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A very hot day in DC!

June 9, 2005, 9:28 PM

What a hot day it was on Wednesday. But it was a fun day, though I tried to spend as little time as possible in the sun, and outside for that matter. A good day to go railfanning for most of the day, as Metro’s air-conditioned in and out, with varying degrees of effectiveness.

But first, some outdoor photography, with an emphasis on vertical photos, so that they would be easy to use in the photo feature on the main page. I spent a little time downtown, since I wanted some new urban photography for use on the Web site. I was successful here, and so I got off at Farragut West and walked down to Murrow Park, across the street from the World Bank. Last time I was down that way was for A16, when Sis and I went to a big demonstration.

This particular day, it was, as expected, normal. I got a few pictures, and then slipped into the Starbucks across the street from the World Bank. Now you want to know what was downright bizarre? Wherever there was a fire alarm strobe, there was not one, but two. A Gentex strobe was to the left, and a Wheelock strobe to the right. Like this:

Two different fire alarm strobes, side by side

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Categories: DC trips, Shopping, WMATA

My adventure in College Park…

May 26, 2005, 7:51 PM

I went up to the DC area today, and, in an unusual twist of things, spent NO time above ground in downtown Washington DC.

Arriving at Vienna, one thing I quickly noticed in the North Garage was that the contractor had completed work on the first section of the garage to undergo rehabilitation, and had moved to the second section. I’m not quite sure what they did in rehabilitating it, since it looked exactly the same as it did before. Who knows. On the top level, a pickup truck was parked so badly in its space so as to make the opening for the space next to it a little too close for comfort. Thus there was this very attractive looking empty space, but it was a little too tight of a squeeze to get in there. I ended up having to wait for the guaranteed spaces to open up at 10:00, and then parked on the third level.

Getting on the train at Vienna, I rode a mixed consist of Breda 4000-series cars and CAF cars. Leaving the station, the 4000s were in front, and the four CAFs followed behind. The operator out of Vienna knew me from a previous trip.

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I finally settled my conscience in regards to a March 16 incident…

May 23, 2005, 10:50 PM

I finally settled my conscience regarding a run-in with Metro’s contractor on March 16 at Stadium-Armory. You may know that Metro has Lunchtalk Online chats twice a month. Last Friday’s chat was with Richard White, Metro’s General Manager/CEO, as well as the two new Red Line managers, BJ Jones and Bob Hester, on improving the Metro system.

So I posted a message entitled Safety practices of Metro canopy construction contractor, where I discussed what happened on that day. Mr. White responded that they would follow up with the contractor, which made me feel much better about the whole incident.

By the way, I originally wrote about this incident in my Journal, in the entry dated March 17, 2005 at 5:37 PM, entitled “All in all, it was a good trip to Washington!

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Categories: WMATA

There was some unexpected excitement when I went to Washington DC this time…

May 12, 2005, 10:10 PM

Yeah, this was not your average Washington DC trip on Wednesday, though not like I noticed anything different aside from the buzz of the people throughout the city.

Normal start, though. Get up, go on up to DC, and find a parking space at Vienna. This time, I actually found a pretty good one, though. As luck would have it, a woman was leaving the parking garage as I was hunting, and so I got a parking space on the top level of the garage, no more than fifty feet from the elevator. Very nice parking. I saw her walking towards the cars, and I said, “Where are you heading?” She pointed to the car, and I positioned myself to get into place. She pulls her car out, and mine goes in.

Then from there, I did my usual Rosslyn thing, and then went back into the Metro right around noon or so.

Meanwhile, in DC, the fun began, as air controllers noticed a small Cessna plane flying into restricted air space over the White House and such. This led to evacuations of the Capitol, the White House, the Supreme Court, and a few other government buildings.

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Amazing what bad press will do…

April 17, 2005, 10:50 PM

Seems that after the Washington Nationals got some bad press due to their decision not to pay for extra Metro service, the DC Sports Commission stepped up to the plate and agreed to keep Metro running. And a spokesman for the DC Sports Commission, according to the article, “insists there will be a deal in which the Nationals agree to cover any costs.”

