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“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

And we say goodbye to Richard White, it seems…

January 11, 2006, 11:39 PM

According to this January 11, 2006 press release from Metro and this January 12, 2006 Washington Post article, it seems that Richard White (Metro’s General Manager), and Metro will be parting ways.

But don’t expect to see Richard White sitting next to the street escalators outside Metro Center chasing away the pigeons. According to the Washington Post:

Because three years remain on White’s contract, he will receive a severance package that includes a cash payment of $238,000, continued health insurance and an annual pension of $116,000 for the rest of his life. Upon his death, his spouse will receive $58,000 annually until she dies. He also receives a SmarTrip card good for free travel on Metro for life.

They also said that White has told his staff that he is considering job offers in the private sector. So it seems he will be landing on his feet.

Replacing him as General Manager is Dan Tangherlini, who is director of the DC Department of Transportation. He also served as an alternate on the WMATA board.

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Categories: WMATA

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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Fodder for America’s Funniest Home Videos?

December 22, 2005, 8:24 PM

I went up to the Washington DC area once again on Wednesday, and all in all, I had a good day.

The daytime took me all around the Metro doing railfan stuff. I rode the entire length of the system in Virginia, going from Vienna to Rosslyn to Franconia-Springfield, to King Street, to Huntington, and then into Washington via the Fenwick Bridge. While I was at it, by the way, I also rode the entire length of the Yellow Line all at once, riding from Huntington to Mt. Vernon Square. I also checked out the new entrance at King Street, which opens out onto Commonwealth Avenue. It’s nice and new and such, and still harmonizes with the original part of the station, which opened in 1983.

I spent the late afternoon, which is bad for urban photography due to dark shadows cast by buildings (but great if you can avoid it – same goes for early morning), at Dupont Circle and also Union Station. Dupont Circle was basically a photography thing – in, photograph, back out. Then at Union Station, I got a phone call from Mom: “Where did you go today?” This is where we realized that I forgot to tell Mom where I was going. Told Dad, but not Mom. Oops. So I filled her in.

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Hello from Pentagon City!

November 16, 2005, 5:44 PM

Hello all from the Apple store at Pentagon City Mall! (Yes, I’m writing this on a Mac.) What a fun day I’ve had. I went around to Lafayettte Square, where I met up with one of the DAWN demonstrators from February. I saw lots of people engage them in debate, as they were doing a similar anti-torture demonstration in front of the White House. However, no arrests this time.

After that, I went up and around on the Metro, and even took a bus from Fort Totten to Georgia Avenue-Petworth. Flxible 9802, running on the 64. Then I got one of the happiest train operators on earth (some of you may know who I’m referring to) for the ride to Gallery Place-Chinatown.

I also tried to visit the Infoshop, but they were closed when I came by. They would reopen at 6 PM, but I wasn’t about to wait more than an hour for them to open up. Ah, well…

And now, it’s Pentagon City time…

Categories: Activism, DC trips, WMATA

I now know what happens when you overstay your welcome at the Exeloo…

November 11, 2005, 1:47 AM

I went to Washington on Wednesday, and had fun. I explored around Washington Circle near the Foggy Bottom station, explored a bit around the Friendship Heights station, and also walked through the neighborhood along Connecticut Avenue between the Cleveland Park and Woodley Park-Zoo Metro stations. All in all, it was a relaxing day, and I got some awesome photos.

First of all, Washington Circle. You may recall that I first visited Washington Circle by accident, on my “accidental” DC trip in August. There, I discovered Washington Circle while trying to find my way to I-66 from downtown Washington, and took four laps around the circle in the process. This time, I just took one lap, for photos, all the while amused about my past experience.

Also, despite DC being a large city, it’s really a small, small world. At Washington Circle, by pure chance, I ran into someone I’d first met at Dupont Circle on September 24. Here she is then:

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Categories: DC trips, WMATA

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

I’ll bet you had no idea that the Blue Line ran to Staunton…

October 23, 2005, 6:59 PM

Yes – in this very strange dream that I had, Metro runs to Staunton, near where I live. Specifically, Staunton Mall. And specifically, the Blue Line.

