October '4


I can't remember the last time I was home on a Halloween night. I'm usually driving a bus. We've had a handful of trick-or-treaters so far, but I don't think there are a lot of kids in this neighborhood.

Kassie and I went out last night. I didn't take many pictures; I was being sociable.

Me and Kassie at the LRT station

Dan and Teresa

I talked to Oz for quite a while the other day. He just had foot surgery (bunions and hammer toes). He'll get the other foot done when this one heals. He also has a place to stay and he seemingly has a new outlook on life. I really hope this is the time he pulls it together.

I got held up on 46th Street at 35W the other day while W's motorcade drove by.

That same day an older guy got on my bus and was all happy to see me. He said he always seems to ride with me. I kind of recognized him, but he was so talkative, I'm sure I'd remember him if he had ridden with me more than one other time. Anyway, then he said that he either rides with me or with "Javoka."

I asked about Javoka, as I didn't recognize the name at all. He said it was a driver who looks like Javoka, so he calls him that. I finally admitted that I had no idea who Javoka is. He said, "You know, John Javoka, the movie star!" heh.



While driving the 23 today, I waited for a guy at Bloomington Avenue. He thanked me a few times.

On my next trip, I picked him up again. He had been to the store and he gave me a couple pieces of some kind of onion and cheese bread. He insisted that I keep it as thanks for waiting for him. Then he did a joke for me in his own character (?), Black Angus. He's a black man and he did the bit in what I think was a Scottish brogue. It was actually kind of funny. And the bread's pretty good.

So has Boston lost its raison d'être? I'm glad we don't have to hear them whine about that stupid curse anymore. Now if the Cubbies could get their act together...



Hey dude in the white Chevrolet. Two laws you might want to learn about.

  1. You must yield to a bus pulling out of a bus stop.
  2. And a slightly less obscure law: you have to stop at a stop sign. ()

I don't shop at Cub Foods very often. I happen to prefer a grocery store that feels like a grocery store, not a warehouse. And I don't like having to wait in line for ten minutes at 1:00 in the morning. I do like them for their restrooms, when I have a layover near one. I had a layover behind the Cub in St. Anthony today. Check out the side of this trailer that was parked behind it.


Good lord, they even trademarked it. It's two words, folks. Sheesh.



I took a vacation day to go see Wilco this evening. It was excellent, as usual.


I did have to go to work for a training session today. We had Go-To card training earlier this year before the strike. But it wasn't ready to go after the strike. I think we were waiting for additional software.

The cards are finally ready to go, and I'm glad we got the training again because I didn't remember much about them at all. Our fare system will actually be kind of complicated. If a guy using one of those cards gets on a bus at 2:55 p.m. on his way to pick up his 9-yr-old son and needs a transfer for both of them, I hope he's getting on someone else's bus. But I can't wait for them to get into circulation. It'll speed things up quite a bit.



Kassie and I went to the Guthrie Theater last night to see Pygmalion. It was really good. Our seats: Aisle 18, Row L, Seats 715 and 716. We didn't notice anything unusual.

I went golfing with Eric, Wyatt and Tina this afternoon. I had an absolutely horrible day, so I'm glad it's the end of the year for that.

Before we went home, I broke out the shirts and hats that arrived from Portland earlier this year. Nice...



The 46 was as pleasant as ever yesterday. After two days in a row of rushing to keep on schedule, I look forward to Saturdays and the 46.

Near the end of the night, I picked up a 40-something lady at the Ford Plant in St. Paul. It looked like she was crying. But she wasn't. I asked her how she was doing, and she said, "I'm doing well." (So bonus points in my book for correct use of the language...) But she was messed up on something. She looked like she had just gotten out of bed and there were black stumps where her teeth used to be.

The other passengers got off at Finn Street in Highland Village and she was the only one left on the bus. I took a right on Cleveland (heading south) and she came up to the front to talk to me. She asked me if I knew [name withheld to, um, not reveal the identity of a perfectly respectable individual]. I don't know him, but he is a person of stature in the bus company. She told me that he was her brother-in-law. Then she said her husband was [a driver], who I don't know.

