• Advertising (17)
  • Amusing (46)
  • Cell phone (21)
  • Commuting (13)
  • Computer (57)
  • COVID-19 (11)
  • DC trips (121)
  • Dreams (20)
  • Events (27)
  • Food and drink (79)
  • Internet (20)
  • Language (11)
  • LPCM (9)
  • Nature (7)
  • Religion (12)
  • Restrooms (1)
  • Schumin Web meta (199)
  • Security (19)
  • Some people (43)
  • Space (6)
  • Travel (50)
  • Urban exploration (12)
  • Video Journal (18)
  • Woomy (13)
  • Work (82)

The post-launch tweaks…

July 5, 2012, 9:15 PM

So the launch of The Schumin Web under WordPress is now five days in the past.  And now that it’s all in production, that’s when things start to come out.  Since the launch on Sunday, I have fixed a few errors in the Stuarts Draft High School photo set, I have changed the way I present RSS feeds on the site, I’ve connected all the various feeds to Facebook, and the comment system is a little different than when it launched.

On that last point, I am also slowly but surely getting used to the concept of comments and how to handle them.  For one thing, since comments are moderated, I get notified on my phone when comments come through so that I can review and approve them wherever I happen to be.  So now I have two notification tones.  I have this tone for regular text messages and such, which I’ve had on three different phones since 2008.  Now I also have this sound for comments through the Disqus app.  And I’ll bet that a lot of people are not surprised at all that I would have that for the comments tone (if you haven’t listened to it yet, I’ll wait).  Considering what it is, though, it certainly has great comedic potential around friends.  First time it went off was for some test comments that I threw at the site to see what would happen.  But then the first time that it went off “for real” while I was out and about was on Monday night.  I was leaving the pool and walking towards the car, and it went off.  Felt like real Power Ranger right there.  It was a comment, but with that kind of sound, it could have been a monster attacking Angel Grove (or at least a few putties).  You never know with these things.  But I’m slowly but surely getting used to it.

A few folks have questioned why I’m locking down my comments to the extent that I am.  Realize that right now, registration is required through one of a choice of six different services (Facebook, the Twitter, etc.), and all comments require approval before they’re visible.  As I see it, since the comment system is brand new right now, I’m taking a very cautious approach to things starting out.  Realize that, outside of my old discussion forums, the last time I allowed people to post on Schumin Web was about nine years ago.  I used to have a guest book on my site, and it eventually became more of a hassle than it was worth.  I spent far too much time removing rude and uncivil comments from my guest book that people posted there.  So on April 16, 2003, I locked the guest books down, and then removed them.  I do not regret that decision.  The memory of that incident four months before the Journal launched, along with my inability to program such a thing on the old site, led me to not include comments on the Journal when I started that in August 2003.  Now, though, the Internet has changed, and I think I can allow commenting directly on the site once again.  Why let a group of morons derail good “Web 2.0” discussion, right?  The discussion guidelines lay out the ground rules, and anything that falls below the guidelines won’t be allowed through.  Additionally, I am not allowing anonymous comments in an attempt to bring some civility and prevent the abuses that happened with the old guestbooks, since the names and emails on the abusive posts were fake, and just as mean-spirited as the comments themselves.  So the idea there is that people have to associate their comments with an already established identity on a third party’s site.  Thus you have to throw a reputation of some sort behind your posts.  I’m not worried so much about whether it’s a person’s real name or not, because regardless of whether you’re posting as “John Smith” or “Unsuck DC Metro”, you’re not using my site to establish a brand for yourself.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Categories: Schumin Web meta

Welcome to The Schumin Web, now powered by WordPress!

July 1, 2012, 12:01 AM

So how does it look?  This is The Schumin Web under WordPress in production – the culmination of about a year’s worth of effort in converting content from the old platform (a mishmash of whatever seemed to work) to the WordPress platform.  The work of the project known as “Falcon” is complete, and Falcon is now The Schumin Web.

I would also like to take a moment to thank the folks who beta tested Falcon over these last two weeks to make sure that everything was perfect and ready to go.  It’s always good to have a few extra sets of eyes looking at things to make sure that any mistakes are caught, and I appreciate your helping me check things over.

As far as changes go, there is a lot that’s different in this new build of the site – far more than I can say in a one-sentence site update message.  Here’s a rundown of some of the changes that have come with the conversion to the WordPress platform:

  • No more Splash Page.  After more than a decade, the Splash Page is no more.  The first page that a user entering through the main URL now sees is the Main Page.  The Splash Photo feature is now on the Welcome page.

