Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy New Year

I would like to wish you and yours all a very Happy New Year.

2011 has been an interesting year for EcoWarriorMe. For various reasons I have been able to find more time to get involved various activities and campaigns over the past year and I have had the pleasure of meeting many like minded people.

It has been satisfying to see some little victories and progress on some issues along the way but there is a long way to go. Unfortunately there have also been disappointments such as the lack of progress at COP17 and the failure of the UK government to develop a coherent environmental policy.

In 2012 I plan to continue campaigning for wildlife conservation, sustainable resource use and development, social justice and related issues. Many of the environmental issues that we face have an international dimension, whether it be pollution of the air, seas or cross-border rivers, climate change or the activities of multinational corporations and I will continue to support campaigns targeting these issues but I want to focus more on local issues over the next year. Trying to get our own house on order so to speak.  This will involve trawling through ideas from other communities to see what may work here, which is where I hope the international network of twitter contacts comes in.

So with that, it's out with the old and in with the new.

All the best for 2012.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll be your pint stowp,
And surely I’ ll be mine,
And we’ll drink a richt guid willy waught,
For auld lang syne.


We twa hae run aboot the braes,
And pu’d the gowans fine,
But we’ve wandered monie a wearie fit’,
Since auld lang syne.

[chorus ]

We twa hae paidled in the burn
Frae morning sun till dine
But seas a’tween us braid hae roared
Since auld lang syne,

[chorus ]

And here’s a hand my trusty fere
And gie’s a hand o’ thine
And we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bag it, Bin it or Don't

I took my 6 year old daughter Christmas shopping the other week. We went to Lush, the hand made cosmetics company, looking for a gift for her mother. She was in heaven: the bright colours, the smells, the glitter and the pretty shapes of the soaps and bath bombs. There was no difficulty in choosing a gift for mother (especially one she might share), the only problem was deciding to stop!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pray for Metro

Who's More Opaque?

What's the number for the Metro police again?

C'mon Metro.

Not even two hours after I signed off until the New Year, you go breaking, bad.

A few thoughts before I really (hopefully) sign off until 2012.

A contributor mentioned that when there's an airline accident, they're forced to release tapes of the "black box" conversations and other pertinent records.

So, I'm wondering when we're going to hear the tapes between Operations Control Center (OCC), Metro's "nerve center," and the damaged trains regarding yesterday's mess. Will we see the results of the inspections of the 5000-series cars, which have a history of derailing? Will we hear the results of the "internal investigation" about the evacuation procedures?

Again, communications seems to have been a big issue.
That's just an example. Many riders complained about being left in the smoky dark (smoke condition) for a long time with no word about what was going on or what to do. Radio problems?

Sadly, it's not bloody likely we'll ever hear those communications or have any other independent view on what happened. We'll just have to take Metro's word.

Besides, according to several Metro sources, the tapes from OCC have a way of disappearing when they make Metro look bad.

So onto something that should be easier to get from Metro, the infamous "what if there wasn't a Metro" """"study."""" Metro has only released an executive summary so far.

I've asked chief flack Dan Stessel for the full version of the $200,000 """"study"""" three times, and zilch.

Dan, like every other rider, I'm a 16-ccent investor in that, and I want to see it.
Me (12/14): Could I please have the full copy of the study recently in the news?
Dan (12/14): Checking on its status…
Me 12/15): How's the checking going?
Dan (12/15): The text of the full report is being finalized. It will be released, most likely next week.
Me (12/20 before all hell broke loose): status?
Dan:(UPDATE 12/21): Checked on it this afternoon. It is still being finalized.
So they release an executive report of a """"study"""" that isn't ready for public consumption? What's being finalized?


And finally, the whole mystery riders boondoggle. $252,000 (possibly $679,000) of your money spent on what exactly? It's not like things just need to be tweaked, and all will be well.

Here's what Greg had to say about that:
I know that in light of today's (12/20) egregious incident, the item below isn't as lurid, but I'm furious that Metro is spending public money to get feedback from system users. Evidently the tens of thousands of customer complaints it gets aren't an adequate source of information on what needs improvement.

As a taxpayer, I believe that the mystery shopper reports should be made public. These are, after all, merely observations made by the system-using public, so I don't see how any sensitive information could get disseminated.

And if it WERE disseminated, well, too goddamned bad!
My prediction as to when we'll see the mystery rider reports: Never.

At this point, it's a toss up as to who's is more opaque, N. Korea or WMATA.

And on that cheery note, I (hopefully) bid you very happy holidays and Happy New Year!

See you in 2012.

Other items:
Examiner take
Post take
Fox take
NBC take
ABC take
WTOP take

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Looks Bad

Update 1: A Metro source tells me "The wheels separated from a train between L'Enfant and Smithsonian on track 2."

Update 2: Hearing part of the brakes, a "friction ring" fell off.

Update 3: via @r0d3nt who is apparently on the crippled train "#wmata is accessing panels to open doors. Some doors are jammed and wont open, intercoms non-functional."

Update 4: From a Metro source: "Word just came in that a collector shoe separated from the train, but I am also hearing friction ring ... We can't tell ourselves the truth"

Update 5:

Via @WilliamsMichael @unsuckdcmetro the evacuation begins!

