July '5


Well, the day went exactly as I thought it might. I got a seven-minute break about an hour into my day, a bathroom break somewhere in there and a 25-minute break at about 1:20 in the afternoon when Control filled one of my trips for me. And that was it. It doesn't seem legal, does it? Here are the number of minutes late that I arrived at my terminals: 7, 17, 23, n/a (fill), 12, 11, 14, 7, 5. And the last one was a short trip.

I vented a bit about the whole thing to one of the Control supervisors. I did it nicely, of course, and she was quite nice. They're definitely aware of the problem with the 17. Now if we could just get the schedulers on board...

However, I was in a good mood all day. It was fun to be out there.

The 17 I drive goes out to an apartment complex that houses what was once about 1/32 of the Indian subcontinent. On Saturdays a bunch of them go out to a park and play cricket. I wish I'd actually get a layover there so I could watch them. I took this picture on my first layover, when they were just arriving and getting warmed up.


I saw Birdman on my pull-in! He crossed Lake Street at Lyndale right in front of me. He saw me, stopped, knocked on my windshield, pointed a bit, and made a brushing-down motion on his chin with his fingertips. He repeated that motion until I repeated it to his liking.

Then he noticed that there was a 21 to my right, at the curb. He walked over to the driver's window. I think she might be a fairly new driver. She slammed her windows shut in a panic. It was awesome.

Soundtrack in my head today: Europe - "The Final Countdown." It's all G.O.B.'s fault.



My little (!) 80GB hard drive is full. Last night when I went to bed, I copied all my music files to an external hard drive. This morning I erased the music files on my computer's drive. Presto! 30GB of free space! And I can start ripping more of my CDs to that external drive. Love it.



When my alarm went off at 5:00 this morning, I laid there trying to remember why I'd set it. Doctor? No. Physical therapy? No. Church? Not that early. What? What? Should I turn it off and go back to sleep? What was it? Oh. Work.

I'd forgotten that my work is actually pretty decent, not counting Saturday (tomorrow) when I'm sure it'll be Hell on the 17 again. Oh well...

Another interesting t-shirt: A 70-something African-American woman got on wearing a Thrasher shirt. Excellent.

Soundtrack in my head today: Bow Wow Wow - "C30, C60, C90, Go!" and The Decemberists - "Apology Song"



Perhaps you remember the woman who asked me to turn on the air conditioner when it was 60 degrees outside. I remember her, and I was on the lookout for her this morning. When she didn't ride with me on my first trip, I figured I wouldn't have to deal with her. It was almost chilly again this morning.

There are at least a couple 156s that run between my first and second trips, but she waited for me.

She had one of those backpack-on-wheels luggage things with her. I suspect she's carrying osmium around in that backpack because she struggled to get it on the bus and informed me that I will "have to start using that ramp thing." And when she said "ramp thing," she was referring to the wheelchair lift. Sometimes old ladies with their grocery carts need to use the lift to get on the bus.

If I were you, the reader of this blog, I'd stake out the 156 around 58th Street somewhere east of Penn Avenue and wait for this woman. Don't forget to bring a chair. Follow her home and sit outside and watch all the freaking drama that must go on in that house on a daily basis. It would be supremely creepy if I were to do that, but I think you should, and tell me all about it.

The Driver Groupie rode with me today. She just got out of the hospital. Something about her knee. She told me that she'd gone six weeks without going to the hospital. I guess it was some kind of modern-day record.

She also told me that she owes a cell phone company $400. Why? She lent one of her cell phones to someone, with the understanding that he would pay her $25/month to use it. He racked up a pretty serious debt for her and doesn't want to pay her back. The best part? He's a bus driver. I don't know him, but I know his number and I'm sure I won't be the first to give him an earful if I ever run into him. The DG gets around now, and I suspect half the drivers will know the story of that asshole before it's all said and done.



When I came home tonight, I found that someone let the madmen loose in the courtyard. Actually, I believe they're thespians and it sounds a lot like Shakespeare. And the whole scene is accompanied by a lot of appropriately robust laughter. I forgot to turn my flash off for the first picture I took and one of the guys looked up at my window. He looked displeased.

No, no! It's parry, then thrust!

