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No better day for a Metro ride… without pants.

January 10, 2011, 11:30 PM

Yes, you heard that correctly. Without pants. See, Sunday was the day that Capitol Improv did its annual “No Pants Metro Ride”. It’s the exact same idea as Improv Everywhere‘s No Pants Subway Ride in New York City, but this was in DC, on our subway.

The group met up at Hancock Park in DC, which is on the next block from the north entrance to L’Enfant Plaza station. As demonstrated in this photo, we had a good amount of people participating:

As demonstrated in this photo, we had a good amount of people participating.

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Categories: Events, WMATA

Obviously, the date and time would be too useful to display…

December 19, 2010, 1:59 AM

Coming back from a Christmas shindig in Northern Virginia this evening, I encountered this sign on the Beltway:

TERROR TIPS?  CALL 1-800-492-TIPS

Basically, the sign encourages people to report “terror tips” to the authorities at the aforementioned number. A little research indicates that the number goes to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, a state counter-terrorism agency.

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If this is how Metro is going to spend our money, then I want my fare increase back.

December 16, 2010, 7:31 PM

So Metro posted this little gem on YouTube today:

So Metro really thinks that security theater will make us safer? Really? Didn’t we like just discuss this a couple of years ago? I still firmly stand by what I said two years ago, and that is that it’s a waste of time and money.

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Categories: Security, WMATA

You know it’s something seriously Metro-geeky when I pull out the safety vest…

December 4, 2010, 12:23 AM

And it is. Take a look:

Wearing my WMATA vest

See, we did our annual office trivia contest on Friday, in the usual format. The way that works is that I ask a question, and the first person to get it right wins a prize, which comes from whatever freebie stuff we get over the course of the year. The topics are something I pick. In 2008, it was United States Presidents. In 2009, it was United States geography. In 2010, after complaints that I made the geography questions too easy, I went for something a little harder, yet something that people around here should know more about than they do: the Metro. Thus why I pulled out the safety vest. After all, if one is going to do a trivia contest about Metro, one should at least look the part. Thus I wore my WMATA safety vest at work when I hosted trivia.

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Categories: WMATA, Work

Greetings from CAF 5109…

November 17, 2010, 7:29 PM

First of all, hello from CAF 5109. I am riding the Red Line home from the Tenleytown area, having just had a wonderful time enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend. Always good to see friends, and nothing beats a hot cup of coffee on a cool fall evening.

Meanwhile, this is my first time actually writing a Journal entry on my netbook while on the Metro. The train is not crowded by any means, so I’m sitting sideways in a row and typing with the computer on one leg. And it seems to work. I’m listening to Randi Rhodes on podcast, and just tapping away on the keyboard. For those wondering, I don’t have Internet on here right now, but instead, I will post this when I get home. I’m too late for the 51, so I figure, I’m either going to take the Y9 bus or walk. Follow me on the Twitter and find out, I suppose. Meanwhile, this train did not service Farragut North, strangely enough. When we went through (without stopping), there was caution tape on the platform and a bunch of people in safety vests at the outbound end, but a lot of regular people on the inbound end. Go fig. I know that the L Street entrance was closed, but who knows if that’s related.

Then this weekend is raid weekend. It’s always fun to troll Scientology, and this ought to be good, though I’m concerned that our numbers will be down due to its being so close to Thanksgiving. This is, after all, the weekend before Thanksgiving, and I’m sure that many people will be taking off early for the holiday. However, Scientology is not above scamming people out of large sums of their money on the weekend before Thanksgiving, and thus we will be outside to troll. It’s this Saturday from 1-5 PM. Hope to see you there. Should be fun. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong on the numbers, and we’ll have a good number of (masked) faces out there trolling Scientology.

