Archive for the ‘Metro’ Category

Eating on The Metro: Why I’m For It

photo

Whoops!

As we leave another tourist-filled, sports heavy weekend behind us here in the District I’d like to share a few thoughts I have about eating on the metro.  Throngs of people packed into tiny spaces, tourists collecting at the bottom of escalators and failing to understand that the train extends all the way along the platform-you may think that, as fed up as I already sound about PT in DC, that I’d be calling for you all to not bring your snack on the train.

On the contrary-I’m all for it.  Full disclosure here- what follows is an updated post from my personal blog that posted just about a year ago (before my Metblog rebirth).  Still, it was time to update and reintroduce the topic to a much wider audience (that’d be you). 

The reason it all came back to me now is the picture above-taken during the cherry blossom weekend rush.  Some kid spilled his smoothie (which he wasn’t drinking) over the rug.  People had to step around it.  So why am I okay with it?  Well-read on!

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Inauguration 2009: Weekend of Destruction Day 4

Ah Inauguration Day, a day that started for many in the wee hours of the morning. For me I value sleep a little more. However I did have a plan to be on The Mall for Inauguration and I’m happy to say everything worked out relatively well.

I started out the morning well bundled. I wore many, many layers and had hand/toe warmers, water, snacks, and maps ready to go.

At 8:30 AM my friend Carrie and I proceeded down to the Clarendon Metro stop to check out that option, if everything appeared all right a possible entry route was to simple Metro into a station and walk to The Mall. While that option was the simplist it was also one of the most popular and I expected to see the Clarendon stop overflowing with people as we walk the short two blocks to the station. (more…)

Inauguration 2009: Weekend of Destruction Day 2

After a late night out Saturday I decided to spent Inauguration Sunday a little more low key.

I actually was thinking about the “We Are One” Inaugural concert kickoff but I previously made plans for lunch out in Tyson’s Corner.

Driving out to Tyson’s from Arlington was surprisingly quiet, I didn’t expect traffic leaving but I thought maybe with all the road closures that there would be traffic heading into the city. But everything looked smooth as Barack Obama.

I arrived at Coastal Flats only to hear that my original plans had fallen through. Well I decided to take the opportunity to enjoy lunch anyways (this time at Gordon Biersch) and walk around the suburbia that is the Tyson’s Corner Mall. (more…)

Woman struck by Train, Still Alive-Delays and Closures

WTOP is reporting that 68 year old woman fell on the tracks and was struck by a metro train at 9:30 this morning.  Thankfully she’s still alive.

The bad news for inauguration goers (other than the obvious fact that we don’t want anyone to get hurt) is that Metro Center and Gallery Place stations are shut down (as in you can’t get in or out there) and that the crowding is so bad people cannot get in or out of the trains.  Metro suggests Farragut North or Judiciary Square as stations to get out and then walk to the mall from-but at this point, if you were thinking of heading down there-the less metro you use the better.

Inauguration 2009: Escape From Virginia

Remember that movie The Siege? The one with Danzel Washington and that guy from Monk?

Well a scene I’ll always remember from that film is the part where crazy Bruce Willis seals off NYC and puts troops on the bridge. Well right now I feel like one of the New Jersey people looking in. Hey at least I’m not one of the crazy people caught up in the mess just past that bridge.

Well as I write this a week from Inauguration I realized I’ve been writing about the big event however I have still not yet thought through my own plans for the weekend, which is only a few days away!

Ok well allow me to think out loud as I fill you in on the latest news.

So let’s approach Inauguration from a weekend standpoint. It’s going to be a crazy long weekend from Friday – Tuesday. Unfortunately I have a hot date with a play I’m helping to stage manage on Friday and Saturday morning, so my weekend starts that night. (more…)

Inauguration 2009: Inauguration Estimates Cut In Half

"Clinton_inauguration_1993_crowds" courtesy of Flickr user dpape

Did estimates of up to 5 million people scare you from coming out to see the Obama Inauguration?

Well how about 2-3 million? Does that number sound more appealing to you?

Inauguration officials are now revising earlier estimates of Inaugural attendees by half. According to the Washington Post, “turnout could easily reach 2 million, officials said, far outstripping the 400,000 who attended the 2005 inauguration of President Bush.

It doesn’t surprise me that only 400,000 people came out to see Bush swearing in again. I wonder how many of them were protesters.

