October '5


Halloween. Kassie and I met a pile of people at The Rail Station Saturday (not really Halloween) night for their costume contest. It was pretty fun, but I was really tired after a long day on the 17. I took a handful of photos, but I don't like any of them well enough to post them.

So yeah, the 17 was brutal again. I actually lost three minutes on one westbound trip that got filled from Uptown Station. That is, I only had to drop off the ten or so people that were on my bus after Uptown Station, and I still lost three minutes. By now, I have no business being amazed at what happens on this route, but I was.

A lady fell asleep and fell off her seat. She was fine, but I called Control. A street supervisor pulled the videotape and I filled out some paperwork.

I pulled up to a stop on the 21 last Thursday, and the lady there put out her cigarette. She was very pregnant. Nice.

I just got off the phone with a lady from Route H. I had to try to remember what I ate yesterday. I think I got it all. And I ate a lot of food that was bad for me. I did, however, eat three baby carrots and a piece of broccoli and a I drank a bottle of grapefruit juice (thanks E and N!). That's a health-food binge for me.

So anyway, back to the 21. It crossed my mind that I hadn't picked up a wheelchair for quite a while. I immediately tried to put it out of my head. I don't really think I have the power to summon lift passengers by thinking that I haven't seen one for a while, but it's best not to mess with the mighty and capricious gods of transit.

I pulled up to a stop along University Avenue in the Midway area of St. Paul. I saw an elderly lady with a walker who needed the lift. I put the lift out and... it wouldn't do anything besides go out. It wouldn't go down. I couldn't get it to come up. It just went out and in, nothing else. I apologized and called Control. The Control supervisor asked me to call if I had to pass anyone else. I thought, "Well, I haven't seen a lift passenger on this 21 for several weeks; I'm sure it won't be a problem."

Three minutes later, I pulled up to a guy in a wheelchair. I told him I'd had a problem with the lift, but I tried it again, mostly for show. I got no love from my lift. I apologized. He was OK with it. It was a beautiful day outside. I called Control and reported that I had to pass the guy up.

Five minutes later, I pulled up to another guy in a wheelchair. I repeated the warning, the demonstration, the apology, and eventually, the call to Control.

I sort of felt bad for the bus behind me.

I had a decent day on the 11 on Friday.

One of my favorite guys rode with me. He's a Pine Ridge native (SD represent!) who is always on a bicycle. I think I mentioned that one time he was out in the cold with a big garbage bag full of gloves, passing them out to homeless people on Franklin Avenue. He told me that someone had done that for him when he was homeless and he remembered how nice it was.

As he paid his fare, he told me that he was damaged. He got hit by a car while riding his bicycle. It threw him into a couple parked cars and he cracked a couple ribs and broke his collarbone. The lady who hit him drove away, but a nurse who was in the car behind her got her license plate number, then circled the block to tend to him. The police picked up the woman who hit him in an Applebee's (YES! You can clink glasses with people you don't even know! It's that fun there!) in Brooklyn Park Center. I was somewhat surprised, but pleased, to hear that he's pressing charges. I have talked to a few people over the last few years who have been hurt and could legitimately press charges, but refuse to do so for whatever reason.



I was at a Bruegger's on a layover today. Almost as an afterthought, I picked up a Minneapolis Observer. It's a great little paper, dedicated to Minneapolis news and politics. Oh boy, was I surprised when I saw the cover boy! It's Dan! Hello, Dan.

(click to enlarge)

Um, read the article here. See the real front page here.



Congratulations, Cubs fans! Finally, after all these years... oh wait...

That was a mercifully short World Series. Back to your regularly scheduled programming, Fox watchers! I wish UPN would get that contract.

So now there's about three weeks until spring training?

Oh, and see ya later, Harriet. I'm sure you would have done a heckuva job.



I had a pretty good day on the 21.

On one trip, I had two regular fare evaders on my bus at the same time.

Short Fare Evader asked me for a transfer two weeks ago when I was sitting at Uptown Station. Unfortunately, he used up whatever good will I had for him a couple years ago. I'll bet I've refused to give him a free transfer a dozen times in the last couple years. Once, he got on my bus and paid. I was in shock. But he was with a woman and children. So last week, he was at Uptown Station again, and asked me for a transfer again. I said, "Don't you recognize me? I'm the guy who never gives you a free transfer!" He mumbled something about recognizing me now and walked away.