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Power-walker extraordinaire…

November 10, 2010, 12:16 AM

Well, what a crappy day today was. It just seems like a lot of stuff went wrong today. It started out with a call from the mechanic, where the Sable is currently undergoing yet another expensive repair. This time it’s the fuel pump and related equipment that decided to conk out on me. Basically, it’s a rehash of the problem from last Christmas, when Mom and I almost got stranded in Roanoke, except this time the car didn’t get back up again, and was down for the count, and so I had to fix it. After all, I live in the suburbs, and where I live, you need wheels. The reason that was no good is because I got the final number. The shop called me while I was at the bus stop, telling me that they wanted $2,200 for the work. I told them I’d need to get back with them on that. They called me back again while I was on the Metro, talking it down to $1,900. No go again. Have to get back with them. I managed to somehow get them down to $1,295, and that’s what it’s going to take to get my car going again. I get my car back soon, though I’m thinking that the Sable’s days might soon be numbered, because the old adages of “Fix Or Repair Daily” and “Found On Road Dead” are ringing very true for me, and that starts to add up to real money.

What would be really cute, though, is if the Sable started honking on its own every time I mention the words “new car”, a la Gertrude from Today’s Special.

Then at work, I had to attend to an emergency that would of course rear its ugly little head at 4:59 PM. I didn’t get out of the office until way later than I would have liked. Taking the 51 home was out of the question, since even with the new and later last 51 of the night, I hadn’t even left the office when that pulled up to the bus stop at Glenmont. So I ended up taking Metro home at night, and got to Glenmont around 10:45. According to NextBus, there wouldn’t be another Y9 going north for an hour.

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So I did one of the things I bought this netbook for…

November 5, 2010, 11:33 PM

Well, I did my first Video-Journal-on-the-go entries today. I did two videos, both on the Metro. I first did one in the morning:

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Yellow Line to Fort Totten…

October 21, 2010, 9:49 PM

On Tuesday, when I was perusing the Twitter while riding the Red Line home from work, I noticed a tweet that read, “Can’t for life of me figure out why @WMATA stops Yellow trains at Mt Vernon Sq during rush hr. I hear Ft Totten is lovely this time of year.” I gave as good of an explanation as 140 characters would allow, and got a thank you for my efforts along with expression of hope for the addition of a pocket track at Fort Totten. I then explained that it would be far more economical just to send trains to Greenbelt than to reconstruct things north of Fort Totten.

I felt my explanation was a little weak, mainly due to the 140 character limit that the Twitter imposes. So to @jeremycluchey, here’s a better explanation of the Fort Totten situation.

The short of it is that Fort Totten was never designed for turning trains in regular service with the full Green Line. While there is a switch at Fort Totten allowing trains to change tracks, its main purpose for existence there was to allow trains to cross over while the Green Line did not exist south of Fort Totten – thus Fort Totten’s lower level was being used as a stub-end terminal. From 1993 to 1999, one may recall, there was a gap in the Green Line. The segment of the line north of Gallery Place to U Street opened in 1991, and then the segment from Fort Totten to Greenbelt opened in 1993. The mid-city segment linking the two sections (including Columbia Heights and Georgia Ave-Petworth) didn’t open until 1999. That’s why the Green Line Commuter Shortcut existed in the 1990s.

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Categories: WMATA

So the question remains… could William Shatner run Metro better than the current Metro management?

September 22, 2010, 8:56 PM

Right around 5:00, I got an Email titled, “Dude! You made Slate!!!!” I followed the link in the message, and found an article on the online magazine Slate by Justin Peters called “$#*! @SenJeffMerkley Says“.

The gist of the article was to take tweets that people posted on the Twitter and use them as the basis for primetime television show concepts. Creative writing at its finest. The second one used my Twitter feed, of all things, and here’s what they said:

The @SchuminWeb Files
Office manager. Transit enthusiast. World-class detective. Ben Schumin is the man to call when something’s amiss with your D.C.-area morning commute. In this fall’s hottest new suspense drama, the plodding, methodical Schumin will tackle unsolved mysteries (“No underground cell service from Glenmont station to halfway to Wheaton. What’s wrong? #wmata”), investigate horrible crimes (“@FixWMATA Who do you think the thieves are? #wmata”), maintain the peace (“A kid is screaming on the train. Get this little noisemaker OFF MY TRAIN! #wmata”), and generally remain alert (“Note to self: Get off at Metro Center this morning. #wmata”). Co-starring William Shatner as X, the villainous head of the mysterious “#wmata” organization.

