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World’s best bumper sticker ever…

January 20, 2008, 8:33 PM

Tell me this isn’t the best bumper sticker ever:

"The road to hell is paved by Republicans"

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Categories: National politics

And Greta’s back home again.

January 18, 2008, 10:34 PM

Well, we can all now breathe a sigh of relief. Greta’s back at home, and doing better. She’s on a special food for kidney patients, and she’s drinking her water. But at least now she can sleep in her own bed again, because the vet’s office stresses Greta out tremendously. Always has, too.

Is Greta totally out of the woods yet? Probably not. But at least she’s improved to the point of being able to return home.

Categories: Greta

Of all the cars in Metro’s fleet, I was surprised to get…

January 17, 2008, 9:34 PM

First of all, let me say I had my first Alstom ride on the Red Line this morning. The Red Line is still mostly Rohrs, though as of late, it’s had quite a bit of Alstom-manufactured cars coming in. However, up until today, I’d never gotten an Alstom for my regular Glenmont-to-Dupont-Circle-and-back commute.

So this morning, I’m at Glenmont, waiting for my train on the platform. Alstom! And not just any Alstom, either – I got Alstom 6105, which is part of the first pair of cars to have “resilient” flooring rather than carpet. I first discussed these cars back in the early part of December. Recall back then that my reaction was neutral to slightly positive. Now that I’ve ridden the non-carpeted pair, I’m confident that Metro can shed its carpet and still do just fine.

First of all, this particular color doesn’t show dirt very well. There was some crud on the floor, but the gray color with little flecks in it didn’t make it too obvious, therefore I had to actually look for it. It’s just about at that happy medium to where dirt gets hidden, it seems. Then of course to clean this you just have to run a mop over it. Additionally, it harmonizes well with the remainder of the decor, which didn’t change. These Alstoms still have the white walls, white ceiling, white seat frames, gray armrests, and “Colonial Burgundy”, “Potomac Blue”, and “Chesapeake Sand” colored cushions. One thing I was concerned about was sound, and I was pleased to say that I noticed no major differences in noise levels with the non-carpeted floor vs. the carpeted floor. So I think that this “resilient” flooring thing is in the end probably a good thing, as long as Metro decides to go with a color that doesn’t show dirt, and also works with all the various color schemes they have come up with or might come up with in the future, especially since this flooring is supposed to last a long time. Thus that gray color they picked here is probably a good choice.

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Categories: WMATA

Now let’s talk about this… for a very small amount of oil, you’re producing three times more greenhouse gases than conventional methods, and destroying one of our natural treasures? Um… NO!

January 16, 2008, 9:14 PM

After work today, I went to a small demonstration outside the Canadian Embassy at the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 5th Street NW in DC. The demonstration was about the Athabasca Oil Sands, also known as the Alberta Tar Sands, on the occasion of the Premier of Alberta, Ed Stelmach, delivering a speech at the Canadian Embassy promoting the extraction of the oil from the Alberta Tar Sands. I quote from the press release handed out at the event:

The Canadian province of Alberta is in possession of a rare natural resource known as the Alberta Tar Sands, which can produce a very small amount of low-grade petroleum only after undergoing an extremely energy intensive and wasteful process. This process produces three times as many greenhouse gases as conventional oil production through extreme localized degradation, and is being referred to as the most environmentally destructive petroleum endeavor of all time. On his first visit to the U.S. the Canadian Embassy will host a talk by Ed Stelmach promoting the extraction and use of Alberta Tar Sands.

It was quite a festive event, too. RCDC was in attendance, as was my usual group of friends that I see at protests – Jeff, Luke, Maddy, and Olga. I also got to see Isis. And Brendan, a coworker of mine from Food & Water Watch, was also in attendance. Plus there were several people dressed in polar bear costumes, and a number of people played “O Canada” on kazoos as we protested Ed Stelmach’s visit to DC.

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Categories: Activism

Please get better, Greta…

January 16, 2008, 8:24 PM

Many of you know Greta, our brown dachshund, who has been part of our family since 1994. In fact, you may recall just yesterday, I was delighted to receive a picture of Greta from Mom.

