September '4


Congratulations Bethany and Ryan!




It was a bad day for transit. I drove the 46, which goes right by the scene pictured below:

photo by Duane Braley, Star Tribune

You can read a little bit about it here.



I tried to put a lady down on the floor of my bus today, but she just wouldn't fall. Instead, she just kind of tripped and stumbled forward until she stopped at the handrail next to the farebox. And what was the problem? A car stopped suddenly in front of me and I braked pretty hard. She was walking around trying to get change for her dollar and I think I caught her off balance.

She filled out a card and called in to tell the company that she's injured. Nice... I hope she's OK. She seemed to be fine, with maybe a bruise on one arm.

So a street supervisor pulled the videotape and I had paperwork to fill out. I'll have a meeting with, I don't even know- the safety supervisor and/or my manager, I suppose.

These things happen, I guess.



I got interesting mail today:

#1. I got a letter addressed to "Hope Member or Friend." Hope Presbyterian is the church I attended with my parents. I still go every once in a while, but I'm not active there at all. So a couple years ago, they purged me from their roll. I would never have known it was going to happen if my mom hadn't been a deacon or an elder or something, because I never heard from them about anything. Since I was purged, however, I probably average two items/month from them. Huh. Anyway, today's letter was to inform me that someone at church was diagnosed with Pertussis, a.k.a. Whooping Cough. Apparently, it's showing up around the Twin Cities. Stay off my bus, Pertussis Mary!

#2. I got a very nice invitation from Iowa Governor Tom and First Lady Christie Vilsack to attend an Iowa Alumni and Friends Reception. The purpose of the reception is to "learn more about the exciting career and lifestyle opportunities created by Iowa's prospering economy." Oh yes, I am more than familiar with the very exciting lifestyle that can be led in Des Moines. And my friend Mel can attest to the loveliness of Fort "Methamphetamine" Dodge. Well, Tom and Christie, it's true that I love Decorah and Iowa City, but there's no way in hell I'd ever move anywhere else in Iowa. Good luck drawing young people from the dull and lifeless Twin Cities.

#3. More stuff from Sandy Berman. I thought he'd given up on me, or forgotten about me. It looks like he sent some interesting reading.

#4. The University of Sioux Falls College sent me a couple reminders about Homecoming. I won't be able to make it.

Well, I was too lazy to put up the photos from Eric and Nancy's wedding, so I took an easy way out and made a slideshow. You'll need QuickTime (you can get it here). Too bad I'm such a poor photographer, really.



There's an old guy with really thick Where's Waldo glasses who hangs out on the Nicollet Mall (downtown Mpls) and digs through the trash for cans. When he finds one, he throws it under a bus to crush it.

I saw a 40ish lady with platinum hair that was dyed pink on the sides. Then I saw her big white poodle with its ears dyed the same shade of pink.

I don't really understand the practice of putting a bumper sticker on a newish car, especially if it's a nice car. So it pained me a little to see a Rolls Royce Corniche with a W sticker on it.



Congratulations Nancy and Eric!



Birdman rode my bus today. He grabbed a lady's hand and was trying to ask her about her family. She was very nice about it.

That reminded me of another guy who rode my bus yesterday. He was hearing impaired, and he was dressed in an eccentric manner, but well. He was acting a bit tweaky and when he got off the bus he tossed some napkins in a woman's face and laughed loudly.

Also yesterday, a big guy got on the 53 with me. He was wearing sunglasses like these (but imagine them with pink and white stripes):

He was also wearing long, dangling earrings, kind of like these, but also in pink and white:

He had long, frizzy hair under a camouflage army cap. And he was wearing a Vikings sweatshirt. The best part was that he was a talker and all he wanted to talk about was the Vikings.



I'm not bragging, but I changed lanes on the Ford Bridge this evening. I think they've been working on that bridge since seemed like a good idea. It opened up to four lanes for my last trip.

controversial (old) photo of the Ford Bridge
(yes, I was moving-
very slowly with an empty bus)

Famous Footwear is having a sale. Check out the poster.

