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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Occupy Anniversary

We have become so enamored of immediate results to our actions. We seek an immediate result of our protests when they are designed for the long haul. In part it is the fault of the rise of the Internet and personal computing and accessing devices. In the 1990s it took the personal computer to make 3 seconds an unbearably long time. American society has become expectant that the most bizarre and convoluted TV series plot can be wrapped up in 50 minutes. The CSI franchise has made real life jurors suspicious of the Prosecutor’s presentation if there were no DNA results to prove Defendant did the crime. Our attention is switched from disaster to disaster faster than a couch potato can click through the 500 channel cable lineup.

Our entire society is predicated on the idea that everything comes and goes in 3 second sound bites and quick video clips strung together to create an illusory reality. Camera motion is used to make a boring scene seem animated as two people talk and the viewer is treated to roaming eyesight all around the room like they were the actual fly on the wall viewing everything. We all seek the quick fix; the instant resolution to every conflict like in Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 when the fugitive is being chased by the helicopter and the on-board live camera loses sight of Montague. They merely pick up on some schmuck to corner and kill so that the TV audience can go about their lives secure in the knowledge that the fugitive reader is no longer a menace or a threat.

So one year ago a single Tweet went viral when the NYPD cornered and arrested 700 Occupy Wall Street protestors on a bridge ostensibly for “blocking traffic.” The news media kept asking “what do these protestors want?” “How do they think they will accomplish anything while being a bunch of losers who are angry they don’t have a job or enough free stuff?”

The Occupy protests spread around the globe while still not exhibiting a clear message or set of coherent demands as so many protests before them did.” At one point there were 245 separate identifiable Occupy movements taking place. The protests were not just one day events where people gather, chant and shake fists at TV cameras, then go home. They took territory and camped long into the cold season. They were first tolerated as an anomaly that soon would dissipate. When they didn’t the cities sent in the Riot Police to beat and pepper spray them and haul them away. They kept up their occupation in the face of such brutal treatment.

The movement shifted into a steady state where not much was happening police action wise, but they kept the movement going. After one year, many small occupy groups regrouped and renewed the protests. After all they had not attained the outcomes they sought after. Still there are many pundits and commentators who see them as losers who have nothing better to do.

During the 1960s young American began to protest the Vietnam war. The protests began shortly after the war itself. The protests grew and shrank cyclically throughout the decade. The National Guard shootings at Kent State University galvanized greater resistance against the war. Not every student, veteran and civilian who took part in early protest remained active in the long term entrenchment that was required to bring that ugly part of our history to a close. Many people were protesting at home while other were being killed or maimed in the jungle even as they were killing and maiming enemy soldiers and civilians alike. Each year that the war dragged on, the death toll rose and the country became more divided. Then it was over.

When it was over the soldiers stopped killing and dying but the public back home kept their anger alive. The protesting had involved a generation not just a few losers who had nothing better to do. They dying did not stop with the end of the war. More Vietnam veterans have killed themselves since the end of the war than were killed in it. More than 10,000 more.

Today the Occupy movements have impacted little in the way of financial or economic reform, nor have they been able to claim a victory. But they are only one year old. It may take a decade. It took a decade to make the mess that they protest against and several decades of bad economic policy to set the stage for the collapse that followed. We will be seeing what the next year brings with the Occupy protests keeping the struggle alive for the long term even as the majority of Americans have already lost interest in that struggle and prefer to watch Dancing With the Stars, NFL Football, and follow the Kardashians.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What is rape?

I remember from the 1970’s the story of the judge who did not believe that a woman could be raped if she resisted. The judge used the props of a pencil and a donut as proxies and challenged the plaintiff to put the pencil in the donut hole while the donut was kept in motion. The demonstration failed when one participant grabbed the wrist of the donut holder and stabbed away at the donut until it was crumbs and the hand bloodied. “Now THAT is rape, your Honor.”

