December '4


Well, it was a fairly exciting day on the 2 today.

One particularly rich fellow rode with me. He was dancing as I pulled up to his stop. No headphones. How do I know he's rich? He told me. He said he had $15,000 in his pocket. I'm not sure I'd be bragging about that at Nicollet and Franklin, but that's just me.

On one eastbound trip, I pulled around the corner on to Aldrich Avenue and there was a FedEx truck sitting there. Aldrich is narrow and dude had parked so I couldn't get around. I had to wait for him to make his delivery and move before I could get going.

Then, on the same trip, I stopped at 3rd Avenue and Franklin. The light turned red, then the white emergency vehicle light came on. Our light stayed red and I moved up a little to look down 3rd. I saw fire trucks about half a mile north of us. They weren't moving, but they left on whatever it is that keeps the white lights triggered. We waited a while.

Then the guy in the car across the street from me, who was waiting to take a left turn, decided he'd waited long enough and went. The car immediately behind him was a cop. ha. Dumbass.

Then Flava Flav () rode my bus! Well, OK, he looked a bit more like Ted Kaczynski, but he was sporting a pretty sweet clock around his neck. He said, "Good morning!" as he got on the bus. It was 5:50 PM. On his way out, he thanked me and said, "You're glad I'm not driving!" And everyone who heard him laughed, because they knew he was right.

And the most interesting rider of the day: Erik, who was a camper in my cabin at Camp Ojibway. It took a second, but I recognized him. He didn't recognize me. Excellent. I got his email address, and I'm sure I'll send him this way so he can see what I've been up to...

Kassie brought me dinner this evening. She just interviewed for a job that she doesn't think she's going to get. But, interestingly enough, even though she's been blogging for over a year, she's just now getting grief about her blog. From supervisors? Of course not. There's nothing that says she can't write about her day and put it online. From coworkers? Naturally. Apparently, there are a bunch of catty old hags who work at the county. What? A gaggle of bitter, petty, jealous bitches stuck in dead-end jobs at the county? Huh. No wonder Kassie is looking to move up or move on...

Now, I don't think that the stuff she puts on her blog is always particularly tasteful or classy, but that's her deal. I don't really say much about it.



I drove the 21, 53, 554 and 18 today. I kept all my trips on time and no one did or said anything crazy and no cars tried to get me to hit them.

Instead, everyone was pleasant and just about everyone paid. So, in spite of the fact that I still feel lousy, and was a bit concerned that it might start to show if things got ugly, I had a lovely day. To top it off, a perfect stranger who reads this (it happens, I guess) emailed me to tell me she rode my bus today. I get those random emails on occasion and they always make my day.

I hope you had a lovely day as well. And I'm not just saying that because of the cold medicine.

Here's a pic you haven't seen. Those are some niiiiice jackets, eh?



Christmas and birthday were fun. My brother, sister-in-law, nephew, aunt, uncle and cousins were in town, so I spent a lot of time with them. So did Kassie. I think she'll be OK...

I have today off work because I can push my birthday, which I can always have off, to my next working day. Unfortunately, I've had a pretty nasty cold for the last few days. I wish it would go away. I had things I needed to do today, but I just want to stay inside and rest.

I really need to figure out that gallery software, but check out the toy I found for Cayden...

and then check out Cayden.

And one more pic, which, if I remember correctly, was taken by my cousin Todd. Isn't Kassie lovely?








I think it's a fluke, but I don't have to work tomorrow!



I dream about driving the bus. Usually, bus dreams are anxiety dreams, which have replaced the waiter and busboy can't-catch-up dreams I used to have when I worked in restaurants. I dream about not being able to brake, about blowing through railroad crossings, etc.

Last night, I dreamed that, as I coasted to a stop, a lady slipped as she made her way to the front to exit. She slid on her butt out the door, across the front of my bus and out into the street. She slid across two lanes and stopped in the middle of the nearest lane of oncoming traffic. A big truck stopped a few feet before it hit her. I was screaming at her, at the oncoming traffic, etc. Weird dream.

I found several dead cockroaches in my bus the other day. I didn't see any live ones, so I assume they'd been recently gassed.

A young, nicely dressed African-American guy got on my bus today and shouted, "JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! REPENT OF SIN AND BE SAVED!" I expected more, but that was it. He sat down and kept to himself the rest of his trip.

It's really, really cold. I always feel a little sorry for the people on their bicycles (although I realize that many of them are out there by choice). And I'm definitely a little surprised when they're on their bikes in weather like this. Our buses have bike racks on the front that hold two bikes. Today my bike rack filled up and I couldn't leave a third guy with a bicycle waiting for the next 21 to St. Paul, so I let him bring it on the bus. I've never had that problem before, and I always expect it in the summer.