I learned about this just moments after putting out the Journal entry about A16, where I discussed, among other things, “corporate welfare”. As long as the Nationals actually pay for the extra service that their events require, I’m satisfied. Though that will evaporate if the Nationals don’t pony up the funds, since all that this move does is take the cost of extra service out of Metro’s hands and move it to the DC Sports Commission, which is also a governmental agency – an independent agency under the DC government, but a government agency nonetheless. And I’m not particularly fond of tax dollars going to subsidize professional sports.

I’m all for the Nationals, as long as DC doesn’t sell its soul for them.

Categories: Companies, WMATA

A16… and what a day it was!

April 17, 2005, 10:15 PM

April 16, 2005 was definitely an interesting day for all involved. It was on this day that a large demonstration against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund was planned. As is the usual case with days that I go to big demonstrations, I fit the trip into the framework of my regular trips to Washington DC that I make every two weeks or so. The big difference on this trip, though, was that I took my sister with me. I normally don’t take anyone with me when I go on my DC trips. It’s just me. Last time I took anyone to DC with me was when Mom and Sis and I went to Washington DC on August 9, 2003, when we did my A Day in DC photo set. Since then, I’d met both Dad and Mom on trips to Washington DC in April 2004 and July 2004 respectively, but since our agendas were so different, each made their way up to DC separately.

So at the early hour of 5 AM, Sis and I set off for Washington DC, but not before the car gave us trouble starting up. Don’t know what caused that, since it was working fine the day before, and also worked fine on the rest of the trip. So who knows. On the way up, we made my usual stops – one at the Sheetz in Mt. Jackson, and once at Wal-Mart in Manassas. Sis got to give the self-checkouts in Manassas a whirl, and we got a shot of that:

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Stand to the right!

April 11, 2005, 11:55 PM

Interestingly enough, a post made on Metroriders made me think about something that I noticed when Katie and I went to Lynchburg and Roanoke last Wednesday.

First of all, the post is here.

Now… so you know the background information, the unwritten rule of etiquette on Metro escalators is to stand to the right, and walk to the left. Tourists in DC are the biggest violators of this bit of Metro etiquette, though we will cut them a little (very little) bit of slack for being from out of town and not knowing DC Metro etiquette. But if you ride Metro, if you’re just riding the escalators, stand on the right side so that those walking the escalators can pass you.

I realized that I had internalized the unwritten “stand to the right” rule when Katie and I were at Valley View Mall in Roanoke. Valley View Mall is a two-story mall, and several sets of escalators link the two levels. I got on the escalator first, and immediately found the right side of the escalator without even thinking about it. Katie, on the other hand, kind of stood wherever. She’s never ridden the Metro before, so she’s never needed to put “stand to the right” into practice. Still, when I saw Katie standing in the middle-to-left part of the escalator, I encouraged her to stand to the right because that’s what you’re supposed to do on the escalator. Then I realized where I was. I wasn’t in Washington. I was in Roanoke, and more than 300 miles from a Metro station.

Still, I stood to the right nonetheless. It made me feel better.

And remember – if ever you go to Washington DC, stand to the right and walk to the left on the escalators, or you’ll leave some very aggravated Metro riders in your wake.

Categories: Katie, Roanoke, WMATA

All in all, it was a good trip to Washington!

March 17, 2005, 5:37 PM

My first DC trip since the operation went very well, aside from the two incidents that happened that I told you about in that post I made from the Infoshop.

As I’ve said on here before, timing during the week is a balancing act, and it also takes a bit of luck. The reason that timing is important is twofold. First off, I can’t use an all-day pass before 9:30 during the week. So if I arrive way before that time, if I want to go anywhere, I have to use my SmarTrip and pay full fare. Secondly, there’s parking. I like parking in the North Garage at Vienna because it’s close to the station, and considering that I usually arrive at Vienna right around when Metro is closing for the evening, I feel more comfortable being closer in. But with it being choice parking, it fills up quickly. So if all the regular parking spaces fill up, I can’t park until 10:00 when the reserved spaces open to the public. There have been times when I can slip right into a space. There have been other times when I end up having to circle the garage for 20 minutes waiting for the reserved spaces to open up, since by the time I get there, once you’re in the lot or garage, you can’t leave without paying by SmarTrip.

