June '4

6/30

Wyatt and I chased the little white balls around White Eagle yesterday. It was fun, but it was tough. I think I lost around 15 balls, which has to be some kind of personal record.

The carts feature GPS, so we knew how far we were from the hole, what the holes looked like, etc.

This is what it looks like. There's a bit more about it on the site. The best part was that we ordered a bite to eat from the grill before we teed off on the 9th hole and it was ready for us on our way to the 10th.

I forgot to bring my camera. The course was beautiful and the weather was perfect.

I got home and took a nap, then met Kassie at a realtor's office. She made an offer on a condo. It's a great deal in a cool location. I hope it works out for her.

I have a ton of things to do today, but I don't seem to be getting them done. It's 2:00 and I should have a haircut and a whole lot of necessities from Target by now.

6/28

The trains are running. Saturday was the big day for Light Rail. There were opening day festivities at all the stops. A lot of people showed up. Kassie and her friend Mollie waited for two hours to get on a train.

I was driving a new route, the 46. It wasn't very busy, which is what I expected. It's new, so people aren't aware of it yet, and it runs through some pretty quiet neighborhoods.

New Stella owners, featuring a photo you may have seen before.

The 17 Lady rode with me yesterday. Sunday is her day to go to Irv's for spaghetti. But she told me that she doesn't go there anymore. The sauce is too spicy and they don't cook their noodles.

Today will be my seventh day in a row on a bus. I'm ready for my weekend.

6/24

Then there was the part where I could very easily be in a hospital right now.

It was the squealing tires that got my attention. I was walking across Lake Street at Lyndale Avenue to make relief on the 4 and I looked up to see an SUV coming at me- fast. My first thought was that it was intentional. My second thought had me ready to jump on the hood when it hit me. My third thought was an obscenity, which I shared with the world. The guy's tires squealed when he tried to make a left turn between oncoming cars. He stopped about a foot from me; the loose gravel prevented any squealing on that end of his trip. I glared at him and kept walking.

6/23

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and will love the other, or he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. " Matthew 6:24 (that's Jesus, Sermon on the Mount)

I have had the same hold down for five of the last six weeks or something like that. Every Tuesday, when I get to Lake Street to make relief on the 21, the same handful of people from a church in Bloomington are there handing out tracts. Aside from the decision to go ALL CAPS ALL THE TIME, the tract isn't terribly offensive- at least they stuck to the positive message.

I exchange greetings and small talk with the guy who stands on my side of the street. He seems to be a nice man and I believe that he thinks he is doing what is right.

However, I was curious about something. I had a suspicion that these folks had it in their heads that they needed to come into "the city" to save the heathens here in Gemorrah. Or maybe I mean Sodom, given his comment to me one time about the "hom'sexuals" over at Lake and Hennepin.

I think they should come down and see a Sunday morning on the 21, with buses full of people going to church. Not to mention that the 21 is heavily utilized by the Latino community. Anyway...

I've often wondered if they give equal time to other areas in the Twin Cities. So yesterday, when they were there again, I asked him what I've been considering asking him for some time: I wondered if they ever go out to Minnetonka to give tracts to those who serve mammon (wealth).

He didn't really understand what I was getting at. He just asked me if I thought that would be a nice place to go. Then my bus showed up and I had to drive.

I saw The Daff again last night! He got on my southbound 4 at 66th and Penn. He had just returned from Disney World in the morning. They stayed an extra night due to a tired airline crew. It sounds like he had a great time. He told me a little bit about his lunch with Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore.

Then he got out at Southtown and headed to Applebee's for some coffee. I can only assume he clinked glasses with people he didn't even know. It's that fun there!

6/21

R.I.P. Rex, a most excellent dog.

I had a busy day yesterday.

I got up brutally early (7:00 AM) and went to church with my dad. After brunch at Byerly's Minnesota Grille, we went to the driving range at Hyland Greens and smacked a Super Bucket of golf balls around. Then we went back to the house for ice cream. It was fun to hang out with Dad.

I came home for a little while, then went over to Kassie's. We caught an 18 downtown to First Avenue. We saw:


Calexico and The Shins.

David Byrne Rocked the Garden Friday night. Sadly for me, I was unable to attend because I was driving a bus. Even worse, the bus I was driving , the 4, goes right by the Walker. On one northbound trip, we got caught in all the Garden Rocker traffic and lost half an hour. But the cool part was that I was so far behind that Control got someone to fill in for me. I got to the north terminal and deadheaded to the south terminal. I got a nice layover that way.

I also missed some fellas from Sioux Falls who were in town to see The Purple One play the Xcel.

I had an interesting day on the bus Saturday. 17 line.

