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Ford: “Fix Or Repair Daily”? “Found On Road Dead”?

June 28, 2008, 7:24 PM

The Sable’s not feeling well right now.

The little check engine light came on when I took it out on Tuesday, and now today, I had such a time trying to get it going today that I determined that if I ended up taking it out, I couldn’t guarantee that the car would be able to make it back under its own power. So that scraps my weekend plans. I had to run a bunch of errands, and they’re not getting done now. I was also going to go to a coworker’s housewarming party in Shaw today, and sadly, that’s not happening now, either.

So here’s what happened. I went down to fire up the car to go out, and it started up. I put it in reverse. I move a few inches, and the car stalls. Start up again. Reverse. A few inches, and dead. I eventually did manage to start the car and get it moving, so I ran it once around the parking lot to test. As soon as I got to the exit of my complex, which is up a slight incline, the car died again. I had to wave someone around me there, since the Sable was “Found On Road Dead”. Well, almost on the road. So I managed to get it back into a parking space, and raised the hood to take a look. Here’s what I saw:

Battery on the Sable

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Categories: Mercury Sable

Does anyone know a good ophthalmologist in the DC area?

June 28, 2008, 10:52 AM

Does anyone know a good ophthalmologist in the DC area? It’s that time again, as it’s been three years since the last time my glasses were updated. And I’m not about to go to Augusta Eye Associates again, for reasons of distance. However, if you are in the Staunton/Waynesboro/Augusta County area, I highly recommend these folks. I would always see Dr. Patel.

So now I’m wondering what people think. I live in the Silver Spring/Wheaton area in Maryland, and I work in Dupont Circle. And I’m wondering if anyone has any recommendations. I’ve found a few names while doing some research, and I’m wondering if any of the names you all hopefully will give me match what I found and turn up good recommendations, or absolutely-positively-hell-no recommendations. And no, I’m not giving out my list in order to not box myself in, in case I missed anyone.

And lastly, I am only referring to ophthalmologists – doctors with MDs. I am not looking to go to an optometrist (doctors with ODs). So what do people think? Let me know…

Categories: Health issues

Let’s all say, “Go, team, go!”

June 25, 2008, 9:27 PM

I think that would be appropriate. Food & Water Watch, where I work, has a team for a summer volleyball tournament on the Mall. And on my way home, I ran into them on the Metro heading towards their first game. So here’s everyone on Breda 4058 this evening…

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Categories: WMATA, Work

If the name of the development consists of the name of the station that the development is next to, and then they show a photo of the wrong station in their advertisement, what does that say about them?

June 25, 2008, 7:36 PM

Anyone who’s been through Fort Totten station on Metro’s Red Line has probably seen Fort Totten Station, the development of cheaply-built (they’re built of wood, not concrete) alleged luxury apartments contributing to the gentrification of DC. I go by them twice a day every day on my way to and from the office.

And the company that operates the development also runs advertisements in the Express. And they made a big boo-boo in their ad here. Let me show you what I’m talking about from today’s Express:

Ad for the "Fort Totten Station" apartment complex
Photo: June 25, 2008 edition of Express, page 8

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Categories: Advertising, WMATA

So this will be an interesting summer, I’d say…

June 24, 2008, 10:48 PM

I’m looking at what’s coming down the pike for this summer, and I can tell right now that this is going to be a great summer. First of all, look at Schumin Web! It’s all refreshed for the summer as we’ve gone “square” with this new background. No more fades here as it’s been for nearly four years. The color gradient is gone, and we’ve moved on to a pattern. Hopefully this will make things look a little more festive.

And then I’m going to be busy in July, with two Anon events – July 12 and July 19. By then I ought to have something really cool figured out for a costume, since here’s the thing – the “black bloc” look doesn’t seem to work at Anonymous events. When I hang out with the anarchists, yes – black bloc is the style. For Anonymous, it’s more like a masquerade ball, since many people really get into the dress of the event, and dress in wild outfits while including the all important mask (don’t want to get fair gamed, after all – or R2-45’d for that matter). And as I learned on June 14, the Guy Fawkes mask is too warm for the summer. However, we must admit – I had fun at Operation Sea Arrrgh with my Guy Fawkes mask and all:

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Did you ever think that milk would one day be cheaper than gasoline?

