Yesterday was fun…

4 minute read

April 24, 2004, 11:11 AM

I went to DC yesterday, with the intention of checking out the protest activity surrounding the World Bank’s meeting. Unfortunately, there wasn’t all that much to see, with the big event planned for today, a day I couldn’t get off work for.

I did, however, take several laps around the area looking for activity at various times during the day. And it was hot outside. I did pretty well for the most part out in the heat, though. I did, however, have one thing that concerned me. On one lap, all of a sudden my hands and face went dry in the middle of the heat, which I took as a warning sign to get out of the sun, fearing the early stages of heatstroke. So I went to this little urban shopping mall in DC and went to Au Bon Pain, where I had a little something to eat (some pineapple chunks) and a soda. That took care of that.

After enjoying that small snack and generally cooling off, I went to this newsstand in the same mall and looked around. They had all the magazines you could imagine (I stopped to check out an issue of “The Economist”, among others), including some more “mature” titles. Near the mature area as I was making my lap around the store were the men’s magazines, where I found a familiar title. Remember Front? You may recall that my site was featured as “Geek of the Month” in the June 2000 issue. I actually mentioned this to the lady who was working there, who remembered that issue, and thought I looked familiar (a fan?). I bet she hadn’t seen my hilarious parody of that issue’s cover. Still, I was peeking through Front, and it seems the magazine isn’t nearly as wholesome as it once was (wholesome by comparison to its former self). While back then it was about guy stuff and had a reasonable amount of scantily clad women in it, now it’s a lot less guy stuff and a lot of women with their boobs hanging out. And a LOT of ads for naughty things in the back. Basically, it’s a little closer to a magazine like Playboy than it is to Maxim anymore. And no “Geek of the Month” feature, which I specifically hunted for in there.

Aside from running around the World Bank complex’s vicinity (they had blocked off the three or so blocks that the buildings sit in with barricades, making traffic and walking a mess), I also did some serious railfanning. In talking with a WMATA custodian at Metro center, where we got into discussion about power washing stations, among other things. Turns out the most recent station to get power washed was Union Station, which I checked out. If you look at my Transit Center page on Union Station, you can see that Union Station is a fairly dark station. Not anymore, now that they’ve blasted the crud off the walls. It really makes it a whole lot brighter in there. So I got some new photos of Union Station, which I’ll put up there when I get a chance.

We also talked about the strange things that customers do on Metro, and how they so often break the three big rules of Metro: No eating, no drinking, no smoking. An ad campaign that I thought of that would really work out: show someone in cuffs with some text about it being illegal to do these things. They thought it was a good idea and would pass it along! So if you see someone in cuffs on the ads reminding people to behave, remember it was my idea.

Meanwhile, Metro had some unusual train assignments and configurations running. First of all, the Yellow Line had several trains of Rohrs running on it. Usually, the Yellow Line is all-Breda, with only the occasional CAF to break it up. But they were running several trains of Rohrs, which I found strange. Then there were the mixed consists. Now first of all, we’re used to mixed consists of Rohrs and Bredas. But with them mixing the older cars with the new cars in the same train, it was a surprise. On the Yellow Line, a six-car train consisted of four rehabilitated Breda cars, and two original Breda cars. The newer cars have a whole lot of new technology on them that the older ones don’t have, by the way, which makes the matchups seem odd. The other weird matchup was when Metro had a six-car train on the Blue Line in the direction of Addison Road with two Rohr cars (Rohrs are the original Metro cars from 1976), followed by four CAF cars (Metro got the CAFs in 2001). I never thought they’d mix Rohrs and CAFs, but there you go.

And lastly, Metro was making announcements all day about the remaining CAF cars coming online this Monday on the Red Line, to help alleviate crowding. They told of the features that these new cars would have and such, too. They forgot to mention that you can ride the Green Line already to check ’em out, as the Green Line is almost exclusively CAF cars anymore.

Oh, and I got to check out the Anacostia Metro station. That’s a weird station, let me tell you. The station is perhaps the shallowest underground station in the system, as it’s so shallow that they can’t have the traditional Metro arch-style ceiling. So instead it has a series of barrel vaults in the ceiling running perpendicular to the direction of the trains. It’s also weird because you can see sunlight at both ends of the platform, despite being underground.

And lastly, it surprised me to see Metro being run on automatic train control in the rain. Metro’s train movements normally are controlled by computers at Metro Central Control at Metro headquarters, with the train operator running the doors and making announcements. This automatic train control is called Mode 1. But in bad weather, they take the trains into Mode 2, which is manual operation with speed control. Let me tell you… it was POURING down rain when we emerged from the tunnel on our way to Arlington Cemetery on the Blue Line. And we’re in Mode 1 the whole time. Strange. Of course, it was a moot point again when we went back in a tunnel to go to Rosslyn, but still, strange.

So that’s my day. Sounds like I had fun, don’t you think?

Web site: The Anacostia Metro station, from

Song: Elevator music, which I found in the weirdest locations yesterday...

Quote: "The three cardinal rules of Metro: No eating, no drinking, no smoking."

Categories: DC trips, WMATA