SFE had a transfer when he got on my bus today. I thought we were going to be good. But on his way off the bus, he turned and asked me if he could have a transfer. Denied, of course. As we pulled away, a young guy sitting a few seats back said, "He's peeing in the alley!" Nice.

Tall Fare Evader is quite notorious. He dresses fairly nicely, with a hat and a big cross around his neck. He usually has a toothpick in his mouth. His photo was up in the garage for a while; he was putting dimes into the farebox and claiming they were tokens. He got on my bus today and showed me a wristband from jail. I love that one, and I get it a lot. And of course, we're usually nowhere near a jail. I've never been able to figure out how getting out of jail entitles one to a free bus ride. Besides, it was obvious that the jail he just got out of served alcohol. I kicked him off the bus.

The aforementioned young guy works at William's and he told me that TFE frequently shows up there looking for a free shot or other free booze.



Well, I gave the Vikings a time-out. It's not so much the behavior that bothered me- I think it's classless, but I assume this sort of thing happens a lot- it was the fact that they chose to do it in public and involve people who were simply trying to do their jobs. Plus, I'm still mad that they got rid of Randy Moss, so it wasn't too hard to ignore them for a while.

Anyway, if they hadn't been playing the Packers, I might have given it another week. But I went over to Wyatt and Tina's house to watch the game. And they won. I have to admit, it was pretty great. As my brother said, this is going to be our best week of the entire season; we'd better enjoy it.

Kassie and I are about midway through the first season of Arrested Development. Most excellent.

I stopped by my parents' house yesterday. They're putting an addition on their house. They also got carried away and bought a DVD player. Wow. I think they got their first microwave about ten years ago. Anyway, the addition is going to look good. They've extended a bedroom out the back to make a large master bedroom. I should remember to take my camera over there one of these weeks.

I'll get back on a bus this afternoon. It was only a three-day weekend, but it felt longer, probably because I didn't have to deal with the usual Saturday-on-the-17 exhaustion.



I'm kind of sad this evening. The New Pornographers postponed their show. Rumor 'round First Ave is that the bassist had an emergency appendectomy (yeah, I know, is there any other kind?).

The big thing that bummed me out is that Dan Bejar, the secondary NP songwriter, is traveling with them. His band, Destroyer, which I also really like, is opening. He usually doesn't play with the NP live. I'm assuming that the chance of seeing Destroyer and Bejar with the New Pornographers on their rescheduled date is slim.

On a good note, The Decemberists were ever-so-excellent. Great show. Their showman(and -woman)ship has evolved been intelligently designed blossomed since I first saw them. Kassie and I met Christina, Sam, Eric and Nancy there and I think a good time was had by all.

The Decemberists

After the show, Kassie and I hastened to Genevieve and Bongo's house to celebrate Genevieve's swearing-in as an attorney in Minnesota. Turns out the big bash is next week. heh.

So this evening's disappointment was offset a bit by a delicious dinner of turkey and mashed potatoes that I just threw together. Thanks about a million to Jennie-O. (Note to Mom: If you're making the turkey this year, do yourself a big favor and get this Oven Ready turkey. It's really tasty and super easy.) OK, I guess that was a note to everyone. I threw some flour down into the drippings and it made some excellent gravy, too.

I threw up twice yesterday. The first time, I had passengers and I had to throw on the emergency break and run off the bus, around the corner to some bushes. Cool. I didn't want to take the chance that I would still be sick today or make it worse by working a long day with no breaks, so I talked-in sick. I feel a bit better today, but I'm not 100% so I think it was a good move. I'd be miserable right now if I'd worked today. Plus, I got to go clothes-shopping with Kassie! Nice! (And I bought a shirt and sweater, which was more than she bought.)

And if you can get your hands on some Bell's Batch 7000 Ale, do it! Delicious. And strong.

Pepto-Bismol? Lime Jell-O?



Tonight: The Decemberists

Tomorrow night: The New Pornographers




I'm looking into some options for the upcoming overhaul of this site, but for now, I hope this is a bit more enticing than a Portland winter.

My buses have been relatively tame.

I got another bus with a flat tire this morning.

A young guy got on my bus at Uptown today and the first words out of his mouth were, "I'm from New Orleans..."

I've mentioned how I'm accustomed to being lied to; I braced for some kind of hustle. No hustle. He paid, and we chatted a bit. He lost everything in N.O. and came up here because his brother is here. He doesn't plan to go back.

