edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
This morning there was frost on my windshield, for the first time this season.

That's not the bad omen.

The bad omen was the fact that the train two trains ahead of mine this morning ... died. In the single-track stretch (at South Acton station, in fact). Which meant that the train immediately ahead of mine had to tie onto the dead train and push it all the way into North Station. Which also meant that my train was stuck behind this mess all the way in. Which meant my train was an hour late this morning. Just to make matters worse, the train before the dead train also had mechanical problems and ran about twenty minutes late. And the train I rode home departed North Station four minutes late (although they were able to make up the time en route).

Keolis (the private outfit contracted to run the MBTA's commuter rail) rather spectacularly failed to handle this past winter's record snowfall; there was a five-week stretch where two-thirds of the trains I rode were late. Supposedly they spent the summer fixing old locomotives, leasing spare locomotives, and loading up on spare parts. But if the equipment can't handle cold weather now, we're doomed come January.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
It snowed most of yesterday. Not heavily, but enough to put a frosting on the trees and windshields, and scare the highway departments into breaking out the salt trucks again. Fortunately, the trees haven't started leafing out yet, so there was no damage done (we had a very nasty May snowstorm back in the day which took down a lot of tree branches and, IIRC, ended up killing a bunch of trees completely). Most of the big snowbanks in downtown Boston are gone - but not all of them. There are bare patches on the ground out here where I live - but most of the ground still has a noticeable snowpack.

I'm getting just a wee bit tired of this weather pattern. More below-normal temperatures are expected for the early part of the week, and the six-o'clock news guy said the early indications are that we might get more snow flurries next weekend.

Meanwhile, Keolis says they'll be operating their pre-snowpocalyptic commuter rail schedule starting tomorrow. Unfortunately, they couldn't actually keep to that schedule before all the snow started falling; odds that they'll suddenly get up to snuff seem kind of ... remote. Last week, of the ten rides I took into and out of Boston, four arrived on time. Three more were less than five minutes late (which is the standard Keolis has to meet to avoid fines) and the remaining three were respectively nine, ten and nineteen minutes late. The MBTA contract calls for 95% on-time performance; last week was at best 70%.

(For bonus fun, the ten-minute-late train also didn't have working HEP - thus no lights, heating or ventilation. Or WiFi, for that matter.)

Oh, and my physical therapy appointment on Thursday got cancelled because the physiotherapist was out sick.

There is one bit of good news on the knee-healing front, though. In the last couple of days, I've been able to (occasionally) walk up flights of stairs without having to grab a bannister for support. Still haven't dared to try that going down stairs, mind. But I'll take signs of progress wherever I can.
edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Friday was the vernal equinox, and it snowed. Not much, but it snowed.

Yesterday was the first full day of spring, and it snowed some more. Again, not much - maybe a bit over an inch between the two snowfalls, and it melted almost immediately - but, still, it snowed.

Tomorrow morning's National Weather Service forecast is calling for early morning air temperatures around 14F and wind chills around 3F in my neck of the woods. Which really sucks for late March, waiting on the platform for the commuter rail.

And said commuter rail still hasn't recovered from the seven-plus feet of snow we got this winter. Keolis (the French outfit that took over the contract last summer) has put out a schedule that includes most of the pre-snowpocalypse trains, but that's a far cry from actually meeting said schedules. Over the last five weeks, I have only once had a commute where both my inbound and outbound trains were on time (Wednesday, March 11th). If I count the times when the train was less than five minutes late (which means Keolis doesn't face a fine for it), I can add four more round trips (2/27, 3/2 and 3/12) to the list. Overall, of my 42 total rides since President's Day [1], only 16 have qualified as "on-time" by the less-than-five-minutes rule, for an on-time percentage of 33%.

Which, to put it mildly, sucks, even worse than normal. Keolis is supposed to maintain a 95% on time percentage. The Boston Globe Magazine ran a story back on February 22, Will the MBTA commuter rail ever run on time?, which noted that the November 2014 OTP for the Fitchburg line was only 66%. Even a 95% OTP means that someone who rides five days a week can expect a late train about once every other week.

At least last week I didn't have any trips where the lights and heat died mid-trip; I'd had three of those in the three previous weeks.

And today's offertory in church was Sydney Carter's Julian of Norwich (aka Bells of Norwich), which is always good for lifting my spirits. "All shall be well again, I know."

[1] There were several days where I just plain didn't go into Boston for various reasons, and a couple where I had to drive in because the train wouldn't get me out in time for important appointments.

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edschweppe: A closeup of my face, taken at Star Island during the All-Star II conference in 2009 (Default)
Edmund Schweppe

March 2017

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