Paul Ryan and Rep. Akin argue and quibble about rape only in the context of whether an abortion is permissible as the result of a "legitimate" rape that in their minds doesn't result in pregnancy. Their reasoning merely proves them to be wholly unacceptable as representatives of any society. They want to legitimize rape by requiring it to be "forcible" and conflated with serious assualt and battery.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

You Say You Don't Like Giving People Welfare

I apologize if this first paragraph creeps you out. I want you to consider what your life would be like if you were subjected to a life altering event that kept you from being able to earn the living that you now do. You don't have to point any fingers of blame or accept and culpability for that happens to you or how well you handle the circumstance. It is only the functional result that I am asking you about.

The event could be a stroke that leaves you speechless or unable to understand speech. It could be a motor vehicle collision with someone who was not doing anything objectionable at the time. You eventually return home using a wheelchair and needing major dwelling modifications in order to live there. It could be a disease like Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, ALS, or other neurological malady. It could be mental illness, schizophrenia, some other dementia or even Post Traumatic Stress Disorder where you just can't get to a job five days per week and log your requisite 8 hours per day. The list is endless, choose your preferred disability.

If you have family and friends you may be fortunate enough to have someone take care of you. Most people do not have inexhaustible insurance resources so we can't mitigate all your problems with free money from private insurance. If you have home mortgage insurance, maybe you won't lose your home, but so few people have policies that will pay off that balance.

For simplicity we will not go into the massive medical bills that usually accompany such life altering events. We can argue the pros and cons of universal health care for weeks on end and still not reach a consensus.

The direction that I am trying to lead the reader is to the idea that once you lose your ability to earn enough money to pay for all the essentials of life in this country you become marginalized and destitute. The only hope for any level of comfort is the support that taxpayer funded subsidies provide. Minimum wage of $7.35 will get a 40-hour per week worker about $15,288 before taxes. Even at $10 an hour the income is $20,800. Could you and your dependents live on that amount unsubsidized?

People in America can get rent subsidy/rent control, food stamps, direct cash payments, Medical care, energy assistance, half fare rides on transit, extra tax deductions, and other amounts that I cannot list in their entirety. Basically, the people who receive those benefits are unable to pay for everything they need with the income they get from working for a business that pays a wage.

If you can't report to work and do 40 hours per week you won't even get the $15,000 income. The longer you are unable to do that work, the less likely you ever will. You become part of that vast unemployable segment of our society. You may be too young, too old, too disabled, too disfigured, too socially inept, too illiterate, too unskilled or uneducated, too non-English speaking to do the jobs that will pay an income sizable enough to pay ALL the costs of living in the profitized USA without being supported by taxpayers. Some of those reasons are directly the responsibility of the person who needs an income, while others are foisted upon him by the businesses that don't hire such persons.

You've seen seemingly strong looking men panhandling on the sidewalk. While they could tote that barge and lift that bale with their strong bodies, it is the mental side of the picture that leaves them unemployed and on the street with a paper cup in which to collect coins. With the tens of thousands of such people already relegated to life on the street the few who could reverse their (mis)fortunes would only a drop in the bucket. One would have to work with them to resolve their underlying problems in order to get them back into gainful employment. Getting them into a job that pays enough to not require subsidy is nearly impossible. Everything costs, so even the investment in solving the underlying problems is a taxpayer subsidy in itself.

As we each progress through our early lives, we pickup knowledge and skills that will serve us later on. Some of what we learn will apply to our social lives, some to our personal lives and others to our work lives. While on that path to success there are those in our cohort that do not progress as fast or as well for many and varied reasons. There are those we know who fail for lack of trying while others fail for lack of ability to learn and use what they know. It is easy for the successful ones to look down on the failed and failing ones and blame them for their lack of attainment. Later on, the successful ones come to resent the shabbiness and sheer numbers of the failed and failing ones who must be supported by society or be left in desperation. The attitude that "I earned mine and I shouldn't have to give it to those who are lazy, don't try and like having everything given to them" becomes prevalent.

