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A couple of pictures I found amusing…

June 27, 2007, 10:08 PM

Did I mention how much I love living in the DC area? I really enjoy life in and around Washington. You see so many interesting things and so many interesting things happen. And I have a couple of amusing photos that I captured with my cell phone…

Portable toilet at 17th and P

On June 18, I encountered this. What a strange place to see a port-a-potty. It was at the corner of 17th and P Streets NW, just kind of sitting there. No clue what it was doing there, but it was available for use, perhaps unintentionally, as the padlock on the front of it was not set. I figured, who knows – maybe DC was going to put out port-a-potties on street corners as a modern day version of the pissoir. That would be totally un-classy looking, especially in a neighborhood like Dupont Circle (where this was taken), but of course, nobody really thought this was a permanent fixture, or even intended for public use. And it was gone the next day.

Then yesterday was the culmination of a conversation that Maddy and I had previously had at the Infoshop. I had mentioned that I had an official Metro safety vest – you know, the FliteStar vest. Yesterday, I brought it over to the Infoshop. I showed Maddy how I looked in it, and then passed it over to her to try out.

Maddy tries on the WMATA vest

As you can see, it was really big on Maddy, since I had originally ordered it for me. But there you go. Who knows – maybe Maddy could work for Metro one day. She already knows how she would look in the vest, after all.

Meanwhile, I was surprised – has anyone seen the Metro dashboard “widget” for Mac OS X? It’s a tool that sits on your Mac dashboard and shows any delays or disruptions on the Metrorail system. I use it at work to see if there are any delays on the Red Line when it’s time to go home. The surprise came when I heard back from Metro’s customer service about whether or not they would be making a similar tool for Windows Vista – a “gadget” as it’s called over in Microsoft land. I want a similar tool for my home computer so I can check on my morning commute. Metro’s customer service department called their IT department, and surprise – they didn’t know anything about it! Turns out that an unaffiliated third party made the widget. So now it is my responsibility to show this widget to Metro, explain why it’s so helpful, and see if they’ll make one for Windows.

Now you know what would really be cool? If Metro would make a widget and gadget that shows the PIDS displays in real time on your computer, like it does on wmata.com. This way I could get a feel for what kind of headways the trains are running at a glance when I’m leaving for work and when I’m leaving work. It could show PIDS for both sides, and also a drop menu to pick your station. My friend Tristan and I verified the accuracy of the Web site version of PIDS already, viewing the PIDS for King Street and watching for the trains going by outside the window where we were. They’re real time. It would say a Yellow to Mt. Vernon Square in one minute, and then there it goes past the window – a train with this on the side:

|| MT VERNON SQ

So it’s amazingly accurate. Online tools aren’t always so precise. To have PIDS on my Windows Sidebar at home and on the Lappy, and on my Mac Dashboard at work would be a big help. And if they really wanted to be helpful, they could show what PIDS is actually displaying – not just the three-line train display. That way we can see elevator outages and delays and single-tracking and what have you from our desktops. I think a lot of people would download it, because it would be a big help in planning commutes.

Web site: And this is what I was referring to earlier - a pissoir on the streets of Paris.

Song: Opblaaskrokodil

Quote: And I didn't intend for most of this Journal entry to be about Metro - I swear!