November '5


Remember my new pick schedule? To see it, scroll down to the 10th. Well, you can forget that schedule for approximately seven weeks, starting Saturday.

I'm going to the Instruction Center for a mentoring program. I don't really know what's in store for me, but I assume that I'll shadow a full-time instructor. I'll be working 8-4, M-F. You know, normal people hours.

So, Minneapolis friends, let's do something sometime. There are many of you that I haven't seen since summer or longer.

I got my holiday greeting card done and ordered today. Can't have a good one every year. I also put up my Christmas tree. I still have to trim it and find an extension cord so I can plug it in.

A lady on my bus sat behind me, where I could barely hear her, and talked to me for about ten minutes. It's always kind of difficult when someone sits there because I'm not ever really sure that they're talking to me.

She told me that a guy often shows up at her friend's house in St. Paul and asks if he can stay there for the night. Apparently, he misses the last bus to one of the far reaches of the system, where he lives. The lady on my bus said he's a nice enough guy. He got into an accident and had seven surgeries a long time ago. She thinks he should be living in a group home.

Then she asked me if there is anything she can do about it. You know, in my other job as a... um... uh... would a social worker deal with this?

But the best part is that the guy brought his own alarm clock over there! Now, I have no idea what her friend is like, or if her friend even cares if this guy comes over. I told the lady on my bus that as long as her friend lets him in, he'll show up. Seemed like a safe answer.



I've learned a couple things in the last few days.

I had never heard of the libero player in volleyball until this afternoon when I was checking out how my alma mater's (no, not that one!) football team is doing. Apparently, the libero position is becoming standard; my cousin Coach Lynn S. has one on her high school team in Nebraska. I wonder if my friend Coach Shawn M. would like the concept of a libero player. He was always a big fan of defense.

Apparently, you need to look through your bags of split peas before you make soup, in case rocks got mixed in with the peas. I did not find any rocks. However, I did burn the soup, which made me mad. I purchased a new pot today, which I think will take care of the problem, and I'm making a new batch of split pea soup right now.

Eric came over to watch the Vikings (win!) yesterday. Kassie did, too. I don't think she watched more than about two minutes total of the football. After the Vikings game, she thoroughly embarrassed Eric and me in a game of Scrabble. I think I've beaten her twice at that game.

My stomach settled down; it's back to being just fine. I think the extra fiber I had been taking to combat a side-effect of the Prilosec OTC was wreaking havoc on my system.



So how was Thanksgiving? I got up really early and drove a bus. Then I took a break for an hour and drove another bus. After work, I went home, changed my clothes and drove to Kassie's parents' house. I ate a delicious meal, then we drove to her grandparents' house. I threw up in their neighbors' yard, then went in and visited for a couple hours. I felt awful and we left. I went to bed at 9:00 and slept until 7:00 this morning.

Do you think I've been throwing up a lot lately? I do. I didn't even write about spewing chicken soup out the window of my bus on Wednesday. For some reason, I can't keep larger meals down. I seem to be OK with smaller meals, so maybe it's good thing. I'm not too worried yet, but I'm kind of tired of it.

I drove the 21 today. It snowed all morning. I think that helped keep a lot of drivers off Lake Street. I had a great day. Everyone was pleasant, the snow was beautiful and I stayed on time most of the day.



Wyatt gave me a smallish jar of duck confit. I'm looking for delicious ways to use it. Please be sure to comment with your favorite recipes and ideas...

Last Friday evening, I got to the Columbia Heights Transit Hub at 41st and Central in need of a a restroom break. The restroom is for transit employees only. Have you ever played The Legend of Zelda, or a similar game? When I became a driver, I was issued a key, and it reminds me of playing Zelda. My key opens random doors all over the Twin Cities. I suppose most of them are gas station restrooms, but there is, for instance, a nondescript little building under an overpass on the outskirts of downtown St. Paul. You might never give it a second look. It's a restroom.

The restroom at the Columbia Heights Transit Hub takes the key. My key broke off in the door. Uh, SORRY 'BOUT THAT, DRIVERS. I had to stop on Central and use a Subway restroom.

I saw some Red Hat Society ladies getting their picture taken with Mary Tyler Moore. I think those ladies are pretty cool.

