Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

Downtown Power Outage Affects 18k Businesses, Five Metro Stations

pepco-outages.png A Pepco substation serving a good portion of DC’s downtown business district failed at 7:30 this morning, leaving 10,000 businesses in the downtown area without power, and Metrorail stations McPherson Square (Orange/Blue), Farragut West (Orange/Blue), Farragut North (Red) and Dupont Circle (Red) without power. In addition to the outages, there’s been a fire reported by WMATA at Metro Center, and another reported by WAMU, WTOP and multiple twitters at Dupont Circle Station this morning as well.

DC Dept. of Transportation says that more than 30 traffic signals in the downtown core are also out, and has requested that people please treat them as four ways stops. I know there were more than a few people on my drive up 15th street who failed to treat them as such. Of course, when traffic’s flowing, it’s hard to treat them that way, I get it, but still.

Be aware, commuting today probably sucked ass, so please be nicer to your coworkers who looked like they slogged through a marsh of fire in order to come to work.

[Update, 9:56] Dupont Circle Metro is now closed due to the power outage. Apparently a lot of people were having trouble exiting the station on the long escalator climb to the surface.

Recycling does not mean efficiency

The all-staff email went out last week: “We recently learned that the DC Government is now enforcing its recycling regulations. Inspectors are making unannounced inspections and issuing warnings for failure to recycle. Second violations are subject to fines. As we know, the DC government is in need of funds so we can expect enforcement to be serious…”

Since I work on our website and just don’t generate much paper waste, I made mental note of what common items in my cube would go into which containers (soda cans mostly, like any self-respecting geek), assumed that the promised at-desk recycling boxes would once again not make it to me, and didn’t think about it again.

Until yesterday, that is. Our Vice President of Facilities and Property came to my cube around 4:30 yesterday, and said, “Hi Tiffany, how’s your trash?”

“Um, empty, mostly…” I pulled my trash can out, displaying the two items inside: a used sub shop napkin and a square of paper.

“What’s THAT?” she said, indicating the non-napkin item.

“Oh, it’s a page from this calendar here,” I indicated my Page-A-Day calendar. Coated paper, questionably recyclable.

“Okay, great.” She walked away.

And then I noticed the email she had sent shortly before- a DC Recycling Inspector was going to be visiting our building the next day and would be issuing fines for any violations.

Let me clarify- an employee of the DC government, paid by tax dollars, would be entering our office for the purpose of poking at our trash cans. And let’s not pretend this is about the environment: the inspector could fine us for throwing away recyclable material, but at the end of the complex list of what is and is not appropriate in recycle bins, DC admonishes us “WHEN IN DOUBT, LEAVE IT OUT.”

But that’s how it came to pass that this very morning, before the arrival of the inspector, the Senior Director of my division came around to each individual member of our department, and delivered a perfunctory speech about how our organization takes recycling very seriously both for environmental and fine-avoidance reasons, and that complying with company procedures is the responsibility of every employee.

I’m so delighted that commitment to efficient stewardship of our resources extends to how DC businesses must spend the time of their well-compensated executives.

If you were wondering, we passed our recycling inspection perfectly. In fact, only one tenant in th building was fined for recycling violations- an office of the DC Government.

The Goddess of Recycling

Originally uploaded by His and Hers Parigi

Free Concert @ Farragut Square 5-7pm

Sounds in the SquareThe Golden Triangle Business Improvement District (or GTBID for short) is having their kick-off in a series of “Sounds in the Square” this evening at 5pm. I’m not sure how much foot traffic of commuters it will draw away from the mass movement of people to and fro as they rush home, but at least it may be an attention getter away from the razing of the building at Connecticut and K Streets Wayan had such fond memories of.

This evening’s affair will star Justin Jones & The Driving Rain, but other concerts will follow from May 22 and June 5, 12, 19, 26 (and a reschedule from last week’s rained out performance on September 4). I’m sure it will be an interesting experiment for GTBID, who were also, if I remember, one of the first areas in downtown D.C. to offer free WiFi in the park a number of years ago. And you know they’re hip and with it, not just because they dress in gold and black, because they have a MySpace page!