Another young guy got on my bus twice this afternoon. I smiled and asked him how he was doing. He replied with, "Jesus is Lord" or something similar both times. Then he shouted a brief salvation message to the whole bus and sat down. Both times. I saw him approach two Latinas on the sidewalk as well.

The sad thing to me was that if there was any joy of the Lord there, I sure couldn't see it. He kept a straight, solemn face and never smiled. It came off as more than a little creepy.



I thought, way too late, that this would have been a nice time to overhaul the way this thing looks. Maybe soon...

I probably have a lot to write about, but I don't really feel like writing anything.




I'm in the middle of the following books:

Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community,
In the Name of the Father: The Rhetoric of the New Southern Baptist Convention,
The Biblical Basis for the Catholic Faith,
Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, and
Word Freak.

I recently purchased:

God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, and
Anansi Boys.

So why in the world did I start Angels and Demons? It was there for the reading when I didn't have any of my other books around. And I don't quite find Dan Brown's writing style excruciating, like I do Louis L'Amour's, but it does pain me. I hadn't necessarily planned to read The Da Vinci Code, as I've read Foucault's Pendulum, but now I'll skip it for sure.



Well, I didn't realize how bad Northwestern's opponents were when I suggested that they might not win game #2. They won both their games by scores of 59-0 and 47-14.

I had a banner day on the 17 yesterday. Minutes late to terminals: 7, 2, 3, 8, 11, 3, 11, 2, 3. I actually got a few minutes of layover time.

I was on the Nicollet Mall on my second trip when the 11 in front of me and I had to wait for a lady in a wheelchair to get off a 10 in front of us. I noted her Gophers jacket and remembered that I forgot to tape the game (too bad, since they finally beat Michigan!).

About four blocks later, a text message came up on my radio:

FYI: Be advised that there may be a white female in a wheelchair wearing a Gophers jacket near 8th St attempting to board with a dog under her jacket.

Excellent! I laughed out loud. We allow pets, but they have to be in carriers.

On my next trip, I saw the lady with the dog at the door of an 11, but the lift did not come out of the bus. As the 11 passed me, the driver and I laughed and gestured at each other.

I mean, I felt bad because I had no idea what that woman was going to do. She got downtown, but wasn't going to get anywhere else unless she bought something to put that dog in. On the other hand, and I realize that this is obvious, maybe she shouldn't have been sneaking the dog around in the first place.

This is the best football Sunday we'll have for a while, because the Vikings will not look pathetic today.



Northwestern College over in Roseville is going to play two football games on Saturday. I'm not putting money on them winning the second game.

Their head coach, Kirk Talley, was on the staff at Camp Ojibway when my dad was the director. I always really liked him. When I was about ten or eleven, he brought me a box of his childhood books. You know, I used to read a lot. I don't read too many books anymore... Anyway, Kirk tried to get me a job as a librarian at Crown College when he worked there, but I was well into doubting my future in a library by then.

My other comment on Northwestern College is that I stopped in to see a friend of mine one time and could barely get past the front gate. It was probably prudent, but at the time, I was really surprised. Then, about a year later, the University of Sioux Falls College played a football game there and I was somewhat alarmed to see that their campus security dressed kind of like Nazi stormtroopers.

I'm home between work on the 11. Have any of you Minneapolitans ever seen a rat run across the street in broad daylight? I've seen deer, foxes and the usual squirrels, chipmunks, etc. but never a rat. It was on Nicollet at 46th Street just before 9:00 AM. Not too far from your house, 2165!

About a month ago, one of the drivers at the garage was teasing me for checking my tires, which is part of a pre-trip inspection. I guess it's not cool to check them. I told him that he'd obviously never had a flat tire. I have. One day when I was late, I thought about skipping the tires and sure enough, I had a flat. Flat tires cause bus fires. They'd rather we were late pulling out than starting their buses on fire.

I thumped my tires this morning. The inside rear tire on the driver's side didn't bounce. I tried again and it bounced, sort of. I got down on my knees and looked. I could see tire guts. I got a new bus. Someone may have been pretty lucky last night.



I just walked across the street and saw Chris Mars talk about his exhibition currently on display at the MIA. I've been mildly obsessed with his art for a few years now and it was really cool to hear him talk about it.