The WP article notes that 5 million people may come into the DC Metro area, but it seems unlikely that the entire 5 million will actually make it to The Mall and parade route. So does that mean that a fallback plan of watching the festivities at a local pub may not be smart? Trying to fight through the other 2 million that came into town but didn’t want to go the extra mile to be there in person may make leaving my house a nightmare no matter what I do.

I also wonder if this story will entice even more people to try and see the events in-person. Next thing you know we really do have 5 million people in DC because they thought, “5 million people? No way! But 2 million people… maybe I will try and make it in…”

Now for some more Inaugural news.

Obama’s playing the part of Lincoln very well

"Lincoln Bible" courtesy of the Presidential Inaugural Committee

So the Obama’s got the Lincoln train ride thing down. He’s also kicking off Inaugurapalooza with a concert at the Lincoln memorial. And of course we all know Obama’s from the “land of Lincoln.”

He wants to make sure we get the whole Lincoln metaphor down with his decision to use the Lincoln bible to take his Inaugural oath. The bible hasn’t been used in over 150 yearsm since- you guessed it- Abe Lincoln used it. With the announcement the Lincoln bible came out for a little photo op and CBS has some video of it on display.

More Inaugural Weekend Details

It looks like the Inaugural committee has released some more details on the events that weekend, here’s the latest details from the Presidential Inaugural Committee:

Sunday, January 18th
No new details on the welcome event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial except that it will be in the afternoon

Monday, January 19th – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
The President-elect, Vice President-elect, and their families are going to honor Dr. King through various community service activities. The earlier reported youth concert at the Verizon Center will be held that evening.

Tuesday, January 20th – Inauguration Day

"the president's own" courtesy of Flickr user happy via

The festivities will start at 10 A.M. but officials say that if you have tickets that you should try and get into the areas around 9. Remember that there’s no overnight camping on The Mall and that you can’t stake a parade spot til 7 AM.

Musical groups to perform include The United States Marine Band, Aretha Franklin, The United States Navy Band “Sea Chanters”, The San Francisco Boys Chorus, and The San Francisco Girls Chorus. John Williams will conduct an ensemble including Itzhak PerlmanYo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, and Anthony McGill.

Here’s a the current rundown of the ceremony:

  • Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks: Senator Dianne Feinstein
  • Invocation: Dr. Rick Warren
  • Musical Selection: Aretha Franklin
  • Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will be sworn into office by Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, the Honorable John Paul Stevens
  • Musical Selection: John Williams, composer/arranger with Itzhak Perlman, (violin), Yo-Yo Ma  (cello), Gabriela Montero (piano) and Anthony McGill (clarinet)
  • President-elect Barack H. Obama will take the Oath of Office, using President Lincoln’s Inaugural Bible, administered by the Chief Justice of the United States, the Honorable John G. Roberts, Jr.
  • Inaugural Address
  • Poem: Elizabeth Alexander
  • Benediction: The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery
  • The National Anthem: The United States Navy Band “Sea Chanters”

President Obama will escort President Bush to a departure ceremony then attend a luncheon in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

The Inaugural Parade will march down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House. Here’s a preliminary list of parade participants that have been invited.

Wednesday, January 21st
No new news on the prayer service that will take place that day.

How cushy is an Honorary Co-Chair role?

The committee has also announced their Honorary Co-Chairs which include former President Carter, Clinton, and Bush (the first one.)  Mayor Adrian Fenty and Colin Powell are also on the list. While I don’t know what exactly an Honorary Co-Chair does at the Inauguration- I bet he/she will have really good seats.

Talking about seats I was showing a friend around DC last night and we visited the White House where we saw the VIP Grandstand still under construction.

The work looks top notch and there’s a round frame at the top- probably for the Presidential Seal. I also noticed glass partitions installed in the front and center rows. I bet those are probably bullet-proof. There’s also another grandstand structure opposite of this one. That’s probably as close as  I’m going to get to the parade- or anything Inaugural for that matter.

More Inauguration Links

The Inauguration Committee on Twitter: http://twitter.com/obamainaugural

Volunteer for the Inauguration: http://www.pic2009.org/page/s/volunteer2

Sisterhood Of The Traveling Post-Its

Maybe it was the freezing temperatures that kept people at home that night. When I walked into Mackey’s Public House this past Saturday the crowds were light but cheery.

I was out on the town after watching the Wizards come so close but not close enough against the Lakers. At least they pulled off a comeback but I have a bad feeling when it comes to the future outlook of the home basketball team.