The ones who fail to succeed are only the one part of the total. There are they who had success and later lost it. Their bodies gave out. Their brains began to malfunction and they could not keep up. They were traumatized by what we asked them to do to people in other lands. Whatever the cause, they are out there in our faces mirroring the possibility that we too could join them at any time.

So if you could no longer do a job that pays the salary you progressed up to in your career and you could not reliably report to work to keep a job, where would you end up? If the only job you could get paid $15,000 a year with no health benefits, could you live without welfare, Food Stamps, rent subsidies, Medicaid, etc? What would your spouse and children think and do? And don't discount friend and family handouts because they are merely a private form of welfare to you.

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Author's Note: The book cover images in the side margins of this blog are my own publications of eBooks available at both Amazon and B&N. Please take a moment and go to the sites and read about them. Then if you like it, buy one or two.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Response to Fareed Zakaria on Gun Laws

Since about 46% of suicides are by gun (not by semi-automatic assault weapons) I figure that a lot of people want a gun with which to kill themselves. The assault weapon controversy is a red herring. The vast majority of firearm deaths and injuries are by the hand gun. Let's keep the two issues separate. We all get wrapped around the axle when a mass shooting occurs while letting the thousands of handgun incidents fade into the background. It's like getting angry about airline crashes that kill hundreds at a time while ignoring the 30,000 or so annual automobile deaths and the 2 million annual critical injuries. We are all having our attention diverted by conflating the two issues. Then Fareed, in his article, adds the psychological status of the shooters and future shooters. We continue to ignore psychiatric treatment for people who need help before they act. So often we know who the potential shooters are but opt to do nothing. Fund the mental health care and work to solve the issues that give rise to the desires in people to shoot others.

I don't support millions of people having guns at the ready in order to be "effective" in their road rage, settling a disagreement with a neighbor, scaring a spouse, or walking the neighborhood watch beat. The laws we do have don't work and none of the proposed laws have much promise since there are already 90 million or so guns in circulation already. It doesn't take 90mn handguns to stop the 1 or 2 mass shooters per year that we have.

It is like the War on drugs. As long as people want to take drugs all the laws and punishment will not stop it. We need to focus on the causes of violent behavior and let the fearful have their guns. Soon they will put them away.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Poisonous Grass

A recent web article caught my attention. At first glance the purveyor of the story tagged it with the assertion that GMO Bermuda grass killed cows. Never being one to repeat gossip without checking its veracity, I followed the links to the report. The nomenclature of "GMO" did not apply and the claim seemed to be debunked. That story appears at GMO food: Hybrid poison grass that kills Texas cattle not genetically modified by Linda Gentile at

At second glance, I was concerned about the use and spread of the Tifton 85 hybrid Bermuda grass primarily because it was "just a cross-breed" amongst two or more well known strains of Bermuda grass. The creators of this hybrid saw the benefits of an easily digestible grass that would grow cows bigger and faster. For that they should be commended. But for every good intention there is a road to hell paved with it.

The unanticipated consequences of this grass was not manifest for the 15 years that it has been deployed in pasture land in Texas. The recent drought conditions that are widespread across the state revealed a dark secret of the hybrid. The secret was not completely unknown, though. Quoting from Ms. Gentile's article that paraphrased the following "According to the Animal Health Library, Bermuda grass is high in hydrocyanic acid, which may be concentrated during times of drought." the possibilities of cyanide exposure was well known. I am not accusing the farmers or the developers of Tifton 85 hybrid for any negligence, since ordinary Bermuda grass might do the same thing. The problem is there are Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) being unleashed into the food chain with just as much non-existent research and care.

If a hybrid seed can do what Tifton 85 has done, then a GMO variety may have even more deleterious effects on the environment and our food chain. We indeed may need to have GMO and further hybrid organisms in order to avoid starvation of the 8, 9 and 10 billion person populations that are certainly going to become a reality some day. However, we must also be very diligent in our endeavors and not poison our world in the name of making food. The fields of grass in Texas might become off-limits to grazing if the present drought conditions persist. The Cyanide may indeed off-gas as well and create sickening winds that waft across the plains. A wildfire will create cyanide laced smoke that everyone will breathe, not just the cows. Then what will we do with all that poisonous grass?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Self-Correcting Tuna!