Amusingly enough, I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac.

On my first southbound trip, I pulled up to Spring and Monroe in NE Mpls and saw a guy in a wheelchair. I recognized him as a nice guy who had ridden with me before. The first thing he said was, "I hope you have a speed machine because I just ran out of oxygen and I need to get to 18th and Nicollet as soon as possible." He was clearly having trouble breathing.

So I called Control and asked them to send an ambulance. The fire department guys got there very quickly and gave him oxygen. Then the ambulance arrived. There was much discussion and waiting for directions. I heard the guy in the wheelchair tell them that he'd filled his tank that morning and that he should have a couple more hours left in it, so something was wrong.


The view from my bus.
[OK, this was taken when I had been stopped for about 20 minutes and I clearly was not going to be going anywhere soon. So, yes, I took it from the driver's seat, let's not get too excited...]

My other passengers got out to wait for the next bus, which was due thirty minutes after me.

The guys' wheelchair was a heavy motorized one, so they couldn't take it in the ambulance. So we loaded him up and one paramedic (EMT?) rode with him on my bus while the ambulance followed. I took him to the door of his nursing home, which is a couple blocks off of Nicollet on 18th Street.

So obviously, I lost that trip and that layover, but it was nice outside and I was in a lovely mood. Besides, I like the changeup in the routine.

On my last trip, a lady got on my bus on the southern edge of downtown and asked, "How far down do you go?" I'm never really sure how to answer that question, so I just gave her the rundown on the rest of my trip. She said that was fine, because she was going to catch a 22 or a 19.

So here's the deal with that. The 22 and the 19 go down the east side of Minneapolis. The 17 goes down the west side. They all meet downtown and take very divergent paths from there. So I told her she needed to go back downtown to catch either of those buses because I didn't go anywhere near them.

That wasn't going to happen. She told me that she was going to show me that she knew more about my bus than I did, that she was going to make the connection to those buses, that she wasn't going to let me play her like that and that I was "just a bus driver."

Um, OK. I was laughing pretty hard by then. After about three blocks, she said something about having enough and she got off. I didn't even get a chance to beg her to stay so I could see the connection to the 19 and the 22.

6/18

Last night, on my last trip on the 4, I picked up a guy in a wheelchair. His right leg was gone from approximately the knee on down. He tied himself down and we didn't lose much time.

Then he started talking. He talked for twenty minutes. But it was great.

He told me how he lost his leg. Drug deal gone bad. Something about being dragged, then thrown from a car. One leg didn't heal correctly, gangrene set in and it had to be amputated. And he's been clean for a year, as of last week. He was on his way home from an AA meeting.

He told me that he just bought two computers: one for him and one for his wife. He figured that with one, she be on it when he wanted to play a game. He's just learning how to use it, and he wants to find a site where he can trade one shoe with other people who only have one leg. But he's getting fitted for a prosthetic leg and in a few months, he should be able to walk. He's happy about that because he can go sit in the back of the bus, not in the "Jerry's Kids" section where the spots for the wheelchairs are.

He's going to go to school in St. Paul to learn sign language so he can be an interpreter.

After he got off the bus, the lady sitting next to me, who was enjoying him as much as I was, wondered if he would be able to stop talking long enough to sign.

(It's not the Fonz, it's) Da Mons sent me this photo that he took on 35W:

He encourages you to look at all the things plastered on the back of that van.

6/16

Eric is in Italy. He sent me a photo of his rental car:

Then he sent me another:

Then he told me it wasn't really his rental car. I think he just wanted to send me the shots of the scooters in the background...

I've been pretty quiet around here regarding current events for quite a while now. A few things:
-
Our military has made me thoroughly embarrassed to be an American (again).
- Um,
this isn't news, unless you actually believe the BS the Bush Administration tries to tell us.
- How about those
crazy cats at Halliburton?
- The
Southern Baptists continued their drift toward lunacy and pulled out of the Baptist World Alliance. At least they decided to keep their kids in school. For more fun reading about the SBC, check out this book, co-written by my uncle.

6/14

Someone told me that, as of Saturday, it had rained 28 of the previous 35 days.

Well, Saturday was beautiful, so it's no surprise that everyone was out and about on the buses. And Lake Calhoun was a major circus, too. Unfortunately for me, I was on the 17, which goes around Calhoun.

I was on time for two of my eight trips all day. I was about six or seven minutes late for most of them, and twenty-two minutes late on the worst one. It was quite the nightmare. But I was in a good mood all day, I think because it was so nice outside and with my big windows, I feel like I'm out in it.

