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A week after the accident, and…

June 29, 2009, 9:56 PM

Well, it’s been a week since Metro had its big collision, and this was my first day back on Metro since my four-hour commute, and after driving to work for the remainder of the week due to my not wanting to deal with the shuttle bus service. Monday was the first workday that the Red Line was running on both tracks, much to my delight. Metro may have its hiccups, but at least I can sleep on the way home from work when I’m taking Metro. Can’t do that in the car. Have to stay alert for driving.

And today was one of those days where I slept well on the way home. In fact, I don’t think I’ve slept this well on Metro in a long time. I had my iPod going, and I kind of leaned my head along the edge of one of the windows. And the reduced speeds (as a post-accident safety precaution) made for a smoother ride. I vaguely remember New York Avenue station, and then the next thing I knew, we were outside Silver Spring, where we were waiting for what felt like eternity due to single-tracking caused by a track jumper at Forest Glen. That single-tracking made me miss my bus, causing me to have to wait ages for a Y bus at Glenmont. Not fun.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Metro General Manager John B. Catoe held an online chat to discuss the accident. The Lunchtalk chats that Metro does were something that Catoe inherited from his predecessors, Dick White and Dan Tangherlini. However, I got the distinct feeling that Catoe really didn’t want to do this chat, and that his hand might have been forced in doing it. Usually, you can submit your questions in advance. Not this time. For this chat, questions could only be submitted during the chat. And then for a chat that was advertised as an hour long, Catoe bolted after 45 minutes, saying, “Unfortunately I have to move on to my next appointment,” as he signed off early. And he didn’t answer my question:

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Categories: WMATA

After a four-hour commute, I am home.

June 22, 2009, 11:55 PM

Today was one of those days where I was glad to be home again after work. Metro had its deadliest accident in its history today, with six confirmed dead as of this writing, as two inbound Red Line trains collided between Takoma and Fort Totten stations:

June 22, 2009 Metro collision
Photo: Carole Watson (WRC)

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Categories: DC area local news, WMATA

Now those are some serious-looking storm clouds…

June 10, 2009, 9:38 PM

So this is what my commute looked like from the moment we emerged from the tunnel north of Union Station:

Storm clouds over Washington DC

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Categories: Weather, WMATA

If trains were planes?

May 15, 2009, 9:44 PM

I’ve been known to comment about Metro’s YouTube videos as being beyond corny, but this one was actually pretty good. This time, Metro did a spoof of the in-flight safety videos that the airlines do. Take a look:

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Categories: WMATA

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

An appointment, and a trip to Shady Grove…

April 7, 2009, 8:09 PM

So today was interesting. I had an eye appointment today in Chevy Chase, and so I only worked half a day, and spent the other half going to the appointment.

I decided to try something different today as far as my commute, to see if a different method worked better. Since my appointment was a block away from Friendship Heights station, and work is at Dupont Circle, instead of taking the 51 to Glenmont and taking the train like I usually do, I drove over to Shady Grove and took the train from there.

First of all, the drive over to Shady Grove from my house wasn’t too bad. I know the way quite well, traffic was moderate and moving, and so I just kind of zipped over and found a parking space. Then I got Rohr 1068 going in. Now that was kind of fun, since I got to see a lot of stations I hadn’t been to since 2006(!). After all, same destination as always – Dupont Circle – but coming from the other way. So instead of my usual run of stations, I got to ride through the other side. It’s been a while since last I saw all of the four-coffer arch stations on the Shady Grove side of the Red Line, and even longer since last I saw the outdoor stations out that way. And it’s very strange hearing “Red Line to Glenmont” in the morning, I must say, since of course, coming from Glenmont, I’ve become accustomed to hearing “Red Line to Shady Grove” first thing, and hearing “Glenmont” means I’m coming home.

However, the fare was a bit of a shocker – $4.50! Ouch! It’s only $4.00 from Glenmont, you see, so this was an added hit. But then from there, it was business as usual, walking the rest of the way to work.

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Categories: Personal health, WMATA

Friends don’t let friends wear mullets…

April 2, 2009, 9:26 PM

The fashion faux pas of the century:

Mullet lady on the Metro

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Happy birthday, Metro!

March 28, 2009, 4:56 AM

As of yesterday, it’s been 33 years since Metro first graced Washington with its presence. And I would say Metro had one hell of a birthday this year. According to Metro, a Red Line train derailed near Bethesda station, and the train being used to recover the first train subsequently derailed as well, causing a major delay on the Red Line for the evening commute.