Come for the shoes, stay for the Stella...

Are you thinking of opening or buying a restaurant, but not sure exactly what you need to do? I think you should call Des Moines-based Fulcrum Management LLC. (Not that I know how you'd do that, just yet...) My old boss Chris is going to enjoy new adventures in restaurant consulting.

A lady on my bus today was making her weekly trip to a correctional facility to visit her fiance. I always think that kind of conversation should be much more awkward than it usually is.

Last night, on my pull-in, I saw a magnificent sight. I was downtown. It was dark and raining. The Olympic Hopefuls (see 9/11) were decked out in full Olympic Hopeful toggery, riding little yellow scooters behind a minivan with its back door open. I assumed it was a video shoot.



See Jamie, Eric and the Subaru.

The Vikings beat the Cowboys yesterday (sweet!). I went to Wyatt and Tina's house for a party.

I ate a lot of delicious and high-calorie food; it was the third day in a row that I didn't watch what I was eating. I found out today that I've gained a mere .4 pounds since Wednesday. I made it through the state fair week without a gain. I'm starting to feel invincible. (I'm down about 15 lbs now.)

Every chiropractor I've seen has told me that I shouldn't run. I used to run cross-country, but quit during college, when a 10K gave me the worst headache I've ever had. (Seems like I just mentioned that recently...) That was a long time ago. In a move that was branded "typical man," I ran a mile today to prove to Kassie (and myself) that I could do it without walking or having a heart attack. I didn't set any land speed records; I did it in eleven minutes, thirty seconds. And I felt fine.



Is it too cynical, even for me (though I sort of try to keep it out of here), to suggest that this is the day W gets down on his knees and thanks the Lord above for that awful day that made him the 49%-approved man he is today? Yes, I suppose it is. Forget you even read that.

Howie and I just got back from a place in St. Paul called Station 4, where we saw the Olympic Hopefuls. Oh boy, did they rock. I really enjoyed the show. Of probable interest to Corey and Mike C. (and ?) is Heath, formerly of Violet, playing bass on the right.

The Olympic Hopefuls



Nice T-shirt of the Week Award goes to the guy wearing the I AIN'T NOBODY'S MAMA shirt.

I was amused by the guy in a late-model Passat who stopped about thirty feet back from the intersection at 17th and Hennepin today. There was a homeless guy with a sign on the corner. If you ignore them, they'll go away, right?

The lady featured in this story has ridden the 28 with me for the last few weeks. She rode with me twice today. I asked her what was going on with her house. I've noticed that she's moved some of her art out of the front yard to the back of her house. It sounds like the inspectors are going to be cool about it. They think the whole thing is ridiculous; they have much bigger things to worry about in other parts of the city. She's going to leave the art in back until they do the inspection, then she'll put it back in the front yard and hope for no more complaints. Her house is about eight blocks from mine and I drive by it a lot. I think it's cool and yes, I would still like it if I lived next door. And I think the selective enforcement of the law would be rather troubling. If she gets another complaint and has to go to court, I will most certainly take a day off and write complaints about everyone who has a bird feeder or a fence in their front yard. Furthermore, it's like the folks who complain about bus noise in their neighborhoods- if you don't like it, there's always Eden Prairie. Cookie-cutter houses and no bus noise. And no soul, either.

I watched a couple episodes of Bands Reunited on VH1 this week. Aamer tried to reunite two of my old favorites, ABC and The English Beat. I was rather disappointed by both of them. Two of the four ABCers didn't show and the two Fine Young Cannibals from The English Beat didn't show. Oh well, it was cool to see what they were all doing anyway.



Well, we heard that this was coming. I think the Infidel Cowboy is right when he says that what W and Kerry did thirty-five years ago is mostly irrelevant. For me, the great thing about that story is the quote from W spokesman Dan Bartlett, who is now the White House Communications Director. In 1999, Bartlett told the Washington Post that W had served in a Boston-area Air Force Reserve unit. When recently confronted with the reality that W had, in fact, not done so, Bartlett said, "I must have misspoke." Oh, the irony.

