everybody's monday off

Monday is my usual day off. Memorial Day can be one of those days when I get a little cranky because a lot of people have it off and I can't just get things done.

But today Kassie and I got stuff done. Kassie spent the last couple of days ripping out the grass on the front slope of our yard. Plants and shrubbery went in today. I think the idea is not to mow it any more.

Then we went to my parents' house for dinner. The South Dakotans are still in town.

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golf boy

I went golfing with my dad and my brother today.

I shot a 58* in 9 holes. (The asterisk is for the hole where it got really ugly...) So my score wasn't too good, but I hit the ball pretty well- especially off the tee box- and I putted OK, too.

That's my dad off in the distance. I took the picture from the spot where my ball was last seen before it went into the hole.

It was really fun to hang out with Dad and Corey.

One thing that was kind of a downer was that the out-of-bounds markers had to be, uh... strickly observed... um, or something...

(one day I'm going to get a scanner)



had a decent day

Last night Kassie and I talked to a guy named Jeff who lives down the street from the shot-up SUV. We also met his friend Liz who was visiting him. Liz got on my bus this morning.

I left squirrel paste on 38th Street this evening. I blame Sorce.

On my last stop on my last trip, I picked up:
  • eight bags of groceries
  • four cases of soda
  • one 24-pack of toilet paper
  • two people to carry it all
I drive the 23 to the Minnesota Veterans Home twice on Fridays. It's on 51 acres overlooking the Mississippi River. Today someone was tagging Peregrine Falcon chicks. Their mother wasn't too happy about it. These photos might have been kind of cool if I had a lens the size of a beagle and a big camera to run it, like one lady who was there did.

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Kassie and I thought it would be a good night to take Jeff for a walk. We need the exercise and he really needed to get out. He was hyper.

We stopped by the garage to pick up my paycheck, then went to Kmart. We planned to walk down to Crema for dessert before heading home.

We decided to walk down Pleasant Avenue. The excitement I drove by on Saturday at Bloomington and Lake was a pretty big prostitution bust. There were brothels all over the city. One of them was near 31st and Pleasant. We figured that since it was on our way, we'd walk by it.

When we turned the corner from Lake onto Pleasant, I noticed a group of people walking in our direction. They were young people- four or five males and a female. As we neared them, a small blue car came down the street. As soon as the car passed them, the group got very animated. "It's [blah blah blah]!" I don't know what they said, but they recognized the person or people in the car. The young woman said, "I want to f*** with them, too!"

At this point, Kassie and I were both a bit concerned. But as soon as they got to the car, they kind of laughed and seemed to be joking around. I said something just about the same time Kassie did. "Whew. I thought that was going to be bad news!"

By then, we had walked about forty feet past them. Just as we expressed our relief, POP! POP! POP! POP! POP!



I looked back once to make sure Kassie was coming. She was not far behind. I got on my phone to 911. We got to the corner and stopped.

Two of the guys were headed our way. Kassie saw a gun. We crossed the street and ducked into an apartment entry way where I finished my call to the cops. A plainclothes cop pulled up. We told him which way the guys we saw went.

We hung out there for a bit, started home, talked to some people across the street, and eventually walked back to the scene of the crime, where an SUV had been shot. As far as we know, no one got hurt. We think that the shots probably came from inside the car. Anyway, we sat in the back of a cop car and the police paraded three kids in front of us. The guy with the gun was not one of them.

For as close as we were, we weren't much help at all. We couldn't give a very good, or even entirely consistent, description of the guys we saw. They looked like a lot of the guys who walk around our neighborhood.

Neither of us got a good look at any faces; we wouldn't be able to pick any of them out of a lineup.

Needless to say, that's about as much action as we'd like to see ever again.

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you can skip this post; it's pretty boring

So after well over a day of what felt like a perpetual storm front, we finally got a storm. As usual, it's worst in the N and NW 'burbs. When Jeff and I got home from the dog park, the sirens were blaring. I thought we might be in for some excitement, but it doesn't look like we are.

C'est dommage.

I went out for a few hours this morning to train a guy on the 6 line. The last time I showed him a route, our bus broke down. We did not have a problem this morning.