When I get behind, the little things that people do that put me behind seem to get a lot bigger. One lady and her two little kids got on. Instead of the woman picking up the smallest one, the whole bus waited for that kid to crawl up one step, then the next, then the next. Then, at 13th and Nicollet, she realized that she wanted the 10 bus in front of me. So I honked and that bus waited. For quite a while. But this woman and her kids were moving so slowly that the 10 didn't see anyone coming and started to leave. I honked again and it waited again. But the woman was still dinking around and the 10 left. By then she was off the bus and while she and her kids s-l-o-w-l-y climbed back on, I got passed by a couple other buses. They made it through the light and I had to wait, meaning we'd never catch up to the 10. Then, a few blocks later, she decided that they wanted to get on the 25 that was in front of me. So we waited and waited while she got off again, and fortunately, when I honked, the 25 waited and then got caught by a red light before it could get impatient. OK, great. I got through downtown and headed up to NE Mpls. And there, at SE 5th Street and Central, was the lady and her two kids, waiting for the 10. Yes, they could have stayed on my bus and ridden that far to wait. Unbelievable.

I saw a guy in a Chevrolet SSR south of downtown on Nicollet. He was probably 50 and sporting a mustache. And dealer plates. There was a young Latina woman walking on the sidewalk and I saw her looking at the car. He noticed that she was looking, too. They exchanged looks and she kept walking. He drove about a block and turned around. Go get 'em, slick!

I missed two of the greatest Mary Tyler Moore statue photos that would have ever graced these digital pages. But you know, no more photos from my driver's seat...

I was pretty tired at the end of the day, but not too tired to go to Jeff and Erin's house for a party. I missed Weed, but Dean and Jerome were there. It was a nice, relaxing evening, except for the few minutes that I played this game, or one just like it. I'm still amused by the fact that Jeff and Erin had it.

Here's a guy I saw walking near the Uptown Transit Station:

It was beautiful again yesterday, and since I had the day off, I got out on my scooter for several hours. It was most excellent.

I took a break from the scooter and interrupted Kassie's studies (yeah, right) and we had a picnic lunch.

Later, I swung by Jason, Jen and Lily's house. I interrupted work on a patio project. Lily is cute. She's about four months old now.

6/11

Hey, did someone important die or something? A lot of flags are at half-mast.

But seriously, folks... It's a widely-known fact that I used to be a little brown-shirted Reagan Youth. Yeah, I was young and ignorant and in junior high. I even had a subscription to (the now defunct?) Conservative Digest. Good thing that the Babtists showed me the way, eh? (They made me study the Bible... turns out Jesus didn't hate the poor!)

So some twenty-something kid was discussing Starship with his buddies. I heard him say, "'We Built This City' is a great song!" So I asked him if he intended that statement to be irony-free. He claimed that he did. But then he went on to say something to the effect of, "But seriously, 'Who rides the wrecking ball into our guitars' are some great lyrics!" And so we all knew that he was by no means playing it straight. Besides, I'm pretty sure that song is universally recognized as one of the worst songs ever. I wish dudes like that could remember the 80s so they could understand the suffering that 99% of the crap on the radio caused.

I try not to call Control very often. It's part of my plan to fly under the radar as much as possible. So just after I called Control to ask about a detour that the 10 was on, I had to call again to figure out where some guy's wallet was. The cool thing was that we located it and it was on the bus five minutes behind me.

I was on my last trip, headed to 50th and Bryant on the 4. Two girls got on downtown. They were in the 12-14 range. By the time we got to Lyndale south of downtown, they were shouting and making police car noises out the window. I had picked them up earlier in the day at 76th and Penn. But I didn't remember that until they called attention to themselves. Of course, I didn't know where they were going to get out, but when they didn't get out at Lake Street, I figured that they needed to get back down to 76th. As I just said, I was going to 50th. I could have said something, but they were really quite annoying. Plus, 50th and Bryant is a much better neighborhood for them to be waiting around for the next bus. Sure enough, they were surprised when I told them I was going back to the garage when we got to 50th. They'll get over it.

6/10

Hey, Primus was in town the other night. Do you think Les Claypool played some songs with that slappy bass? Yeah, me too. I think he played all the songs like that.

After a brief dissertation on the mating habits of bees and wasps and a long pause, a lady on my bus this evening said, "My uncle just got his hair done."

I tried to look at the status of my checking account online last night, but it wouldn't come up. Instead, I got the following message:

The request could not be completed for the reason stated below. Please retry or contact your System Administrator.

(5)

Call Customer Service for assistance. (612) ***-****

Yeah, (5). That's usually the problem. Clearly, my credit union's compiler failed to optimize (2) and (3) and it most likely ran a (7) on their translation unit. If they declare an identifier for their object key, maybe a (4) and contextualization, then (8) composibility header blocks (1) DFSMS, voken (9) instantiated function template (6).

