Sunday, May 20, 2007

Week 19: life in the DC area

Sent: Friday, May 18, 2007 6:46 PM
Subject: Week 19: life in the DC area

Nitpicker here, with my little dialup, splurging on a Friday night (other than the lamp on in the other room, that is). Just about to ped on over to WSFA for First Friday. Who needs to throw their own party when one is just about at the doorstep?

I need it after we had to stay late after the boss showed up late to our worksite. After the big fuss about how the oil companies got to Congress so they could keep a good-for-them thing going with this highway robbery, the Powers That Be have been pushing people to use Metro more. Of course, this lead to overloading the system, more breakdowns of the built-for-obsolescence carriages and buses, etc. So the next thing was a renewed push for people to bike more and walk more. I've already been walking to work, finally back down within 10 pounds of "normal" (!). They instituted bike lanes on the bridges over the Potomac and some of the other bridges, as gasoline north of $5 put the ouch on many and lead some people to get their bosses to let them telework. But the bikers (especially the slow ones, not the racers who weave in and out of the cars still running) have the problem of the people spilling out from the bridge sidewalks into the bike lanes.

Thus today's big mess. Word has it that some foreigners (some say diplomats from an embassy, others say one of those foriegn-official visits- maybe an official was being driven in a vehicle with diplo plates, who knows) were speeding in a convoy south over the Potomac, like it was 1997 or 98 when gas shot down to nearly a tenth of what it is now, and a car dodging out of the way ran into some bikes, and the car and bikes then ran into more cars and bikes and people. No bodies were flung into the Potomac, so no one is missing, but at least five people were killed (probably will rise) and many more hurt. The radio stations have been appealing for people to show up to the local hospitals to donate, donate, donate. Now if they threw in a free meal instead of just some weak OJ... The closing down of the south-bound span of course threw even more people back onto the Metro so they could cross the Potomac. My boss had to ride east from the main office for a few stops so he could find a west-bound with enough room for him to squeeze on, and then there were delays as the train operators almost had to slam doors on people to get the throngs to quit trying to board.

One attempt to deal with the transport mess has been the government's decision to have more-flexible working hours. Like the 5:30 to 2 pm shift? No more problem. Same if people can't really deal with life before brunchtime. Another response has been to authorize most non-emergency white-collar civilian government employees to telework unless required to show up either by the nature of the job (such as health-care workers) or by their supervisors for good and sufficient reasons.

However, this has lead to a BIG fly in the ointment for many people. Access to YouTube and LiveJournal and all those other sites? People vicariously moaned when the troops overseas couldn't get pictures of their kids (at the same time the Department of Defense was launching recruiting videos on the same sites). Now, they are STEAMED because the government decreed that "because of the increased bandwidth needed to accomodate the telecommuting workforce, federal government computers will no longer be able to access the following sites from 6 AM EDT to 8 PM EDT Monday through Friday". There are rumors of further limitations to follow.

Oh, well, time to hike off to WSFA and dream of the future that was ((and if we all get through this still just might be)).

Note: This is a report from a Northern Virginia "green zone". We have a few red spots of our own, but it's still nowhere near as bad as in Anacostia and far Northeast.

Netizen Nitpicker


YuckyMuck said...

Whoa Nitpicker, I had no idea. Someone does a good thing by letting people telecommute, and then right away they break it by trying to control the bandwidth. This is nutso! And look at what gets controlled; people speaking up. Orwell all over again. And the media reported all about how great Senator Schmuck was for the telecommuting bill, but said nothing about the 'efficiency measures' (censorship?).

Somehow we need to push through the veil and get the message out - 20 times a day you hear what the stock market is doing, never what the price of milk is. Which do you think has the bigger audience? Who are they serving anyhow?

GalaTeah said...

We're seeing this as a recurring theme. A crisis is a perfect time to alter the playing field in your favor, if you can.