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June 28 couldn’t come sooner…

June 17, 2006, 12:33 AM

June 28, as you may recall, is my first day of vacation. And I can’t wait. What do I have planned? Not much. I’m planning on going to Washington twice during that time – once on both ends of the vacation.

June 28 will be a trip similar to the “accidental” DC trip, where I approached DC from the south (I-95), rather than my usual westerly approach (I-66). This time, though, I’m going to run it on local roads. Instead of I-95, I’m going to take US 1. I believe this will take me close to the Huntington station, which is one that I’ve never originated from before. That ought to be exciting. That would bring the number of Metro stations to which I can confidently drive up to four.

Currently, I can confidently drive to Vienna, West Falls Church-VT/UVA and Franconia-Springfield. And when I say “confidently”, I mean that I could give someone good directions to drive to the station from outside the DC metro area. Now mind you, I can get to a good many stations by walking – more than I want to list. I can follow the route of the Blue and Orange Lines on foot from Foggy Bottom all the way to L’Enfant Plaza, Green all the way from Shaw to L’Enfant Plaza (and Yellow by extension), and Red from Cleveland Park to Judiciary Square, among other little station-to-station walks. But driving is a whole different ballgame, especially with the suburban stations. Trust me here.

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Going to DC on 06-06-06…

June 5, 2006, 11:35 PM

I’m going to Washington DC this Tuesday – June 6. That would be June 6, 2006. 06-06-2006. In other words, the date is basically 666, the so-called “number of the beast”.

Members of the DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) are staging a rally at Lafayette Park from 6-8 PM on Tuesday called “No Armageddon For Bush” (a play on the whole “666” thing), and I’m going to go. I’ve been to two DAWN events in the past. The rally and march from Malcolm X Park to McPherson Square on J20 event was put on by DAWN, and the street theater event in front of the Supreme Court that I documented as Confirmation Demonstration was also a DAWN event.

It also seems like 2006 is becoming the year of the night protest, as the World Bank demonstration this spring was at night (the photo set for that event is on its way), and now this one is going to be in the evening (though it won’t be all the way dark when it’s all over).

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Categories: Activism, DC trips

“The platform elevators at Crystal City is out of service. Shuttle bus service is available from Pentagon City.”

May 20, 2006, 5:46 PM

Yes, that’s an actual line from a Metro train operator that my friend Tristan and I encountered on a Blue Line train to Pentagon City on Tuesday. Note “The platform elevators at Crystal City is out of service. Such hideous grammar…

Now, though, it’s Saturday, and I’m in DC again. There was an ANSWER Coalition rally and march related to Latin American issues that I covered strictly as a photographer. Thus, I didn’t participate directly, nor did I march the route. I took the Metro to the ending point. The opening rally was at Malcolm X Park, and the closing rally at Lafayette Square. So all in all, fun.

It’s funny, though… the first protest I ever went to was an ANSWER event. Now, though, they seem to have gotten so “out there” that I understand why so many people don’t want to associate with them. ANSWER does best when they attack issues like the Iraq War. This one didn’t draw the same kind of crowd (and certainly not the Infoshop crowd), and seemed a little bit “out there” politically.

I was amused, though, that ANSWER gave me press credentials for the event. Seriously. I have a badge from ANSWER that says “Media” on it. I didn’t wear it (no one’s going to stop me from photographing an event on public property), but it’s a souvenir of the day. So I kept it. I’ll post it on here later on.

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Categories: Activism, DC trips

“I have a feeling that this is not legitimate!”

April 7, 2006, 6:13 PM

For those of you who read my away messages on AIM, you may remember that this past Tuesday, I departed from my standard away messages and put up a new one. It said that I was in northern Virginia for an “unscheduled” DC trip, and to wish me luck. No word on what was going on other than that.

Well, here I am.

When I was on my March 28 trip to Washington, I saw an ad in the classified section of the Express that caught my interest.

Also, in case you’re wondering, I photograph any job ads that interest me so that I don’t have to drag the paper around with me all day.

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Categories: DC trips, Matthew, WMATA

“What is this?”

March 30, 2006, 12:37 AM

Sometimes people just astound me. First of all, I was very disappointed to find that Mike Brooks, one of my DC buddies, has been “disinvited” from the Infoshop. Translated, “disinvited” basically means “banned”. I was quite disappointed by that, and I considered that a major loss-of-cool-points for the Infoshop.

The other oddball thing at the Infoshop, which is in on the whole anti-Starbucks thing, was what I found on a shelf tucked away in the corner: Two packets of Starbucks Decaf. Seeing that, I held it up to show the attendant at the desk, and said mock-disapprovingly, “What is this?” The attendant didn’t have an answer for that one.

Meanwhile, I’m sure that Sis, who, on A16, left a demonstration to go to Starbucks, is going to really get a huge kick out of my Infoshop find.

Otherwise, I found quick food near Old Town in Alexandria. There’s a Whole Foods Market behind the Old Town Transit Shop, and it’s got a hot bar and a salad bar like Martin’s in Waynesboro. Notice I didn’t say “cheap food”, though. I said “quick food”. The reason is that Whole Foods is pretty darn pricey. Martin’s, which I consider expensive, looks dirt cheap when compared to Whole Foods.