I've been chatting with a lot of very pleasant people in the last couple weeks. I thought I should mention it because it seems that lately I've only written about the obnoxious passengers. The pleasant people haven't been terribly interesting, I guess, just nice. Today it was kind of fun to listen to a very old man reminisce about Nicollet Avenue as we made our way down the Mall.



My middle toe has seen better days...

Yesterday when I got out on the 156, I found out that my leader had not shown up. He eventually appeared behind me (fifteen minutes late), passed me, then waited for me to pass him and pick everyone up (as he should have). And how did I originally find out that he hadn't been through? Actual audio of me and some guy:

(Does that work for those of you still looking at this with MS Explorer? Either way, it's time to get Firefox!)

Then, later on, when I was driving the 21, I was ahead of schedule on my way to Uptown. That's fairly common on the 21. If I'm going to wait at a time point longer than one minute, I make an announcement in case someone's going to the next stop and wants to get out and walk, or if someone wants to step outside and smoke. It also prevents the "how long will we be here" questions. When I announced that we had two-and-a-half minutes at Cleveland Avenue in St. Paul, an old guy with a guitar said, "Quit bullsh*tting around and just drive!" Naturally, I acted like I didn't hear what he'd said, hoping that he'd repeat it. He did. That always takes some of the fire out of anything. There's nothing like sounding stupid twice.




Last night, after the doctor visit, I picked up some crab sushi (so cooked, right?) and a do-it-myself salad at Byerly's with all kinds of stuff on it: green and black olives, peas, croutons, cheese, imitation crab, etc. etc.

I came home from the first part of my work today and had two bowls of cereal, dinked around the apartment a bit, took a nap, then ate a sandwich and a couple cookies with a glass of milk. I thought that maybe that milk wasn't too good, but the expiration date was November 22.

As I drove to work, I thought that I might not be feeling well. When I got to work, I barely made it out of my car before I threw up all over the parking lot. COOL.

A couple drivers saw me and asked me if I was OK. I felt OK. Until I got to Lake and Nicollet on my first full trip. Then I didn't feel OK at all. So I leaned out my driver's window and heaved Steve all over the street... and the little BMW that had the misfortune of being next to me at the stoplight. SWEET.

I got mouthwash and saltines at my layover. I thought I felt better, until I got back to the Uptown Station. Then I threw up outside and in the driver's room (the women's restroom). EXCELLENT.

I think I feel better now. I never ate the saltines. I just ate some mashed potatoes with a little gravy, and a bowl of chicken noodle soup. I guess we'll see how that sits...



Today I'd like to thank my parents for my genes. My visit with Dr. Buss went very well. He said that my shoulder has healed to a point where he would normally expect it to be in a year. (It's been five months.) He was extremely pleased with it. He also told me that since I broke the bone, there is a less than 1% chance that my shoulder will pop out again. Nice. Did I mention that I quit doing my stretches and exercises months ago? Thanks again, Mom and Dad!



I helped my dad put up my parents' Christmas lights yesterday. You can't see how helpful I was. I stood down below and put little clips on the wire. I was just helpful enough for my presence to be warranted, I guess.


We're supposed to be getting a pretty decent dose of snow tonight. I haven't figured out how long it takes me to walk to work. The driveway into my underground parking garage is pretty steep, so I might find out how long it takes tomorrow morning. On the other hand, the maintenance guys around here are solid, so I doubt there will actually be a problem.

I had an easy day on the 17 today. Tomorrow morning, I do my two-trips-on-the-17 stub in the morning, then I have the rest of the day off. I have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Buss, the orthopaedic surgeon I saw when I dislocated my shoulder. Liz, my physical therapist, seemed pleased with the progress on my shoulder, in spite of the fact that I haven't done my stretches or exercises for a very long time.

I guess you noticed that I don't have much of interest to say this evening. When I said hello to Diane on my way out the door at work, she said, "Post!" Here you go, Diane.



I found out yesterday that Fox canceled Arrested Development. Bastards.



I can't decide if I should actually open the new issue of McSweeney's or not.

I was late on the 17 again yesterday, but I had an awesome day.

Who was my favorite passenger?