  • Completely new URL structure.  If you are linking to or bookmarking anything on this site other than itself, then your links or bookmarks will no longer work.  It will probably take a few days for the search engines to catch up, so contact me if you were linking to something and can’t find it on the new site.

  • Fully restored content.  All photos have been restored from the originals.  I believe that the photos now look better than they ever did.  Additionally, all internal and external links have been updated for the new locations of things.

  • Full size images online.  I now offer my images online at the largest size that I have available.  See for yourself.  Click and download (but follow the license).

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Categories: Schumin Web meta

Montgomery County is definitely not itself right now…

June 30, 2012, 5:06 PM

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

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

Continue reading...Continue reading…

The arrival of a new statue…

June 28, 2012, 10:18 PM

So apparently my office building is getting a new statue in the courtyard.  They closed off the 1600 block of P Street NW around 4:30 or so this afternoon to deliver it, no less.  The statue is of a firefighter and a dog, and is, as best as I can tell, the National Fire Dog Monument for the American Humane Association, which is headquartered in the other building of the office complex where I work.  This certainly caused a fun little interruption to the day just before it was time to go home.  And here it is:

The statue, on the truck.
The statue, on the truck.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Categories: Work

“…you’re in Angel Grove…”

June 27, 2012, 2:47 PM

So now that Falcon is done and pretty much just waiting a few more days to launch on July 1, I’m starting to turn my mind towards other endeavors again.  First of all, I significantly curtailed the amount of Wikipedia contributions that I would make while doing Falcon.  I want to keep the level of my contributions at that lower amount, because Wikipedia has started to annoy me as of late, and I’m happier making far less edits.  Plus I spent too much time on Wikipedia before, and that caused work on Schumin Web to suffer, and so it’s time to spend more time taking care of my first creation.  The time between shooting and publication on photo sets had become far too much, with many months between becoming the norm.  And that was unacceptable.

But looking at what I want to do, aside from the aforementioned Transit Center update, I’m thinking about doing some creative writing.  I’ve been watching a bunch of Power Rangers episodes lately, and I want to try something in that vein (you wondered why I mentioned Angel Grove in the title, didn’t you?).  No, I’m not dressing up in spandex and fighting monsters.  Though that would be kind of fun – three guesses as to what Power Ranger costume I would be wearing, and the first two don’t count.  But no.  I want to do something along the lines of the adapting of stock content into a completely new story and making it believeable.  Realize that the way Power Rangers works is that first the Super Sentai television show is made in Japan for Japanese audiences.  Then Saban acquires the rights to the season, and cuts the episodes up to make a completely new show, adding their own original scenes, and recording new audio to go over the Japanese footage of the suit battles, zord battles, and (sometimes) villain scenes.  A careful viewer of Power Rangers can usually notice when it changes between original footage and the source material from Super Sentai, because the quality of the footage is a little different with regard to lighting and colors, the Power Rangers’ costumes are shiny in the Sentai footage but not in the American footage, and occasionally elements of some costumes are changed (like Elgar’s face in original Turbo footage, vs. in Carranger footage).

Continue reading...Continue reading…

The last update on the old platform…

June 24, 2012, 8:07 PM

Boy, this is a weird feeling.  But it’s true – this Journal entry is the last update I’m doing on the old system.  The final conversion to WordPress happens in less than a week (12:01 AM on July 1, 2012, to be exact), and so at this point I feel like it’s more trouble than it’s worth to continue to cross-post updates on Falcon and the production site.  I’ve been writing new Journal entries in Falcon and then converting them down to the old system for a few weeks now (vs. converting for Falcon), and so it will be nice to not have to do that anymore, since the conversion was entirely manual, and prone to mistakes.  And once beta testing began a week ago, that took the wraps off of Falcon, it got particularly annoying to do the extra work for a site where its days were numbered in the teens, and where the successor website was already publicly available (albeit in beta test form).

That said, if I do any Journal entries between now and July 1, I’m not cross-posting them to the old site.  I’m going to post them on Falcon only, and then they will come over when Falcon becomes the production site.