In this dream, Mom and I were at Staunton Mall at night. We were out shopping, and I discovered that there was a Metro station at Staunton Mall. It was an elevated station, with side platforms similar to Eisenhower Avenue or West Hyattsville. So while Mom was telling me to hurry up and such, I went up and visited the station. Somehow, in this dream though, I wasn’t on the platform. I was in the trackbed. There were no “third rails” in the trackbed, for some reason. Go figure. After I’d crossed from one track to the other, Mom shouted to me that I was in the tracks and what if a train was coming. That’s when I decided to climb up onto the platform opposite where I originally was (which I was now standing next to). Then I noticed something to my right:

Train similar to the one in my dream

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Categories: Dreams, Staunton Mall, WMATA

One word about the protest on Saturday

September 26, 2005, 2:46 AM

I have just one word for the September 24 protest: WOW.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many people out against the war in Iraq and the like, even counting J20 (which seemed to consist of a smaller, but very dedicated bunch). They say that more than 100,000 people attended.

I’m working on a full narrative for this trip like I did for the Million Worker March, J20, and A16. The full report for this trip will end up in Life and Times as a photo set when I’m done with it. Unlike in those other three cases, however, I’m not posting the narrative here. It will go up when I finish the entire set.

All in all, I took 391 photos and 41 movies. Of that, roughly 360 photos and 30 movies were protest-related, while another 31 photos and 11 movies were rail-geek stuff.

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Categories: Anti-war, DC trips, Family, WMATA

The weather held out, though it looked likely to rain at any moment.

September 1, 2005, 11:43 PM

My trip to Washington DC on August 31 was a good trip, though I was expecting some rain to keep me indoors for much of it. If that turned out to be the case, I was going to go explore the Crystal City Underground (by the way, here’s an interesting article about Crystal City’s future). But it turned out that the weather would hold out for me, and so things went differently.

But on the way, up, I got quite an unpleasant surprise:

Gas prices at the Sheetz in Mt. Jackson, Virginia

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If it’s possible to make an unexpected trip to Washington, this is it.

August 13, 2005, 12:14 AM

Thursday, August 11, was, to say the least, interesting. My plan was to go to Fredericksburg and to Potomac Mills via Richmond. The idea was to go to Potomac Mills first, and then to Fredericksburg on the way back down. That would take me on I-64 east from Waynesboro, and then up I-95 from Richmond. Let me just say that plans changed a bit.

I did the I-64 to I-95 thing just fine. I stopped at Zion Crossroads to get a quick breakfast at McDonald’s, and then also made a pit stop at the rest area in Goochland. Interesting there was running into a coworker from Wal-Mart. About 80 miles southeast of the store, and I run into a coworker. She was visiting family in Hopewell. After that, I successfully made the switch to I-64 eastbound to I-95 northbound.

Going north on I-95, which is three lanes each way even in rural areas, I made a quick stop in Massaponax, which is just south of Fredericksburg. Nice area, but awful traffic situation. Too many lights in too small of an area, and people often are sitting in the middle of an intersection. However, at a Raceway gas station, I did get gas for $2.21 a gallon, which is considered cheap at this time. Woo hoo. Blasted gas prices. Looking at this in the not-too-distant future, when gas has rocketed to eight or nine bucks a gallon, I’ll be like, I can’t believe that gas was $2.21 a gallon!

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Categories: DC trips, Driving, Shopping, WMATA

I lost my Breda sticker… very sad.

August 6, 2005, 7:29 PM

How sad, indeed. I lost my “My other car is a Breda” bumper sticker magnet. I think I know how I lost it, though. I believe I lost it when I took my car through the car wash on Friday with the magnet still in place. I noticed it after work on Saturday, after Mom and I went to Home Depot (she met me after work), when I finally got a good look at the back of my car when she drove me back to it, and noticed it was missing – showing an outline of dirt around where the sticker used to be. Mom said that next time I go through a car wash, I need to remove the magnets first. Good idea.

And it’s not like the sticker is irreplaceable. I still have the pattern for it, so I’ll just have a new one made up. This would also be an opportune time for me to get the “Stand to the right” bumper sticker that I designed, to add to the right side of the car, similar to the Breda sticker. The Breda sticker being on the left was a coincidence. The “stand to the right” sticker being on the right is deliberate. After all, that would be a little hypocritical otherwise, no? The “stand to the right” sticker magnet standing on the left side of my car? No. Still, check it out:

"On Metro escalators, please... STAND TO THE RIGHT"

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Categories: Arlington, Toyota Previa, WMATA

DC can be so fun, but in this heat, the fun is best had in the shade or indoors…

July 21, 2005, 10:03 PM

I had fun in DC on Wednesday the 20th. It was a long day, but fun nonetheless.

