of good, because I didn’t injure my wrists.

No – I injured my left thumb.  And you know what I did to injure it?  This:

My left hand, with the thumb doing exactly what caused the injury - adding spaces.

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Categories: Personal health

Taking the swimming outside for a week…

August 16, 2012, 10:52 PM

So this week and next week are when Olney Indoor Swim Center, the place where I normally swim four days a week, is closed for its annual maintenance.  During that time, as I understand it, they drain the pool and acid clean the pool sides, do maintenance on whatever systems, change any lights that need replacement, deep clean the entire building, and then fill the pools back up.  I’m told it takes four days to properly drain the main pool so as not to overload the wastewater system by letting too much water come through at once.

In the meantime, I am continuing to swim.  This year, I know what I’m doing in the pool, and so the annual maintenance period does not coincide with a nasty case of swimmer’s ear.  Last year, you see, the where-to-swim problem resolved itself with the whole ear infection thing, since that kept me out of the pool entirely for that time.  This year, I decided I wanted to try an outdoor pool.  I’ve been to the other county indoor pools, and each of them had various qualities that made me pick an outdoor pool over them.  MLK Swim Center is really old and closes kind of early.  Montgomery Aquatic Center (pardon – “Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center”) is of reasonable distance away, but the staff there really gets on my nerves because they’re so uptight about everything and act like they’re doing me a favor for stuff that the staff at the other pools would do without all the whining.  That and aside from late night laps (i.e. 9-10 PM) on Mondays and Wednesdays, the pool is so booked up with other programs that there is no room for evening lap swimming anyway.  Now Germantown Indoor Swim Center is a gorgeous facility, which I’ve been to once before.  I love Germantown indoor pool, but Germantown is just too far away, being in the northern part of Montgomery County and all of that.  It’s a bit of a hike from my house, and if I left right from work, that would be double the distance and in rush hour traffic to boot.

So with that all said, I decided to give an outdoor pool a spin while Olney was closed.

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Categories: Swimming

SlutWalk DC was pretty fun, but a bit tamer than last year…

August 16, 2012, 12:06 AM

So this past Saturday, I participated in SlutWalk DC 2012.  You may recall that I covered SlutWalk DC in 2011.  SlutWalk’s goal is to demonstrate that it doesn’t matter what a person is wearing (or not wearing).  Sexual activity requires the consent of all involved, and sexual activity without the consent of all involved is rape.  So in short: consent is key.  Consensual sex is sexy, but nonconsensual sex is rape.  And clothes are inanimate objects.  They cannot give consent for their wearer.

However, I was a little bit disappointed with the turnout on this one.  I thought that last year’s event was fairly well attended for a DC event with a local focus.  After all, SlutWalk in DC isn’t a national event.  Cities have their own local SlutWalk.  This wasn’t a bus-em-in event with a national scope like September 24, 2005 or January 27, 2007.  But this year, the crowd felt a bit smaller, both in Lafayette Park and at the Sylvan Theatre.  I also thought that the signs were less exciting and less creative than last year’s, and that things were generally a bit tamer overall than before.  I also noticed that the gender balance was a bit more skewed towards the female side than last year.  I expected a majority of the attendees to be female, but I felt like there were very few guys there this time.

On that last note, I think it’s very important for men to go to events like this because helps balance the message.  It helps send the message that rape and consent is a serious matter and important for everyone, and not just for women.  Men can also be the victims of nonconsensual sexual acts, and so the issue of consent is by no means something that only affects women.  Additionally, by having a good amount of men there, it also helps to prevent the event from being perceived by some, justified or not, as male bashing.  I didn’t get that perception during the event itself last year, but interestingly enough, I got that feeling when I was putting the photo set together at home several months after the event.  And I figured that if I got that vibe while working on the photo set, it would be reasonable to think that others might pick that unintended message up as well.  Thus in putting the photo set together, I deliberately tried to counter the perception that I was getting by including more photos that focused on sex-positivity or that had a more lighthearted message.  I definitely included some serious photos (particularly this one), but I tried to keep it balanced for the most part.  I think I was pretty successful in keeping the photo set’s mood light, but ultimately, you – the reader – will be the one to make the call about whether or not I was actually successful in this.

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Categories: Activism

Another concept, another request for feedback…

August 12, 2012, 11:49 PM

So I took the concept design that I showed you about a week ago back to the drawing board and made some changes.  This is actually both a step forward and a step back in the progression of things.  While this design builds on the earlier design, it actually throws out the theme work I did in the last design.  The earlier design was a completely new theme, while this one I’m about to show you directly modifies the current production theme.  The reason for throwing out the newer theme was because I had so many problems with it.  That made throwing it out worthwhile.  Dirty little secret: some of the details in the other theme were fudged with a graphics program, since I couldn’t get the CSS to work out the way I wanted.

So here are the screenshots:

Main Page
Main Page

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

And the fruit is photographed…

August 5, 2012, 9:00 PM

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

Red tomatoes

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Okay, folks, feedback time!

August 4, 2012, 9:30 PM

So I spent some time today playing around with a new theme for the site.  Something on the way towards the ultimate goal: a new look for The Schumin Web after nearly eight years with more or less the same design.

In making this new design, I put what I had been throwing around for a while in my head into Dreamweaver to see what it would look like.  And this is what I came up with:

James Madison University” Photography set

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

Renovations at Union Station!