I barely got any sleep last night. My arm (not necessarily my shoulder) was killing me. I couldn't get to sleep until around midnight, then I'd sleep an hour, wake up for about half an hour and repeat until 5:15 when I got up. Yet, I feel OK.

I had another good day on the bus.

Waldo tried to throw a can under my rear tire again today, but missed. It bounced off the tire and back at him.

I went to Caribou Coffee for a snack and the young woman working there remembered what I had the last time I was there. That would have been about six weeks ago, I think. Not bad.

Sometimes I get an almost crush on women who ride my bus regularly. My very first one was a woman who rode my bus to Nordeast Mpls every day when I was part time. She's a cute little pixie woman. She always brightened up when she saw me and laughed at my jokes. Then one day I was (not really) crushed to notice what I assume is a wedding band. From that day on, she has been referred to as Ring Girl. When I went full time, I didn't see her for a long time. Then I think she rode with me once about a year and a half ago. She rode with me today. She was clearly happy to see me and almost patted me on the shoulder. Too bad about that ring, huh?

I think I might try to go to bed earlier tonight. And no more Aleve. It doesn't help at all. Tylenol works better, but not by much.



The doctor who gave me my fitness for duty exam yesterday checked my strength by testing my resistance to his arm strength. By the time it was time for bed last night my shoulder was killing me. Aleve didn't help. My shoulder throbbed all night. When I went to see the physical therapist this morning, I was still uncomfortable, so she decided not to do all the progress tests on me. Thanks, Liz...

My first day back at work was actually pretty great. It's been a beautiful day and that always helps. An elderly lady gave me a Marshall Field's candy bar "for my next break." That was awfully nice of her.

Let's see... Waldo the Can Crusher threw some cans under my tires as I rolled by him on the Nicollet Mall. 17 Lady was sitting in a bus stop playing a hand-held electronic poker game. The old African lady who gives me candy and fruit stopped by my open bus door to say hello.

I'm happy to be working again.



The weekend...



Sometimes the good news is the bad news. My summer vacation is over; I'm back to full-time driving tomorrow.



We had a great weekend at Madeline Island. The wedding was casual, simple and a lot of fun. The festivities were very festive. I am exhausted. More tomorrow.




I just got off the phone with Sprint. I went over my minutes by A LOT this month, but I didn't get charged, so I called to see what was going on. I'll have an additional $117 on my bill next month. Ouch.

I got a new plan, though. I now have 700 more anytime minutes/month for $5 more. Plus, I'll get 10% off every month for signing up for two more years. I pretty much break even. I'll take it. You can expect to hear from me all the time now. Or not.



My doctor was quite positive about my progress. My physical therapist said I came out of the whole thing quite well. Good news all around this morning. All the hard work and vacationing has paid off.

I have an appointment with the company doctor on Monday morning. I hope he clears me to go back to work, as my sick time is almost gone.

I'm leaving for Madeline Island with Wyatt and Tina tomorrow morning for Ben and Nora's wedding. I believe it will be a fun weekend.



I stopped by Scooterville to see if they had touched my scooter yet. It was sitting under some plastic in the back. I told them I thought I'd be ready for it next week.

Then I needed to find a pair of pants to wear to Ben and Nora's wedding this weekend. You may be unable to tell from the pictures of myself that I put up here, but I'm quite picky about certain things that I wear. For instance, I like my dress pants to have a flat front and cuffs. That's how my vintage pants are made, but I don't have a pair of vintage pants in tan or khaki. Pants made in the '90s and '00s are either pleated and cuffed or flat and uncuffed. I assumed that I was going to have to find a pair of unfinished plain-front pants and have them cuffed. But a fella named Henry Jacobson came to my rescue. Flat front, cuffs. I paid a little more than I would have liked, but I finally got a pair of new pants that I like.

I'm going to the doctor and the physical therapist in the morning. I really hope to get back to driving next week.



I made it home alive and in one piece. I had a most pleasant time. You can get the rundown here.

I had planned to update this thing this morning, but I had a headache most of the day. I went to the chiropractor this afternoon. It's close to 9:00 as I get started and I feel much better.

Every time I visit Portland, I'm pretty sure I need to move there. It's unlikely that I ever will, but I've been getting restless driving bus and I think that, at the very least, I might be entertaining the notion of a job (career?) change. The problem is, as it always has been, that I don't have any idea what I want to do. Eric saw a good career counselor; I think I might have to call her up.