Since I'm not saying anything if I don't have anything good to say, I'll simply note that nearly everyone sighed and/or rolled their eyes after a particular young woman's numerous questions sycophantic gushfests. Poor Chris has to go to HCMC for an emergency ebullientfanectomy. I hope he doesn't like to sit while he paints because he'll probably be a little tender for a while...

On an interesting note, I chatted briefly with a (late-forties-ish?) woman who did not realize that Mars was in the Replacements. (And she knew who the Replacements were.) As there were clearly a lot of local music fans in attendance, I was happy that he's getting recognition as a painter and not just the Replacements Drummer Who Paints Now.



Pete No_Strike Huston commented in my last entry that he was hoping to see something written about the ATU Local 1005 executive board election on November 16. It's true that I haven't said anything about it.

I've always said that if you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all. Ha ha! I rarely live it, but I say it. Kassie and I were just talking about the upcoming election last night. As far as I know, in addition to Pete, our current president is being challenged by our current vice-president, and those are the only three folks running. I told Kassie that I wish we had a third (and fourth and fifth) choice. (I didn't know about Pete yet.) I know of a couple lawyers who drive bus and surely there are some other people around who wouldn't get dismantled by Peter Bell in a televised discussion. And I wouldn't mind seeing a couple drivers put their money where their mouths were a year ago.

If I know Pete N_S H., I know him by face, not by name. Perhaps he'd make an excellent president/business agent, I don't know. I'm looking forward to finding out more about him.



The two smallest little people I've ever seen rode my bus yesterday. They were speaking French and had Cirque du Soleil jackets on.

Route H came to my garage today! Oh, the excitement. I signed on, mostly because if we get 90% compliance at the garage, we'll get $6000 for garage use.

I got a $20 Target gift card. All I had to do was fill out a questionnaire and get my height and weight measured. I also agreed to be part of a subgroup. I guess I'll have occasional phone conversations about what I've been eating. It was pretty painless, 2165.

A fellow bus driver pulled a bush-league move on me today. I was driving the 17, so I was late. I passed an 18 on Nicollet and 22nd Street. He was loading a lift passenger. He caught up to me by the time we got downtown, in part because I was picking up everyone who was headed downtown. I pulled over at 13th Street, the first stop at the south end of the Nicollet Mall. Dude passed me. I wasn't so much annoyed that he passed me in a place we're not allowed to pass, as I was pissed that he passed me knowing full well that he was going to have to sit an extra minute or two at a stoplight somewhere along the Mall with me stuck behind him. Jackass.



My dad got out of the hospital today. He'll go back on Wednesday to make sure everything's OK, then assuming he's good to go, my parents will fly home Friday.

Hey, I'll bet W thinks I'm qualified to run the Federal Transit Administration! Oh wait, no, I'm not a rich pal of his... His latest Supreme Court judicial nominee has never been a judge. [update: This isn't unprecedented, I guess, but Miers has barely any relevant experience at all.] This just gets better and better. I think he might be insane. If you voted for him, thanks again. [note: if you read Kassie's blog, you'll see she wrote something similar- we did not read each other's posts before writing...] When people on the Left call him the worst president ever, I kind of flinch, because really, history will tell. Besides, it'll take some work to knock off Warren Harding, right? I've always kind of assumed that W will join his dad, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and a handful of other presidents as "who?" in another couple hundred years. (Um, assuming that we're not speaking Chinese by then.) But I don't know, I think W's really giving Harding- and Ulysses Grant and Andrew Johnson, I suppose- a run for their money.

The 17 was brutal again Saturday. It was a beautiful day-after-payday, so there wasn't anyone available to do a fill. I actually lost a trip. After arriving at my terminal 29 minutes late for the second trip in a row, the 17J that runs 30 minutes behind me passed me while I was in the little cowboys' room. Control had me deadhead to my western terminal.

Some folks at the U of Minnesota are going to do a study on the eating and exercise habits of bus drivers at M*tro Tr*nsit. There are signs all over the place; there are pamphlets explaining what it is lying around the garage. I think it sounds like a good thing. A couple times now, in the morning, a text message has come up on my radio: Good Morning! Route H coming soon!

The buzz at the garage among the drivers is almost deafening. <whisper, whisper> Route H! What is it? <whisper, whisper> Route H! <whisper> Route H! <whisper, whisper>


Was I dreaming when I saw the commercial for M&M's Dark? Um, a quick look around the Internets shows that they'll show up in late September. Hey, that's last week. I better get to Target.

I probably finished my quick trip to DC page...



September '5