June 22, 2008, 12:38 AM

Did you ever think that milk would one day be cheaper than gasoline? Take a look…

Price of milk at the CVS in Aspen Hill

Milk is $4.09 per gallon at the CVS store in Aspen Hill. I can get it in the upper 3s at Shoppers. That just blows my mind, as the various gas stations along Georgia Avenue are either meeting or beating that price. Then if you go into Washington DC, they’re beating it – soundly.

We really need to make some serious progress on sustainable alternative fuels – and soon.

Categories: Gas prices

Mom, Sis, and I had a great time…

June 15, 2008, 10:24 PM

I always enjoy when my sister comes back from Chicago. This time, she took a week and went to Stuarts Draft. However, as my own schedule precluded going down to Stuarts Draft, which meant that we didn’t get to have a the-four-of-us kind of moment this time around, I still did get to see her. Mom and Sis spent Thursday and Friday in DC with me, so the fun was still had.

First off, Mom and Sis met me Thursday afternoon at the office. Mom knows where my office building is, and so after stashing the car at Wheaton Plaza, she and Sis rode on down to Dupont Circle and met up with me in my office.

Getting back to Wheaton, they got to see how much I had done my restaurant homework for them. See, Mom was displeased in her earlier visits about how little I knew about the restaurant scene where I lived. I could tell you everything about places in Pentagon City and Dupont Circle, but nothing right in the immediate area where I actually live. After all, if I’m going to eat near where I live, I’ll just save the money and nuke something at home. But I found a restaurant for us to go to, and in Wheaton, no less. It’s called Umbertos, and it’s a family-owned restaurant located in this cluster of hispanic-run businesses in between Georgia Avenue and the Wheaton Plaza shopping mall. If you’re ever in Wheaton, I highly recommend it.

Then Friday, we headed to Georgetown. Yes, that Georgetown. So after an unexpected shopping trip at the JCPenney in Wheaton Plaza (Mom and Sis seem to be unable to turn down a sale on clothes), we took Metro down to Rosslyn, and then from there, walked over the Key Bridge to Georgetown. Sis’s big thing in Georgetown was seeing the Exorcist steps. And here they are:

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When trains derail…

June 9, 2008, 10:11 PM

Hopefully, the events that transpired on Metro today are not an indicator as to what there is in store for this summer. Especially since I ride the Red Line, which seems to have more than its fair share of delays sometimes. But this time, the accident was on the Orange Line. So all of us on the Red Line can feel smug for a brief moment because it happened on someone else’s line for a change.

What happened was that a Vienna-bound Orange Line train derailed about 1,000 feet outside Court House station. Because of where the interlockings are located, this screwed up Orange Line service from Clarendon to Foggy Bottom-GWU, since trains had to be single-tracked around the incident. Blue Line service was mostly unaffected, because the derailment occurred on the K Route, which is an Orange-only route from Vienna to Rosslyn. I say “mostly” because some of the single-tracking spilled over onto the C Route, which runs from Metro Center to Huntington via Arlington Cemetery, which Blue Line trains use.

Thankfully, no one was injured in the derailment. As my father once said, there’s nothing money can’t fix. All they did was bash up some hardware. I was surprised to find out that the train was a 2000-series car – a Breda rehab – rather than what I would have expected, which was a CAF. CAF cars have a plethora of problems, and have been involved in multiple yard derailments, as well as being involved in the Mt. Vernon Square derailment last year. But no, it was a rehab. Go figure. No word on what the car number was, but Metro says that the consist was #905, and it was the third car of six.

What amuses me, however, is the fact that The Washington Post refers to the car involved this way: “The 2000 series car is one of the older model rail cars.” That’s only half true anymore. Yes, the car body dates from 1982, when Metro received its first order of Bredas. However, the 2000s went to Hornell, New York for rehabilitation in 2003-2004, and came back all shiny and new. They completely restructured the car body, put new systems in, and replaced the interior. So the cars are mostly newer than the CAF cars due to the rehab, which entered service in 2001-2004.