Yesterday was Wyatt's birthday, and I have some photos of the celebration, but I'm trying to figure out some new gallery software...

I took a vacation day today. My mom, Corey, Tara, Cayden and I went to see my dad sing with the Bloomingtones, a mixed choral group. I think my dad and his friend,, who are in their early 60s, are the babies of the group. It was in the newish Bloomington City Hall/Center for the Arts. It was pretty fun. Not only did we get to see the Bloomingtones, but the Crickets and the Renegades, who are a subset of the Crickets, as well.

The Bloomingtones
(my dad is third from the left, top row)

The Renegades did "O Holy Night." When the vocalist got to the end of a line and sang "O night, when Christ was born," I thought for sure it came out "bored." I made the mistake of glancing at Corey to see if he'd heard the same thing. Sure enough, he responded with a chin-scratching look of boredom. I lost it. Then he lost it. You know when you start giggling and you know you can't be giggling and you can't stop? Then it's worse because the person next to you is also giggling, so just when you think you might be able to quit, you lose it again because they're giggling? Yeah. Once, I was almost under control and Corey leaned over and whispered, "When did you say those wise men were coming over?" So I lost it again. It was pretty bad. My mom was clearing her throat at us. Fortunately, we were in the back, with only Mom and empty seats behind us. My brother is trouble.



Happy Birthday to me! Well, in a few days it'll be my birthday. But Kassie's birthday gift for me arrived today, so I opened it before she wet herself trying not to tell me what it is.

12 beers every month! The party's at my house!

Well, the 6 was lovely yesterday, not counting the Hollidazzle traffic downtown, which put me thirteen minutes late on one trip. I didn't mind, though. I still got a little break.

The 46 went well today. It's really cold outside, so it was slow. Two people tried to kill themselves by pulling out in front of me. Fortunately, my bus was empty both times, so no one got hurt when I hit the brakes.



I'm happy with my new work so far. I think I've been what I'd consider significantly late twice so far all week.

I was a little concerned about the 2. Last pick, there was a piece of work on the 2 - run number 8, I think it was - that everyone really despised. I think one person who had it called in sick or took a vacation day every week for the last several weeks of the pick. And once, the extra board driver who was assigned that work called in sick when they found out they had it.

The problem boils down to money, of course. The company tries to get as much service out of as few workers as possible. That makes sense; I have no problem with that. But they made the schedule look like there would be a bus say, every fifteen minutes, and they didn't allow realistic running time for the buses to keep up with their schedule. This happens a lot. The 2 was always late, sometimes very late. Kassie even emailed the company about it. Anyway, our contract says that, company wide, 17% (I think) of our time is supposed to be layover time. The thing is, it's suspiciously difficult to get to a lot of terminals on time. I might sit at a time point two time points before my terminal and wait to get back on time, but still arrive at the terminal late. So on paper, I have a twelve-minute layover, but the reality is that I have an eight-minute layover. I've often wondered how close to that 17% we actually get. 17.2%? Or is it more like 18%? We have GPS in our radios, and they save our trips for a long time. So theoretically, we could look at patterns and find out if the real percentage of layover time falls within the contractually stipulated window. Not that it would make a difference; I'm just saying...

In the case of the 2 last pick, the company put another bus out there to try to alleviate some of the load on the buses that were running. Then, for this pick, they put the whole route back to the way it was before they messed with it, or so I thought (and hoped) when I picked it. I think they got it fixed. I only had one late trip today, and it was about four minutes. Of course, I got to my eastern terminal about two minutes late every time. (Two minutes is my personal threshold for annoyance.)

One great thing about the 2 is that the eastern layover is across the street from Betty's Bikes & Buns. That's a great place. They are our restroom at that terminal. I bought a tasty blueberry scone today. On the way back to my bus, I happened to see this:

I know you love these.



I went to the Mall of the Universe today. I needed to buy stamps for my annual holiday cards. I usually get my stamps at the USPS retail store there. All the interesting stamps are available and there's never a line like there is at the post office.

My other reason for going to the MOU was to ride the LRT and see what the newly opened part looks like. I rode it downtown, dinked around there for a while, then rode it back. I wandered around the MOU for a while, trying to get a little exercise, then decided to get my stamps and go home. However, the USPS store is now the US Olympic Team Store.

And it was too late to stop at the post office on my way home.

While at the Mall, I stopped to get some jewlery repaired and customized. Then I thought about calling a real-a-tor to inquire about finding a property with a nucular fallout shelter.