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the last few days

Kassie and I went to Art-A-Whirl this afternoon. As usual, we went to the Northrup King Building and saw a bunch of art that we'd love to take home with us, but can't afford to. Also, as usual, we stopped in to see Karen and Dean.

We also ran into Emily, who came to our wedding and local man-about-town and Bottle Gangster Max Sparber.

I had a pretty decent day on the 21 yesterday.

The weather looked promising when I woke up. The forecast said 60% chance of rain and thunderstorms. It rained ten minutes after I got in the bus. Excellent. That would keep traffic to a minimum and little old ladies in their houses.

Alas, it was not to be. The clouds cleared up, the sun came out and it was a lovely day. The traffic and the little old ladies came out in force.

It was so nice that the Minneapolis cops and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents thought it would be a good day for a raid. That was quite the circus for a while. It slowed me way down on one westbound trip.

I picked up a guy on Friday morning and almost immediately experienced déjà vu. Maybe it's because he told stories about grabbing a cop's gun and stopping a jewel thief at Dayton's, how a shelter bus arrived at a fire scene before the fire department did, and how bad the Scientologists are. It was the same conversation I'd had with him a few months ago.

But this time, he had someone else to talk to. After someone briefly mentioned the weather forecast, the woman with whom he was speaking pointed out that no one can control the weather! Only God can! AND GOD IS GOD! And Barnes and Noble is owned by Satanists.

Later that day, a lady got on my 23 at the Uptown Station. She wondered if I knew how to get to the intersection of Edgcumbe and Randolph. I didn't. I knew it was somewhere in St. Paul. I travel on Edgcumbe on the 46 line, but I had no idea where Randolph is. She told me she had to get to a wedding there and that she was late. But she knew she could walk a few blocks from where I went. So I called Control. As soon as I got them on the line, she pulled out a map! Um, that would have been helpful. Control gave me instructions for her to catch two more buses. The second would take her right to where she needed to be. I looked at her map, trying to figure out how she was supposed to go, which corner she would catch the buses on, etc. Then she pulled out a notebook on which she had written instructions from Transit Information! Um, it also might have been nice to see that right away! Unfortunately, the instructions she had received earlier were not the same as the ones I had just gotten. Then she started talking about catching a cab. She asked me what I thought she should do. When we got to my terminal in Highland Village, I called Transit Information. I talked to our neighbor Josh and he was extremely helpful with the information regarding where the bus stops would be, etc. I walked her across the street and between the two of us, we got her on her way. I hope she made it in time for the pre-wedding cocktails (?), although I'm not really sure she needed anything that would help her think less clearly...

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Someone brought a Holstein to the dog park today...

new plates

We're getting a new critical habitat license plate. Anglers complained about the first design, which depicts a walleye leaping like a bass:

So it was changed to this:

OK, fine. I like it; I think it looks nice. But what I'm pleased to note is that we may actually be able to read the letters and numbers on these plates, unlike the Support Our Troops plates, which are a drive-by shooter's dream.

I'm quite sure the colors are darker in real life. I can read regular plates with ease from across a big intersection, but these are impossible to read at half the distance.



You probably think Kassie is the only one around this house who can make a lovely and amazing plate of food. She was hanging out with the Shock Monkeys this evening, so I was on my own for dinner.

Uh, so, any assumptions about who makes the pretty food around here are most likely valid.

I had a relatively interesting day on the 4 today.

A few blocks after I made relief, a lady needed to use the lift to exit the bus. I stopped the bus, opened the doors, put the transmission in neutral, engaged the emergency brake, turned on the lift, pushed the toggle switch to UP and... nothing happened. I fiddled around with it, but couldn't get it to work. Fortunately, she had a walker, not a wheelchair, and we were able to get her off the bus. I called for a new bus.

My northbound trip was uneventful. No news of a bus change. Then, early on my southbound trip, I stopped for a man who I know uses the lift. He's an older guy with a cane, and when he walks, it's obvious that he's in a lot of pain. I told him that my lift didn't work. He didn't want to wait half an hour for the next bus, so he slowly, slowly backed up the stairs on to the bus. I could tell he was on the verge of tears. I felt bad for him and I was kind of angry. I didn't really have anyone specific in mind with whom I was angry, but it's safe to say that the bus I was driving should be sitting out with the rest of the retired buses in the empty lot near I-94 and Snelling Avenue.