So I’ll be interested to see what they figure out about the cause. There’s no interlocking there, so we can rule out a switch problem, so we’ll have to see. When it comes to Metro, as with many other things in life, the simplest explanation is usually the right one. I’ll also be interested to find out the identity of the accident car. I hope it’s not 2008, which I had my photo taken on twice – once prior to rehab, and once after.

Categories: WMATA

I am soooooooooo sunburned.

June 9, 2008, 3:06 PM

I went to Splashdown Waterpark on Sunday to beat the heat. And at that I was successful. I spent five hours in their Lazy River, and I didn’t give a moment’s thought to how hot of a day it was. I’d guess I put a lot of miles on one of their inner tubes, and had a great time doing absoluely nothing but lounging around in the water. But oh, let me tell you… I am so sunburned.

Of course, it’s not like I didn’t put sunscreen on. I did. But I think it was part a poor initial application of the sunscreen, plus the fact that I didn’t reapply at all over the course of the day. The reason I believe I put the sunscreen on poorly is because it was such a hot day. I drove down to Manassas with the A/C on, but then once I got out in the heat, I started sweating. And that made the sunscreen quite difficult to apply. Then of course, I knew I would get a sunburn on part of my back – there was a section that I couldn’t reach, and so I figured that would get burned, and took that into account.

But I didn’t expect what I got – burned on my face, both arms all the way up, my entire back, my shoulders, and part of my legs. There’s also a line on my arm where I had the key to the rental locker. And I got the classic swimsuit tan – burned except for the area that the suit was covering. I knew I should have thought better about wearing that thong (kidding!). But seriously, I am burned. And it hurts like hell. I need to go get some Solarcaine and some aloe and go to town on it.

Was the sunburn worth it? It might hurt a bit, but you know, I had a great time, so, yeah, it was worth it. At least it’s not like the burn I got on my head when we protested the Nazis. That time, I got cooked so well that it was oozing something. Nothing’s oozing this time. But the burned area is a lot bigger. But it was still worthwhile. Ah, yeah.

Hopefully it will be mostly better by Thursday, because that’s the day my mother and sister show up. My sister is back from Chicago for a week, and we’re going to have a great Thursday and Friday in DC. And I’m being a wonderful host, agreeing to suffer through being dragged through all these little designer clothing boutiques, because that’s what she wants to do. I much prefer going through Georgetown with a rowdy black bloc, but for my sister, we’ll shop. I’ll find the chair in these stores where the men sit looking miserable and park myself there. Seriously, in Chicago at the Talbots store on the Magnificent Mile, there was a cluster of chairs in the corner where all the men were sitting, and all of them looked absolutely miserable. Poor men.

Categories: Recreation/Exercise

“You are one cheap bastard.”

June 7, 2008, 3:16 PM

Yes, I will quote Zach, one of my coworkers at Food & Water Watch, when he said to me, “You are one cheap bastard.” I’ll take it as a compliment, since frugality is important when one is single and living on one’s own. I say it’s being frugal, but Zach, both parents, Sis, and a host of others, would be more inclined to quote the Car Talk guys and say, “Oh, you mean your cheapskatism?” This was after I explained how I’m loath to run the air conditioning unless I absolutely HAVE TO (like today, where it got up to 100 degrees).

Otherwise, though, Friday was fun. After work, a bunch of us went down to the Sala Thai restaurant just west of Dupont Circle for dinner in order to celebrate with Meg, one of our coworkers who recently took a position with Greenpeace. I had this wonderful vegetarian dish that had eggplant and mushroom in it among other vegetables in a spicy sauce, with rice on the side. Really tasty. Very hot, too. And we had such a wonderful time.

I have to say – I love my FWW coworkers. I could never go out socially with Wal-Mart people in a group like that.