Then, in the parking lot, I saw an example of something that I see a lot and was just whining to Kassie about. I think it almost for itself.



Well, I'm healthy. And I'm 5'11".



I went to a middle-class suburban high school in the 80s. It seems kind of silly now, but at the time, it usually seemed like the social climate could be described as the Jocks vs. Nearly Everyone Else. As a (sort of) punk rock kid and a (complete) choir geek, my school friends and I were pretty much at the other end of the spectrum from the jocks. Whatever. Here's the thing: so were the metal dudes- the "dirtballs." They weren't necessarily into that hair metal stuff, they were more into the classic rock metal- Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, etc. While I pretty much despised much of their attitude and musical taste, I sort of thought of us as unlikely allies in the battle against the jocks. And they were often at the same parties we were. OK, this really feels stupid writing all this, so I'll get to the point.

Even though I was really annoyed by the fact that metal crept into punk (DRI et. al.), and I never really developed a taste for it, I've often considered metal folks to be kindred spirits, at least on a certain level. So it made me really sad to read that the unfortunately-nicknamed Dimebag Darrell, Pantera's former guitarist, was shot to death by a fan who also happened to be a football player.

Today is my mom's birthday. I took her and my dad out to lunch. We went to their house for her to open her gifts and then I spent about two-and-a-half hours trying to get rid of a message that pops up on their computer when they boot it up. I don't even know what to do anymore. (It goes a little like this: Version Mismatches S32UTILL   expected   Not Found). It has something to do with Norton Utilities. But I got into the guts of their machine today, following instructions on Symantec's site, to no avail.

I don't have any bus stories because I've been training to be an instructor. I've been out looking at routes, riding with other instructors, sitting through meetings, etc. I took today and tomorrow off, but I am going to the clinic to get my DOT physical tomorrow morning. I can still see and I appear to be breathing, so I think I'll be driving on Saturday.



The Daff rode with me yesterday! One of his favorite record shops moved to 38th and Bloomington, so he has to take the 23 to get there. He was as chatty as ever, telling me about records he's been buying and about a $365,000 designer piano (hey, I just report what I hear) that he saw and played at Schmitt Music.

I started working in my new capacity as relief instructor today. I went in at 8:00 this morning and got done at 4:00. The new pick starts tomorrow and there are lot of route changes and some new routes, so my fellow relief instructors and I spent the morning updating the maps and detours posted in the garage. I laminated.

Then, after lunch, three of us went out and looked at some of the changes. There are several new terminals that I wanted to see.

I'm not driving tomorrow, either. I'm going in from 10:00-6:00 to hang out at the garage and answer questions about new routes.

Jamie's here this weekend and I have to leave now. We're going to an art opening, then dinner with Kassie.



Hey, that crazy liberal media is at it again! CBS and NBC are refusing to air an ad from the United Church of Christ, deeming the message of welcoming and inclusiveness "too controversial."

The Driver Groupie found me yesterday. I haven't seen her for a long time. She gave me a Christmas card. Under her name, she wrote: (Bus Groupie). Um, someone's been talking...



I was out on the 18 until 1:00 AM last night. Our new work pick starts Saturday, so it's the last time I'll be out late like that for at least three months.

As I pulled up to 29th and Blaisdell on my southbound trip, a fire engine flew by, siren wailing and lights flashing. It turned on to Lake Street. I turned on to Blaisdell. I was watching the stoplights at Lake, and when I got there, I saw the fire engine just turning on to Nicollet. It should have been long gone by then, so I guessed that there were cars in its way when it tried to turn.

I pulled up to the Lake and Nicollet stop, and one guy who got on looked a little like Ralph Nader. But other than looking a little like Nader, there wasn't anything to distinguish him from a thousand other 60-year-old guys in Minneapolis.

He got off he bus at 35th Street. I knew the light was about to turn red and just as I was about to pull away, he turned to talk to me. I almost went anyway. But I stopped.

He said, "That fire truck stopped at Lake Street for a while."

I said, "Yeah, I noticed that."

He said, "Oh, you noticed that, too? Do you know what station that truck was from? I think they were picking on me."

I said that I didn't know which station they were from, that I wasn't familiar with the fire stations.

He continued, "I had cataract surgery and the blinking lights bother my eyes. I think it's harassment. Do you think it might be harassment?"

In one of my finer moments, I'm sure, I thought how kind it would be of me to share this man with someone else.

"Well, it might be. Maybe you should give someone a call."

He said, "But you don't know which station, huh?"

"No, sorry."

The light turned and we were on our way.


November '4