Was it the drunk guy with the open can of malt liquor in his pocket who held me up for two red lights while I (and a passenger) explained to him how to get to Chicago Avenue (without getting on my bus)? Nope. He wasn't really a passenger, as I pawned him off on whoever was coming along driving the next 4.

Was it the guy driving the big, bad pickup with the duck scene on the back window (like these) and two fairy stickers (a lot like this) on his tailgate? No. Again, he wasn't a passenger. I just sat behind him at a couple stop lights.

Could it have been the lady with her front pants zipper unzipped with a large bulge of skin hanging out of it or the guy who told her that he knew where the Light Rail was? No, but they were pretty great.

Could it have been the lady who glared at me and got off my bus after mumbling that the driver could have at least said hello to her, then told me once she got out that there were "many, many hitmen out there" ...after I'd actually greeted her twice? No, she wasn't my favorite, but she comes in a close second to:

The guy who refused to fold up his stroller after I asked him to, then told me he knew the policy, swore at me a few times, invited me to call the cops (three times!) and accused me of being racist. Yeah! That's the guy! He was cool! I loved that guy!



I got up really early this morning and picked my work for the next pick, which starts December 3. It's not that great, as it's quite a bit later than the work I have now. But it's livable, I guess. I really like having Sunday and Monday off, but since Christmas and New Year's are on Sundays, I kind of thought I might not get those days off this pick. I got them, but I had to pick 8-hour work to do it. I've enjoyed the 9-hour work that I'm doing now. Anyway:

Sunday, Monday- off.
Tuesday- 11:33 AM (r) - 2:32 PM (r), 6 line; 3:45 PM - 8:21 PM, 578/554/18 lines.
Wednesday- same as Tuesday.
Thursday- 12:09 PM (r) - 7:58 PM, 4 line.
Friday- 10:02 AM (r) - 11:47 AM (r), 2 line; 2:23 PM (r) - 8:16 PM, 6 line.
Saturday- 9:47 AM (r) - 5:38 PM, 21 line.

(r) = relief. I have a couple relief-reliefs in there. I actually kind of like those, as I can drive my car to the relief point and have it there when I get relieved.

I'm also happy that I won't have to get up at 4:30 in the morning for a few months.




keeping my fingers crossed...



I voted today. As usual, I wrote in several of my friends for very important positions around town. Since I had no strong feelings whatsoever about either of the mayoral candidates (in Mpls, anyway), I wrote in Farheen Hakeem, the Green candidate who I really liked, but who didn't make it to the ballot. I also wrote in Ian Stade, a Green who didn't make it to the library board ballot. In the most interesting race personally affecting me, I voted for Lilligren instead of Zimmerman, pretty much solely because of Zimmerman's insane devotion to PRT.

After I voted, I went to brunch with my friend Linda, whose cabin is on the property next to the lots on Mudhen Lake formerly occupied by Camp Ojibway.



I actually had a decent day on the 17 Saturday. I was 13 minutes late on one trip, but stayed within five minutes of my scheduled arrival time the rest of the day. I was even early twice. I finally turned in an Operating Conditions Report about that work. Here's the important part of what I turned in.

I hit a bird with my bus Friday. I saw a dark shape, heard the thud, and that was it. On my way back down that street, I saw a red bird in the gutter. It had to be a cardinal. On my way back through the next time, I slowed way down to get a better look at it. It was red, but there seemed to be a bluish tint to the edge of its feathers. I couldn't see its head. I still assumed it was a cardinal, but then I started daydreaming and just about convinced myself that it was some kind of exotic bird that escaped someone's house. I decided that I'd get out of the bus and poke it with a stick the next time I went by, so I could see its head. The next time I drove by, I slowed way down and moved to the wrong side of the road, but it was gone. A cat must have found it. (Or had its distraught owner found it???) Ha ha. Sometimes I'm kind of bored when I drive the bus.