More from It's All Tuna! website

Most of all, Milton Friedman was an academic. Professors and students of Economics and many other disciplines sit around and brainstorm on their favorite topics. The sessions bring about new and innovative ideas that can change the complexion of the world. They have the ability to envision practices and policies that will feed the world or starve it depending on the use to which the ideas are put. Dynamite can blast a tunnel through a mountain to bring steel rails and commerce to people on the other side of the mountain. The same dynamite can also be used to kill all the people over there so that the tunnel is not necessary. Similarly, the owner of the tunnel and the rails can enslave the people on the far side of the mountain by pricing their commodities at too high a price for them to prosper.

Another facet to the tunnel commerce that plays to the detriment of the people on the far side of the mountain is that local people can bid up the price of the commodities for their own consumption and thereby starve the people who need some of those supplies too.

Even in the absence of any malice toward the folks on the far side of the mountain the unregulated market driven supply and demand forces can destroy them or make them suffer. After all, the mountain obscures the view of the people who live there. Their suffering goes unnoticed until they come over the mountain or through the tunnel to get what they need. Violence and revolution are market correcting forces too.

The economic theorists who proclaim that laissez-faire markets are the best method and that they are self-correcting when they become out of balance neglect to take into account the motives of businesses that willfully damage people and the environment to obtain a short term gain at the expense of the long term viability of the economy. They also neglect consideration that desperate people will employ desperate measures to get what they need. They don't do just because they want something. Buddhist monks douse themselves with gasoline and immolate themselves to obtain change in the governance of their people. No one ever immolated himself because he couldn't get tickets to his favorite pop singer's concert.

When a man or a woman picks up a rifle and becomes a revolutionary, few people ever ask the "big why" question. They don't bomb railway stations and trains because they want faster service at the lunch counter. They may do that because they are denied service at all at the lunch counter. They may do it because the price of food is far too high compared to the wage earning level of what jobs are available to them. They may do it because they are not allowed to have a job at all. A hungry man with a weapon and a family is a powerful market correcting force.

In America we have not had systemic violent upheavals since the original revolution because we have provided for the minimal nutritional and housing requirements for everyone. This doesn't mean that everyone has had accessed the resources, nor equally. This doesn't mean that there aren't inequities among the various races, religions, and cultural identities that breed a seething hatred that will erupt locally when a spark flies.

Those people and political constituencies that advocate the cutting loose the safety net that poor people need do not see that they are fomenting active revolution. Advocacy of cutting taxes on businesses and wealthy Americans is a short sighted view of the realities that are on the far side of that mountain. It is not Them and Us. It is all We, together that are in this economic pickle. We need to devise a solution that satisfies everyone, even if that is minimally so they can survive.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Corporate Political Money

Corporate money given to politicians is like cocaine. After tasting it for a while they can't say no. The pusher keeps asking for then demanding a higher price for his goods. After a while, the addict will completely abandon his/her principles and mores to keep the junk coming. And it is just soooo easy. All they have to do is cast their vote and turn their face away from the consequences and have another round of golf.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cool Thing to do With Your Cell Phone Camera

Author's Note: The book cover images in the side margins of this blog are my own publications of eBooks available at both Amazon and B&N. Please take a moment and go to the sites and read about them. Then if you like it, buy one or two.
Here is a cool thing to do. Start your car’s engine. Get out of the car and go around to the back. Use your iPhone or other cell phone camera to take a picture of the exhaust pipe. You have just used 21-century high-tech to take a picture of some 19-century low-tech. Most people are so proud of their high-tech phone thingee and what it can do while continuing to burn hydrocarbons to move around (sometimes while using that phone thingee.) At the same time most people complain that gas prices are too high while burning 25% of what they buy idling their engines while sitting in traffic.