Unfortunately, when a dog reaches an advanced age, though (Greta’s 13, almost 14), things don’t work as well as they once did. Greta had to be taken to the vet today, and it turned out to be some serious kidney problems. So Greta’s staying at the vet for the next two days for some serious treatment, getting all of her fluids in harmony again, and seeing what the deal is. I hope Greta makes it through this.

Meanwhile, if you could also think nice thoughts about Greta as she gets through this rough time, I would really appreciate it.

Categories: Greta

I so love it when Mom sends photos of Greta…

January 15, 2008, 6:43 PM

And here she is:

Greta in the kitchen

Yeah, Greta is perhaps the one I miss most being in Maryland now, as Greta, unlike the rest of them, doesn’t use the phone.

Categories: Greta

Brakes and rotors and lights, oh, my!

January 12, 2008, 2:31 PM

Well, the Sable got its Maryland inspection today and failed it. However, everything that was wrong with it could be fixed, as I expected. I knew I needed new brakes, but I didn’t think I needed both front and rear brakes at the same time. I figured just rear. Then I also needed new rotors. Greeeeeeeeeat. Meanwhile, a couple of lights were out on the car, and they’re going to fix that as well.

However, what surprised me was not what didn’t pass, but what did. While I was in Philadelphia in November, one of the hinges on my back window cracked through, rendering it useless. The window was in no danger of falling out due to several other attachment points’ being sound. I discussed it with Dad and sent him a photo, and he said it was a fix we could probably do ourselves, and it would be fairly easy to do after we got the part. But in the short run, while I was still in Philly, since the loose hinge was rattling, it was highly annoying to hear while driving. And the idea of a three-hour drive back to Maryland with that rattling the whole way was more than I was willing to handle. So I made a quick fix on it right before I got on the turnpike to go home – I went to a convenience store, bought a small roll of duct tape, and taped it all back together. And it held. I didn’t have to hear that thing the entire way home.

And now, I still haven’t fixed it. And that part passed inspection. I was waiting for them to say something about that, and nothing.

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Categories: Mercury Sable

Looks like Metro’s going to take a BIG leap forward when it comes to rail car design with this next set of cars…

January 12, 2008, 8:13 AM

When Metro next orders rail cars, signs are pointing to this being a very different kind of rail car from the Rohrs, Bredas, CAFs, Breda Rehabs, and Alstoms that we know on today’s Metro, according to WMATA and The Washington Post. I read in Friday’s issue of the Express about Metro’s unveiling of the new design. Take a look…

Metro 7000-Series car concept drawing
Image: WMATA

Metro 7000-Series car concept drawing Metro 7000-Series car concept drawing
Images: WMATA

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Categories: WMATA

I should have gotten “Technology Czar” put on my new business cards…

January 10, 2008, 7:40 PM

Yes, if it’s in the office and it plugs in, takes batteries, or has a screen, it falls under my domain. One of the fun things about my job is that when we get some new electronic toy, I get to be the first one to play with it and figure out how it works. Case in point: We got this new direct fax system, where everyone now has their own fax number. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to fax something than I’ve been with this. Usually, I hate to fax stuff. The conventional fax machine is a pain in the butt, you see. You put your number in, feed the document, and then maybe it will work if the moon is in the proper alignment with Betelgeuse, Pollux, and Deneb. So yeah, I got the new system running today, in my newfound role as “Phone Czar”, and I faxed. I think I sent about six faxes. And they all showed up one after the other as a PDF in my inbox. How nice! No longer do we have to wait for the fax machine to slowly spew out what we want. Now, it just dings into the Email. Yay!

