Do We Stay or Do We Go Now? #WMATA

“Is this the Blue Line?” we wondered, my friend (also my neighbor) and I, Saturday night at Metro Center waiting for a train to Virginia to attend a friend’s housewarming.

The train itself just said Special. We’d been waiting for ten minutes. There was a Silver Line train pulling in when we’d arrived, and a few minutes later an Orange Line train. The board, where incoming trains are listed with their estimated time of arrival, said the next Blue Line to Franconia-Springfield was still eleven minutes away.

This was potentially the first Blue Line train.

Let’s go, we decided. Even it was Orange or Silver, we could get off at a later station and at least be a bit closer to our destination.

“Is this the Blue Line?” we asked a group of four college-aged kids already seated. Perhaps thinking we were tourists — despite the Maryland sweatshirt I was wearing, strongly implying that I’m a local — one of them proclaimed that if the train didn’t proceed to Arlington Cemetery after Rosslyn, we’d know it wasn’t Blue.

And we’d have to choose: get off and wait for the Blue Line train eleven minutes behind us, or risk that we were actually on an Orange or Silver Line train, and have to backtrack.

McPherson Square and Farragut North. No on board announcements.

My brain kicking into motion, I pulled up the Metro app on my phone as we pulled into Foggy Bottom. Opened the Rosslyn station. The only Blue Line train coming was headed in the opposite direction. Decision time was coming: jump off at Rosslyn? Or take a gamble?

And then: an announcement – “Next stop, Rosslyn, final transfer point to the Orange and Silver Lines.”

And the glorious realization – that announcement would only come on a Blue Line train! A special unmarked Blue Line train …

And our friend’s housewarming was amazing. She has the best cats ever. They’re like big fluffy pillows who say “Hello stranger! I will jump into your arms and rub my face all over your face forever and forever!” And then, because it took us an hour and fifteen minutes to go from out apartments to Woodley Park to Braddock Road to our friend’s place, we caught a cab home. I may have had a cat stuffed under my sweatshirt.

(No.)

Andy Harris: still kind of a dickhead

As I do every election, I went to my polling place and voted last night.

One of the measures I voted for was Initiative 71, the legalization of marijuana. The thing with being a resident of Washington, DC though is that even with our local government — our ANCs and our city council and our mayor — Congress can basically overrule everything, because we’re the Original Continental Colony.

And while I’m sure some Republicans (Rand Paul, right? He’d be okay with it) are cool with the denizens of Washington, DC governing themselves, others feel we just can’t handle that responsibility. Oh Maryland, my Maryland, why do you keep electing Andy Harris? (You’ll remember: he’s the guy who ran against Obamacare and then threw a hissy-fit about his own government provided health insurance taking a month to kick in).

Stop Hating on ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

If you’re wondering why there are videos on the news and social media of people dumping buckets of ice water over their head, they’re doing it to raise awareness about ALS, more popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The idea is that, if challenged, you either dump a bucket of ice water over your head, or you donate money to ALS research. Considering ALS has raised $17 million during the same period where last year they raised $1.3 million, I’d call this a rousing success.

But of course there are haters. Check this piece in The Washington Post:

The Ice Bucket Challenge – the charitable cause to raise money for ALS – is the current rage chilling American spines. The challenge offers participants two choices: 1) Donate $100 to help fight Lou Gehrig’s disease or 2) Dump a bucket of cold ice water over their heads. Many participants do both.

According to the New York Times, more than 1.2 million videos of people dumping water on their head have been posted to Facebook. I decided to calculate how much water has been consumed in the process.

If an average bucket contains 4 gallons of water, about 5 million gallons of water have dunked heads from coast to coast. That’s the equivalent of about 120,000 baths or, in weather terms, over half an inch of rain falling on a 300 acre slab of land. Think of a summer downpour dousing the National Mall, or for west-coasters, Disneyland.

Four gallons of water poured over one’s head does not exactly equal a national emergency, although if you live in California where there’s a drought, it should probably get you beaten to a pulp. Per the Washington Sanitary Commission, here are some common activities and how many gallons of water they cost:

Water_Consumption

So basically, the water cost is easily recaptured in shortening shower times, reducing the amount of times you flush (I know, yucky), or using the dishwasher or laundry machines less. These, honestly, are all things we should be doing because fresh water is a precious resource and we need to treat it as such. In this case, I just find it difficult to get worked up about.