I don't even really care that he was lying; we're used to that crap from these guys. But it really bothers me that his job has everything to do with the English language and he can't even get it right. Sheesh.



Yesterday when I was driving at the fair, a kid, about seven, saw Superman. (Get a Polaroid taken with that guy for $5.)

The kid said, "Hello Superman, you look fat today!"

I took this photo last year.

I have a love-hate thing with all-political blogs, usually hate. So I don't read too many. I finally got around to reading Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish. I was surprised to find him pleasant and articulate, with none of the usual name calling (at least that I've seen)- all in all, a nice read. Uh, not that I totally agree with him very often.

Also, enjoy some fresh reading over at the New Patriot...



I had the most lovely day driving a free shuttle at the GMG-T. I got a fifty-minute break and quite a bit of other break time. There wasn't a set schedule to keep, everyone was happy and no one had to pay. I needed that after yesterday.

Since our new work pick starts this weekend, yesterday was my last day on that 17 that has given me so much grief. I've been dissing the 17 for this entire pick. Yesterday, I suspect that the mighty and capricious gods of transit were doing their best to remind me that all routes are sacrosanct. And while a lot went wrong, I kept reminding myself that there were a lot of things that could still go wrong (but the list was dwindling). What happened? You know I'm going to spill it.

It started innocently enough. I was chatting with the Driver Groupie's #1 favorite driver, Joe. I got out to my bus a little later than I like to. Bus 633. I was late enough that I considered skipping the pre-trip inspection. But I did it, and good thing. Flat tire. OK, it was time to pull out. I called the dispatcher and he told me to take 1065. Cool, new bus. I sped to the terminal in NE Mpls, but still got there a little bit late. I'd be fine.

The 17 Lady got on. She and a friend were headed to Irv's for spaghetti. A while back, she told me that she wasn't going there anymore for spaghetti because the noodles were undercooked and the sauce was too spicy. I asked about that and she said that she didn't go for a few weeks so they got a new cook. heh.

I made it through downtown and, amazingly, I stayed on time. I got close to 18th Avenue and noticed that my CHECK ENGINE light was on. Then the STOP ENGINE light flashed. That one's accompanied by an annoying buzz. I shut the bus off for a couple minutes, then restarted it. It seemed OK for about a block. But both lights came on by the time I got to Franklin Avenue and I knew I'd need a new bus. I called Control and told them the problem, then drove it another block to get it away from the relatively busy intersection at Franklin. We waited for a new bus.

Ideally, if a bus breaks down, someone will bring a new bus and someone else will start the route from the other end on time, so service doesn't get interrupted. That's called a fill.

By this time, I'd realized that, in my haste to get out of the garage, I had left my lunch on bus 633. So I called the dispatcher at Nicollet and asked him if he could have the driver bringing me a new bus find my lunch and bring that, too. But there must not have been anyone on call. A mechanic brought me a new bus and he didn't have my lunch. Then, more bad news.

There wasn't a fill driver, so I had to deadhead to the terminal where I was originally headed and try to make up the time I'd lost. Now, the reason I've been so unhappy with this route is that there isn't enough time on the schedule, so there was no way that I was going to make up that time. I had waited half an hour for the new bus. If I wanted to start from the western terminal on time, I had six minutes to go about six miles, about half of that through the city and the rest on a highway with stoplights. But I had to use a restroom. So I stopped at a SuperAmerica and grabbed a banana and an egg salad sandwich while I was there. I arrived at the terminal 17 minutes late.

I was fifteen minutes late when I arrived at 18th and Nicollet and saw the Oxygen Man. OK, I was really late already and I was remarkably relaxed. A wheelchair didn't bother me. Besides, he's a nice guy. I loaded him up relatively quickly. But the front door wouldn't close after I stowed the lift. So I spent at least a minute messing with the air release and fiddling around with the door lever. Then it closed.