So I was at a table with my date when I see a server walk over and strike up a conversation with a table of women. He wasn’t getting drink order or phone numbers- but inquiring about the mess they appeared to have made on their table.

I glanced over and noticed that these ladies were drinking on a table covered in Post-It notes.

The small white company branded notes told me that the display wasn’t part of the bar decor. Laughter was the only understandable behavior as the women scribbled down notes on new post-it notes and stuck them on the table, their friends, and their own body parts. Was this some drinking game I’ve never heard of? Was it the result of a long happy hour that’s evolved to behavior too drunken to really understand? After the server left I had to do the same and I leaned over to find out.

I walked over and introduced myself, asking what was on these notes that were being exchanged. A blonde probably the size of my pinky told me that each note represented a different ex-boy friend and the night was spent exchanging stories while creating paper representations of old flames.

And just like that I was sucked into a scene fit for any romantic chick flick or episode of Sex and the City.

After the explanation I was handed a blank pad and a pen and asked to contribute. Any combination of words, sentences, or diagrams were permitted. As I write this I have thought of five better stories I could have recalled but I scribbled down the first thing that came to my mind that night.

I won’t disclose what I wrote but it was one word and it required no explanation once I slammed it down on the table.

The ladies hooted and hollered and stuck the note on my pants.

I didn’t get any of their names but found out that they all knew each other through a combination of roommates and classmates at various graduate and undergraduate studies. I’m actually glad I didn’t get a name for fear that I may become a post-it note, an inside joke scribbled on a piece of paper on a night of drinking.

The owner of the pad and originator of the spontaneous activity had two post-it notes stuck on her shirt. One read “Leggy”, which is apparently her nick name, and the other read “Emotionally Uninterested.”

She explained, “I dated this guy who told me that he wasn’t emotionally unavailable to women- he was just emotionally uninterested.”

Other stories that were told me that night included trickery to land a date in the Bethesda Metro, a proposal in the middle of the ocean, and a Marine who hasn’t made a move after three dates.

“We’ve been dating for a month and after three dates he hasn’t even kissed me- isn’t that weird?”

After looking at the owner of the note I wondered myself and it sparked debate and further stories between me, my date, and her.

The conversation between the ladies soon turned to dancing so my date and I returned to our table to enjoy our drinks and watched four ladies and a pad of post-it notes out in Washington DC.

As I finished my drink the DJ puts on Beyonce’s latest track, a catchy dance beat called “Single Ladies.”

I laughed as it was an appropriate theme song of the night, as the ladies sang, danced, and displayed their bare ring fingers.

Crazy for Black Friday

Via DCist, we can bring you the thrilling news that WMATA has decided to open its doors at 4 AM on Friday, November 28 to accommodate shoppers who would like to use public transport for their early-morning trips to the sales.

In a crazy enthusiastic press release, WMATA offers you helpful tidbits on which line to take to which shopping center (and provides bus information for Tyson’s Corner Center and Georgetown)!  For example:

Blue and Yellow Lines
• Pentagon City Metrorail station is the home of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.
• Crystal City Metrorail station is the underground home to over 200 shops, restaurants and cafes.
• Franconia-Springfield Metrorail station and the Springfield Mall can be accessed via Metro and a short bus ride to a major shopping center in Farifax, VA.
• From the King Street Metrorail station, Alexandria city offers free shuttle bus to Old Towne Alexandria shops.

Awesome!  Metro also wishes to remind you that “[s]hoppers taking Metro on Friday are likely to find another bonus. With many workers taking the day off after Thanksgiving, more parking will likely be available at Metrorail stations. Shoppers can park their cars at Metrorail stations and forget the hassle of trying to negotiate crowded city streets or looking for a parking space at the shopping mall. A SmarTrip card is needed to pay for parking at Metrorail stations. ”

From personal experience, I can tell you that it would definitely be worth the bus ride from WFC to Tyson’s…I once drove my sister there — before she could drive herself — to do some Christmas shopping and we spent 90 minutes trying to park.   60 minutes shopping.  (Don’t say I didn’t warn  you, DC.)

To cut down on holiday-related stress, I will be doing most of my shopping on Cyber Monday (yes, it has its own web site; so does Black Friday).  All the benefits of the sales, with none of the crowds, cold, or queueing – and the gifts arrive at my door or their intended recipient’s!