At 20,000 miles per year that person wastes 200 gallons at $3.50 per gallon. If they did not waste the fuel the equivalent cost per gallon would be about $2.80. So stop complaining about the price of gas and do something about your driving. Stop using 19-century technology.
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Walking Blind in the DC Metro

A blind man in Metro at Metro Center walked with a white cane navigating across my path with room to spare. The woman walking behind him nearly walked into me while she was staring into the blue illumination of her wireless device. I think she was hypnotized or mesmerized. He was visually impaired while she was visibly impaired.
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Author's Note: The book cover images in the side margins of this blog are my own publications of eBooks available at both Amazon and B&N. Please take a moment and go to the sites and read about them. Then if you like it, buy one or two.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Self Penalizing Misdemeanor (#wmata)

Two young boys were fooling around at the bottom of an up platform escalator at Metro Center. The one boy backed up to the moving handrail and tried to straddle it for a ride. It momentarily lifted him before he slid off. Walking about quite oddly he said to his friend's question, "I got a monster wedgie." What more can I say?
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Author's Note: The book cover images in the side margins of this blog are my own publications of eBooks available at both Amazon and B&N. Please take a moment and go to the sites and read about them. Then if you like it, buy one or two.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Subj: Sitting on a stalled escalator at Metro Center

The Thursday morning commute into the District started out reasonably well. The warmer than usual January morning was a welcome experience. As I sat on the stalled Metro Center escalator in my wheelchair listening to the approaching sirens, I thought about all the events that had to take place in order for me to be at that place at just that moment when the machinery shut down for some inexplicable reason.

The MARC train had arrived on time however the funky air surrounding the restroom compartment meant that the mezzanine area was not very crowded. Many of the restroom equipped MARC Commuter cars have been neglected as of late but the bigger issue is the frequency of breakdowns that severely delay or cancel trains altogether. This morning was a pleasant exception from the recent spate of ‘issues.’ We even arrived on the 13 Track where we at least have half a platform. The other half of the width is cordoned off for long neglected overhaul. This arrival and ease of train deboarding meant that I was on schedule but unusually ahead of a typical day in the life of a DC commuter.

Down in the Metro Rail station at Union Station, the fubars were manifest in great numbers. My BB phone was not registering emails so I had been without the heads up that the Red line trains were being delayed by yet another cracked rail. At my count this was the 5th occurrence in less than 2 months. I sent a Tweet that “At #WMATA, I guess we have discovered just how long the steel rails last. 5 cracks in 2 months. A pattern emerges.” My progress toward the place and time of what would euphemistically become known as the “January Escalator Incident” among my friends and colleagues was slowing down.

The first train through the station was so crowded that I passed on taking it. It seemed to be having door troubles, too. The next train was mostly empty so I got on it. Then we sat there for a few minutes due to the backlog of trains ahead of us, including the one I skipped that was now having continued issues at Judiciary Square. All along the line the delays were building due to the rail crack up ahead. One announcement was that a train had broken down in the single track section and was being assisted. What should have been a 10 minute ride to Metro Center was taking half an hour. My decisions to wait on the next train placed me temporally about three minutes behind where I otherwise would have been. The moment I rolled off the Metro Center escalator would have been about three minutes before it stopped for its spurious reason. That is assuming that it stopping had nothing to do with my actual presence. I don’t think it “had it in for me.”

When we finally arrived at Metro Center, I found that the west end platform up escalator had been enclosed in plywood walls for a long term long overdue overhaul job. If the overhaul schedule had been one day later, I would have exited the station in that direction making for a completely different morning experience. Incidentally, this means that the down unit will be stationary during that entire period. The night before, the down escalator was stopped even though it was recently returned to service after its multi-month repair. My commute options were being greatly curtailed. Using a wheelchair in the DC Metro system is a challenge every day even when all the equipment actually is operating.