Well, since she had brought him up, she decided to call her ex-brother-in-law (it turns out she's divorced). She kept losing the signal on her phone, so she called him about three times. She either has a speaker phone option on her phone, or she keeps the speaker turned way up, because I could hear everything. We got to the layover and she wanted to know why I stopped the bus. Ah, yes. The wrong bus. I called Control and figured out where she needed to be, but they didn't get back to me immediately, so she called her e-b-i-l again. She should have realized that she wasn't where she wanted to be when I took that right on Cleveland. Then, after someone else called, her ex-husband called. I dropped her off at Finn Street, showed her the stop across the street where she could catch the bus she needed and left that whole scene behind. Unfortunately, she was still on the phone with her ex-husband, and she sat down at the bench on the wrong side of the street. I passed her bus about two minutes later, and I'm guessing she missed it.

I mentioned that I cleaned my rooms. Here is the pile of stuff that I'm giving or throwing away. I see that I just missed the Epilepsy Foundation pickup. Oh well, someone else will be around soon enough...



I bought three CDs the other day. Brian Wilson- SMiLE (Wikipedia provides a pretty thorough rundown of that one, if you're interested...), Elliott Smith- From a Basement on the Hill (may he rest in peace...), and REM- Around the Sun.

I didn't buy the last REM record (not counting that best-of thing, which I didn't buy, either). I had given up on them after I was bored to tears by Up. But I'd heard that Around the Sun was pretty decent. Oh man, I've slogged through that thing twice and I'm not sure if I'll go back on purpose. Remember when REM's bad record was Fables of the Reconstruction?

The Daff rode with me yesterday. We didn't get to talk much. The bus was full. (But that didn't stop him from trying to talk to me as he paid, while several people waited behind him.)

And a 40ish guy got on wearing a Burnsville Dance Team sweatshirt. Nice.



Speaking of the Infidel Cowboy, it was during a visit to his house in the mid-'90s sometime that I first stepped on a scale and it said 200-something. I've been up over 200 ever since. Until today. I'm proud to say that I weighed in at 199.4 this evening, which just might also mean that I weigh less than my brother Corey for the first time in my life. heh.



Well, the Infidel Cowboy doesn't seem to want to tackle the important stories, and he's in Nebraska, so I guess I'll have to mention Tommy Lee's latest adventure. Funny, and kind of cool, though I've never been a fan of the guy. (Thanks to Erich for pointing it out...)

I'm cleaning my room and I've been pulling out some old favorite CDs to listen to while I do it. The Apples in Stereo- Tone Soul Evolution, ABC- The Lexicon of Love, The Replacements- Pleased to Meet Me, and Roxy Music- For Your Pleasure so far...

But before I get back to cleaning, I should tell you about a guy I saw the other day. This story is kind of disgusting, so, given my weak stomach, I recommend that I don't read it or even write it. I'll get some candy in my mouth so I don't gag.

I was driving the 53, and pulled in to Uptown Station. I had to use the little cowboy's room, so I ran inside. There was a guy lying on the floor. I thought I saw some white stuff around his mouth, so I didn't look too long. As I took care of business, I worried that maybe he'd had a seizure or something and I decided that I should make sure he was OK.

I went back out to the waiting area and was relieved to see him sitting up against a bench, but still on the floor. OK, so he's drunk. But there was a big pile of vomit on the floor next to him. I also noticed that he had been lying in it and it was all over his sweatshirt, especially the hood.

At that point, I was ready to heave Steve myself, so I went out to my bus. Fortunately, a wall obscured my view of the vomit and every part of him but his legs. Then he sat up on the bench and I could see him. And did I look away? No. I should have, but I didn't want to miss his movements. I saw that a street supervisor was on the scene.

He decided to put on his sweatshirt. He was getting vomit all over himself and in his hair. He struggled with the sweatshirt for a while, then came outside. He was twenty feet from my bus. He still didn't have the sweatshirt on, and it was getting messy. Amazingly, I hadn't thrown up yet.

But he was eyeing my bus, and even though I can get in pretty big trouble for it, I left early. It was either that or things were going to get ugly on my bus.