We almost got through downtown when Oxygen Man asked me where he could catch a bus that would take him to where he had just come from. He was running out of oxygen. I asked him if he needed me to call the ambulance and he said he'd be OK. I flagged down an 18 that just happened to show up when we needed it and he made the transfer. Of course, I was worried about that guy. A lady told me that he figured he had just enough oxygen to get to NE, but since I was fifteen minutes late, he ran out. Nice.

I arrived at the NE terminal about twenty-five minutes late. Subtracting the fifteen minute layover that I was supposed to get, I was ten minutes late headed west. Well, the westbound trips are the hardest to keep on time. Due to another lift passenger and the waiting for the door to close, I arrived at the western terminal sixteen minutes late. Subtract that layover and I was six minutes late. But I had to use the restroom, so I actually left twelve minutes late. I picked up a young woman who was MAD that I was late, but she didn't say anything. She just glared at me a few times. But by then, I was tired of explaining why I was late, so I just smiled at everyone and said hello.

I finally got a layover four-and-a-half hours after I had broken down. It was five minutes long. I was tired and borderline cranky. Then, as if to say that their point was made, the mighty and capricious gods of transit called their friends the weather gods and it rained. Oh, sweet rain that keeps the elderly and the wheelchairs inside. Yeah, I know it sounds absolutely horrible when I say that, and apologies for that, but that's part of my plea for better scheduling. I'm a happier, safer, better driver when I know I have a couple minutes to spare.

So anyway, it was raining. I got five minutes down the road and who did I see? Yes, that's right. Oxygen Man. Again. Well, as I said, he's a nice guy and quite frankly, I was happy to see that he was OK. I loaded him up and dropped him off. I showed some nice hustle during that trip and actually got a full layover at the western end of the line.

I only had one more trip, but the rain kept everyone in and I was able to keep that one on time. I can smile about it now, but at the time it was terrible...

Then I went to Mollie and Trevor's housewarming bbq and ate some of Trevor's famous ribs. Delicious.



I just drove all over the east side of Minneapolis and into the western edge of St. Paul trying to get gasoline for my truck. I tried six gas stations before I could find one with a working pay-at-the-pump.

The 46 was very tame again today, but I think it has picked up. People must finally be hearing about it.

Just as I was pulling away from my layover in St. Paul, a little car pulled in front of me and stopped. It was Paul K. (not the musician). We went through part-time training together. He told me he's not driving anymore. He just got a job in scheduling! Well, I can say one thing: at least there will be one scheduler who's not drunk on the job. But he won't get to touch a route for a year. Too bad, maybe...

So do you like football? Hate it? Don't care either way? Want to guess who will win the NFL games every week? Go here and sign up. Make an entry. Join this group: Little Tooters Band Camp, password: pullmyfinger. Seriously. Winner gets to brag a lot for a little while. Then no one cares anymore. I won last year, but only because Nike did something with their Internet (maybe with a firewall?) near the end of the season and Corey, who was killing us, couldn't get his picks in on time. Also, beware Randy Stag. That guy's a jerk.



I got the Wheelchair Double Whammy on the 18 today. I lost a full fifteen-minute layover plus half of a ten-minute layover as a result. Fortunately, I was very relaxed today and it didn't bother me at all.

I ran into Downtown Jaguar Lotus Land Rover to use the restroom during my first layover and overheard a salesman talking to another guy. That dealership recently added Land Rover to their lineup and the salesman was in training, learning about them. He was disappointed because he was going to have to miss the driving exercises. They were going to take the Land Rovers off road. Well, I guess there might be some road construction in Minnetonka every once in a while, so one or two of those things might get some dirt under the tires...



Wasn't someone supposed to tell me about the Hulk's diary a long time ago? Ever so amusing.

Oh, that Alan Keyes! He's a laugh a minute! Your homework assignment for this evening, Alan, is to read this book. Or hell, just read the title and think about it for a second.



I love the Minnesota State Fair.



August '4