October '6


The very nice Comcast lady I was just talking to on the telephone wished me a "Comcastic day." Ugh. Maybe if I go get some of that Hospitaliano first...

Do you, the three or four readers who still visit this site, feel neglected? That's right. I've been too busy for you. Or too tired. Or too uninterested.


Panama Red, a.k.a. The Widowmaker, a.k.a. Steve rode my bus on the 17 the other day. He was about 60 years old, had the face of a man ten years older, and was drunk. How do I know he was drunk? Because he told me so. Drunk as a skunk, I believe he said. Then he apologized for being drunk. (He wouldn't have had to tell me.)

Panama Red is a talkative guy. At least when he's drunk as a skunk.

But he was pretty funny and quite friendly; he greeted everyone who got on the bus.

He wasn't on the bus very long when we stopped for a guy in a wheelchair. I recognized the guy in the wheelchair as a fairly angry individual who is no stranger to the bottle. He ties himself down. (I waited to hear the clicks of the belts, even though he told me we were good to go well before then.) He rode the bus when I was training and caused a commotion, the precise nature of which escapes me.

PR greeted him and he responded with, "Don't talk to me! I don't have to talk to anyone! It's my prerogative!" There followed a short but fiery (and profane) exchange between the two.

Panama Red eventually agreed to ignore him, then turned to me and called the guy bitter, angry, asshole, etc. I did my usual routine of making sure PR was talking to me, so he couldn't anger anyone any further. Like the guy who he said looked like Truman Capote.

It wasn't long before the guy in the chair was involved in our conversation. And by "conversation," I mean "me mostly listening, Panama Red mostly talking." The nature of the talk turned to the guys who stand around on the street asking for money. And thugs.

Pretty soon Panama Red and the guy in the wheelchair were getting along famously. As the guy in the chair was getting out, they exchanged some kind of brotherly handshake and wished each other well. Smiles and sunshine all around.

Then Panama Red offered to buy the guy breakfast the next morning. The guy in the chair didn't like that. As the lift slowly took the guy to the ground, all goodwill had been erased and they were back to yelling at each other to f*ck themselves.

I was laughing so hard I was in tears.

As we made our way downtown, a couple other guys who PR knew got on the bus. One he knew from Stillwater. It took me way too long to realize that he was talking about the penitentiary, not some job or other thing he had going on there.

A second guy was apparently on his way to visit a mutual acquaintance. The nature of the trip was very likely to peddle some valium and/or vicodin, but I wasn't 100% sure what was going on because I couldn't hear them. (Another passenger sort of filled me in after they were gone.)

By then, Panama Red had worn out his welcome (and I'd told him so), so I was happy when those guys got off the bus.


We (I) continue to do battle with the household pests.

I don't have a picture of the very bold squirrel who chased me away from our back steps. I thought it was going to jump on me for sure. It may or may not be the same squirrel that's building a nest in the eave of our front porch. But it's on our neighbor's side, so we're not sure anything will get done about it.

Here is an unhappy little critter that found its way into a light fixture and couldn't quite get enough traction to escape.


And here is an even more unhappy little critter who ate some of the delicious d-CON that we left out for it and its pals. Kassie had not seen any live mice in our house until she saw this one. She handled it well. The day after she saw it, I went to the basement to get some laundry out of the dryer and this one was sitting in the middle of the floor. It did not respond to the box I threw its way. I went upstairs to try to find something with which to pick it up (plus my camera) and when I went back downstairs, it had only moved a few feet. It sort of ran/walked a bit when I tried to pick it up, so I left it. All it did was sit there and lick its paws and breathe heavily. Kassie and I left the house for several hours and when we came back, I found it dead on the floor and took it to the garbage.



Kassie and I joined the YMCA. It's on our block. We're on the northeast corner; it's on the southwest corner. I got up before work and went swimming a couple times last week. The pool is not too chlorinated and it's not too warm. So it doesn't make me gag, like heavily-chlorinated, hot pools do.


I can't think of anything else right now. Oh yeah, the bus company changed its position on the whole buses-with-Lavender-ads thing. Dig it.



I woke up in the middle of the night not feeling well. When I got up this morning, something didn't feel right. I have a low-grade fever. I can't remember the last time I had a fever. I called in sick.


I've gotten a couple emails regarding a story about a driver in my garage who doesn't want to drive the buses with an ad for Lavender magazine on the back. The company has agreed to accommodate her wishes and our union has expressed concern about the company condoning intolerance.

I suppose it's very possible that I know and like this driver. I won't say anything here I wouldn't tell her to her face. I think she's being ridiculous and I think the whole situation is silly. I hope that we, as a society, will be able to move past these things in the next, oh, 500 years sometime. (See? I'm an optimist!) Time to grow up.

There are potential logistical headaches involved with accommodating her wishes. Because the buses leave the garage in chronological order, buses may need to be shuffled around to get her a bus. If her bus breaks down, let's hope the only replacement bus available doesn't have that ad on the back.

On the other hand, unlike certain pharmacists or some of the cabbies at the airport, this driver is not refusing to do her job. It might create a small hassle every once in a while, but getting her a different bus is no more difficult than making sure tall or short drivers don't get certain buses or drivers with bad backs don't get others.

Since my own religious beliefs are not particularly compatible with capitalism, I think I'm going to see if I won't have to drive any buses with Mall... of... THE UNIVERSE!!! ads on the side.


I've had a pretty decent week.

The 2 on Saturday was a good time.

I was sad to see that my favorite stop at the east terminal, Betty's Bikes & Buns, is gone. That place had nice, clean restrooms and excellent scones.


Now I'll go to Wilde Roast Cafe, which has nice, clean restrooms and delicious muffins.