I eventually got a new bus, but of course, I didn't ever need to use the lift.

I drove by this mess near the end of that southbound trip. It was rather disconcerting to see a dozen squad cars' worth of cops with shotguns and assault rifles hiding behind trees and corners of buildings.

And on my last trip, just after we detoured around the aforementioned circus, a regular rider came up to the front to report that a man was drinking a 40 in front of her children and she didn't think it was right. She mentioned that she was afraid that she'd be seen as a snitch.

And she was correct; it wasn't right. So I waited until we were almost to 50th and Bryant and called Control. I told them that I was going to give him a chance to get off the bus and then I requested the police. At 50th and Bryant, I made an announcement that if anyone had something with them that they might not want to cops to find, like say, something they might be drinking, they might want to get off the bus, finish it and wait for the next one. No one got up. But the guy with the beer turned around and looked at the lady who reported him. I announced that a squad was on its way and took off.

Two blocks later, the guy rang the bell and exited the bus. The lady thanked me. I thanked her.

It's pretty sad that the woman felt uncomfortable telling me that someone was doing something on the bus that they shouldn't be doing.

I'm not exactly sure why she was concerned. I've seen the Warn-a-Brother and Stop Snitchin' t-shirts. Perhaps she didn't want to give someone up to The Man. Or maybe she was scared about how he might react. Either way, I'm glad that she wasn't afraid to call that dude on his crap.

Of course, I also think it's sad that Drinky couldn't go forty-five minutes on a bus without alcohol...

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seriously, Jeff is an idiot.



most excellent

Is there a better day than the one where I get a new Jason Falkner record in the mail?

Sure, but not many!


new pick

I picked my new work for the next work pick this morning. It's nine-hour work again, so I'll have a short day.


Sunday, Monday - off.
Tuesday - 8:15 AM (r) - 10:38 AM (r), 18 line; 1:16 PM (r) - 7:40 PM, 2 line.
Wednesday - 6:14 AM - 8:38 AM, 557/135 lines.
Thursday - 6:12 AM - 9:05 AM, 23 line; 1:10 PM (r) - 6:58 PM, 17 line.
Friday - 6:45 AM - 10:02 (r), 17 line; 12:50 PM (r) - 6:24 PM, 23 line.
Saturday - 4:52 AM - 2:00 PM, 17 line.

4th of July: 6:40 AM - 10:44 AM (r), 21 line.

It's a lot like what I'm doing now. I currently do the Friday piece on Fridays. My late night is twenty minutes later, but the rest of the schedule makes up for it.

Saturday could be brutal. It's really early and I've avoided the 17 on Saturday ever since I got killed on it. But the next earliest I could have been done was 8:44 PM. There were very few nine-hour Saturday options that didn't go out until late at night. I'll have to take a nap.

I opted to bank my holiday pay for the 4th, so I'll get an extra floating holiday out of the deal. I also banked Memorial Day, even though I'm not working it.



cinco de mayo

Since it started raining just as we were going to head over to Lake Street for all kinds of Cinco de Mayo fun, Kassie, Simon and I celebrated at our local Mexican restaurant, El Paraiso, instead. I ordered a seafood chimichanga. It was huge. And heavy.

We spent the rest of the day hanging out on the front porch with our neighbors, enjoying cocktails.

Kassie is in Washington, DC on a work trip. Jeff and I are having lots of bachelor fun. Uh, or something like that...

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prestols, hiv, ford

The other day the one guy left on my bus came up to the front saying, "Prestols, prestols, prestols!"


"I love prestols, especially with a big bowl of chocolate! That's my favorite snack! I'm going to get me some prestols and chocolate! Prestols, prestols, prestols!"

Later, a guy who I've seen around before was headed back home to make sure he closed a window. He told me his short-term memory was pretty bad. But when he told me he's been HIV-positive for twenty-three years, I was pretty surprised. He looks really good and I told him so.