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Categories: DC trips, Radio, Some people

I have done my good deed for the day, and it certainly makes me feel good…

March 28, 2006, 3:04 PM

First of all, hello from Washington, where I am doing a second black-and-white day. Depending on how things come out, you may see a photo set in Photography about this, where I took photographs around Washington Circle.

Now, for my good deed. I’d just gotten off of an Orange Line train (CAF 5157) at Rosslyn. A Breda train arrived on the lower level. I’m intrigued, curious to see if it had the new door chimes or not (it didn’t). Then I heard a woman yelling and pounding on the train as it took off. Part of her party had become separated when the operator closed the train’s doors. The lady was on the verge of hysterics.

While others were communicating with her from the upper level, I got on the escalator and went down to see what I could do. I told her to call Metro Transit Police. As a railfan, I have the phone number for Transit Police in my phone’s address book, just in case. So I pulled it up, placed the call, and passed the lady the phone.

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Categories: DC trips, WMATA

“May I have your attention, customers traveling on the Blue Line in the direction of Largo Town Center…”

March 17, 2006, 12:54 AM

I went railfanning in DC with my friend Matthew Tilley on Wednesday, and I have to say… I was right on the money with one thing that happened early on in our trip.

We were waiting on the upper level platform at Rosslyn, and had just passed up an Orange Line train into DC as “too crowded”, hoping to catch the next train, which we had hoped would be less crowded. So there’s this Blue Line train that looks like it’s coming through the C Route tunnel towards Rosslyn. And it’s still back there. Then the headlights go off on the front of the train, and the taillights come on. This is repeated a few times. I told Matthew that it seems that our Blue Line train was experiencing problems in the tunnel.

Then I imitated the voice from Metro that usually announces such problems. “May I have your attention, customers traveling on the Blue Line in the direction of Largo Town Center. We are experiencing a delay due to a train at Rosslyn experiencing mechanical problems.”

Less than a minute after I did my imitation, a voice came over the loudspeaker at Rosslyn: “May I have your attention, customers traveling on the Blue Line in the direction of Largo Town Center. We are experiencing a delay due to a train at Rosslyn experiencing mechanical problems.”

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Categories: DC trips, Matthew, WMATA

Ever get that feeling like you forgot something?

March 15, 2006, 4:29 AM

Somehow, I’m getting that feeling when went to top off the camera batteries for today’s DC trip when the batteries took a lot longer to charge than usual. I get this feeling that I never charged them from the last trip to DC I took on the 28th. This is not a “fatal” error, though. I’ve charged the camera’s batteries en route before using a power inverter, most notably on June 23, 2004, where I ran the batteries dry the day before in Charlottesville, and then fell asleep that evening without charging anything. Then I got up in the morning, realized, oh, crap! and went to work charging them, and ended up taking my charger with me to Washington. That’s also the reason I have the power inverter in the first place. I bought it to charge with on that trip. Thankfully, Washington was far enough away so that by the time I got there, I’d had a chance to charge everything to full power.

And I was going railfanning that day with Oren and Jersey Mike, so I needed a full charge, too.

Of course, that’s similar to this trip, where I’m going railfanning with Matthew Tilley.

Categories: Cameras, DC trips

There are some DC trips that just happen, and then there are some that I really am excited about.

March 12, 2006, 7:20 PM

As is my usual case about every two weeks, I am going to Washington on Wednesday. This time around, I’m going to meet up with my friend Matthew Tilley. I’ve met up with Matthew twice before. We went railfanning one time in October, then I surprised him in December. Now we’re going on Wednesday to do a tour of the Red Line. We’re starting at Metro Center, going out to one end, then bus to the other end, and then back down to Metro Center. Ta-da! One Red Line!

And I am honestly excited. We had a lot of fun on our last railfan trip, when we did a tour of the Blue, Orange, and Yellow Lines. This one ought to be just as exciting.

Categories: DC trips

I went ice skating, and it was not exactly pretty…

March 1, 2006, 6:16 PM

First of all, I am back from ice skating at Pentagon Row, and all body parts are intact. And I think the best way to describe it was that I had no idea what I was doing.

Now mind you, I used to be a decent skater. That was back a long time ago, though. But a few coworkers said that skating was like riding a bicycle – once you learn, you never forget. They lied.

I took my FliteStar vest with me for this trip and used it on the ice, primarily due to the length of time between skating experiences.

I also got one of the skate guards to take pictures of me while out on the ice, so there is photographic proof of it. One of those photos is on the splash page for March.

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Categories: DC trips, Radio

“…and afterwards, I’ll let you sign my cast.”

February 27, 2006, 8:53 PM

Tomorrow evening, I’m going ice skating at Pentagon Row. I figure, what the hey – it’s my last DC trip during Pentagon Row’s ice skating season. The last day of skating is in early March, and then the entire setup disappears. I do intend on taking photos during the tear-down, as I think I’m going to get at least one visit while tear-down is in progress.

