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I told you that our infrastructure would do us in, and I was right…

August 29, 2007, 2:46 PM

Remember how I said in the previous entry that our own aging infrastructure would kill us before any wannabe terrorist would? Well, I told you so. According to Metro, the problems on Sunday and Monday were caused by a lightning-induced power surge that knocked out the Potomac Yard power substation (that small brick building next to the tracks between Braddock Road and National Airport stations), causing other substations that were already at reduced capacity due to maintenance work in progress to work over to take up the slack. Thus the fires across the system.

And to fix the problem, Metro is replacing the Potomac Yard transformer, reconfiguring one at National Airport, and will be running trains at reduced speed between Pentagon City and Braddock Road. On that last one, here’s what you need to take out of it: “minor” delay.

Meanwhile, the fire at U Street-Cardozo was unrelated, having been caused by a problem with a “stud bolt”. I believe it relates to grounding the third rail, but don’t hold me to that.

So it’s not foul play. No surprises there.

And I still don’t know the number of the car with the brake problem. I want to know if it’s an older car like a Rohr or a Breda, or a newer car like a CAF, a Breda rehab, or an Alstom.

Categories: WMATA

More Metro problems?

August 28, 2007, 3:06 PM

Metro, Metro, Metro, what’s going on? As if five smoke and fire incidents on Sunday evening weren’t enough, the problems continued yesterday evening, according to Metro and The Washington Post. This time, there was a power failure from Pentagon to Braddock Road on the Blue and Yellow Lines, smoke in the tunnels near Pentagon City, and smoke at U Street-Cardozo caused by an overheated insulator.

It’s like Randi Rhodes said. Terrorists aren’t going to kill us, because our own aging infrastructure will do us in first. Now in Metro’s case, let’s see… we’ve so far had six stationary problems, and one train problem. I’ve not gotten wind of the car number that had the brake problem, so I can’t make a judgement about age, since it could have been a 30-year-old Rohr car, or a fresh-off-the-line Alstom, for all we know. Then for the others, we’ve had incidents at Mt. Vernon Square, U Street-Cardozo, Farragut North, Huntington, National Airport, and a large chunk of the C Route. Of these, Farragut North is 31 years old, National Airport is 30 years old, Huntington is 24 years old, and Mt. Vernon Square and U Street-Cardozo are both 16 years old. The section of the C Route that was affected was two different ages – from National Airport and on north is 30 years old, and south of National Airport is 24 years old. So this infrastructure is definitely no spring chicken anymore. Metro is also now considered a “mature” system, so one must be mindful of these things. Still, this is not good to have this many incidents happen so close together.

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Categories: Radio, Security, WMATA

As if it couldn’t get any worse…

August 27, 2007, 2:37 PM

The things that happen on Metro sometimes verge on comical. And boy, am I glad I didn’t have to take Metro anywhere yesterday, opting to drive instead. Why? How about five different smoke/fire incidents through various parts of the system, affecting five lines?

Seriously. And all within about three hours’ time. First there was a smoke condition at Mt. Vernon Square at 5:46 PM Sunday due to an insulator problem. Then a fire in an equipment room at National Airport six minutes later. Then another 38 minutes later, a fire on the tail tracks at Huntington (i.e. the dead-end tunnels south of the station), causing the station to be temporarily closed. Then 38 minutes after that, there’s a cable fire at Farragut North, causing that station to be closed, and a bustitution was set up between Dupont Circle and Metro Center. And then at 8:12 PM, a train at Foggy Bottom had brake problems, causing the temporary closure of Farragut West station due to heavy smoke down the tunnel.

What makes it (somewhat) comical, though, is that while Metro was doing its darndest with the bustitution during the fire, the bus then caught fire! As if things couldn’t get any worse.

Meanwhile, I’d be interested in learning what the fleet numbers were for the train that had the brake problems, and the bus that caught fire, mainly to see if it’s an older vehicle (think a Rohr rail car or a Flxible bus), or a newer vehicle (say, a CAF rail car or an Orion VII bus).

Like I said, I’m glad that yesterday, I drove where I was going rather than taking Metro. But at least my commute today to work was uneventful, even if longer than usual. We were stop-and-go all the way from New York Avenue to Dupont Circle. No fun. But no fires, either, thankfully.