Update 6: via @IAFF36 "*U/D: Orange line train lost an axle, #DCFD units assisting approx 350 to Smithsonian station, expect major delays on Orange line #wmata"

Update 7: via @Aaronthepriest "Off the metro and in a cab. No shuttles there and @wmata made us pay exit fare!!!! @unsuckdcmetro @wmata is going to owe me my cab fare"

Update 8: More than 2 hours later and people are still on the train!

via @somethngfab

Update 9: Back to reports that it was a friction ring (part of the brake) that fell off. Wonder if we'll ever know what really happened.

Update 10: Another view of the evacuation via @Somethngfab

Update 11: Metro says they're doing track inspections, which is the final step before restoring third rail power.

Update 12: Trains are moving again albeit with single tracking

Update 13: Metro will hold a press conference at 3.

Update 14: From a very reliable Metro source "A brake disk (200lbs) broke free. Hit train behind it. The disk more than likely broke free and damaged that train but then looks like it possibly did damage to the train behind. There are either 8 or 12 bolts that hold the disk on. The bolts must have sheared off. Possibly inferior bolts from low bid contractor."


Happy Holidays

Via @AROvertonClose Doesn't Santa Clause have a better method of transportation than the Metrobus? #WMATA @unsuckdcmetro

Via @Silvio_Marcacci30 This totally makes up for months of broken escalators at the Union Station metro @unsuckdcmetro

Via @donnaindc1 Love the spirit of this @wmata station manager :) #metro #dc Happy holidays from Washington, DC! {12.01}

Via @Kasie_Carr2 Could this be possible? Holiday cheer on the metro? #wmata@unsuckdcmetro

via @KyleKunklerClose 'Tis the Season #wmata

Via @jillcashenClose I love the Farragut West metro station manager's holiday spirit (and tinsel, lights, music) #dcwamta

via @grafxnerd We were serenaded with Christmas tunes by a gentleman on the metro this morning.… #wmata #dcmetro #christmasspirit

See you in 2012 barring a huge Metro clusterf*ck.

Keep sending your stories and pics.

Oh, and it would be an honor if you could vote for the Unsuck DC Metro community and all the people who've contributed to the blog right here. It may be the most important vote you ever make.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rider Reports what Appears to be an Armed Robbery

From Jennifer:
On Saturday night, at around 9:15 or 9:20, I boarded the Red Line toward Shady Grove. The car was sparsely populated, and at some point, at or near Ft. Totten, we all became aware of two tall, broad men wearing trench coats and ski masks.

They were dressed in black from head to toe, and all I could see was their eyes. They were black, but I don't see how anyone would be able to recognize them in a line-up.

One sat next to me, and glanced down at my shoes. I didn't return his look and looked out the window.

Within about five minutes, they walked over to two young black kids sitting at the back of the train behind partition.

One of the tall, shady-looking kids stood sentinel, and it was clear to me at this point they were up to no good, because his friend reached over and bent down and asked something of the kids sitting. I couldn't see much more beyond that due to the partition.

The tall kids in trench coats then got off at Brookland. The kids behind the glass stumbled over and informed a guy sitting across from me that they'd been mugged at gunpoint.

They said one of the muggers had leaned in, showed a gun, demanded that both kids give up their sneakers and iPhones, and instructed them not to get off at the next stop.

A good Samaritan to my left let them call their friends, and they got off at the next stop to make their way back, reportedly, to Brookland.

The good Samaritan asked the kids if they'd been followed onto the train from Silver Spring because the thugs asked them where they were from. There was some speculation the thieves followed the kids onto the train, but other than that, I can only speculate they were hit because they were sitting at the back of the train behind glass.

When I reached my destination, Dupont, I told the guy at the Metro booth what had happened, and he said "that's a damn shame" but didn't appear to do anything.

I'm not sure if the kids filed a report because they were in shock when they got off the train.

No one called the police while the thugs were there. No one took pictures, either. I don't know if they were actually carrying weapons, but no one got involved. I admit we were all scared, and when I saw the one thug standing sentinel, I knew something was going down, but I turned to look out the window to avoid eye contact.

The incident was frightening enough to make me decide to drive to Bethesda and take the Red Line in so that I can avoid taking it from Silver Spring in the future. This was absolutely ridiculous and scary.
Other items:
Metro scales back bus driver shield plan (Examiner)
Metro says sick customers cause 5 percent of delays (Examiner)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tigers: A Massive Thank You - But Can You Do a Little More?

A message from Tiger Time:

Dear TigerTime Supporter
Thanks to you, our petition calling on China to ban the tiger trade has rocketed past 26,000 signatures in just a few days – and it’s still climbing!  So often this year we’ve seen ‘people power’ achieving real change in so many walks of life.  We are absolutely committed to ending the tiger trade and to saving the tiger in the wild.  It’s your support that will make this possible and we greatly appreciate it.
Today in a leading British Newspaper (The Daily Express) this article (pictured) about Tiger Farms was published.  To read it in more detail click here. Our message is spreading and thanks to you we are making inroads. Thanks so much for your support – it means the world to us.  
A lot of people have asked what more they can do to help in this vital battle.

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