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No more beautiful a day to get kicked out of the WMATA Rail Rodeo…

May 11, 2009, 8:05 PM

So Saturday was fun. I got together with Matthew Tilley, and we went to the WMATA Rail Rodeo at Branch Avenue Yard, went up to Dupont Circle (I had to stop by my office), and then checked out Amtrak’s National Train Day events at Union Station. The day didn’t go quite as expected, but we still had a lot of fun.

Starting out, of course, I picked Matthew up at his house. This would put my new GPS device, an early birthday present from my parents (thanks, Mom!), to the test. It did very well, and sent me on a very quick and easy route there, and one I would not have thought of – essentially the back way into Matthew’s neighborhood.

After I picked Matthew up, we got back on the Beltway, and rode over to Branch Avenue Yard to watch the rail rodeo in action. The WMATA Rail Rodeo, for those not familiar, is an annual event where Metro’s rail employees get to show off their skills in various competitions. The event is usually open to the public. I’d been wanting to go to the Rail Rodeo for some time, and this year, I finally did my homework ahead of time, writing Metro’s customer service department back in late February to find out the tentative date, and following up in late April to confirm that date.

Arriving at Branch Avenue Yard, we stopped at the security checkpoint at the gate, and indicated that we were here to see the rail rodeo. The security guard asked if we worked for Metro (we didn’t), checked my driver’s license, and waved us in. We parked, and asked a few Metro employees we found where the activity was. They weren’t too sure themselves. Okay, fine. We’re resourceful. So we went about finding out for ourselves. Matthew and I soon found ourselves in the shop building, where WMATA mechanics perform routine maintenance on the trains.

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Categories: Amtrak, Matthew, WMATA

A day of railfanning, and then a somewhat disturbing dream…

February 23, 2009, 8:44 PM

First of all, hello! I can’t believe it’s been a week since last I wrote a Journal entry. I guess I haven’t had much to say lately. But now I do.

And by that, let me tell you about the fun I had on Saturday! Matthew Tilley and I got together and hit the Metro, doing a railfan trip on the Blue, Orange, and Yellow Lines. The trip served two purposes. First of all, I really enjoy Matthew’s company, as we always have fun when we get together, and this was no exception. Secondly, I bought a new Canon PowerShot SX10 IS camera in the past week, and so this was also acceptance testing for the camera, as I ran it through all of its paces in the many varied lighting conditions that Metro offers.

Now if you’re wondering about why I got another new digital camera within a year of getting Duckie and the Kodak, and since neither of those cameras have broken down (trust me, I’d tell you), let me explain. When it comes to the Kodak and me, it’s not working out. Basically, the Kodak is a little too automated for my needs, and goes from fully automated to fully manual with very little in between. Big Mavica gave a lot of in-between options for shooting, and I had gotten accustomed to having those, and missed them terribly. So the Kodak will be going on eBay soon. I figure, while it didn’t work out with me, it will almost definitely be perfect for someone else, and so let’s see if I can recover some of my investment in it. Plus I can provide sample images taken with the exact camera being offered for sale, so we’ll see what happens.

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Categories: Dreams, Matthew, 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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And it looks like I know where I’m going to be living in DC…

April 30, 2007, 7:35 PM

As things presently stand, it looks like I’m going to be living in Wheaton, Maryland. The apartment is going to be nice. It’s got one bedroom and one bathroom, a good-sized living room, an eat-in kitchen, another separate dining area, and – the best part – a balcony. The balcony was the clincher for this deal. One thing I never liked about dorm life was having to go halfway across the building to be able to go outside. Now, I’ll be able to go out onto a balcony right off the living room. Sweetness on a stick.

And it’s within walking distance of Glenmont Metro.

However, here’s the kicker – the apartment won’t be available until May 20. The job starts May 14. This is when you find out who your true friends are. Matthew Tilley and his mother are letting me stay with them for that week before the apartment becomes available. So for a week, I’ll be living in Reston, and taking Metro to work from Vienna. Then that Friday, I’m going back to Stuarts Draft, getting a whole lot of stuff together on Saturday, and then moving into my apartment on Sunday. That will be when Wheaton becomes “home”, and Stuarts Draft officially becomes “my parents’ house”.