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Categories: Netculture, Social media, WMATA

The following is completely secret, and absolutely serious…

August 6, 2010, 11:20 PM

So today was interesting. It was a very quiet day at work today, with a lot of people either traveling on business or on vacation. We had so few people, we didn’t even do our regular “lunch buddies” today. However, that’s not to say I didn’t have a few amusing moments…

First of all, I would like to point out that the people that design digital projectors should be required to mount their own projectors and then change the bulbs in them. The bulb in the digital projector in one of our conference rooms recently burned out, and it ended up becoming a much more involved process than I had wanted. See, the manufacturer, InFocus in this case, put the access door for changing the bulb on the same side as the mounting apparatus. Thus in order to change the bulb, one must:

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Categories: Project Chanology, WMATA, Work

Welcome to Club Acela…

July 18, 2010, 3:05 PM

Welcome to Club Acela in Union Station. This is where the people with sleeper accommodations stay before boarding their train. But first you have to get there, and we got Alstom 6083 from Glenmont. I was disappointed to find that Mom had not read my Distinguishing Metro Rail Cars page, and thus was not able to identify our train as an Alstom. Of course, Mom was a little anxious about the whole thing. I ride Metro every day. I know what to look for, and I know the drill. She was hurrying, and I wasn’t. The destination sign wasn’t lit. The train won’t leave until the destination sign is lit. I quoted Jerry Seinfeld when he spoke about riding horses: “All right, hopalong, I know the trail.”

Then at Union Station, we went to the Swatch store. Mom ended up getting three watches (can never have enough of those), and then we went down to Gourmet Station in the food court. I love that place – it has some really good food. I first discovered it on a DC trip back in 2005 or so, and have always enjoyed it. Then after that, off to the club…

Meanwhile, I’m going to be hitting the Twitter pretty hard on this trip, and so if you’re not already following me, you should. And I’ve already been uploading to Twitpic, like this one where the sign talks about “safety and security”. Don’t you love it when people will throw around “security” for anything? I would dare say that the requirement to be on board two minutes before departure is more about maintaining the schedule than it is about safety or security. After all, they have a train system to run. You can’t run a train system effectively when people are late. Let’s just be honest about it. People have become accustomed to hearing people justifying everything by saying “security” for everything. Honesty is the best policy. You need to do this to maintain the schedule? SAY SO!

So we’ll be on the train in no time… see you in Chicago!

Categories: Amtrak, WMATA

So I decided to talk and drive again…

July 8, 2010, 2:19 PM

So on Wednesday evening, I decided to talk and drive again. I set the cell phone in the GPS holder once again, and started talking. I started at approximately 16th and T Streets NW, heading north on 16th Street:

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My favorite phrase in the evening…

July 2, 2010, 7:12 PM

My favorite phrase in the evening is definitely “51 NORBECK P&R“. That’s my bus, and it means I’m going home. And it looks like this:

51 to Norbeck Park and Ride

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Categories: Ride On, WMATA

You know, driving is starting to look really attractive…

June 7, 2010, 2:37 PM

Well, Metro announced its fare increase, and it’s now going to cost me $11.00 round trip for work. Multiply that by 22 workdays per month on average, and you’ve got $242 in commuting costs per month. By comparison, the cost of a monthly parking pass at my building is $230. Transit still edges out driving when you factor in the cost of gas and increased car maintenance, plus that early-evening nap that I like to take on the Metro going home. Plus I’ve made friendships on the bus, and I would miss those folks if I started driving to work every day. It’s those little intangibles that are keeping me on transit, even as the costs are coming close to being a wash.

But with this new fare increase, one really has to start wondering if Metro isn’t starting to price itself out of the market. For folks like me who commute from the suburbs and have a choice between driving and commuting, if driving becomes cheaper than public transportation, I’m driving. I don’t care that I’m a public transportation buff. If it’s more expensive than driving and parking, then the hell with it. I’ll add one more car to the road, spewing noxious fumes out its tailpipe.

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Categories: WMATA

Crunch…

May 7, 2010, 8:24 PM

So I was going to lunch at Lawson’s with a bunch of my coworkers today, and we saw this when we got to Dupont Circle:

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Categories: WMATA