Joe Theismann should be fired. He's absolutely awful. (And the other two bozos aren't much better.)



Good lord, what is W saying?


A 16-yr-old gangsta-looking kid fell asleep on my bus last night. Fortunately for him, I had a quick layover and he didn't have to ride too long before we got back to his stop. He was well-spoken and inquisitive. He told me that his girlfriend of three years cheated on him, but he forgave her, mostly because she told him the truth. On his way out the door, he asked my name. I told him. He shook my hand and said, "CJ? They call me Benjamin."

The Daff rode with me last night, too. He got a new (rebuilt) computer and a new phonograph. I think this is the one he got:

Today, I had to get lunch at Cub Foods when I was on a layover. The lady who checked me out was named Pandora. Doesn't it seem a little mean to name your child Pandora? I guess I can see how someone might think it's a pretty name, but to me, it's something you might name your kid if she was unwanted. Like a mother rabbit naming her kid Stew.



Have you been worried? Fretting about when I would post again? Yes, I'm sure you have been.

Well, I've been watching Duke for the past few days, so I haven't been home too much. He's still the happy guy.

You saw this coming, right?

Corey, Tara and Cayden were in town Thursday. They went to a wedding in Mankato. My grandparents came over from Wausau with my Aunt Jane, who's visiting them from Florida. It was Tara's birthday. I took a vacation day.

Cayden is awesome. I don't think I've blessed you with a photo of him for a while. Enjoy.

That evening, Kassie and I went to the Pro-Choice Resources Annual Meeting and Art of Choice Silent Auction. One of the spoken word/performance artists was old school. I don't know if you noticed, but I'm a white male. Apparently, I'm keeping women, children and poor men (of color) down. It's true that some of the people who I won't let ride the bus without a fare are among those I just listed. Guilty as charged. Anyway, Trevor (one of the artists who donated his work, in spite of his own white maleness) and I huddled in shame in the back, dreaming of world conquest, rape and golf.

I went to Blaine! to watch the Vikings with Kevin today. It was pretty great. Holly (very pregnant), Isaiah and Ali came home late in the game. The Vikes chose to give us a scare, but won in overtime.

Isaiah and Ali



So my endorsement of Cobb/LaMarche is almost as controversial as anything the Infidel Cowboy ever said around here. ha.

In response to a few private emails and public comments, here is why I will not be voting for John Kerry:

  1. First and foremost, Kerry's a hawk. He in no way condemns the notion of preemptive war. I am a pacifist for both religious and practical reasons, but I understand the need for a national defense. For me, that simply means the theory of just war is the appropriate approach for national leader. Preemptive strikes are absolutely not compatible with that theory.
  2. I don't believe that Kerry would do the things he says he will. These are the Democrats we're talking about. Clinton had the bully pulpit for eight years and nothing significant got done in the way of health care, stagnating wages, etc. I expect the same from Kerry. A lot of pretty talk, throw the progressives a bone to secure their vote, and no real action.
  3. Moral-high-ground-cop-out? Yeah, maybe. How will I feel when I wake up on the 3rd and see that W's been reelected? Embarrassed. But not because I voted Green. I'll be embarrassed for the Democrats, who did their best to lose this election -which should be a slam dunk- by nominating Kerry. And I'll be embarrassed for everyone who voted for W in the face of his obvious incompetence. The bottom line is that I will be able to sleep at night knowing I voted for someone I believe should have been president- whose values are closest to mine, not someone who is a little better than the horrible failure who's there now.


I will concede that I'd be happier if Kerry won because I think he'd be marginally better than W. At least the Religious Right doesn't have him in their pocket. But that's not enough to make him my guy.

(This doesn't have to be the final word, of course. Let's hear it.)



The Vikings didn't play today. That leaves several slightly melancholy kids and a gaping hole in an autumn Sunday afternoon. To elevate our moods, Kassie, her brother Pete, his girlfriend Mel and I went to a Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Chamber Music Series concert. Lots of J.S. Bach and some Mendelssohn. It was excellent. I was especially fond of Bach's Sonata in G for Violin and Harpsichord. When I moved back to the Twin Cities, I vowed to go see more things like this. I still don't think I get to enough.