I knew that the only street elevator at Metro Center was out of service for its long overdue, long neglected overhaul. Had I moved slower through the crowd in the station, or had met one of my commute acquaintances such as Casey or Mary and lingered a few seconds while talking, I might have been met with a stopped escalator when I first arrived. Needless to say, I would not have used it. I exited the system and looked to see if that one escalator was operating on this morning. It was. The other one was torn down and midway through its overhaul job. The third unit had long ago been replaced with granite steps in the first austerity program of WMATA. Actually back in the mid 1990s three technicians had been killed while working on this particular set of escalators. They were crushed when someone re-energized the motor units while they were in the machinery.

The traffic was light and I took a hold of the hand rail and started up ascent to the street. When about half way to the top, a bell rang out and the moving stairs eased to a stop. My reaction was to say, “I can’t F***ing, believe this.” All of the micro-delays and lack of others all added up to the fact of my being halfway up that stair when the motor actually quit.

The woman who had been about 10 feet further along looked back at me. She came close and asked if there was anything she could do. I said she could go tell the station manager. She went back down and made the report. The last I saw her she was walking up the granite steps.

This is where the story gets interesting. An escalator technician arrived and insisted on holding me in place. I told him I was able to hold on myself for as long as in didn’t fall asleep. He said he’d continue to hold on. I wanted them to just restart the steps but he refused saying it was against the safety protocols to restart an escalator with a customer on it. He said the Fire Department personnel would decide what to do. I argued that them carrying me off was far more dangerous than restarting the unit with me on it and him holding on as he was. My logic did not sway his opinion. We waited. If he had not arrived on the scene, I would have gotten tired of waiting and would have done what I did when DC’s only earthquake shook the city and elevators all over the place went into emergency mode. I would have bumped and bounced down the steps one at a time until I was at the bottom. Then I would have tried a different exit. His presence added to the unnecessary hoopla of the day.

I heard the sirens gradually getting louder and closer. Soon there was a host of canvas coated men all standing at the top of the escalator. They walked down and we entered into a discussion about what to do. They wanted to carry me down into the station so I could use the elevator. I pointed out that it was out of service for repairs as were many of the other escalators in this station. That was why I was right there right now. “I will be stranded in the station if you carry me down. Even the Trains are snafued today.”

We consulted on the placed to hold and lift and the placed to avoid. One man produced a nylon strap and we looped it through the frame at placed that were string and would not fail. Thence it was onward and upward to the street. That part took all of about 2 minutes.

While I provided my identification information for the report, the technician turned the key and restarted the stairs without incident. I pointed to them and said, “see there. This was all a big honking nothing turned into a big deal.” I confirmed that I had no residual concerns and went on my way to the office. I pondered what I should do for next few months while they work on the entrances at Metro Center that I use.

Post Script: Some people would say I am an optimist, which I am. Things could have been worse. Really it could have been. This incident could have happened on the next day, Friday, when the District had torrential rains until after 9:30. That Metro Center escalator is one of those ones that are outside under the open sky. Twenty minutes of sitting in the pouring rain would have made the events a whole lot different.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

It's always Something

It's always Something

Roseanne Roseannadanna's dear old dad was astute in his observation. The first week of January 2012 brought a significant number of concatenated failures of the Maryland MTA rail system and the WMATA system in DC. It is bad enough when one thing goes wrong but what it is a series of fubars that culminate in massive delays, one can only fall back on that saying, "It's always something."

After the long breakdown of a MARC commuter train in the afternoon of the last workday of 2011, a Friday to boot, the entire region seems to have succumbed to multiple daily problems. It that first short workweek of January WMATA experienced three cracked rails and a pedestrian was hit on the tracks. Multiple trainsets were disabled due to one reason or another and the elevators and escalators continue to be out of service for the continuing program of renovation. Each incident by itself is bad enough, but when one event leads into another and another, one day can become quite the challenge.