On this particular day, Metro had posted a sign outside the North Garage saying that all regular spaces were full, and only reserved parking was available. To me, that’s a sign that is really saying to come back at 10:00 for parking.

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Categories: DC trips, WMATA

Old friends, new friends – that best describes my most recent DC trip…

February 11, 2005, 2:23 AM

I went to Washington DC on the first-regular-trip-after-a-big-demonstration trip on Wednesday. And yes, this being the first trip after a big demonstration is significant. I’ve always found that those trips, which I’ve experienced three times in the past, always feel a bit odd. On those trips, the most recent DC memory is of a big demonstration, and not whatever regular antics I get into. Who knows. Hard to describe, but it always feels a little strange.

Anyhow, the trip could be best described as a day of meeting old and new friends. But before meeting anyone, I first took some close-up photos of 1117 19th Street in Rosslyn, which is currently undergoing demolition. Recall, from my J20 Life and Times set:

This building at Rosslyn was in the process of being demolished at the time of my visit.  What will replace it?  Who knows.  Let's admit, though - it was not a particularly nice looking building, and I can't say I'll miss it.

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Richard White answered my question!

January 28, 2005, 11:07 PM

First of all, in case you’re wondering, who is Richard White, let me explain. Richard White is the General Manager of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, otherwise known as Metro.

My question was as follows:

Mr. White:
As a recent college graduate with a degree in Public Administration, and also as a transit enthusiast, I am considering a career with Metro. Are there any pointers you might give on how to best “get a foot in the door” with Metro?

And his answer was helpful in providing direction to me. I’ve linked to his response below. It feels so good to have my question answered on the WMATA forum.

And my next trip to Washington is February 2 with my friend Katie.

Categories: WMATA

The Counter-Inaugural…

January 21, 2005, 11:10 PM

On January 20, 2005, George W. Bush was inaugurated as President of the United States for a second term. While many were in Washington to cheer Bush on, others were in Washington to demonstrate against the Bush administration. I was with the latter group. We did not agree with the Bush Administration’s policies, and were out there voicing it.

I actually got up for this event at midnight. It turned January 20, and I was up and running. I left the house at 1 AM, and, after having to turn around a few miles out because I forgot some stuff, I was off again for real. I made it to the Sheetz in Mt. Jackson for breakfast at 2 AM, and, realizing that I was WAY further ahead than I anticipated, I decided to eat in rather than eating on the go, which I usually do. Not bad. And then we were off!

Next stop: Wal-Mart in Woodstock for some “protest supplies”. Namely, bottled water. So I bought a 12-pack of Aquafina for possible later use. And we continue, on to Vienna.

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And now, on my way to Washington DC at this extremely insane hour…

January 19, 2005, 10:38 PM

If you can imagine this, I’m going to try to get to Washington a full four and a half hours earlier than usual today. The reason is because it’s Bush’s second inaugural, and I will be attending a few counter-demonstrations today. I call it the we-hate-Bush crowd.

I wonder if I’ll run into Mrs. Weekley, my high school government teacher (and GPOS 225 professor at JMU by virtue of AP credit) while I’m up there. She told me at Wal-Mart that she was going, and that is what sealed the deal for my going to the inaugural protests, even though we won’t be going together. I wonder if Mrs. Weekley’s planning on going to the ANSWER-sponsored events, or if she’s going to the march by DAWN. I don’t know, but I do know that ANSWER has fallen out of favor with a number of people, and even got booed at the Million Worker March. I’m going to the DAWN events.