Meanwhile, beta testing is going quite well, thank you very much.  People have been combing through Falcon, and interestingly enough, not a single technical problem has been uncovered.  I figured I’d have a small list of errors that needed to be corrected after a week of testing.  Apparently I did my work fairly well.  The only mistakes that have turned up are minor factual errors in the Fire Alarm Collection pages, and a date error on the new James Madison University photo set that’s being released with the conversion.  Nothing technical at all – entirely “human” problems, i.e. I could be the biggest WordPress whiz in the world and still have made those mistakes because they had nothing to do with WordPress.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Categories: Schumin Web meta

Safety is important on Metro, but let’s not tiptoe around the elephant in the room…

June 18, 2012, 11:05 PM

So I was at Judiciary Square station today on business, and noticed a few new things in the station:

New wall-mounted camera

Three-way camera mount on top of the PIDS screen

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Categories: CTA, MBTA, Security, WMATA

The world’s loudest swim jammer…

June 14, 2012, 11:08 PM

I believe that I have found the world’s loudest swim jammer.  Take a look at this:

My Dolfin Winners jammer in "Firefly Blue"

Oh, yeah.  I’ve been going swimming in this suit all week.  Dolfin Winners, “Firefly Blue“.  The way I figure, swimming ought to be fun.  And companies like Speedo and Tyr will make exciting suits for women, but the equivalent jammer suits for men are decidedly blah.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Categories: Clothing, Swimming

Didn’t think I would have a “Fox issues the power” moment, but…

June 8, 2012, 10:41 PM

…but it looks like Falcon is going to have one.  First of all, though, if you’re wondering what I’m even talking about, it’s a Power Rangers reference.  Before Power Rangers Zeo began, they ran “It’s Coming” previews, and then ran the full song before the first episode of the show.  One line was difficult to understand.  The correct lyrics were, “Unleashing the power”, but Sis and I thought it was “Fox [something] the power” (Power Rangers was airing on Fox at that time).  Back in 1996, we wrote to Mark Oxman (aka “Maxmouze”), who ran a Power Rangers newsletter at the time, about the lyrics.  He indicated that the words were “Fox issues the power”.  Even though Mark Oxman got it wrong, the mondegreen has become how I describe hyped up premieres.

And Falcon’s becoming Schumin Web isn’t that big of a deal visually.  The site will look mostly the same.  But the Fire Alarm Collection pages are getting a big upgrade.  That’s because the restoration of that area is coinciding with some long overdue updates, including added alarms, and all new illustrations.  Realize that many of the photos in the alarm collection pages are more than ten years old.  That’s back in the era of my original Mavica camera.  And I wasn’t nearly as meticulous about how I kept photos early on, and the originals for the old photos had been lost.  So there would be no restoration at all if I kept the old photos in place.  So over the last week or so, I configured part of my kitchen as something of a photography studio, and took new photos of every alarm in the collection.  I’ll leave the final result under wraps for now (mostly because I’m not done with the pages), but I want you to see some of the behind-the-scenes work, as the alarms went in for their closeups…

The tablecloth on my kitchen table does double duty as a backdrop for fire alarms.
The tablecloth on my kitchen table does double duty as a backdrop for fire alarms.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Day tripping it to Stuarts Draft…

May 29, 2012, 8:46 PM

I certainly had fun on Monday!  I went with Isis and Cubby to Stuarts Draft and surrounding areas.  First I picked them up, and then we headed down to Augusta County, Virginia.

Our first stop was the old DeJarnette Center in Staunton.  For those not familiar, DeJarnette Center was constructed in 1932 as a privately funded mental institution named for Dr. Joseph DeJarnette.  The facility became a state-operated children’s mental institution in 1975, and was abandoned in 1996 when the DeJarnette Center moved to a new facility across Route 250 from the original.  The facility was renamed the “Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents” in 2001 due to Joseph DeJarnette’s strong support of eugenics.  The facility was boarded up in 2009.

On our visit, we stopped the car nearby, and then took a walk around the outside of the building.  We didn’t go inside for a few reasons.  First, due to the board-up, there was no light inside.  Second, asbestos.  And lastly, snakes.  I’m told that the building is infested with snakes on all levels of the building.  And snakes creep me out.  Speaking of snakes, while walking around the grounds, we found a snake, laying on the ground partly in our path as we walked behind the building.  It was a long black snake.  It wasn’t interested in us, but still, snakes creep me out, especially so when Cubby indicated that it could either be a black king snake (not poisonous), or a cottonmouth (very poisonous).  In any case, I didn’t really want to find out for sure which one it was.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

So the Baltimore Inner Harbor was fun…

May 27, 2012, 10:44 PM

I went up to Baltimore with a friend on Friday evening, where we explored the Inner Harbor for a while. That was kind of fun. The Inner Harbor is a very fun area, though it seems a bit overcommercialized. But such is what happens, I suppose. I loved the smell of the sea air, everyone was having so much fun out and about, and there were all kinds of fun ships sailing around.