Categories: WMATA

Not a bad deal for seven bucks…

August 26, 2007, 10:49 PM

I went to Splashdown Waterpark in Manassas today, and took advantage of their after-3:00 pricing, where rather than spend $13.00 for all day, I spent $7.00 for about four hours’ worth of time there. And that’s fine by me, since I really just needed a little while to play in the water. And it’s not like this is a huge production to go, either. It’s close enough to where I can go about any time I want.

Not like when I would go to Water Country USA, where I would have to leave the house early and drive three-plus hours to go to Williamsburg, including going through Richmond. Then more than $30 to get through the gate, and another $10 or so to park the car. And all that just to spend more time in line than in the water.

So Splashdown is close, it’s cheap, and so what has it got inside? Well, it’s a relatively small waterpark, but it’s got that lazy-river feature that I like so much. Seriously, give me an inner tube, stick me in that lazy river, and I’m happy. And for only seven bucks this close by, I don’t feel guilty for skipping the big slides, which are okay, but aren’t really my thing. And parking is free. Big plus. So I’m happy with the place, and they’ll probably see me there again, though it probably won’t be this season, because their last day before closing for the season is Labor Day. I regret not checking out Splashdown Waterpark earlier, because this was fun.

The only major downside is that I leave there smelling like sunscreen and chlorine, but it’s unavoidable, as it comes with the turf.

Then afterwards, I took a more circuitous route back than I normally would, in order to surprise my friend Matthew Tilley at the place where he works. It was a slow day there, and he was putting back returns, so we got a chance to, like, talk about whatever for a few minutes. That was fun. He was so surprised to see me.

So all in all, I guess you can say I had a fun weekend. And I got the rest of the main body of the Web site finished.

I can’t believe my sister is really going to Chicago…

August 24, 2007, 2:44 PM

Yeah, my sister, Ann Schumin, is moving to Chicago with her boyfriend, Chris Lysy. They leave on September 1. I’m stunned. I know that they’ve been talking about it, but now they’re really going. They even have an apartment!

I’m just surprised, because I didn’t know the exact date until a few days ago. So wow. Still, Chicago is just so far. It’s in a different time zone, and it’s far, far, far from the coast. Of course, this means I’m finally going to get to visit Chicago. Maybe I’ll get to see some Blues Brothers landmarks, like Dixie Square Mall.

Of course, we wish the two of them all the best in Chicago, though I’m going to miss them. After all, I’m within a day’s drive of the parents and most of my other relatives. In fact, being in the Washington area puts me right in the middle of everyone. Then Sis will be a bit of a time commitment to travel, requiring either an overnight train trip or an airplane trip. Yikes.

Still, September 1. Wow.

Categories: Family

By my calculations…

August 22, 2007, 10:04 PM

By my calculations, I have twelve photo sets to go before the core site is complete, and I can start working on subsidiary sites.

Of course, those twelve sets are, with only one exception, multi-part sets. And with plenty of inside links that have to get updated. And of course, there are a lot of links elsewhere in the site that still have to be updated. The Journal is full of obsolete internal links. Absolutely chock full of ’em. That’s because the Journal was like the second section to go back up, and so the file structures hadn’t been determined yet. So I have to go back and fix all those links. Then I also can’t update anything related to Transit Center yet, because that site is going to undergo a total code rewrite (i.e. it’s being rebuilt practically from scratch), and nothing’s been designed yet for it.

The joys of building a Web site, no? But at least it’s not like we’re designing a completely new Web site, and have to actually come up with content as well. Content’s already made. We just have to build a new housing for it all.

It is nice to be able to show off protests again, though, since the Million Worker March is back up. That was quite an experience, and I’m glad that Google can finally pick it up again. The next photo set slated to go up is A16, directly followed by J20 and then September 24. Fun!

However, converting photo sets is not the world’s most exciting work. But it has to be done, so we do it. Then once I clear these twelve sets, I get to do something more fun – designing things. That’s because I’m moving to College Life after I finish on Schumin Web, and have to hammer it out again. Of course, then I have to convert photo sets again… (*yawn*)

Categories: Schumin Web meta

The shoe swap worked!

August 21, 2007, 2:15 PM

I think I might just do this whenever it rains. Just to recap, since it was raining hard when I was leaving the house, this morning, I wore my Crocs on my commute, and packed my dress shoes and dark socks in a grocery bag inside of my regular work bag. As expected, the Crocs got soaked, with a considerable amount of water streaming across Georgia Avenue in the morning. But who cares? They’re made of rubber. Then when I got to work, I made coffee, sat down, and put on my socks and my dress shoes. And the professional is ready to start working, and is all warm and toasty. No cold, wet shoes all day for me. That would have made for an awful day.

