Archive for the ‘aging infrastructure’ Category


April 23, 2008








While Washington media attention has focused on D.C. taxicab meters, Mayor Adrian Fenty has proposed new rates for ambulances, including a $6.06 mileage rate. Should the new taxi meters be installed in ambulances, too?


Falling Satellite Out of Control!

February 15, 2008

Satellite Out of Control

A secret United States military espionage satellite orbiting the earth at cell-phone-tower-level is losing altitude and about to crash. Military commanders are hankering to shoot that buzzard out of the ozone with one of those missiles quietly obsolescing aboard our Navy’s rustbuckets wallowing in the Pacific.

Authorities are concerned about dangers posed by spills of the space object’s half-ton of toxic hydrazine fuel as well as leaks of the secret data and hush-hush gizmos inside the thingy (pardon the technical language).

As you can see from the graphic, the . . . um, sorry. Wrong graphic. We’ll get back to you.

War of the Satellites

Mike Licht, Top image by Mike Licht and the heroic CCCPeople of  the USSR. Download it here. Credit to: Mike Licht,

Lost in Space

February 8, 2008

Lost In Space
(Photo: B9Creations LLC)

The Space Shuttle hooptie is hauling a brand-new condo unit, the European Space Lab “Columbus,” to the creaky International Space Station. NASA isn’t FedEx; the flight is five years late. Good thing NASA isn’t Domino’s or the polar ice caps would be smothered in steaming free pizzas.


Bad Meters or Better Metrics?

January 18, 2008

Bad Meters or Better Metrics?

Complaints about broken D.C. parking meters increased 40 percent in the past year, notes Michael Neibauer in the Examiner.

Karyn LeBlanc of the Department of Transportation says the meters are fine and brags about the complaint increase; she says it proves the success of DDOT’s improved complaint system.

We’re talking about 94,000 broken meters here.


DC Aquarium — Dead in the Water?

January 3, 2008

DC Aquarium -- Dead in the Water?

Washington’s secret museum near the Mall, the National Aquarium, may be evicted by the General Services Administration (GSA).

Established by the federal government in 1873, the aquarium was “privatized” during the Reagan administration but coasted by, rent-free, in the basement of the Commerce Building (14th & Constitution Avenue, NW). GSA just noticed something fishy: the aquarium is no longer federal, and private entities in government space are required to pay rent.


Shocking Terror Attacks, New Security Measures

December 16, 2007

Shocking Terror Attacks, New Security Measures

Terrorists have struck again at electrical transmission lines and transformer stations, the soft underbelly of America’s power grid. Shocking suicide attacks have caused four power outages in the last two months at the peaceful campus of the University of Kentucky at Lexington, according to the Kentucky Kernel.

The university has budgeted $100,000 for security measures, according to Richard McClure, physical plant division manager. “We’ve had that problem on and off for several years,” he said.


Shocking Midwestern Terror Attacks

November 20, 2007

Shocking Midwestern Terror Attacks

Terrorist squirrels attacked the vulnerable infrastructure of Wisconsin and Michigan Monday. Electrical transmission lines and transformer stations, the soft underbelly of America’s power grid, were the targets of the furious furry fighters.


Meaningless Moaning About Metro

November 12, 2007

Meaningless Moaning About Metro

Did the prices of, gasoline, food, construction materials and, um .  .  . cable television go up in the last four years? Yes.

Have Metro fares? No. Time to raise fares a little bit, pocket change daily, to cope with increased energy, materials and labor costs. Forty percent of Metrorail commuters get employer-subsidized fares anyway.

Public Reaction? Outrage! Indignation! Fury!

Points to ponder:

  • Many commuters take Metro because gas costs $3 a gallon. Does Metro get energy for free?

  • On Metrorail, the greater the distance, the higher the price – you know, like in a taxicab.

  • Not enough suburban Metro station parking? The way suburban property values are falling, Metro should be able to pick up plenty of cheap land for parking lots real soon. There, isn’t that a comforting thought?

Image by Mike Licht. Please step back from the edge of the platform.

Anacostia Railroad Bridge Down – Again

November 10, 2007

Anacostia Railroad Bridge Down - Again 

[See update at end of post ]

An 89-car CSX Transportation coal train derailed at the Anacostia River railroad bridge in Washington, DC on Friday, November 9, 2007. There were no injuries reported.

Initial evidence suggests the train was stationary on the bridge when it was struck by another freight train.  According to the Examiner, the bridge is owned by the National Park Service and leased to CSX Transportation, Inc.


New Tourist Attraction

September 27, 2007

Thar she blows!

Yesterday’s 3 PM power outage following a manhole cover explosion on Kentucky Avenue SE allowed Capitol Hill’s resident telecommuters the perfect excuse for an afternoon nap.

Monday morning’s manhole explosion was on the 900 block of Farragut Street NW, near Georgia Avenue in Petworth. 

Given Pepco’s aging infrastructure, these events are almost predictable. The electric utility should follow the well-known software development principle (“It’s Not a Bug, It’s a Feature”), team up with the Convention and Tourism Corporation, and promote this phenomenon as a new tourist attraction, the Manhole Cover Fountain.