The first ship we saw was The Black-Eyed Susan, a paddlewheeler:

The Black-Eyed Susan

Continue reading...Continue reading…

I still don’t consider myself much of an artist, but I guess I can let you decide…

May 24, 2012, 12:07 AM

So I was doing some scanning work for Falcon this evening, and decided to finally scan some drawings that I did in high school. I’m believe that these are from the fall of 1996. And so away we go…

Lord Zedd in his chamber of command

Yes, that is exactly what you think it is. You are looking at Lord Zedd from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, standing in his throne room. It’s true. I was a nerd even back then. And I was pretty detailed. I got the pedestal, I got Zedd, I got the throne, I got the fan behind the throne, and I put a couple of putties in there.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

So apparently even my creativity is subject to the laws of supply and demand…

May 22, 2012, 8:19 AM

Apparently so. Last week, I was working on new material for Falcon (by the way, three new photo sets so far to launch with Falcon), and I was running dry on topics for Journal entries. And the one time I did try to write a Journal entry in the past week, I ended up figuratively “ripping it up” midway through it because it wasn’t going the way I wanted.

For those wondering, by the way, the abandoned Journal entry was about those stupid blog disclaimers that you see all over the Internet these days. Specifically, it discussed those “my opinions are my own” lines, because I find it akin to apologizing for one’s opinion. A more realistic sounding blog disclaimer on that thread would read, “I’m sorry if I might offend you because I am capable of forming my own opinion, as said opinion may not necessarily coincide with your own beliefs, and I don’t think you can handle that.” Unfortunately, though, that was about the extent of it. I couldn’t flesh it out any further. Well, crap. And thus into the recycling bin it went.

I was out grocery shopping last night when I figured out why that entry went so badly. Basically, my creativity is limited. I only have so much of it to go around and I have many things to feed with that creativity. I was able to make it work when I was doing the main conversion because that didn’t take any creativity. Just a matter of cleaning up work from previously spent creativity. Thus I could restore content for Falcon and then turn around and do an absolutely fabulous Journal entry. Not so when I do new material. I can’t stop a photo set, and then turn around and do a Journal entry. The Journal entry ends up falling flat.

This, meanwhile, leads to a new way of planning my moves on here. If I don’t space things out and try to force it, mediocre work results. Thus budgeting my creativity, just like money. I only wish I had as much money as I had creativity. Then I wouldn’t need to have a car payment every month.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Categories: Myself, Schumin Web meta

…and later, Chuck E. Cheese!

May 11, 2012, 10:37 PM

After spending a few hours at Montgomery Mall where we got Adelle’s bear, among other things, Mom and I headed home, and then later, for dinner, headed over to the Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant in Laurel, Maryland.

Now you’re probably thinking: aren’t you a little old for Chuck E. Cheese’s? Answer is, yes, probably so. But we had a good time. It had been just over 20 years since the last time that any of us went to one of these sorts of places, and so this was the time to revisit some fun childhood memories. In fact, the Laurel location was specifically chosen because it was a former Showbiz Pizza location, and had the three-stage setup just like at the Showbiz Pizza in Fayetteville, Arkansas that we used to go to when Sis and I were growing up. Recall for a moment, from 1987 in Fayetteville, on the occasion of the party for my sixth birthday:

Billy Bob's stage, with the "Smitty's Super Service Station" background.
Billy Bob’s stage, with the “Smitty’s Super Service Station” background.

Continue reading...Continue reading…


May 11, 2012, 9:06 PM

What a fun day today! Mom came to visit for the weekend, and so we spent the day on Friday kind of out and about. First stop: Montgomery Mall. Mom wanted to go to Lush for some bar shampoo and such. I’m not that big on that kind of soap, but it’s kind of fun to go. Then after Lush, we kind of wandered around the mall for a while. We eventually ended up at Build-A-Bear Workshop, where we made a bear for Adelle, who is the daughter of my cousin Kate and her husband Nathan.

And while we were there, we got photos. So for Adelle, this is how it happened when your cousin Ben and your Aunt Jane built your bear:

Getting the bear ready for stuffing.
Getting the bear ready for stuffing.

Continue reading...Continue reading…

Categories: Family, Shopping