Planet Lucy

I went to catch the early show of Lucy this morning at Mazza Galleria. Excepting the woman who brought her kid to the movie and then realized this wasn’t a non-violent film and raced out (as opposed to all of Luc Besson’s other children-appropriate films such as The Professional or La Femme Nikita, which teach valuable trades), the film was fun, interesting and strange: picture a science-fiction themed shoot-‘em’up nature documentary. That’s really the closest I can come: one moment, people are getting shot, the next moment, oh look, it’s a cheetah chasing a deer. Worth waiting to see on DVD or streaming, though.

Hot Tub Time Machine II – basically just Back to the Future rebooted

In continuing my theory that Hot Tub Time Machine is basically Back to the Future rebooted with a hot tub time machine instead of a Delorean time machine, John Cusack is filling the Crispin Glover role by not returning, as with BTTF 2 the sequel goes to the future, and the second sequel (appears to be set up at the end of the trailer) will apparently take us well back in time to the War for Independence.

A March Snow Day

This winter’s snowfall may not quite equal the epic double-blizzard of 2009/2010, but it has been the heaviest snow since that winter. Early March, and snow is falling yet again. I love it. I love snow, I love being inside and warm while snow falls, I love walking around in the snow.

And I’m fortunate, because my employer closed for the day. I think most employers did. Well, most 9-5 employers. And I’m fortunate because I still get paid for today. Imagine my shock when a person I follow on Twitter expressed outrage (feigned, I hope) that his local IHOP was closed.

Because those restaurant workers won’t get paid for today, even though the buses aren’t running, and even though the roads are awful. I’ve got the local CBS news on (yay WUSA9!) and one of the anchors, speaking about traffic accidents, said, “there are so many, I can’t even start to talk about them.” My paraphrasing.

And office workers on Twitter are outraged that they can’t have pancakes for breakfast. Pretty soon, Twitter will be overrun with outrage over bars that have closed, or retail stores that haven’t opened.

Because somehow, while it is too dangerous for office workers to trudge into work, it somehow isn’t too dangerous for restaurant and retail staff to do the same?

I wonder how many of the same people complaining about a closed local establishment are outraged by the consumer culture that dictates stores opening on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday? Hard to see a difference here.

Dixie

So I was on the L1 this evening, and traffic was heavy, and I was reading, but somewhere on Florida Avenue NW, a passing car’s horn played Dixie, and here I am, reading a 1,000 page biography on Churchill (third of three) and thinking I’d suddenly found myself in The Dukes of Hazzard.

Goodbye, Expedit

I love Expedit.

I have many of them. I have stacked an Expedit on top of another Expedit. I have stacked other types of bookcases on top of Expedits. They are filled to capacity with books, DVDs, knick-knacks, and of course, more books. There are books on the shelves, stacked on top of other books, and on top of the units. One hosts my TV and media equipment. One cube on one Expedit holds my old laserdisc collection.

And they’re going away. The Expedits, that is.

I mean, not mine. Not without somebody getting cut.
iphone 659

IKEA is doing away with the Expedit line. Or, well, changing how they make the units and re-naming it KALLAX.

Live on, EXPEDIT. But even as KALLAX, I bet you’ll still be a pain in the ass to put together.

Sidewalks and Snow Berms, oh my!

I went to the corner CVS. I needed shampoo (for my beard). I also wanted some milk, and maybe a sandwich if I could find it. What I really needed was a transaction where I could get cash back, so I could do my laundry.

Mission accomplished, and I’ve got three machines downstairs running for me right now.

As for venturing out …

The sidewalks were a mess. In shaded areas they were almost a sheet of ice, in some places, the home owners hadn’t bothered to shovel them, so they were a solid lumpy sheet of ice over snow. In sunlight areas, if they’d been cleared yesterday or earlier today, the sidewalks were simply damp; if they hadn’t been, they were dangerous. Crossing any street required climbing or stepping over a snow berm.

I don’t think I’ll be going out again today. And I hope DC enforces ticketing property owners who didn’t clear their sidewalks.

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