I drive the 53 on Fridays. It's a limited stop route that travels east-west on Lake Street, with some stopping at Midway and others continuing to downtown St. Paul on I-94. It's basically a faster 21. Even though it's been running since June, it's still very confusing for a lot of people. They don't look at the destination sign and assume they're on a 21, then get angry when it doesn't stop at Grand Avenue or 17th Avenue or wherever.

The other day a developmentally disabled guy got on an eastbound trip at Chicago Avenue. I've seen this guy around; he's pleasant and friendly.

We stopped at Minnehaha Avenue, and as I usually do, I announced that the next stop was 36th Avenue. That's about ten blocks. As I neared 31st Avenue, the bell rang and I didn't think much of it, until that guy got up and moved near the door. He said something which I didn't really understand, but I gathered that he wanted out. I reminded him that the next stop was at 36th. By then, we were moving along pretty quickly and we had already blown by 31st and were nearing 33rd. I was trying to explain limited stops to him. He flipped out. "STOP THE BUS! STOP THE BUS! NOW! STOP THIS BUS!" He showered the floor of the bus with saliva with every word.

Well, by then I was slowing anyway to let him out early. He continued to freak out. "F*CKER! I'M GOING TO GET YOU!" And he kicked the door and was swinging at it as he got out.

Yeah, I felt bad. But I also hoped that maybe he'd learned about the 53. Bad scene all around.

Kassie, Howie and I watched the debate the other night before we went to the show. I learned two things:

  1. There is some kind of "global test," which is cool because I have always enjoyed and done well on tests. I hope I get to take it.
  2. We have already "achieved... a rapid victory" in Iraq. So that's cool. I can't figure out why we're still losing soldiers there, but hey, I won't worry about it anymore. And neither should you, pinko.

In light of that debate, I think it's time to endorse a candidate:

(click for info)



I have some catching up to do.

A couple big news items:

1. Mark passed the bar in Minnesota. He spent all summer studying for it (work, nap, study, sleep. repeat.), so at least that wasn't wasted.

2. Oz is out of the slammer and looking for cash again. I'll probably be a little helpful, but not as much as before. He has a place to stay, a bus pass and food stamps. And I told him I have a girlfriend, so you know how that goes, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Which is funny, because Kassie's not one of those expensive girlfriends at all.

I went in to work about an hour early Tuesday to talk to Jon, the Safety Supervisor about the incident on my bus the previous Friday. I kind of expected that it might be a long meeting involving the viewing of the video and the pleading of my case.

As kind of an aside, if we get into an accident and the police report says we were not at fault, the company can still charge us with the accident and it will go on our record.

So I got there Tuesday fearing the worst... and Jon was on vacation. I thought I had a week to worry about it some more. But I got there Thursday and there he was. So I told him that I needed to talk with him. He said, "What the heck, what are you doing now?" and asked me when I had to leave. I had about ten minutes. He asked me what happened. I told him and he asked me a couple questions about my spacing and the reasons for the car stopping. Then we started talking about how he quit smoking and another driver joined the conversation. After a few minutes, I had to leave, so I asked him if I needed to sign anything. He said, "No, we're done." Relieved.

It's not as early as last year, but I noticed the Christmas stuff in a window display at Marshall Field's on Tuesday, September 28. Oh, how I hate that. A full quarter of the year devoted to that one day.

A guy who plays a recorder downtown walked over to my bus and played it into the doorway last week, trying to show someone how loud it can play. It gets pretty loud. I love that guy, because he just noodles around on that thing, not really playing tunes. It sounds like a leprechaun convention, at which the leprechauns can't figure out how to turn off their personal soundtracks.

Yesterday, I had a layover at Uptown Station. I thought I heard a small cry for help. It got louder as I made my way to the back of the bus. This was the scene:

Sorry, Spiderman, I don't think I can help you out of that jam. That's one place I try never to put my hands.

Thursday night, Kassie, Howie and I went to The Triple Rock to see some bands. We saw Visqueen and The Soviettes. But everyone needed to get some sleep, so we missed the headliner, The Muffs.

Visqueen, The Soviettes

I have to go to work now.



September '4