July 25, 2012, 2:16 PM

This is my traditional posted-from-Club-Acela-at-Union-Station Journal entry, because I’m going to be on a train to Chicago with my mother within the hour.  Should be fun.  However, at Union Station, I was surprised to see a lot of netting and scaffolding in the Main Hall.  Last time I was at Union Station, which was in October for the anti-Walmart demonstration, this wasn’t there.  From what I can find, this scaffolding and netting is for ceiling repairs necessitated by damage from the earthquake that happened last August.

In any event, it’s pretty neat looking, seeing all of this extra hardware in what is otherwise a very clean looking Main Hall:

Lights under the scaffolding around the statues on the west side of the Main Hall.
Lights under the scaffolding around the statues on the west side of the Main Hall.

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Categories: Amtrak, Washington DC

“Magic” is the latest concept…

July 24, 2012, 10:31 PM

So I’m testing concepts in my sandbox site ahead of a full redesign.  I want to see what I think of potential color schemes and potential new arrangements, and what others think about the same.  So I put something together last night to see what it would look like.  What I did was I went with a dark background color and put a light background behind the content.  I also replaced the logo, mainly just to get my regular logo out of the picture (since I want to change it anyway).  Nothing else changed.  The layout is exactly the same.  Just colors and the logo.

And here is the result:

Main Page
Main Page

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Categories: Schumin Web meta

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

July 19, 2012, 10:34 PM

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

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

And here they are:

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

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Categories: Weather

I didn’t want to have this I-told-you-so moment, but…

July 18, 2012, 8:53 PM

You know, I really didn’t want to have the I-told-you-so moment that I had today.  But when it comes to Ride On in Montgomery County and those Navistar Champion cutaway vans, well, I called it right.

First of all, I am talking about these Ride On “buses”:

Ride On Navistar Champion cutaway, bus 5210

Yes, the cutaways.  What’s happened is that today, after yet another fire involving the Champions (bus 5208 in this case), County Executive Ike Leggett announced in a statement that the Champion cutaway vans would be immediately withdrawn from service – permanently.  This supersedes earlier plans to phase out the Champions over 18 months.

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While preparation is good, I really don’t want to have to use it…

July 16, 2012, 11:19 PM

So I’m going to Chicago with Mom in a little more than a week.  Like every time we go to Chicago, we’re taking the Capitol Limited both ways, and we’re going to be taking the “L” to get around the city.  So far, it looks like it’s going to be a fun trip.

And then of course, you’re welcome to place your bets on how long it takes for a CTA employees with a chip on their shoulder to harass me about photography in the system.  Recall that last year, a CTA employee at Fullerton station made a scene about photography.  Additionally, I was harassed about it at Howard station in 2010.  I occasionally get the same crap from WMATA employees in DC, but I have learned that I can shut them down fairly easily just by standing up to them.  I have found that CTA employees are a little tougher to crack than the DC folks, but my lack of access to Chicago transit (living in the DC area and all) makes it harder to figure out what quickly shuts them down.

Now going into this, I have two things in my favor.  First, I have the official CTA photo policy from their website.  It states:

The general public is permitted to use hand-held cameras to take photographs, capture digital images, and videotape within public areas of CTA stations and transit vehicles for personal, non-commercial use.

Large cameras, photo or video equipment, or ancillary equipment such as lighting, tripods, cables, etc. are prohibited (except in instances where commercial and professional photographers enter into contractual agreements with CTA).

All photographers and videographers are prohibited from entering, photographing, or videotaping non-public areas of the CTA’s transit system.

All photographers and videographers are prohibited from impeding customer traffic flow, obstructing transit operations, interfering with customers, blocking doors or stairs, and affecting the safety of CTA, its employees, or customers. All photographers and videographers must fully and immediately comply with any requests, directions, or instructions of CTA personnel related to safety concerns.

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Categories: Amtrak, CTA, Photography

Fun with muffins!

July 13, 2012, 2:05 PM

Remember how I said that I want to go photograph food?  Well, I got to do that a little bit today.  I went over to Metro Cafe, a little sandwich shop in the office complex where I work, for lunch.  And while I was waiting for my sandwich, I had a little fun with my cell phone camera and the muffin case.  And here was the result:


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Schumin Web after dark…

July 8, 2012, 7:38 PM

And apparently my life after dark, at least last night, was a bar, two buses, and four Green Line trains.  So cue up the “Fireside” music, because here it is.  I went into DC in order to hang out with Christina, a friend and former coworker, one more time before she moves to Hawaii.  I’m quite happy for her, because she’s wanted to move to Hawaii for a long time.  However, I’ll miss her in DC.  That’s why this evening was special.

Getting there, though, was a little more exciting than I expected.  The bar where we were going to was The Passenger, across 7th Street NW from the convention center.  I considered this to be a good opportunity to go see some of the new Rush+ signage that Metro had put up, that would include new station names and slightly different train movements.  I had originally decided to go in on the Green Line to avoid a shutdown on my neck of the Red Line, but after a heat kink fouled the Green Line on Friday evening, the planned shutdown on the Red Line was cancelled and it moved to the Green Line instead.  I didn’t realize that there was a shutdown on the Green Line until I got to Greenbelt station, but decided to just roll with it rather than get back in the car.  It’s okay, you see.  I did, however, spot an amusing license plate on the way in at Greenbelt station:

“CIAO BB”, a play on “Ciao, baby!”

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Categories: Friends, Washington DC, WMATA