When I wrote that I wanted to see some drivers put their money where their mouths were a year ago regarding the impending ATU Local 1005 elections, I had one driver in particular in mind. Friday, I asked him why he wasn't running. I think he wanted to run. We have a meeting-attendance requirement to run for office. While this guy had gone to the requisite number of meetings, he wasn't eligible. Why not? Well, when we go to a meeting, we get a hole punched in a little card. I've always assumed that this was how our attendance was counted. Nope. There's also a drawing for ATU apparel. For that, we are required to put our name and number on a ticket. The guy in question has no use for an ATU shirt or jacket, so for a long time, he didn't enter the drawing. He eventually entered, but only because his buddy convinced him to enter and give his winnings to him. Anyway, he wasn't allowed to run, because those tickets are how we are counted, and he officially hasn't attended enough meetings.

I had a nice weekend. Games at Dan and Teresa's house with Wyatt and Tina and Ben, church, baked a couple apple pies, watched the stupid Vikings beat the Lions today. I taped it because yesterday Kassie and I went to Art Attack, in part so Kassie could meet Dean CJ's Friend who occasionally comments here and on her blog. I really like Dean's wife Karen's art.

Today Kassie and I went for a scooter ride. Maybe you've noticed that I haven't really mentioned my scooter very much. I don't think I've ridden it for at least two months. It's not that I'm scared of it; I've been on it since I went down and it's fine. But my enthusiasm to get on it has definitely waned. I'm hoping that a long, cold winter combined with a completely rehabbed shoulder will make me excited to ride in the Spring.



The Star Tribune, known in some quarters as the Red Star Tribune or the Star and Sickle, hired an explicitly conservative columnist in an effort to placate the righties around here. Her name is Katherine Kersten. I haven't mentioned her because, generally speaking, I don't think she's worth mentioning. In the comments for 11/2, I mentioned that I wish there were more old-school conservatives around, because they tend to be a more reasoned bunch than the crop of yahoos who pass as conservative these days (the neocons, I guess). Kersten falls into the yahoo camp. And unfortunately, she seems to be unable to write a decent column. Her latest bit is about how a recent peace protest was organized by... ready for this?... COMMIES! Look out, they're after your kids! Someone forgot to give Katherine the memo. It's all about the Islamofascists these days, baby. Big, bad, Communists are soooo last century.

Anyway, last week, KK drudged up what is now ancient history: Paul Wellstone's memorial service. She made the same old tired accusations and assertions, most of which were crap. So why would she write that? I think I mentioned that she's just not very good at what she does.

So to loosely tie those thoughts together, today's opinion piece by Sarah Janecek came as a nice surprise. Janecek is a Republican analyst and lobbyist who publishes Politics in Minnesota. She takes Kersten to task for needlessly opening old wounds and actually defends what went on that night. And she politely asks both sides to move on. (I guess she doesn't have one of those neato Wellstone's Dead Get Over It bumper stickers on her car.)

One of the blogs I read recently asserted that when the Strib hired a conservative columnist, they should have hired Janecek. There's still time to fix that error.



November 2. I think the country, no, make that the world is waiting for 62,040,606 apologies (give or take a few, I suppose) from the folks who made a colossal mistake last year on this day.

On my way down the Nicollet Mall this morning, I saw people standing on the corner handing out merchandise of some kind. When I got to 5th Street, I saw cheerleaders and a guy in a dog costume wearing a basketball jersey and driving a golf cart. Huh.

I had a perfectly lovely day on the 21. On my first trip, I picked up a lady with a cane at 4th Avenue and 31st Street who was on the phone. It became obvious that she was talking to M*tro Tr*nsit Customer Service. From what I (and the rest of the bus) could gather, she was going to have to stand on the bus in front of me and the driver wasn't very helpful trying to get people to move so she could sit down. Occasionally, passengers who are seated won't get up and give someone a seat when they clearly should. I remember an instructor telling me that one time she had to offer a free ride to get someone to get out of a seat. I've kept that solution in mind, but I haven't had to resort to that tactic yet.

I caught up to my leader (the bus in front of me) by Chicago Avenue. When we got to 10th Avenue, two blocks later, he just sat there. I waited a little while, then passed him. As I sat waiting to turn left on Bloomington Avenue, I thought I saw squad cars in the general vicinity of his bus.

Sure enough, on my way back he was still there and the police were just leaving. I have no idea what happened, but I sort of wondered if he had other things on his mind when the lady with the cane got on his bus.

Eric and Nancy sent this photo of my buddy Luke in a canoe...



October '5