Now as you may know, I’ve been photographing the skaters there all season. Now, with this being my last visit of the season, I’m going to end my season there with a bang. And hopefully, that “bang” will not be my fanny landing on the ice.

Realize that it’s been ten years since I’ve been skating at all. It’s been even longer than that – twelve years – since I’ve been ice skating specifically. And my entire ice skating experience consists of one rather short skating trip in Connecticut.

A few of my coworkers have assured me that skating is like riding a bicycle – once you’ve learned it, you never forget. Still, I’m nervous about it, but I’m also quite excited about it. Roller skating, I used to have fun with it. Ice skating, as mentioned, I only did once, and it was not exactly a pleasant experience for various reasons that we won’t get into here.

Still, when I told coworkers, I said it this way – “I’m going ice skating tomorrow, and afterwards, I’ll let you sign my cast.” Hopefully, though, things will go just fine, and I won’t break a leg or something. And hopefully I’ll have some pictures of me skating on the ice. We shall see…

Categories: DC trips

The magic number is $64.95…

February 15, 2006, 4:01 AM

$64.95. That’s the magic number to get the Ford dealership to start the process of making new keys for my car. See, I have programmed “smart” keys for the Sable, and so I can’t just go get a key cut. One person I spoke with said I’d need to go to the dealership, and “bring your checkbook.” He wasn’t kidding. And the $64.95 is just to hook up their computer. The keys are $18-something on top of that.

Meanwhile, I’m taking the car to Washington for the first time today, and that ought to be fun. With a new car in hand, I get to enjoy such comforts again that had stopped working long ago on the old car such as cruise control and a radio. I will actually be able to listen to NPR on the way up now. I’m tickled.

This trip will also help determine whether or not I’m going to let people (and by “people” I really mean “me”) eat in the Sable. Having drinks is okay, as I have been having my regular soda every day on the way to work. Still, I used to eat in the van, usually on my trips to Washington. The question becomes whether I am still going to do that, or whether I’m going to, like, eat the food at Sheetz. The Sheetz I go to in the mornings is a truck stop-style store, so there’s a large eating area in there.

This will also be my last Wednesday trip to DC for the foreseeable future, as it seems work is changing my days off, and so future DC trips will need to be taken on Tuesday instead of Wednesday. Then April 22 is the date of the Spring 2006 meeting of the World Bank, and so there will be a Saturday trip in there for that demonstration (call it A22?).

Anyway, though, there you go. See you later on…

Great walks, great photos, and great conversations…

February 2, 2006, 11:38 PM

This last trip to Washington was definitely an interesting trip. I managed to put myself behind schedule at almost every turn I took, but it was SO worth it.

I arrived at Vienna on time – right after 10 AM. Rode Breda 4053 to Rosslyn. At Rosslyn, I got a message on my phone from Matthew Tilley. That turned into a phone call, where we discussed all sorts of stuff while I also watched birds do laps in the air above North Moore Street.

Then after that, I got on the Metro and rode Blue to Capitol South. I took a walk from the Capitol South station entrance up to Union Station, going by the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court in the process.

The Supreme Court building has netting around the pediment, due to a chunk of marble falling off the building and onto the steps on November 28. In addition, on the sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court, a pro-life group stood facing the building, symbolically gagged with red duct tape with “LIFE” written in black on the tape. Take a look:

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4 AM on the way home from DC means…

January 7, 2006, 12:49 AM

First of all, yes, I get home LATE when I go to Washington. VERY late. It’s actually “tomorrow” for the parents when I’m just finishing up my “today”. If I’m not home by four in the morning, I get a call on my cell phone from Mom, which is basically what I call the are-you-alive call. And the call’s purpose is usually just to figure out when I am and determine when I’ll be back home.

Usually when I get this call, I’m in or close to Harrisonburg. One goal for me for the ride home is to be at least as far as Harrisonburg if not past it when I get that call.

On my December 21 DC trip, I never got that call. And when I got home, I was like, “Why didn’t you call me?” And it’s funny – first few times when Mom started calling, it did annoy me slightly. Now I enjoy them and come to expect such things. In fact, the reason that not getting called that time bothered me was because I was so ahead of schedule that I wanted to brag about how ahead of schedule I was. Just like, “Aha, look at me!” And I never got to do that, sad to say.

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Categories: DC trips, Family

Meanwhile, in DC…

December 30, 2005, 12:26 AM

I took an “extra” DC trip this past Wednesday with Mom, Sis, and her boyfriend Chris Lysy. They had previously ordered tickets to see Wicked at the Kennedy Center for December 28, and when I found out that I would be off that day, I asked if I could come along, and Mom agreed. It turned out that my presence was quite helpful, as I knew exactly where I was going, both on the road and on the train, and also knew my way around Washington better than the rest of them. Plus I’m never one to pass up a trip to Washington, after all. Especially one where I didn’t have to pay for gas.

We were also celebrating Sis’s 21st birthday, which was on the 26th.

The trip was, to an extent, run like a regular DC trip of mine. Get to Vienna, park, ride to Rosslyn, go into Washington, run around for a bit, then go to Pentagon City. Our destinations while “running around” were things that Sis and I both picked.

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