So when I, walking to Dupont Circle station with our IT manager, arrived at the station, what a crazy scene it was, as the station was like mad crowded with people. As usual, my knowledge of Metro worked to our advantage. Rather than just guess at where to stand or otherwise randomly pick a spot, we stood right where a door was going to land. In the station on the Shady Grove side was a train that had just offloaded its passengers, because it was being turned to service the other side. Unaware of the derailment at the time, I thought that the train being turned was the cause of the delay. But no, it just crossed over to the Glenmont side just north of the station, and became a Glenmont train (I would have been royally PO’d if it had come into service as a Silver Spring train), which was packed to standing room right away. Though due to my knowledge of where to stand, we got a seat. That worked out, since I had a long ways to go. But amazingly enough, despite the major delay on Metro, on the Red Line, I got home on time. And for less, too, since I believe Metro adjusts the fares during major delays, since my normally $4.00 ride cost $3.35.

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Categories: WMATA

Can I do the door announcement a little too well?

March 20, 2009, 3:07 PM

You know, my friends and coworkers say I can do Metro’s door announcement a little too well. So I’d like you to take a listen to my impression of Metro’s current door announcement:

“Doors opening! Step back to allow customers to exit. When boarding, please move to the center of the car.”

“Step back, doors closing!”

And then compare this with the real thing, seen here on Breda 2007:

So what do you think? Is it a good impression, or do I do it just a shade too well? You be the judge…

Categories: WMATA

I just realized I never told you about my weekend…

March 9, 2009, 11:38 PM

What fun I had! I got to take a bunch of railfan photos, and I also got to meet the DC area Wikipedia gurus once again.

First, though, I railfanned. I had gotten wind on the Railroad.net forums that Metro would be single-tracking between Vienna and West Falls Church, and with that configuration, that usually means that (A) some trains will be terminating at West Falls Church instead of Vienna, and (B) trains will be utilizing the center track at West Falls Church to cross over to the proper track for single-tracking.

Thus, I rolled on over to West Falls Church, coming down from Glenmont via Metro Center. I caught a train terminating at West Falls Church, and was initially disappointed because the train offloaded at West Falls Church on the correct track. I was disappointed because I figured that they would terminate the short-turn trains on the center track and then dwell there before departing to New Carrollton.

Before we continue, here’s the track layout at West Falls Church:

Track layout at West Falls Church

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Categories: Wikipedia, WMATA

So rather than use an actual photo of the station your complex is named after, now you’ve resorted to photoshopping…

March 8, 2009, 11:33 PM

Remember back in June when I criticized the people advertising the Fort Totten Station complex for using Clarendon station in their advertising? Well, they fixed it… kind of. Take a look:

Fort Totten Station advertisement
March 4, 2009 issue of Express, page 2

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Categories: Advertising, WMATA

So, yeah, it was nasty this morning…

March 2, 2009, 9:54 PM

I think the one time that taking public transportation to work truly sucks is when it’s snowing outside, and you have to wait outside for the bus out in all of that. And let me tell you something… it was really coming down. The federal government had a late opening today (two hours late), and I think that definitely worked to my advantage, since it gave everyone a chance to dig out and give the buses a better chance to get where they’re going, and for the sidewalks to get cleared so as to lessen the chance of my falling on snow and ice.

And because of my later start time, I wasn’t able to take the 51 to work, since the last 51 of the morning goes past my house at 8:40. So I went down to Georgia Avenue and caught the Y5. And as you can see, it was nasty out there when the bus arrived:

The Y5 arrives along Georgia Avenue in Montgomery County

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Categories: Winter weather, WMATA

Presenting the newest display function for photo sets…

February 25, 2009, 9:51 PM

Yes, I found the coolest new feature for the photo sets. It’s called “lightbox”, and basically, it allows you to enlarge the photos on the page without going to a separate page. What I usually do for photo sets, you may recall, is if you click an image, you go to a separate page where you are presented with an enlargement of the image and the caption. Thus it usually looks like this in this excerpt from the Weekend with Katie photo set:

A Red Line train to Glenmont arrives at Metro Center on the Shady Grove platform.

A Red Line train to Glenmont arrives at Metro Center on the Shady Grove platform.

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Categories: Schumin Web meta, 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

So we had a meeting of about fifteen people, all named “David”, outside the Founding Church of Scientology on a Saturday afternoon. And that means…

February 9, 2009, 9:27 PM

Yes, a meeting of about fifteen people, all named “David”, outside the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington DC on a Saturday afternoon means that it was once again time for Anonymous DC to have its monthly raid, protesting the practices of the Church of Scientology. And as always, we had fun, we had epic win, and we had more than enough lulz to go around. And in Anonymous, everyone is “David”.

This time around, the theme was “Space Opera”, taking a science fiction theme, mainly centering around Star Wars.

MisterTastee wore two cinnamon buns on his head, imitating Princess Leia's distinctive hairstyle.
MisterTastee wore two cinnamon buns on his head, imitating Princess Leia’s distinctive hairstyle.

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Categories: Project Chanology, WMATA