Sound advice


The end of a long day at work and I wasn’t the only one on the train with my mind tucked away and leave-me-alone body language.

I was probably also not the only one feeling a certain degree of hostility towards a whiny grizzling infant riding with his 20-something father.

As the child’s whines increased to that frequency capable of piercing through all known materials,  riders began scowling and glaring in the father’s direction.

Just as we were about to have murder on the metro the father diffused the tension by saying loudly to the child :  “Ooooooooh,   you’re going to remind all these people to use condoms”.


Because you expect a complaint…..


I'm not going to complain about the heat per se because we all know that we have record breaking heat in the North East at the moment (just like we had record breaking snow just a few short months ago!).  

But, I really wish they would move our "official" recording station away from Reagan National airport -   it's on the Potomac River and I'm sure it derives some benefit from the water (like a "sea" breeze).  It's always hotter in everyone else's backyards and on those bank thermometers,  than it is at Reagan.   My outdoor thermometer has said 104 for the last two days while the official reading has been 102.   

I am going to whinge about the metro though – oh what a joy it is in the afternoons when people radiating heat and horrible odors squeeze in so tightly there is no way we are not touching each other.  I found it hard to concentrate on my book this afternoon as I alternated between thinking I might be sick and thinking that I might pass out.  And, all the time wondering if I should just get off and hope that the next train is cooler – unlikely according to Metro's own web site. 

Tomorrow it's forecast to be only 95!  Heavens – I might need a cardigan!


The record-breaking heat also may make rail stations and trains uncomfortable for passengers. Rail cars may feel overly warm due to more passengers on trains and the regular opening of doors at each station stop. When the doors open to let passengers in and out of the rail cars, cool air goes out the door and warm air enters the car.

Underground rail stations also may seem warmer than usual during the heat wave. Warm air flows in through the open-air, street-level station entrances. In addition, trains entering underground stations from above ground stations pull in hot air from the outside as well. There is a misperception that Metrorail stations are air conditioned. Underground stations have chilled water air handling units, or chillers, not air conditioners, to cool the air. The Metrorail cooling system was developed in the 1970s to reflect energy conservation standards of the time. Temperatures in stations were designed to be up to 20 degrees cooler than outside temperatures.

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Alerts & Stone Cold Comfort


I get metro alerts delivered to my work email.  This way I know before I leave the office if I'm going to be in for a rough commute home. It also means that everytime anything happens on the two lines I travel on, I get an alert.

This morning I got this one:  
METRO Alerts []     Wed 2/17/2010 9:04 AM
Subject: Metro Green-Yellow Lines alertMETRO Alerts []
(ID 66225) Disruption at Fort Totten in both directions. Unauthorized person on track bed at Fort Totten. Delays in both directions.

All day I've been wondering who that was and what happened to them….


Yesterday on my way home from work the train driver reminded us it was "unlawful" to eat or drink on the trains and that it was "punishable by fine and/or jail".    I wonder how big a meal one would have to consume to warrant a jail sentence.    
Last week, during all the snow madness, Metro posted press releases on their website to announce their operations, closings, failings etc. Then alerts were emailed out with a hyperlink rather than containing any useful information. 
A few times their servers crashed as more people than ever suddenly got interested in looking at the metro pages.    
Responding on,  to complaints that the alert system should have some information and not just a link,  Ron Holzer of WMATA, on Feb 16, 2010 4:58 pm wrote: 

Feb. 12th had the most page views to our web site in our history. As you can see from the list below, we typically get in the neighborhood of 600,000 page views a day. We more than tripled that, which slowed the ability for people to get onto the site. You can even see that on Friday, Feb. 5 that web traffic picked up due to the weather.
Date………Visitors…Page Views

Yes – I was one of those people trying to find out how often my trains were running – but I'm  quite surprised by the  number of page views on a normal day .


These were the seats that were freezing my arse last week.  
The stations that have a platform on the outer side of their tracks have this prison cell style model:

Those stations with a platform in the middle of two tracks has this much fancier model: 

Even with newspaper spread under one's bottom they are both bloody cold!


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Obviously ……

On my commute home tonight:

Metro driver:   "You know, if y'all spread out along the platform you wouldn't have to stand next to each other on the train!"

A quieter time on the metro  – photos taken in November 2005:   We must have had a day trip because there are 2 different stations represented on the same day.    I think this was the time we were doing "death marches"  on the weekends;  getting up at 5am and walking 8 or 9 miles.    Then my left foot started to wear out!  – we would walk until we got hungry,  stop for breakfast and then catch the metro home. 

Which is the 3rd rail?? 

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It was 5.1 surround sound coughing on one of my trains this morning. From the dry cough to the I'm-dying now cough. The ride is 15 minutes long.   I can not hold my breath that long so I sat there unwillingly inhaling all these microscopic germs.   Glaring at people who were not covering their mouth and noting the surfaces that those who had covered their mouth with a hand, had then touched.   I have seen people on the train wearing disposable gloves  -  I used to laugh at them.   During the time of SARS  I saw people wearing masks. Today I wished I had a mask and the gloves!    I'm sure people are not aware of how far their spittle flies. 


Don't you wish that you could edit people as they speak – without it seeming rude?  I was listening to someone tell me a very long story today that involved a lot of tangents, backtracking and correcting on their part and as I tried to maintain an interested expression I thought how nice it would be if their brain was in editing mode before a jumble popped out of their mouth. God forgive me but I may even have thought "God, this is boring"  more than a few times. It was such a struggle for me not to say "think about what you want to say before you attempt to say it" (sounds like something my father used to say to us).    It was an incredible struggle not to yawn.  But, I did get my shopping list complete in my head and I'm pretty sure I didn't miss much of the essence of the story.

Tonight my mind is quieted by my emerging orchid:  


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Change of address


I like being able to do things online -  it is efficient (usually) and you don't have to deal with phone trees or customer "service" people.

I previously registered my SmarTrip (train) fare-card so that if it gets lost/stolen it will be replaced with the value on it at the time of loss.  

After being in our house for just over a year I suddenly realised I had not changed the address in their data base but I discovered that you can not do this on the website – you actually have to call them.

I called the 1-888-number and after selecting the option for my query was told by a polite recording that the wait time was in excess of 5 minutes.  How much longer than 5 minutes it did not guess at.

Well ….  at 27 minutes and 43 seconds I actually got a fright when a person's voice sounded in my ear! 

The whole transfer of address then took 56 seconds.

Do they only have one customer service person to deal with the change address callers and were there  27 other people wanting to change their address at the same time as me?

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Em-derella goes to the company “prom”

Last night was the company's annual "prom" and Em-derella was there in all her finery:   An Op-shop dress and beads her mother had given her.

Em-derella does not have a chariot, so her transport was a combination of shank's pony and metro train:

The National Building Museum is a fabulous venue::

Decorated tables awaited bottoms:

The jazz was cool but Em-derella knew it was time to go home when the gangstas started to look real and a wee bit blurry!

All photos were taken with Canon PowerShot SD850 on manual setting.  ISO varied between 80 and 1600.  Flash was used just once on one shot of the tables.

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