Archive for May, 2006

Train Nightmares

I really hope, dear readers, that none of you were intending to take Amtrak’s Metroliner or Acela trains to New York and back today, or were planning on using the MARC rail system. This morning around 8am, Amtrak lost power along their entire DC to NY train route, causing trains to get stuck in the tunnels in Baltimore and beneath the Hudson River in New York. One train was stuck in Baltimore and evacuated, and four more were stuck in the Hudson River Tunnel.

As of now, power has been restored between DC and Perryville, MD and between NY Penn and Trenton, NJ, and trains have been moved from their tunnels, however, rail service between the two cities is still disrupted.

MARC rail is fairly well disrupted at this time, with their website status reading:

Train # 408 has been delayed and is sitting at the Odenton Station.

Train # 410 will take passengers off train #408 at the Odenton Station and will be moving under diesel power.

Train # 412 will move under diesel power.

Train # 414 will move under diesel power.

Train # 415 has been delayed south of BWI Station.

Train # 417 is holding at Penn Station in Baltimore.

WMATA Metro will honor all MARC tickets.

MARC will update riders as soon as conditions change.

Amtrak is also pretty well barfed, and this may cause out of position problems for train passengers tomorrow and through the weekend. Full service was expected to be returned by 11:15a, but as of now the website for Amtrak isn’t updated, and MARC has gone a full two hours without an update.

Losing power to a backbone transit service like Amtrak and MARC is a pretty big deal, yet no reasons for the outage are currently known, and no explanations are, I suppose, likely to be forthcoming. Nobody likes to say “mea culpa” in this economy when retribution at the stock market or in future contracts tends to be a serious matter that costs jobs, even when it’s the right thing to say.

Here’s hoping it’s sorted by tomorrow afternoon when travel hell-to-pay hits the greater DC region.

Bus-Bike Lane Abuse

This is the Bus and Bike Lane on 7th Street NW, the one installed last year when the DC Circulating Joke started. While the Bus & Bike Lane is not without controversy, all the moaning is now moot.

A short survey of those on 7th Street headed north shows that drivers are not respecting its intention – they are driving in the Bus & Bike Lane regardless of its posted purpose.

While I was taking this shot, a passerby said, “Yeah, I drive it in all the time. It’s great for passing.” And when I asked a nearby MPD officer he said that driving in the lane is not a moving violation but a $50 parking ticket.

While a $50 parking ticket ain’t cheap, he contented that people don’t care if it’s a ticket – they only care if its points on their license. The points might add up to a license revocation, while just a fine, well that’s figured into the cost of driving.

I am annoyed to see that the Bus & Bike Lane is abused, and angered by the proverbial shrugging shoulder from the Metropolitan Police Department. Bus lanes, and even more so, bike lanes are needed in this city and should be respected and enforced.

Driving in either should be more, like a $100 fine, a point or three on the license, and strict enforcement. Then DC drivers would give respect where its due – to duly posted and marked Bus and Bike Lanes.

Yea! Green Stuff in McPherson Square!

Give a cheer for these hard working National Park Service Employees! They are earning their paycheck this week, planting over 172,000 plants in area parks just in time for perfect Memorial Weekend weather. Here in McPherson Square alone, 2,700 marigolds are gonna be brightening our day soon.

Each one of those flowers will be lovingly planted, watered, and tended all summer long, beautifying our fair city. Beautification brought to you by these NPS guys.

Respect their work – stop and smell spring.

Freecycle Your Old Junk:


Photo courtesy of Eric Z. Grey

This sign for Free Grinds at Murky Coffee in Clarendon got me thinking: recycling is really catching on, and not just recycling for substances like glass and metal.

You can recycle your old junk now too, with Freecycle. Rather than chucking your stuff in a landfill (or just outside the apartment like lazy puppy-yuppies do at Melrose Place-Arlington where I live), give it to someone who wants it.

And believe me, someone wants it. If you’ve got to get rid of that old VCR, bed frame, or old Baby-Sitters Club paperbacks, someone will take it off your hands.

I’ve personally disposed of a bed, frame and box spring on Freecycle when I couldn’t get a homeless shelter to pick it up. It felt a lot better than chucking it in a landfill to rot. And I’ve received stuff on Freecycle too.