For the many thousands of MetroRail customers who walk into and out of the stations on good feet, have strong hearts and limber joints it is only the trains not moving on schedule that tax their patience. Stalled escalators may be a nuisance with the backlog of fellow commuters queued to walk up or down the stationary stairs, but a few minutes of time will remedy the situation.

For those riders who have difficulty walking the stairs, getting into and out of stations can be a daunting task especially when surrounded with already anxious delayed fellow riders whose rude attitudes rival only their pushy insistence in getting to their job or the transit connection back home.

Then there are the users of wheelchairs, walkers and other mobility devices that make using transit possible at all. Working elevators and escalators are just as important a part of the trip to work or home as is the Red Line trains having doors that work and track signals that allow the trains to move safely from one station to the next.

January 4th was one of those exceptional days when many things went wrong with this one person's trip home to Baltimore. Much to the distress of many WMATA Station Managers and Transit Police Officers, I depend on using working escalators to enter and leave Metro stations even though I use a wheelchair. They sometimes get it in their minds that what I am doing is a danger to myself and others on the escalator. That they fail to understand is that after 16 years of entering and leaving the Metro Center Station via escalator, my ride count exceeds 16,000 events. With that much experience behind me, I think and special danger is long extinguished. There remains, of course, the dangers that everyone who rides an escalator in the Metro Rail system. It could stop, it could throw them off at the bottom. It could try to eat their shoes, loose clothing or unsupervised children. One could get their iPod or Smart Phone ripped off by a fast moving pickpocket. They could be knocked over by an anxious customer who is late for a meeting.

On this Wednesday, I headed for the west entrance only to find the down escalator stopped. My trip to the south entrance found a similar condition in effect along with the center unit barricaded for repairs. The west entrance had no functioning units. I resolved to go to the north entrance and use the elevator, since I already knew the one escalator to be under repair while the other served as a stationary staircase. WMATA had taken the street elevator out of service for several months for a major overhaul. On my way back to the west entrance to try for the D6 circulator bus, I stopped at the top of the escalators. I prevailed upon a woman to go ask the Station Manager if the machine could be restarted. This Manager was helpful and got it running for me.

I already knew that the platform level escalator was torn apart for overhaul and that I had to go to the wrong side platform and then cross over if the other end pair of escalators were both working.

Failure Two

All the while I was trying to get into the station, the same train sat at the platform waiting for authorization to proceed do to trouble ahead. It sat there all the while I was traveling to the far end of the platform and crossing over and back down. It sat there for another 10 minutes before moving on. A woman standing near to the door where we would both be getting out at Union Station kept noting the time and her urgency to get to her 5:10 MARC train.

Failure Three

It was odd that the 438 train departing at a scheduled 5:20 was on the 13 track. Usually they park it on the 16 track and make everyone climb the steps due to the low-level pavement. I even joked with the conductor about our not having to set up a lift for me to get on the train.

A bunch of the Gang was there in our accustomed car at the 2nd car position. We sat. We talked. Soon we wondered when the train would pull out. Five-twenty came and went but we have been used to that happening without dire consequences to follow. This day would be different. At about 5:30 we got the first PA message. We would be delayed due to mechanical problems. Heck, we knew THAT. What we wanted was when we were going to move. One woman was going to miss her league bowling start time. Others were going to miss picking up children at daycare with a penalty.

After the 5:25 train had pulled away we got the update that our train was not going to pull out and we needed to move over to another train. First they gave us a high level platform then they took it away. We had to move over to the 8 track that was low level boarding and I would require the lift. I had decided to go buy dinner at Union Station and catch an even later train. The conductor, however, informed me that "they have the lift all ready setup and waiting for you over on 8." I didn't want to disappoint them or raise confusion if I didn't show up, so I went. About half of the Gang regrouped in the 2nd car where they had set up the lift. The trip was slower than usual after a very late departure. We arrived about 50 minutes late at BWI and there was a massive rush to get out of the garages.

Commuting has become an adventure, and remains so.