Then when I leave, if it’s still raining, I’ll switch back to the Crocs for the Infoshop walk (it is Tuesday, after all) and then the Metro ride home.

Categories: Shoes

It’s raining…

August 21, 2007, 6:23 AM

I think today will mark the first time I’ll have had to wait for the bus in the morning in the rain. It’s raining this morning, and so this will be an interesting experience.

I think I’m also going to take a cue from some of my female Metro companions today as far as footwear goes. Some of them will make their commute in sneakers and then change shoes once they get to work. I’m thinking that with this weather, I’m going to commute in my Crocs, which I don’t care about getting wet, and then switch to my nice shoes once I get to work. The thought of spending all day in wet, nasty shoes is a bit beyond my tolerance threshold.

Otherwise, though, today’s my Infoshop day, which means that rather than going straight home after work, I swing by ye olde Infoshop after work and say hi to Maddy and whoever else is there. The Infoshop is a fun place. I’ve barely beaten the rain on a few occasions going over there…

Categories: Commuting, Shoes

The things that happen on Metro…

August 19, 2007, 1:34 PM

The fun thing about public transportation in a big city is that you never know what you’re going to find people doing. I went looking for Metro videos on YouTube this morning, and I found some good ones. Of course, I’ve already shared my “Puff the Magic Dragon” experience with you, but aside from that, other people sing, and other people do all kinds of other odd things. It seems that late at night is when a lot of these things happen, though the “Puff” incident happened during rush hour.

So let me share some things with you…

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Categories: Amusing, WMATA

Got my exercise first thing in the morning today…

August 16, 2007, 7:29 PM

This morning, I got my exercise early. I’m walking down my street, I’m getting close to the corner, and I saw a large, white vehicle ahead of me at the opposite corner. It’s my bus. Immediately, my walk turned into a sprint, as I totally started booking it to make my bus (the bus was early, as it wasn’t supposed to be there for another five minutes). I sprinted across the northbound lanes of Georgia Avenue without much difficulty, and then traffic prevented me from sprinting across the southbound lanes right away. I did, however, get the Metrobus operator’s attention while I was in the median, and considering the bus was early anyway, I’d hoped he would hold long enough for me to catch him. Instead, while I was sprinting across the southbound lanes, he shut the door and started taking off, nearly running me over in the process. Nice guy.

So I missed the bus, no thanks to the bus operator. Okay, though, we’re flexible. I ended up walking up from my street to the next stop, about a quarter mile or so up the road. I figure from there, since my regular bus (though this wasn’t the regular driver) kicked me to the curb, I can either catch the next Y bus, or catch Ride-On’s 51 (whichever comes first), which skips my regular morning stop (it turns a corner there coming from Norbeck Park and Ride), but does take the next one. So I ended up taking the 51 to Glenmont, and then from there I caught the Red Line for my normal Metro commute.

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Categories: Commuting, Ride On, WMATA

Looking back, I’m like, whoa…

August 16, 2007, 2:56 PM

As I restore all these photo sets, it struck me – my photography has evolved over the course of seven years of doing photo sets. The older stuff definitely looks like the work of a younger, less experienced man. Let’s just say that half the stuff that made it onto the Web site for some of those older sets (The Schumin Web Salutes America comes to mind) would never have made the cut today. Plus the way I covered some of it back then would never have happened today.

A good comparison is with the treatment of the US Capitol. Back in 2001, I covered the Capitol as part of “The Schumin Web Salutes America”. The writing was so-so at best, and it came off as a walk-around in a hurry (which it was). The focus was on the building, with tourists in place. Then compare it to the Capitol’s most recent appearance, as part of the J27 set. There, the Capitol’s appearance was incidental, but we told more of a story. In fact, the writing is often king in Life and Times sets. But Photography also tells a “story” as well, and more emphasis is placed on telling the “story” now than before.

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“And just where they should stick out…”

August 12, 2007, 6:40 PM

On the way back to DC, I visited with my friend Katie for a few hours. We went out for breakfast, and then just kind of hung around for a bit. Fun times.