Another great way to beat holiday anxiety is to use the various packandship services available from shipping companies.  If you are a holiday baker, like me, you can take your tins of cookies to the shipping spot with a list of addresses, pay them and leave.  No scrounging for boxes that are the right size, searching for packing peanuts or bubble wrap, or bothering with wrapping your tasty treats yourself.  Which reminds me, I’ve got to make my baking supply list and get cracking!

Oh, and to get you in that shopping mood, you can stop by the Metro Center Macy’s for their holiday window unveiling party, tonight at 5 PM at 12th and G Streets, NW.   Brian McKnight will be there to sing holiday tunes, and the exciting Ballou High School marching band is also due to appear (trust me, they’re awesome).

Happy holidays, DC!

Random Bag Searches on Metro

Metro’s new Red and White Signs indicating you are in a “we can look in your bags” zone.

According to The Washington Post, Metro announced it intends to conduct random bag inspections of passengers using the system.  Five to eight Metro Police officers (along with a bomb sniffing dog) are now fully trained and ready to show up and start looking in the bags of Metro Rail and Bus users.  The checks won’t happen at all stations or happen all the time but only “when transit police determine that circumstances- such as an elevated threat level- warrant heightened vigilance.”

I, for one, have some serious concerns about this program.  Truthfully, my thoughts on all security check-points can be mostly summed up by George Carlin’s discussion of “Airport Security” (Lots of foul language by the way)-but I’m not a complete idiot.  I realize that we live in a post-9/11 world and that there are people who would like to do some serious damage to our Nation’s Capitol.  But:

  • There are only eight officers ready to go.   Even assuming one officer can handle a station on their own (which is doubtful) that’s 8 rail stations/Bus stops out of…well… a whole lot more than eight (there are a 12,216 bus stops and 86 stations.  You do the math.  I can’t).  How effective could this possibly be?
  • Let’s pretend someone wanted to blow something up and they were going to use Metro to deliver their explosive device.  Let’s even pretend that Metro knows what this person wants to blow up and where they are likely to get on the train.  The real pain about Metro for these inspections?  It’s all connected.  If the target is the Pentagon and the bomber lives near me between the Airport and Pentagon City Mall-It’s just as easy to walk to Crystal City as it is the Pentagon City Metro.  It wouldn’t be much more difficult to take a bus down to Braddock Rd. and get on the train down there.  So if you’ve got eight people at the gates of even three Metro stops-they can’t get to what is already on the Metro from a point further out.
  • Inspections only concern those people who actually ride the Metro.  You can (and should be able to) refuse the bag search so long as you don’t mind not getting on the train/bus.  Well at least at that station anyway…or at least until Metro Police leave.  They won’t detain anyone who refuses a bag check either-which might come in handy if you happen to be carrying anything else that you wouldn’t want Metro to find-not necessarily just a bomb.  (You know in case you’re like me and smuggle breakfast on to the train each morning…)
  • I’m not a big believer in the 5-10 second bag search by the way.  Even at baseball games (where at least they search everyone and not just every Nth person a la the Metro system) they do this kind of half assed “make sure nothing is obvious” search.  Maybe I don’t understand the mind or a terrorist/violent person but if I’m planning on perpetrating some violence on Metro I think I would take the time to hide my bomb a bit better than to stick it at the bottom of my briefcase.
  • Inconvenience.  I’m willing to forgive a lot of things, including some hassle at the train station, if it will make DC safer for everyone.  I just don’t really think this will-so the idea of me getting stuck behind the tourist family taking 20 bags to Reagan to fly home for no good reason really…ugh.

This of course is just one view.  Maybe I’m missing something?  Agree?  Disagree?  What do you think about Metro’s new Bag Searching Policy?

Metrobus Gets A Facelift

I’m not a bus person.

Neither was Ludacris in the film “Crash”. Growing up in suburban New England, the bus was never a big part of my life and I’m more of a Metro person now that I live in the city. I do occasionally enjoy the DC Circulator when my friends drag me on it (thanks Cynthia.)

However lots of people do ride the Metrobus and this past week people riding on the U8 line might have noticed an upgraded ride taking them to their daily grind. According to the Washington Post, the new sleek buses will be outfitted with amenities like vandal-resistant seats (cause I hate it when I have to sit on a gang symbol) and handhold straps (in case the vandal-resistant seats do get vandalized.) Right now WMATA is phasing them in slowly and hopefully we can see them in action on the 5A route that runs between L’enfant and Dulles.

I think the busses look really great and maybe it’ll make riding the bus cool enough that maybe I’ll even do it. Has anyone out there seen the new busses yet?

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