And then after dinner, we headed into the land of Metro, and Marianne got a photo of everyone on the train:

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Categories: Work

What are you talking about? Coffee’s supposed to taste like sludge!

June 5, 2008, 10:50 PM

It’s funny… at work, the coffee drinkers have for the most part gone into two camps. There are the ones who would happily make it so strong that the spoon stands up, and those who like weak coffee.

I’m part of the “sludge” crowd. There is a dedicated group of us who gets to the Bunn-O-Matic in the morning and make strong coffee. Some people describe it as being like castor oil. I prefer the term “sludge”, myself. And if anyone asks why I like the coffee like sludge, I just smile. And not just a regular smile, either. It’s that kind of smile that’s so much so that it works muscles all down your neck and on your chest. The I’ve-had-too-much-caffeine smile. I love it.

Of course, I always cut myself off at noon. No more coffee past noon, which paves the way for a nap on Metro some evenings. Yesterday after work, I really must have been pooped – I fell asleep before Brookland-CUA, and next thing I knew, it was Glenmont. Usually, if I fall asleep on Metro, I briefly wake up around Fort Totten or Takoma, and then also around Forest Glen or Wheaton. Usually if it’s Wheaton, I end up staying awake to Glenmont, because I don’t see any point of nodding off again, being so close.

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So, yeah, here’s what happened with Transit…

June 5, 2008, 9:42 PM

So as I mentioned in my earlier Journal entry, I had a run-in with Metro Transit Police while on my way in to see Matthew Tilley. So here’s the story.

As you know, I’m a bit of a railfan, and I’m interested in many of the technical aspects of the system. In this case, I was photographing out the back of the train, as I’d done numerous times in the past. I’ve done this on the C, D, E, F, G, J, K, and L routes, and published the results on Transit Center (which will be back, I promise!). For the non-rail buff, those route letters mean I’ve photographed just about everywhere on the system except for the Red Line. So, coming in, I figured, what the heck, I might as well start a railfan trip off right, and get photos of the B Route, which I’d not done before.

So I’m at the bulkhead door of Alstom 6075, and I’m doing fine. I started photographing at the Silver Spring portal (too dark in the tunnels), and I was having a blast, if I do say so myself, even photographing the non-WMATA work trains laying gravel on the adjacent CSX tracks. So at Rhode Island Avenue, two Transit Police officers come on board. “Sir, could you please come with us?” Yes, me. I’m like, okay… Turns out that someone had reported my activity, and they were checking things out. They didn’t know who reported it, but okay. I’m guessing a WMATA employee did, since the officers mentioned that they were told I’d been using a tripod, and the average WMATA rider doesn’t even know that a regulation exists governing tripods. I do. I know that the use of tripods, monopods, etc. is prohibited on Metro. That’s why I left mine at home, despite that I could get some really great shots of the underground stations that way.

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Categories: Security, WMATA

And so for those wondering how my birthday went…

June 4, 2008, 2:07 PM

My birthday weekend went quite well, thank you. I spent my actual birthday at home, where I wrote a Wikipedia article about October Rebellion. Yes, that October Rebellion. I had a great time writing that article, though it’s not often that I’ll sit down and write a new article from scratch and go hunting for reliable sources and such.

Then the next day, Mom and Dad came to visit – just for the day. We went to downtown Silver Spring, where we had a birthday lunch at Austin Grill, a restaurant that serves Mexican food. As we were coming in, rain appeared to be imminent, and yet some people still wanted to be seated outside, and stayed outside, even as the rain started coming down. There was a very small overhang that these people ate under, and I presume they stayed dry for the most part.

At the restaurant, Mom committed what would be considered a major sin if you like to stay in the good graces of your companions. She told the server that it was my birthday. Now I admit that she didn’t mean to let that out in front of the waitstaff. It slipped out unintentionally. But you know how it is… if you say “birthday” to a server, next thing you know, you have ALL of them marching in clapping, and singing happy birthday to you. Once we realized Mom’s error, we flagged the server again about the birthday thing, and good news – Austin Grill doesn’t sing. Very good.

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