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FAA Commemorates 9/11


The FAA’s “Next Generation Air Transportation System”, NextGen for short, uses satellites to streamline airplane descents. At Reagan National Airport the new NextGen arrival sequences have been named in honor of those who lost their lives in the tragedies of September 11, 2001.  The arrival sequences have a series of waypoints which each have five-letter names.  The sequence named FRDMM (Freedom) contains “WEEEE,” “WLLLL,” “NEVVR,” “FORGT” and “SEP 11.” Other waypoints include  “LETZZ,” “RLLLL.”

National Postal Museum


The Church Street Post Office in Manhattan processed the mail for the World Trade Center. After the September 11 destruction, curators at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum debated whether to collect any objects related to the tragedy. Immediately following the horrible events, historian Nancy Pope was determined that they not preserve any artifacts. It was a graveyard to her, not a place to gather museum objects. She and others eventually decided it was a historical event that needed to be documented and the museum obtained several items and also the recollections of one of the postal carriers on site. The zip codes used for the World Trade Center were withdrawn from use. The museum has a postal handstamp bearing the September 11 date and zip code 10007.

Highway Archeology


SR 520 by WSDOT

The landscape around Highway 520 near our home has dramatically transformed as the Washington State Department of Transportation proceeds with several projects leading to the replacement of the bridge over Lake Washington. As trees come down and culverts are placed, a lot of dirt has been displaced and archeologists are actually on the scene here and over at Seattle’s Alaskan Viaduct project looking for artifacts. They don’t expect to find valuable relics, but the garbage of earlier generations serves as an informative record of history. The WSDOT has given $342,000 to the Burke Museum for space to store the collected objects which could shed light on the lives of workers in the logging and fishing industries which ruled the area before airplanes and then computers came along.

Written by ltao

July 17th, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Posted in transportation

Two California Lighthouses


On Monterey Peninsula and in Big Sur, California, two historic lighthouses stand 25 miles apart. Both are open to visitors. The more accessible of the two, Point Pinos Lighthouse near Monterey, first shone in 1855 and claims the title “Oldest Continuously-Operating Lighthouse on the West Coast.” Its original whale oil lantern has been upgraded over the years and now a 1000 watt lightbulb is fronted by the prisms of a third order Fresnel lens.  Volunteers serve as lighthouse keepers and give tours. Point Sur Lighthouse sits on a large volcanic rock where it has guided ships since 1889. A spot on the 3 hour tour is required to gain access. As with many lighthouses operating nowadays, an aero-beacon (similar to the automatic lights used to warn aircraft away from towers) has taken the place of its first-order Fresnel lens (which is in the collection of the Museum of Monterey).

MTA Memorabilia


The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (I could’ve just said MTA, right?) of New York sells a surprising collection of cast offs from public transportation. Right now they have subway car doors, line signs (with an optional cable so you can light ’em up), horns from the bottom of the subway car, and, don’t get too excited here: actual stanchion poles from inside the cars for $25 each  (yes, the poles you hang onto, consider the possibilities but, like I said, don’t get too excited).  Maybe you’d prefer a bus seat or a subway seat or those popular “Y cut” vintage subway tokens. It seems like everything that was nailed down can now be yours for a price.

Make Way for Goslings


The Washington State Department of Transportation always lets us in on unusual activity around our roadways. Last month a semi-trailer truck rolled over on I-5. WSDOT sent a crew out to help unload and reload the 20 tons of watermelon that were enroute from Arizona to Canada . And they took pictures. More recently, they posted video of the Washington State Police protecting a family of geese taking a walk on busy I-90. They were herded off at the next exit.

Ferrari World


Looking like a shiny red alien mothership on a desert island, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi has opened its gates. Billed as “the world’s largest indoor theme park” the roof of Ferrari World has a surface area of 2,200,000 square feet and is 160 feet high sporting a 213 by 159 foot Ferrari logo. Under that bright red roof visitors won’t be surprised to find race car themed attractions galore, including the world’s fastest roller coaster (150 mph). There’s a large Ferrari Store too, but I don’t know if you can purchase a car there.

Quiet on the T


The Boston area MBTA is the latest to add “quiet cars” on its commuter rail lines with a 3-month pilot starting in January. Library etiquette is expected of riders in the designated cars. Signs, conductors, and other passenters reinforce the silence of no phone calls and loud conversations. Amtrak pioneered the concept 10 years ago, though Metro-North (NY-CT) was the first to consider it (critics shot it down as a violation of free speech). Now Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Chicago are also using or testing out quiet cars.

I Hear Ringing and There’s No One There


The 48th annual Cable Car Bell Ringing Contest took place in San Francisco on Tuesday, but the gripmen and conductors did not show up to compete. Their union is battling the city about several issues. Union reps deny organizing a boycott saying it was up to each individual to decide whether to compete. The media representative contest took place, but the real bell ringers stayed home and on the job.