However, the fun didn’t start right away. Oh, no. The drive up to Vienna was “more challenging” than usual. For those of you who don’t know, my car will have been in our family for fifteen years this month. So it’s an old car as these things go. And it’s seen fairly continuous service for those fifteen years. As a result, things start doing strange things as they age. My cruise control can be a little tricky sometimes. When it wants to work, I get up to speed, start it up, and then set it. It will catch, and it will work fairly well. However, other days, it will do one of two things. It will either try to catch and miss, or do nothing at all. In both cases, the cruise control light blinks several times, and then goes out, and the light will not come on again until the car is restarted. The end result is no cruise control until the car has had several hours sitting turned off.

So coming off of VA 608 in Fishersville onto I-64, I set my cruise. It caught and we were sailing. Changing to I-81, I always come off of cruise control, since it’s too tight a curve to take at full speed. Then once I get back onto I-81, I set the cruise control back to where it was. And life is good, don’t you see. Today, coming off the ramp and onto I-81, in re-setting my cruise control, it missed. So no cruise for me on the way up! Thus instead of just sailing up there, I was kind of doing an up-and-down thing speeding up and slowing down, since my mind wants to be on cruise control, but my car just won’t agree to it. I’ll get up to the proper speed, and then accidentally let it drop. Not a good thing. So we have to start over, getting to the right speed again. It’s a vicious cycle. After my stops at Sheetz and Wal-Mart on the way up, I checked my cruise again to see if it would come to life again (it sometimes does), but unfortunately no. No cruise for me. Several blinks and then dark. But at least it’s during the day, and I’m still fresh as a daisy.

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Malcolm X Park: Mission Accomplished

July 7, 2005, 9:48 PM

Yes, I had a very productive time in Washington DC. Though I did get a touch of a late start. But we recovered. I ended up making up the time by hurrying along my Sheetz stop on the way up, plus traffic was lighter than usual going in. Usually I hit a considerable bottleneck from mile 41-45 on eastbound I-66, and this time, while I did encounter traffic (slowed due to construction vehicle movements), it was not as bad as I’ve seen it. So I was able to breeze right through. I still got to Vienna a touch late, but no problem.

I also finally found some background information on the I-66 construction.

At Vienna, I got a pleasant surprise – a parking spot on the top level, close to the elevator. Usually, and especially since the garage rehabilitation project began, I can only get a parking spot in the North Garage after 10:00, when the guaranteed spaces open up. So that was handy. Also, the rehabilitation work has moved once again, now encompassing the western ramp between levels. How strange it is to have that section closed off now, since that’s the ramp I usually use going up and down.

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When things go so well, you wonder where in the ointment that we’ll finally find the fly…

June 23, 2005, 10:37 PM

As anyone who read my away message on Wednesday saw, I was in the DC area. And things went smoothly. Very smoothly. The kind of so-smoothly that makes you start to wonder where the kinks are going to show up. I got up right on time before my alarm clock (unlike the late start I got last time), and got out without a hitch. My cruise control held up for the entire trip (it’s been known to cut out from time to time), and I encountered no major traffic jams on eastbound I-66 coming in. Usually I encounter traffic at around milepost 41 (just past the Haymarket exit), and it usually doesn’t clear until milepost 46 (just before the Manassas exit). Clear sailing right on in. Traffic only really got thick right around the Nutley Street exit, which is the one I take to access the Metro station. Beyond Nutley Street, and approaching the Beltway, however, was where the traffic was. I’ve often contemplated skipping Vienna and driving a few miles further to park at West Falls Church (where I noticed the new parking garage was underutilized), but all that traffic kept me at Vienna.

By the way, I currently am comfortable in driving to two Metro stations: Vienna and Franconia-Springfield. Vienna of course is my Metro station of choice. I always start at Vienna. Out of all my trips to DC, I’ve only not originated at Vienna twice (and one of those is only half a non-originate at Vienna). Once was my first trip ever to DC, back in 1994 at the age of 13. Our family went with friends, and we stayed over at another friend’s house. We ended up driving around to Pentagon City in Arlington, interestingly enough, and parked at the parking garage at Pentagon City Mall. That’s how I learned of Pentagon City Mall’s existence, and I still go there all the time, as I love Pentagon City, though for differing reasons over the years. I used to actually seriously shop there, but now the mall is more like a hangout, where I spend about $5 there to get something quick to eat and get a newspaper and then park myself somewhere to enjoy it all. I have no idea how to get to Pentagon City by car (I wasn’t driving), but could probably figure it out.

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