Meanwhile, it’s been eight months to the day since I moved up here, and I’m embarrassed to say that my car still has Virginia plates. That’s a bit of a work in progress. I have a Maryland driver’s license, and I’m registered to vote in Montgomery County, but legally, the car is still from Stuarts Draft. I’m getting a Maryland inspection done on it this weekend, so things will hopefully be going on that front soon. I just can’t get over how long it’s been since I moved, and that I still don’t have Maryland license plates. Well, at least I’m getting more time than I expected out of my Virginia registration. My Virginia plates’ month is April, and I figured, that’s 35 bucks down the drain, as I was expiring and, at the time I went in to renew, I knew I was moving up to the DC area, but not exactly where yet, but probably on the Maryland side (it’s a tad pricier in northern Virginia). And with that move happening within a month’s time, I was convinced bad timing had cost me 35 bucks for about a month’s worth of use. That’s what, $1.16 a day for a month’s worth of useful registration. After all, the 35 bucks is less than the ticket I’d get if I’d adopted a wait-and-see attitude about it and went around with an expired tag waiting to figure out where I would be living. However, it’s taken me ages to do anything with the whole car thing (I’ve been busy, yo!), so I’ve stretched that registration out to nine months. Still, yeah, time to get that done…

Categories: Mercury Sable, Work

One starts to question one’s own sanity…

January 6, 2008, 12:40 PM

One starts to question one’s own sanity when one spends a Saturday night… in the office. One of these days, I am going to realize that spending time in the Resources and Conservation Center in DC on a day that starts with “S” is an inherently BAD IDEA. I originally came in to drop off some stuff that I’d purchased for the office. This was stuff that I wasn’t about to take on the Metro, so I drove down and brought it in that way. But then since I had to wait on a process to complete anyway once I was in there, I turned on my office Mac (bad idea) and started doing other work, and then it was two hours later and I realized I still hadn’t gone to Pentagon City, which was Objective Number Two on this trip. The idea was to drop the stuff off, then go to Pentagon City to buy a neck warmer.

At Pentagon City, I bought a neck warmer by The North Face. The intention is for it to replace my gray scarf, which isn’t quite working out for me, as it’s too floppy and prone to twisting up at inconvenient times, letting all kinds of coldness in. We’ll see how the neck warmer works out on Monday, when I’m waiting for the bus once it gets cold again. It’s going to be warm around here this week, being in the 50s and such. And this is January

Now here is where I start to realize there’s a problem: I go back to the office after Pentagon City. I took time to set some stuff up in my own individual office, and do a lot of stuff all around the place that I’d been meaning to do. And I put all the stuff away that I bought. Oh, dear…

I didn’t get out until almost 1 AM, but at least I got a lot done. I was productive! And then arriving back home, I came back to discover that the pilot light had gone out on my heater, and so I had to place an emergency maintenance call to get that re-lit at two in the morning. But at least I got to watch the pilot light get relit.

Categories: Shopping, Work

Realized I’d not finished telling you about Chicago…

January 6, 2008, 11:55 AM

It’s also been more than a week since the last time I posted an entry here. My, how time flies. Happy new year, everyone!

We went back to the Magnificent Mile on Saturday, and Mom and Sis kind of dragged me around a bunch of stores down there again. But then things got better. John Hancock Center! While the ladies continued to shop, I got to take a ride up a very tall building once again, and went to the top of Hancock. And let me tell you something… between the Sears Tower and the Hancock Center, go for Hancock. The John Hancock Center, unlike the Sears Tower, knows what you came there to do. You came to see the view. It’s just one line past the ticket counter and up to the elevators. This is compared to Sears Tower, where it’s multiple lines, each for a different thing, plus a movie. Additionally, the elevators on John Hancock made my ears pop, while the ones at the Sears Tower didn’t. Kind of cool if you ask me…

Then later in the day, while everyone else went to a play, I got to railfan Chicago! Yaaaaaaaaay! I got to travel on parts of every line except Blue and Yellow, and got to see what “blinker” doors were all about on the Pink Line. Those railfan photos will eventually make it to Transit Center after that site comes back.

Then Sunday, before we left, we got to go around the Loop a bit, after checking our luggage at Union Station. We went to “The Honorable Richard J. Daley Plaza”, where, in The Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood paid the tax assessment for the orphanage where they once lived. We also got to see the big Christmas tree at the former Marshall Fields flagship store (now Macy’s), and then went around to Millennium Park, where we saw the Cloud Gate, aka “The Bean”, and also the Crown Fountain, which consists of two tall glass-brick video screens showing images of various people’s faces. There’s also water involved here, but as it was like twenty degrees outside, the water was not running.

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Categories: Amtrak, Chicago, CTA