7/10 - 7/17

I'm not here. Dig it.

(you'll need QuickTime, some volume and
maybe a little bit of patience, baby...)

p.s. I can't get my right arm above my head without assistance, in case you were wondering about that...



Did you think that I've stopped watching the news and reading the paper? Well, I never really watched the news anyway and I'm still reading the paper. (And I've steered clear of making any comments about the morons in the White House for fear of it being seen as gloating.)

I have not turned on my TV for several days now and I sure wasn't about to yesterday. I'm sure the TV stations were caught in the damned-if-they-do-damned-if-they-don't All London All Day (Or Not) Conundrum. My assumption was that they opted for the All London All Day option.

As I may have mentioned, our Right to Know class this year included a segment on security, and I always brought up suicide bombers getting on buses in Israel. My point was that if there were a way to stop them, Israel would have figured it out. But there isn't a practical way. The thought of someone getting on my bus strapped up with explosives crosses my mind relatively often. A few days after 9/11 a guy got on my bus dragging a large, heavy box. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think twice about that guy.

I would also note that I wasn't trying to be some kind of alarmist. I don't think we are particularly susceptible to terrorist activity here in Minneapolis (except for the Mall... of... the UNIVERSE, of course), but then, it's that kind of thinking that all but invites an attack, right?

I don't think I'm actually going to make a point here. I'm awfully sad for everyone affected by yesterday's events.

I've been trying to use my shoulder as much as possible and I've been doing the exercises that Vinh, the PA I saw, gave me. As a result, I've been living with a dull ache that occasionally flares into stabbing pain. It's by no means unbearable, but I'm getting tired of it. I finally bought some Tylenol today. It's never worked for my headaches, but I'm really hoping it works for my shoulder ache. I'm sick of constantly being in a diminished mood, which is where the pain has taken me.

It's why I don't feel like writing.




My family is in Oregon. Since I'm not working, they offered to fly me out there. I was unsure about my physical therapy situation until after the plane ticket-purchasing window of time had passed. I found out yesterday that I can't get in to a physical therapist until the 20th, so it turns out I probably could have gone. Bummer.

I got three phone calls from Jamie (and Eric) this evening. They were planning a road trip to Seattle, with a stop in Oregon, at about the same time. However, Eric just found out that he needs to go to Kansas to be with his father for part of that time. They need a favor.

Looks like I'm driving to Seattle, with a stop in Oregon. I'll probably get to see my family for a couple days, then when they go to the beach, I'll go to Seattle and fly home from there.

Does that sound like fun? Yeah, I think so.

Howie leaves tomorrow.



I got an email from a fellow driver with whom I went through full-time training. It was a nice "hope you're feeling better" kind of email. Somewhere in the middle, she mentioned some side-effects of vicodin. I think that makes her the eighth or ninth person to warn me in some way about that stuff. Most people were concerned about addiction, but there was the one about quitting and the ones about the upset stomach and costive properties of vicodin.

So I've been curious. Can one get addicted to it even if it doesn't produce feelings of euphoria? How do you know you're addicted? What happens to some people if they quit too quickly?

All it did for me was make me sleepy. Then I slept without waking up in pain as often as I do now. When I ran out, I quit taking it. The only thing I noticed is after quitting is that I got back to some semblance of uh, regularity.

So, apparently I'm lucky? (Or perhaps a bit unlucky, as I didn't get to enjoy the legal narcotics...)

I looked around a little bit online to find out what could have been happening, but I got tired of wading though medical sites that didn't tell me what I wanted to know.


My quick trip to Eagle Grove on Saturday was pretty great. Shawn, Chantelle, RJ, Edie and their kids all seem to be doing well. Shawn, RJ and I drove into Fort Dodge for some supplies. Shawn and Chantelle's basement flooded and Shawn and RJ spent a lot of time trying to get the hot water heater working correctly. Shawn picked up a thermostat (I think it was). RJ bought a board so he could fix the porch swing he broke...

me, Shawn, RJ

I met Kevin (formerly of Blaine!) for dinner at Brit's last night. They're almost completely settled in Sioux Falls now. But it sounds like they'll be around here fairly regularly, so that's cool.

Tonight, Howie's farewell gathering.



Happy 90th, Grandma!



June '5