6/7

Light rail will be up and running on June 26. M*tro Tr*nsit has overhauled a significant portion of the system, in part to accommodate Light Rail. Our new pick starts then. I picked work. I won't be on the extra board; I'll have the same schedule every week.

I picked because I was able to get what I consider decent work. I don't have any splits and the latest I'm out is 9:36 on Thursday night. But I don't have anything on the 21 and I drive one night of the 18, so I'm a little concerned that I might not get very many good stories.

6/6

Kassie and I went to Allison's place, which is on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. Not coincidentally, it was Grand Old Day.


Allison's "dog;" Kassie's brother Pete in his sweet biking shorts


Pete, Kassie; Nicki


A building covered with an ad (uh, nice...); Dirty Rhythm!


random shot; um, it was pretty hot out there...

Unfortunately for everyone, my battery died while taking the random crowd shots. I had room on my memory card for about 900 more.

6/6

I've mentioned a particular guy a couple times. The man is always drunk. I call him Farmiliar because a couple of years ago, he wandered on to my bus, rode for about half an hour, then wondered where we were because he wasn't "farmiliar" with the area.

Farmiliar got on my bus yesterday.

When I have to wait at a stop until I'm back on schedule, I often see someone who looks unsure about my bus. If I sit there long enough, they inevitably come over and either get on or ask me if I'm going somewhere that I'm not. If they get on, they're usually on the wrong bus. It happens quite a bit. And a pretty high percentage of the folks who do it have been drinking.

I had to sit at the Uptown Station at one point yesterday and sure enough, I was there long enough for Farmiliar, who was sitting on a bench, to decide that he wanted on.

He usually pays. But yesterday, he walked by, sat down and fumbled through some pocket-sized things for a minute or two. Then he just looked blankly ahead. So I asked him if he had the fare. He mumbled something and then a few blocks later, at 22nd and Nicollet, asked to be let out.

I was driving the 17W. I made the trip into NE Mpls and laid over. One more trip and I was done.

On my way back into downtown, Farmiliar was waiting at 4th and Central. I guessed that to get there, he must have caught the 17 that was behind me.

Anyway, he fumbled with his pocket stuff but didn't pay again. But I didn't bother him this time; I knew it wasn't even worth the time.

He wasn't on the bus very long and he was leaning forward, passing out. Fine. I figured he'd wake up around Uptown and get out there. But he was on the 17, which carries people who care. At least they did yesterday. One passenger sat down next to Farmiliar and tried to get him to put his stuff back into his pocket. Another woman was talking to him.

But soon, it looked like he was bothering her. I had to tell him to sit down. That's when I wished that everyone would've left him alone to pass out. Ah, but I couldn't fault their good intentions. Three people who got out told me he was dropping money and/or that he was drunk. He didn't get out at Uptown and that's pretty much when I knew how the day was going to end for him.

A young woman and maybe her brother, who was about 13, were sitting in the seat across the aisle from Farmiliar. They were giggling and then laughing hysterically. She was beet-red and crying and fanning herself. Farmiliar moved over to talk to them and he got a little too close. She repeatedly told him that if he touched her, she would level him. She and the kid moved up to sit by me for their last few blocks. She wasn't upset, in fact she was still laughing. But they told me about stuff he was dropping and that he had been touching himself.

But by then, I had called Control and lined up some fellas to escort him off the bus when I got back to Nicollet. Of course, I would have let him off if he would have asked, but all he said was, "I don't want anything!" which he said numerous times on the way to the garage.

The Transit Cops were there when I got there and they pulled him off the bus. Fortunately, mostly for my conscience, they were gentle and nice to him.

I've never had anyone removed from my bus before. I don't like to call the cops on anyone. My friend Jerald, who's going to be a cop, might take minor issue with this, but I'm still very wary about getting cops involved, because I don't really trust them.

6/5

I was on call yesterday at 1:00. I was upstairs looking at the work available for the next pick when the dispatcher called me down. He handed me a piece of work on the 180.

The 180 runs between downtown and the Mall of the Universe. We don't drive the 180 out of Nicollet Garage. It almost always runs with an articulated bus. We don't have any of those at Nicollet. So a street supervisor came by and picked me up to take me to meet the bus.

The bus was parked on the side of 35W, headed toward the mall. As we pulled up, another 180 was pulling away with the passengers from the parked bus.

Apparently the bus I was going to drive had almost gotten into an accident. I don't really know what happened, but the driver was very shaken. It was kind of a strange scene.