Hungry and in a rush?

My absolute apologies to Jared. He’s the guy pictured above, working at the new On the Fly cart located at the corner of 7th and F streets, just south of the Verizon Center. I didn’t tell him I’d put this online and I think he’d have been a bit more wary of saying yes to the photo, had he known.

But I just had to do it because I think On the Fly is very cool. The business operates a handful of carts around town—7th and F, 8th and H, Farragut North, Capitol Hill, and also the Nationals stadium, National Arboretum, and near Artomatic for the next month—that sell food cooked by local businesses such as Teaism, Rocklands BBQ, Julia’s Empanadas, and many others. The whole thing is initiated by a guy who used to work for Zipcars, and apparently his crew is a bunch of dedicated folks who’ve all known each other for a while and really believe in the endeavor.

I hope they survive. DC certainly needs more places where the price covers good food, not just pretentious surroundings.

Not a good time to misbehave

Today I came across a massive group of police officers hanging around their motorcycles at 5th and E streets. Dick Cheney visiting the Science Museum? A sting about to occur at the Building Museum? No, it’s National Police Week, and the officers were gathered from all over the country to honor fallen colleagues. There were folks from as far as California, as well as a busful of officers from Hagerstown who were there on behalf of an officer who died this year.

They’ll be having a candlelight vigil this evening at 8pm, at the National Law Officers’ Memorial on Judiciary Square. The public is invited and apparently it’s really something to behold.

Deconstructing DC Office Buildings

deconstruction downtown Washington

Walking to work the other morning, I was struck by an amazing sight. A pinnacle of destruction piercing the downtown skyline, as another office building is deconstructed in the name of development.

This office building was special to me. Back when I first moved to DC, I worked at its sister building across Connecticut Avenue and the two were the only buildings around that had windows that could open. On beautiful spring days like today, I loved listening to the hustle of commuters exiting the Metro and melodies of the musicians singing for spare change.

Often, I would put signs in our office window to silently communicate with workers across the way – this was before IM made such actions quaint. They too loved their building’s special windows. Now, their home is gone and only 1001 Connecticut is left to feel a day’s breeze.

On moves progress, on moves modernization, and left behind is any connection to nature.

You can voice your 1st Amendment rights in D.C., just as long as you’re QUIET!!!!

In the wonderful wisdom that is the D.C. Council taking their lead from the President in trying to *hush* dissent in the Capitol, preliminary approval was given to quiet noisy demonstrations within the city. As WTOP reports, that the measure is aimed at getting demonstrators away from residential neighborhoods and limit “non-commercial public speech” to 80 dB at a distance of 50 feet. The initial ordinance was proposed by Tommy Wells (Ward 6) and supported by Mary Cheh, Kwame Brown and David Catania in 2007, but was now just voted upon for enactment.

So what you’re saying, is that, while folks who decide to at least exercise their right to be heard in a public forum, “non-commercially”, must do so at a whisper, but some “commercial” entity, blaring music and using a loudspeaker, can do so wherever and whenever they want in D.C.? Let’s take a glance at what 80dB’s really gets you. [Note: Contrary to the “quick facts” posted on Councilmemeber Wells’ site, and increase in decibels is not a simple “doubling” but a logarithmic scale increase… which is a much different mathematical consideration… so much for politicians fact checking before trying to enact laws.]

original photo by rev_bri
10dBA – Normal Breathing
20dBA – Mosquito or Rustling Leaves
30dBA – A Whisper
40dBA – A Bubbling Brook, or a Refrigerator
50dBA – Normal Conversation
60dBA – Laugher
70dBA – Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA – City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA – Motorcycle or Lawnmower

So, what they are proposing, is that you can protest in D.C., as long as we can’t hear you above the din of the traffic in D.C.. WTF?! Ice Cream trucks are louder than that… granted other cities are cracking down on those too. Granted, I always wanted the ice cream truck in my neighborhood to play “Helter Skelter” or come around like L.A.’s ice cream truck of satan.