The most interesting guy who talked to me was the guy who's temping at the Ford plant. Yep. There are temp workers building Ford Rangers. He told me that all but about thirty of the workers there took a buyout when Ford announced that they're going to close the plant. As a temp, he makes $11.50/hour. After 90 days, he can get hired as a permanent worker and make a whopping $13.50/hour, which is half of what the original workers are making. In the meantime, he's working six ten-to-twelve hour days. If he refuses to work the overtime, he'll be let go and replaced with another temp. I was dumbfounded. That's insane. Of course, it just sounds like another union-busting success story. The New Gilded Age marches on.

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battling evil

19 And I stood in the plains of the middle of the land and beheld a third beast coming out of the West, having six legs and one horn, and from its mouth a shrieking tongue, silenced by many years.
20 And the beast lumbered as if in great pain. And power was given unto it to carry the people and kindreds and tongues and nations to places of commerce and dwelling.
21 And they worshiped the beast at many crossroads, saying, Where does the beast go? Who will stop the beast? What time is it?
22 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a chariot; and its number is Five hundred and twenty-three.

Revelation 13:19-22

I can't remember how many buses we have at the garage. I'd guess around 150. I had six opportunities to drive a different bus this week. Somehow, I was lucky enough to battle bus 523 twice.

As you may have noticed, I was a bit unhappy about my day Tuesday. I ran very late all afternoon on the 4. Much of it had to do with the bus. It was extremely sluggish and I missed a lot of green lights when I needed to hit them. And once I got late on each trip, it snowballed. I picked up people who would have ordinarily been on my follower's bus. Of course, it didn't help that I picked up Monkey Leash again. He and his sister never get off the bus when they're supposed to. They dawdle while their dad (I assume) stands in the door and pleads with them. Argh. We sat an extra red light at Lowry for that clinic on parenting skills.

When I scan in and get my bus in the morning, I can see which bus I'll be driving in the afternoon. Yesterday morning, I couldn't believe it when I saw that I had 523 again.

But I was driving the 23 line, which is a far different animal than is the 4. It's a much shorter trip so there's not as much opportunity to get behind, at least for the reasons one can behind on a long line like the 4.

I was still pretty unhappy with that bus, but it didn't kill me like it did Tuesday.



I ride, too

I took Kassie's scooter to Scooterville today.

We picked up our scooters from her parents' house Sunday afternoon. Hers had leaked some oil onto the floor of the garage. When she got it started, it wouldn't keep running unless we gave it a lot of gas. We got it running well enough to try to get it home, but it kept stalling out.

We took a beautiful trip through the outskirts of North Minneapolis on Victory Memorial Parkway, which turns into Theodore Wirth Parkway, which runs into Cedar Lake Parkway. That'll get you to Dean Parkway, then to Calhoun Parkway. Oops. The weather on Sunday was excellent and the lake was packed. We got caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Kassie had to work to keep her scooter running.

We bailed on the parkway and got home OK, though we had to go a long way out of the way.

So I wasn't sure what I was in for this afternoon. But Kassie's scooter fired right up and idled without any issues. I got it to Scooterville with no stalls. Bob at Scooterville assumed that there was something in the carburetor that worked its way out.

I took the 113 bus home. It goes through the University of MN on Washington Ave., then it gets on 94 and goes south down Lyndale and Grand Avenues.

A couple of law students who were sitting behind me ought to become bus drivers.

"What's this driver doing? Most drivers get into that lane!"

"I could have walked faster than this!"

"We're never going to get home!"

etc. etc. etc.

I've always wondered if people sit behind me and second-guess my driving decisions, especially when I drive one of the U buses where the right guess on a lane can pay off, or it can bury you. I guess my passengers probably do that. Listening to Perry and Matlock today, one might have thought that we weren't going to make it home in time to watch American Idol.

So out of curiosity, I called TransitLine (612.341.4287) and discovered that we were... right on time.

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complete moron

At 6:04 I realized that I had to be at work at 5:59, not 6:35. I somehow got it into my head that I was supposed to be there at the later time. That's my Friday time. So I scratched. It's the first time ever for me. The other time something similar happened, on a holiday, they found work for me so it didn't count as a scratch.

This sucks. I think I'll be put on probation for a year as a relief instructor.

Bad day yesterday. Worse day today.



not german

Die Bus 523, Die!