So I drove the bus back downtown and then ran a round trip out to the mall and back.

By the time I got back to the garage, there wasn't much they could do with me. I put schedules away and hung out until it was time to go.

When I left, I discovered that the brakes on my truck are pretty much gone. I got as far as Kassie's house, and now she's kind of playing chauffeur. Awfully nice of her...

6/3

Ah, The Decemberists. So good. The 400 Bar. So bad.


The Decemberists, behind the pole

The 6 was not the usual cakewalk this evening. I had to deal with two detours and unusual stopping patterns and stoplights. I ran late much of the night.

Early in the day, a guy jumped out of my bus to give a guy his wallet. The wallet was on the ground and the guy was passed out on a bench, so the kind passenger shoved it up his shirt.

You know, I'm 35. When I see THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE on a buxom young woman's shirt, I'm still not sure if it's OK for a boy to even read it. Obviously, I read it. Uh, twice.

I mentioned the detours. One of them is for road construction, the other is for the Edina Art Fair. It's that time of year. If a route doesn't feature a detour for road construction, there's one for some kind of festive occasion.

I gave a guy a ride to work and home again from The Hard Rock Cafe. I mentioned that I'd seen him earlier when I greeted him on my last trip, so now I'm the proud owner of a VIP Privilege card. It gets me First Available Seating! and $5.00 Off! Um, unfortunately, I'm too much of a food and music snob to step foot in the place, so if you want it, let me know. It's yours. (Plus, did you see the photo on that web page? First Avenue- a relatively holy place, really, is in Hard Rock Cafe's shadow. Yeah, I'm a little bitter about that.)

And the first time I saw a woman wearing jeans under a skirt, I thought it really looked stupid. That was, oh, I don't know, about three years ago. Why do I keep seeing that? It's soooo stupid. Please, if you're reading this and you're a perfectly lovely woman and you think that putting on a pair of pants under a dress or a skirt sounds like a good idea, reconsider. For me. Thanks.

6/3

Two beautiful days in a row! I had the day off yesterday, so I got out on my scooter for a few hours. It was most excellent. I got out for a couple hours today. Now I have to go to work. But it's the 6, which is always nice.

After exchanging emails for a couple years, I finally got together with my old friend Andy yesterday. We were camp counselors together. I drove out to Buffalo, MN, where he lives. It was great to see him.

I bought the new Morrissey yesterday. So far, really good. That reminds me of the time I came home from the University of Sioux Falls College for the summer and I was listening to the Smiths on my stereo. My dad popped his head in the door and said, "Oh great! The whiner's back!" ha.

Decemberists tonight at the 400 Bar. I think I'll be able to get there in time to see them. I hope I can get in. But I don't really like that place. They can be jerks, the drinks are really expensive, and the room with the stage in it is OK at best.

6/1

So yesterday was a holiday. I drove the 17. One of the nice things about our new contract is that instead of getting paid (twice) for working it, I can take the time/holiday pay and use it as a floating holiday. Yeah, I lose money that way, but I get time. And I'd rather have time than money.

I saw three women crying yesterday:

The first had just been in an accident. The trunk of her car was crumpled against the concrete median on I-94. I think she was OK, but her car looked fairly new. That really bummed me out.

The second was sitting outside a coffee shop at 24th and Lyndale.

The third walked across the street in front of me in NE Mpls. She was angry and shouting "F*CK!" over and over. I had to brake for her and she looked at me and shouted, then kept going.

And even though the 17 goes to St. Louis Park, which has a large Jewish population, I can't remember ever having orthodox Jews get on my bus. Three guys wearing yarmulkes got on my bus yesterday, at different times, different places. (And sorry if that doesn't mean that they're orthodox or something. I must confess that I'm not completely up on the various sects these days...)

The Mpls Park cops were sitting on Lake Street across from Lake Calhoun with their radar. It's easy to get going pretty fast along there and I guess they noticed.

I was stopped at a stoplight and saw that one of them had pulled over another car. Then the other one came flying up with his lights on. I thought, "Oh yeah, it takes two guys to make a traffic stop..." But then I got the green light and as I got closer, I could see the guy who was pulled over taking swings at the cop. The cop grabbed him and it looked like he was trying to pull him out of the car as the other cop ran over to them. Then we were past it all.

At 3:00, we were supposed to pull the bus over for thirty seconds and read a rather banal statement over the PA about Memorial Day. Well, at 2:59:58, I pulled over to let a guy on the bus and then I was stuck at a No Turn on Red for thirty seconds. But I didn't read anything because Control didn't provide a Spanish translation, so the two guys on my bus wouldn't have gotten anything out of it.

 

May '4