As a reporter, I arose about 5 a.m. on this date 10 years ago and drove off to Metrorail's Rhode Island Avenue station to ride the first subway train carrying early commuters the 4.6 miles from there to Farragut North.

It has been a rare day since then that I haven't ridden Metro trains, whether as a commuter or on personal or job-related journeys.

Metro, with its limited radial routes and too-often sketchy bus connections, is not convenient for everyone, but it's become a vital part of our town's transportation mix. If that sounds like I'm justifying many of my own years of news coverage sympathetic to the Metro cause, the plea is no contest.

My own chronicling of Metro's Perils-of-Pauline evolution, from 1957 with planners drawing lines on a map in a loft of the Interior Department building all the way to trainmen piloting roaring trains through the tunnel beneath the Potomac River, is buried in yellowed clippings in the Washington Post library.

Another observer, Ronald H. Deiter of Arlington, has chronicled Metro in another way: in a profusely illustrated 102-page softbound book, "The Story of Metro: Transportation and Politics in the Nation's Capital."

Deiter goes back well before Metro to look at Washington's transportation of yesteryear -- the suburban trolleys and the city streetcars -- as well as reviewing the subway system itself.

The two pictures above depict trains stopped at Arlington Cemetery -- the top one, judging from the lettering on the car, taken in the late 1920s, the bottom one a Blue Line Metro. The station locations are at most a hundred yards apart.

Deiter answers almost any question you ever wanted to know about Metro's operations and control systems, and the book includes a handy detailed systemwide track map -- showing virtually all switches and sidings -- by Wilmer Lawson. Alas, it contains one significant error: It omits the crossover switch near the Smithsonian station where the accident occurred in 1982 that killed three riders, Metro's only on-board passenger fatalities to date.

Deiter's coverage of Metro's politics is too sketchy to justify the subtitle, and incredibly there is no reference to the vital roles played by the founding strong-man general manager, the late Gen. Jackson Graham, and his deputy and interim successor, Warren D. Quenstedt.

The book is on sale at the National Museum of American History bookshop, at Trover Books, or by mail or telephoned credit-card order ($16.05 postpaid) from the publisher, Interurban Press, P.O. Box 6444, Glendale, Calif. 91205. Odd Numbers

I'm no numerologist, but I'd reckon the odds were heavily against the combination of sequences that showed up in Thursday's winning D.C. Lottery numbers. Daily: 2-4-6. Pick-4: 2-2-4-4. Double: 4-46.