I saw most of an accident in which a minivan apparently made a left turn from the center lane on a one-way street, causing the car in the left lane to smash it.

I saw a guy pushing another guy in a wheelchair down the middle of 25th Avenue over I-94. A woman in a bicycle rode along next to them. They were weaving all over the street. Then the woman rode down a sidewalk. The guy doing the pushing left his buddy in the street to run down the sidewalk and give the woman a big hug. Awwww.

A very inebriated woman got on my bus and announced that she was going to detox. She didn't pay. I figured I was doing a public service. When we got to Chicago Avenue, she announced that those "African bitches" had better not be getting on "her bus." Those "bitches" had the gall to not only get on "her bus," but actually pay their fares. I wished drunky a pleasant day and sent her on her way.

Just as my day was getting really busy and it was getting more difficult to keep the route on time, I was done. That's a good day.


On the home front, Eric came over and gave me a few more tips on drywalling. He also got the fireplace wall in even better shape than it was. I need to go over it again, but I'm worried about making it look worse.

I just checked my temp again, and I'm still not normal. Maybe I'll take a nap.



I saw the garbage man lifting Chaz and Kelly's garbage the other day. I couldn't stay to watch, though. My passengers had places to go and people to see.

(in which the essences of Candlebox, Third Eye Blind and Matchbox 20 Twenty
have been summed up as "Party Boys," "Purists" and "Dynasty," respectively)



I think life settles down a bit now.

I drove my work three days last week. While I enjoyed my class and I like instruction, it was really nice to get back to my real work.

Those three days were pretty uneventful. One day, though, as I was driving up Grand Street in NE, I slowed for a car sitting in the middle of the street. The driver saw me coming and moved along. I didn't even get close enough to beep my horn or anything. There were three kids, about nine or ten years old, who had been sitting on their bicycles talking to the people in the car. As they rode away, one kid turned around, looked at me and gave me the finger. I dropped off a passenger and as I passed the kid on his bike, he called me a punk bitch, or something like that.

I've worked with kids. I'm an adult. I probably know a dozen appropriate responses for that situation.

I don't think I chose one of those. I stopped the bus and waited for him to catch up to me. I leaned out my window and said, "Do you have something to say to me? Why don't you come back and talk to me when you're a man?!?"

Nice. I'm really proud of that one. So I thought I'd share.

Kassie and I went on a honeymoon. To Des Moines. The honeymoon capital of the world.

When I lived in Des Moines, I was a member of the opening crew at Court Avenue Brewing Company. I had a great time working there and I made good friends. It's been ten years since it opened, so Scott Carlson (you can see him if you click on that link) thought it would be a good idea to throw a party. Who doesn't like a party?

Kassie and I drove down Friday afternoon and checked into the Hotel Fort Des Moines. Scott had recommended that we try a place called Sage for dinner. We did and it was delicious. Then we thought we'd have a beer at Raccoon River Brewing Company. You can follow the link from the hotel's site if you really want to see what it's all about. But I'll just tell you. I ordered what was probably the worst Octoberfest I've ever tasted. Kassie inexplicably ordered the Vanilla Cream Ale, which was so foul I was happy to put a bit of that awful Octoberfest in my mouth again to kill the taste.

We fled that place and took the hotel's London taxi to Court Ave. I got a beer sampler there and I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with several of the beers. They used to have more body. But I really liked a few of them, so whatever to me. I'm just a baby.

The next day we got up and drove out to (historic) Valley Junction. We took the long way and drove by my old residences on the way. When I lived in Des Moines, Valley Junction was one of the very few remotely interesting things about the area. Kassie and I wandered around, looking for somewhere to eat. We settled for a pizza place. I thought the pizza was going to take too long, so I got a burger. We waited about half an hour anyway, due to large parties and a broken grill. Then we walked around, looking at antique places and art galleries. It was OK.

On our way back into downtown, we stopped at the Des Moines Art Center, which is a nice collection in a really cool building. We didn't have much time before it closed, but we hustled our way through it and saw most of it.

Then, on our way back to the hotel, I wanted to swing past my favorite restaurant in Des Moines, A Taste of Thailand. It has recently changed hands and has a new name, but that's not what's important.

I have something important to tell you. Are you sitting down? Ready?

Des Moines doesn't suck like it used to.

On our way to the restaurant, on other side of the river, toward the capitol, was... the East Village. Excerpt from an article in the New York Times:

5) A Different East Village
A once-dying neighborhood east of the Des Moines River, at the foot of the Iowa State Capitol's golden dome, has recently been reborn as the East Village, sprinkled with stylish restaurants, boutiques, galleries and specialty shops. Do not miss Sticks Gallery (521 East Locust Street, 515-282-0844), which sells one-of-a-kind hand-painted wood furniture (made in Des Moines), and Fusion Furniture (500 East Locust Street, 515-244-2303), which offers rehabbed 1950's metal furniture and early 1900's Chinese wooden antiques. Stop at Gong Fu Tea (414 East Sixth Street, 515-288-3388), a tranquil Asian-inspired teahouse.

We stopped at a place called SMASH. We talked to the owner. He was a young guy; I think he said 23. He was a bit cocky, but he had good reason to be. He is a part of something interesting. Again- in Des Moines. We bought a t-shirt for me () and a painting by someone named Artie Brewer for over our mantel (). Oh yeah, the mantel. Guess I threw a small kink in Kassie's plans. Sorry 'bout that...

Anyway, we went to Court Avenue Brewing Company's bash Saturday night. It was fun to see people who I keep up with, but haven't seen for a long time and others who I never thought I'd ever see again.

Chris, Scott, CJ; CJ, Alex, Wyatt; Kassie, CJ; Aimee, Matt; CJ, Kim, Alex

OK, I think I'm as caught up on here as I'm going to be.



September '6