I also wonder if Bush’s car will get nailed with eggs again this year, since that came up a few times in discussion with coworkers. Speaking of coworkers, I got “mixed reviews” on this demonstration, even from some of the we-hate-Bush crowd. I guess because it is the inauguration, and thus not just a “regular” demonstration such as J5 or the Million Worker March.

And the following Metro stations will be closed at various points in the day to “accommodate the security precautions related to the inauguration, the parade, and inaugural balls”: Smithsonian, Archives-Navy Memorial, and Mount Vernon Square/7th Street Convention Center. A railfan friend of mine was amazed that Federal Triangle was not also closing.

Categories: Activism, DC trips, WMATA

Today was a busy Saturday…

January 8, 2005, 7:28 PM

Yes, this was a busy day today. Though not nearly as bad as pre-Christmas, mind you. Still, this reinforces the point that I cannot stand the express lanes – the “20 items or less” lanes where every other customer comments about that “rule”, getting on my nerves in the process, and the fact that the customers put their items on the edge of the counter without fail. And the more delicate and breakable they are, the closer they put it to the edge. Then there are the debit reader machines. If you’ve ever paid with a card at Wal-Mart, you’ll know that when you’re finished, the machine displays “ask cashier to press debit key” or “ask cashier to press credit key”. And so I hear a hundred times a day from customers, “Press the credit key” or “You need to press the credit key”. I don’t think that they realize that I can see what method they’ve used without their interaction. I so wish Wal-Mart would change that message to something else, like “Thank you” so that I don’t have to be told by umpteen customers how to do my job like I’m an idiot.

Anyway, end of rant.

Meanwhile, I need to make an appointment with the doctor for a repetitive-stress injury that I got around Christmas that I had hoped would go away on its own. So it hurts in both wrists to scan some items. And unlike some people, I’m not out for blood. I’m just concerned about getting better. That’s all.

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Categories: Clothing, Comics, DC trips, WMATA

Pentagon City… explored!

January 5, 2005, 4:13 PM

Well, I went to Washington as planned on Tuesday. And I had fun! First of all, I accomplished my official goals for the trip. Those were to pay a visit to the Infoshop at 9th and P Streets NW, and explore Pentagon City. And those went well.

Now for the story.

I overslept this time! I’m just like, aw, crap! when I looked at the clock. True, I had no definite schedule, but still, parking can be tricky. But I still managed to snag a parking space in the North Garage at Vienna, on the top level like I like it. And I was somehow able to turn 90 minutes late into 60 minutes late. That takes talent.

Once I got onto the Metro, I rode in to Rosslyn, and caught my read of the Express. And then I caught Breda 4058 at Rosslyn, to head into Washington.

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Categories: DC trips, Sheetz, WMATA

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2004, 12:32 AM

Hope that everyone’s Thanksgiving has gone well, and that everyone’s full with turkey, stuffing, and all kinds of other tasty foods. I am, that’s for sure.

On the day before Thanksgiving, however, I went to Washington DC, mainly to see the newest Metro station – New York Avenue-Florida Avenue-Gallaudet U. Nice Metro station, by the way (we’ll be revisiting this point later).

Since it was the day before Thanksgiving, I took traffic into consideration. Traffic on I-81, which I take for roughly 79 miles from Staunton to Strasburg, was heavier than usual, but not bad. Mind you, I did try to counter heavier traffic to an extent by leaving more than an hour earlier than usual. On I-66, traffic got thicker earlier than usual on the way to Washington. Usually I hit two traffic bottlenecks around Exit 43 going eastbound, before I-66 widens into four lanes each direction. This time, traffic got heavy starting in Fauquier County, which is what I consider the last county before you officially enter “Northern Virginia” – in other words, Prince William County in this case. Then I hit the usual traffic bottlenecks around Exit 43 and made it to Vienna. Along the route, I saw no police on I-81, and three police cars on I-66. One was running a speed trap on the eastbound side in Fauquier County, and then two were running a speed trap on the westbound side in Prince William County. Interestingly enough, the two doing westbound speed traps were both in the same spot. I guess they were really going in for the kill.

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Categories: DC trips, WMATA