Meanwhile, in the car on the way to breakfast, I played Katie the song that Randi Rhodes plays every Friday on her show. Turns out that Katie and her mother enjoy the song, too! And Katie knows the words about as well as I do. Funny moment. We were going along with the song:

You know girls, men aren’t the only people in the world today that have something to give, but it sure looks like it sometimes. Just look around you – men stick out all over the place. Big fat cigars! Big fat stomachs! And just where they should stick out – phhbtt! – where is it?!

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Categories: Driving, Katie, Music

The “L Street Bridge”?

August 10, 2007, 11:54 PM

Last time I checked, there is no “L Street Bridge” that Metro runs over. In fact, a Google search of “L Street Bridge” and “DC” only comes up with a feature of the Washington Convention Center, which spans several blocks, and whose upper levels bridge over two streets, one of which is L Street NW. Metro goes near that location, but it’s underground.

What happened, and the reason I bring this up, is because while I was on the Yellow Line after work today to visit a friend in Alexandria, the operator reminded everyone that Yellow Line service would cease at 10 PM and remain suspended until Monday morning, due to the closure of the “L Street Bridge” for maintenance. I was thinking, eh? about that for a moment, and then realized what he meant. He meant the Charles R. Fenwick Bridge, which is part of the 14th Street Bridge complex in southwest Washington. The route between L’Enfant Plaza and Pentagon stations, which includes the Fenwick Bridge, is known internally as the “L” route. Most people, though, don’t know that (but then again, I’m not most people). Likewise, most people would look at me strangely if I told them that my work commute took me from B11 to A03 and back. In layman’s terms, that’s Glenmont to Dupont Circle and back.

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Categories: WMATA

“It’s Friday, ya bastards!”

August 10, 2007, 2:42 PM

What can I say? It’s Friday, the end of the work week. And I got the day started out right, listening to Randi Rhodes on my way to the bus, hearing the beginning of her Friday show (where the title of this entry comes from), and hearing Rusty Warren talk about Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, and Benjamin Franklin having wives and “a few broads on the side, too” while Randi Rhodes makes her own commentary.

Otherwise, though, I’m excited about this weekend. I’m going down to Stuarts Draft, and seeing the family, and also getting together with Katie for breakfast on Sunday morning on the way back up. So that ought to be a lot of fun.

Meanwhile, I got this text message at work today. Mom asks me, “Do you have a teapot?” I replied, “No.” A couple of hours later, I get a message from Sis: “You has a teapot now.” The last message didn’t surprise me (aside from the bad grammar), since the normal way these things go is that if I say no, one will be in my future. I’m told it’s white with flowers on it. Ought to be interesting. I’m also getting something that has to do with making spaghetti, but I couldn’t tell you what (in fact, Mom couldn’t describe it, either, but she got one for herself, too).

Still, it will be nice to get away from Washington for a day. Boy, I never thought I’d hear myself say that. For years I was constantly longing to live in Washington. Now I live in the area, and work in Dupont Circle, and never thought I’d need to spend some time away from it. But yeah, DC’s nice, but it’s still nice to get away for a while.

Of course, now I just have to figure out what to do after work today. I should go down to Pentagon City for a while, since after all, it’s Friday, and all I have to do to get ready to leave tomorrow is throw some stuff in the back of the Sable. All in all, we’ll see what I end up doing. Should be interesting.

Categories: Family, Radio

When in Washington, this does happen from time to time…

August 8, 2007, 7:50 PM

Towards the end of the day at work today, my cell phone went off for a text message. Dupont Circle, Woodley Park-Zoo, and Cleveland Park stations closed for a while due to a suspicious package. As it turns out, the package was harmless, containing cardboard and paper.

Still, it caused a major delay in Metro service. And all the more amazing was that Metro was actually calling it a “major” delay. Realize that this is a transit operator that considers single-tracking on significant amounts of several lines with 20-minute waits for trains during the day to be a “minor” delay. But this time, Metro even went so far as to say to avoid the Red Line altogether. The suspicious package was on a train at Dupont Circle. Woodley Park-Zoo and Cleveland Park were closed to allow trains to turn back towards Shady Grove using the interlocking at Van Ness-UDC. Then on the other side, trains turned back towards Glenmont using the pocket track at Farragut North. Then Metro ran a “bustitution” (where buses are used to fill in for the lack of rail service) between Van Ness and Farragut North.

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Categories: Family, WMATA