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“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

“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

Meanwhile, on Wednesday…

December 15, 2005, 10:45 PM

On Wednesday, I went up to northern Virginia, though not like you’d expect. This was by no means a “DC trip” like I usually do. Like my “accidental” DC trip in August, this was an off-week trip, but this time it didn’t involve the Metro at all (closest I got was driving past the 1C bus on two occasions), nor did it involve Pentagon City.

The official purpose of the trip was to make a run up to the DC metro area using US 29 via Charlottesville to see how well it would do as an alternate route. I also tested a variation on that route via Harrisonburg. Then while I was up that way, I also had a surprise in store for a friend.

So my trip went like so: I-64 westbound from Fishersville to Staunton. Swing north onto I-81, and take that as far as Harrisonburg. Here, we said goodbye to the Interstates for a while, which honestly are boring roads. I took a pass through JMU for old times’ sake, and ended up down near Valley Mall in Harrisonburg, at US 33. I took US 33 eastbound for a while. This took me through Elkton, in the eastern part of Rockingham County, and then up a mountain to Skyline Drive at Swift Run Gap. At the top of the mountain, we entered Greene County, and got into a monster of a backup. Two trucks were doing the safe thing – going down the mountain very slowly. We can’t fault them for that. Well, we could, but it wouldn’t be fair. Besides, the runaway truck ramp was snowed over, and looked pretty short anyway. I wouldn’t want to be a runaway truck and have to use that…

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Categories: DC trips, Driving, Matthew

Bad, bad parking…

December 7, 2005, 4:09 AM

Just a couple of things I want to show you before I go off to Washington DC this morning…

First of all, check this out:

Wearing the FliteStar vest

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A fun day was had by all…

October 27, 2005, 11:48 PM

Now that I’m back home, I’d like to tell you about my surprisingly eventful day in Washington on Wednesday. As I mentioned before, I spent much of the day railfanning with my friend Matthew Tilley. The day was “surprisingly” eventful for two main reasons. One was an incident at New Carrollton, and the other was an incident at Ballston.

I met up with Matthew Tilley at Rosslyn Center, where we’d previously agreed to meet. Not finding him right away, I looked outside the door, and saw a person matching his description outside. The person pulled out their cell phone. I had a feeling that mine would be ringing shortly. Not wanting to be detected, since I knew what I wanted to do here (you’ll see), I quietly stepped outside the door and waited. My cell phone went off as expected. “Hello?” Matthew says, “Where are you?” I replied, “I’m right behind you.” He turned around and hung up the phone. We ended up sitting at the tables on the first floor of Rosslyn Center for a few minutes before starting out, talking about what Metro and what we were going to do for the day and such.

Then we started out. Blue Line in the direction of Franconia-Springfield. We went as far as King Street. There, we got off, and I discovered a strange object on the platform:

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Categories: DC trips, Matthew, WMATA

What a fun time!

October 26, 2005, 5:25 PM

I had quite a fun time in DC with my friend Matthew Tilley today. We went railfanning, since he’s quite the Metro buff as well. We met up at Rosslyn, and then rode to Huntington via Arlington Cemetery with a transfer at King Street, then rode back up and transferred to the Blue Line again at L’Enfant Plaza, rode out to Morgan Boulevard and Largo Town Center, rode back to Stadium-Armory and transferred to an Orange Line train out to New Carrollton. Then we rode back in, and we parted company at L’Enfant Plaza. All in all, a fun day. We rode the trains, and also walked around at a number of stations. The Exeloo, however, was closed. A shame.

Meanwhile, now I’m at the Infoshop, where I’ve got a small notice posted to hopefully get some people to contribute to WikiProject Anti-war.

And next up: Pentagon City! This has really been a fun day, and I have lots of stories to tell you (particularly about our time at New Carrollton). I also got some beautiful photos today, and hopefully they’ll all come out like I want them to.

Categories: DC trips, Matthew