Freecycle groups are popping up everywhere, like DC, Arlington, Bethesda, Alexandria, Silver Spring and Annandale/Falls Church among others. You’re town/hamlet/soulless subdivision probably already has one.

Check ’em out. I’ve found there is this strange karmic circle with Freecycle. Every time I give something away, rather than throw it away, I receive a check in the mail or something similar.

Moped Parking Moratorium

Like mushrooms after the rain, mopeds are multiplying in DC’s beautiful spring. Multiplying in the street and outside my McPherson Square building.

While I wondered about scooters on sidewalks before, now it’s getting a little crowed with three mopeds and two bicycles sharing the same bike rack every day.

Might there be a way to share this little space, like the moped renting a car’s parking space? After all, like Segways, the sidewalk SUV, scoters scooters are vehicles – they have engines and should be on the street.

Final WPA\C Experimental Media Series tonight

Tonight’s the final night of the three-part WPA\C series at the Corcoran. Previous sessions were “Antithesis” and “After-Effects.” Tonight’s theme is “Duped!” and will presumably include a variety of video, audio and performance art. As before, their description of what to expect is lofty and hard on my little geek brain.

Complementing the previous evenings of the series, this nights’ selection includes works that explore themes of politics, identity, and social relationships, while pursuing conceptual undertones that attend to needs under-represented by dominant mass-media that operates using similar technologies.

Corcoran Gallery of Art, Armand Hammer Auditorium
500 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC
7:00 – 9:00 pm
[edited: this post was originally run on the 17th, I have no idea why I thought it was that Wednesday and not tonight. Thanks to teflon prosk for pointing out my error]

Madame Tussauds in D.C.?

Today’s edition of The Wash. Times reports that a Madame Tussauds may opening in the basement of the Woodies building. The potential here is amazing. I cannot be the only one who wants to see a reproduction of Nixon and Elvis meeting at the White House or Marion Shepilov Barry at the Vista Hotel.

What would you like to see depicted at a D.C. Madame Tussauds?

Nats instant tradition contest

Courtesy of Raw Fisher, we learn that the Nationals are holding a contest to come up with an instant tradition for the Nats. From the official rules:

The object of The Washington Nationals Show us your Pastime Contest is to submit an original entry of one of the following but not limited to; essay, poem,video or audio clip on what makes you the biggest Washington Nationals Fan. Washington Nationals staff members will judge all essays based on criteria set forth in the Judging section below. Once submitted if your entry is chosen by the panel of Washington Nationals judges your entry will be posted online on and you will participate in the fan vote during the period between June 6, 2006 at Noon ET and August 6, 2006 at 11:59 PM ET. The entry with the most number of votes bi-weekly will be a finalist. The finalists will also be voted on by the fans during the period of August 14, 2006 at Noon ET and September 8, 2006 at 5:00 PM ET to determine the grand prize winner. Each one of the finalists will be given two tickets and asked to attend the Washington Nationals game on October 1, 2006 and the finalist with the most fan votes will be awarded the grand prize of 2 season tickets to the 2007 Washington Nationals. During the voting period fans will be allowed to vote one time per day.

I already put in for “Heart” from Damn Yankees.

Dubya vs. Taylor?

According to WBJ, Pursuant, a local research firm will conduct a focus group this evening to compare the voting habits of American Idol fans tuning in to tonight’s finale to those of voters during the presidential election.

What Pursuant will in turn do with these results is not reported. Images of the 2008 Presidential Election are springing to mind, most containing Dubya in a pretty, French gown, softly crooning “Tonight’s the Night”. I imagine the panel of judges before him consisting of John Glover Roberts, Jr., Simon, and of course Condi.

random embassy art

Walking down I Street NW, take a pause around 20th Street.

There you will find this advertisement for an art show at the Embassy of Uruguay.

Go inside, go upstairs and see the room of paintings by modern Uruguayan artists.

While you are standing there alone admiring $4,800 painting of bathtubs by Santiago Garcia, try to resist the urge to steal the art.

Even though it would be foolishly easy to do, if caught, you would do your time in a far away Uruguayan jail.

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