Off the Top: DC Entries
Yesterday evening I had the wonderful fortune to speak on a panel for AFFIRM Web 2.0 event, which was held at the National Press Club. I really enjoyed the panel as the moderator (Dan Mintz CIO of the U.S. Department of Transportation) and other panelists (Chris Rasmussen: Social Software and Knowledge Manager and Trainer, National Geospatial - Intelligence Agency; and Geoffrey Fowler: Editor in Chief, CIA Wire) were all fantastic. The sold out audience was deeply engaged and asked really good questions.
Impediments to Getting to the Event
While I deeply enjoyed the event and conversation that followed, getting to the event was a completely different story. I felt like I was in a misinterpretation of the joke "how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice" with battling Washington, DC's often horrible transportation/traffic woven into the punch line. The event was to start at 5:30pm, it was raining and during rush hour. The drive from the office to the National Press Club normally takes 35 minutes with some traffic. I thought about taking the Metro, but the last couple of times I have used Metro I have been stuck with horrible delays and outages. I opted to leave an hour early, which I figured would work well. This was not enough it seems.
Technology Did Not Save Me
I made it to about 7 blocks from the National Press Club is great time then all went wrong. It started sleeting and in typical Washington, DC form the rules of the road were thrown out the window and chaos was deeply embraced. I was listening to XM Radio's DC traffic and weather channel in the car, which did not mention anything about downtown Washington, DC traffic had come to a complete halt. I flipped to regular WTOP on regular radio to sort out why I had not moved an inch in 20 minutes (having 10 minutes left to get to the event on time). Neither of these options were working so I tried to Twitter to get feedback and let others know I was running late (I was not actually connected to the people at the event - silly me), but SMS was not going out. I tried calling others at the event, but mobile signal was saturated and when I got through I got no answer and voice mail was full. I had been using the ever wonderful Google Maps and expanded my view to look at the freeway traffic congestion and all of the DC region was red (stopped in its tracks). I was able to get to Mobile Twitter to read and send messages, but it did not help traffic.
Finally, I was able to travel 4 blocks to get to New York Avenue after traveling 1 block per 30 minutes and turn and find a parking lot that was going to be open past 7pm (Washington, DC thinks people only work and go home). I walked the last remaining 2.5 blocks to arrive at 6:35pm, a wee bit late and a wee bit damp (even with an large golf umbrella). Thankfully, they waited and I was whisked to the head table and the event started.
Our power just went out and Pepco (the local) says it will be 2 to 4 hours before it returns. This is about the 30 to 40th outage in two years. It is time to move to a place that has proper infrastructure that works as expected, this is 2004 after all not 1910 and I did not think it was the 3rd world. My mistake.
[Update] The power went out just as we set the oven to finish our turkey (about two hours of cooking). We were going to be feeding 8 adults and three kids, not counting Will. We did some quick changing of plans, boxed everything up and took it over to Joy's sister's house to cook there. They were finishing their contributions in the oven so when those were done we began our turn. All turned out well, but a little later and with a lot of trucking things about (thankful for our beast on days like this to truly truck things about).
It was a good day of family being together, but the infrastructure problems in the greater Washington, DC area are really getting on my nerves. Yes we are thankful we do not live in a war ravaged country like Iraq and do have many amenities that are a little more abundant that other areas of the world. It is tough to have just come back from being abroad and knowing the U.S. does not have things as well as other countries. But, as learned abroad the closer one is to something the more the fine cracks show and they appear much bigger up close.
Adam's Thanksgiving posting is one of the best I have run across on this day, or most any other day.
Off for another 110 minute commute for 11 miles. The normal 60 minute commute for the same stretch is even more unacceptably longer because of the METRO train crash, or were they trying to make more trains just like the animals we see on the Discovery Channel?
Washington DC METRO crash will make a mess of things for a few days. This accident with one train going over another, was noted as one train "bumping" another by METRO just after it happened. Fortunately today was a driving day as I had a dentist appointment, but tomorrow will be an utter mess.
This is the latest in a string of messes on the system of late. In the last two years my commute has gone from 35 minutes to nearly an hour on the train each way to and from work. Driving has also become horrible and had similar congestion problems. Part of the problem is lack of funding for maintenance and up keep.
I am on the bus heading back to my car after spending an hour on the DC Metro and only going one stop. The Metro system has bee getting progresssively worse and now seems to be resembling a system in the third world and not one in the capitol of the U.S. Who knows where this mess will end.
Driving to work this morning (I normally do not drive) I saw a blimp floating over the Mall near the Capitol building. I thought it was an odd place for a blimp. I also realized their is not a sporting event that would cause the blimp to be in town today (a city being awarded a baseball team is not a blimp event). I tried to figure out whose blimp it was, but it was all gray.
My next thought was somebody stole a blimp and is going to fly it into the Capitol. Very quickly that was ruled out as a rational option. I switch my radio from satellite to AM to the news station, which is chatting on about the baseball team and the weather. Nothing about a rogue blimp.
A co-worker at mid-day brings up the odd blimp story in the Washington Post. Yes, the U.S. Army is leasing a blimp to protect the Nation's Capitol. Have we spent so much money on Iraq that all we can afford is a blimp?
There are days when you see something that makes you want to crawl in a hole out of embarrassment for somebody else.
This evening presented one of these moments. I was walking toward the Metro platform and I thought I saw a fake tail or odd fashion accessory hanging between the legs of a woman wearing a skirt. The closer I got the more curious I became. I was wondering if it was a belt that wrapped and then draped to nearly touch the ground. As I got close and ready to make my turn up the platform I realized the accessory was inside her skirt. Well the accessory was actually toilet paper.
Joy and I went to Ten Penh for dinner in DC to celebrate her birthday. TP is an Asian fusion restaurant with good sized portions and very good food. I got pork and shrimp lumpia with three dipping sauces, which has very good. My entre was Sea Scollops over succotash with Chinese sausage. Joy had duck in wraps with plum sauce and red curry shrimp for her main course. We also shared fluffy wasabi mashed potatoes. It was a good meal and we realized we rarely eat downtown and think we may do it a little more.
Wahoo, Bethesda gets a Landmark theater, which means foreign and independant films are going to be with in walking distance. Landmark usually restores historic theaters, but in this instance they have built a new property. That whole area is now hopping on weekend nights.
I am a fan of Landmark. I had many great nights in Landmark theaters in San Francisco and the East Bay. Washington, DC had the Key theater, but even with that I missed the wonderful Landmarks of the Bay Area. Now there is great hope.