D.C. readers, what’s your view on this… pleasant relief or curb to your Constitutional rights to be a pain in the ass?

DSC_5644.jpg — Originally uploaded by rev_bri

"Sounds in the Square" 2008 Concerts

Photo courtesy of stgermh

The Golden Triangle BID announced their summer lineup for their popular “Sounds in the Square” concert series. The concerts are free at the Farragut Square Park on Thursday evenings in May and June from 5:00 to 7:00pm. Rain dates will be held in September.

This year’s series will feature concerts by some of the area’s most popular bands like No Second Troy, and local favorites including Everyone but Pete and JunkFood. So if you’re looking for some great local music fused with warm summer evenings in the middle of downtown DC, this might be your thing.

The current schedule is:

May 8 No Second Troy
May 15 Justin Jones & The Driving Rain
May 22 Everyone But Pete
June 5 JunkFood
June 12 The Kelly Bell Band
June 19 Crowded Streets
June 26 Reflex

You can check for any updates at the Golden Triangle’s website and if you’re myspace-savvy, add them as a friend.

OmegaBand, courtesy of stgermh

Metered Response

Photo courtesy of drewsaunders

D.C. Mayor Fenty put the kibosh on any further extensions for cabbies working in the District to install meters. Bottom line? Those cabdrivers have to have meters installed by May 1 or face a $1,000 fine each time they pick up a fare.

Now, I know what you’re all thinking – “All those cabbies are going to have meters installed in a week? But there’s like, a ton of them and only a few installation garages!”

You’d be correct.

So there’s an extension – but it’s not called an extension. I call it “a bone” that’s been thrown to the cabdrivers. Basically, if they’re caught without a meter between May 1 and May 31, then they’ll get a warning. If no meter by June 1, all those warnings will convert to the monetary fine. After June 1, the fines are enforced. This gives them an extra four weeks to get metering devices installed.

All this because Fenty won the court ruling yesterday that upheld the city’s plan to require time-and-distance meters, as opposed to the eons-old zone-fare-customer-ripoff system.

Hey, it’s a good thing.

Although I really suspect cab customers are going to be out of luck snagging a metered cab in May; with the constant temper-tantrums the cabbies have been throwing over this changeover, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to find many of them riding with dozens of warnings until June 1, in order to soak as many customers as possible.

Meantimes, the drivers are sending their lawyer to the D.C. Court of Appeals, in order to prevent scrapping the zone-ripoff system while the appeal is pending. We’ll see.

Cabs will be spot-checked in May and warnings handed out. Citizens can also report unmetered cabs. According to the press release put out by the mayor’s office, “Passengers who wish to file a complaint against an unmetered cab should obtain the taxicab driver’s name, company and license number and report it to the DC Taxicab Commission at (202) 645-6018 or”

I’ll stick to Metro and my own two feet until this mess is all over.

Cab stand at downtown Hyatt, courtesy of drewsaunders

So It Begins…

ovechkinOne down, three more wins to go.

In case you missed it, your Washington Capitals came from behind and stole Game 1 from the Philadelphia Flyers. They stole it like Ovechkin stole the puck in the waning minutes for his first playoff goal. Seriously – it’s a gorgeous move and great goal. You’ve got to see it. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

It’s not going to be a cakewalk, though. The Flyers came out gunning, hopping up to a 4-2 lead before the Caps finally got their jitters behind them and surged to a tie. Mike Green netted two, and Ovie had 43 hits – 43! – on the night. Think he’s a tad excited?

Now that they’ve got the return-to-playoff jitters behind them, they’d better settle into a groove on Sunday for the rematch and not fall behind often. It’s not a good pattern to get into.

So hit the Verizon Center on Sunday and wear your red. I won’t be there, though – my preferred team has some more Senator-smacking to do, so I’ll be watching that demolition from the comfort of my living room.

Go Caps! (because I hate the Flyers!)

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