more action

I met Kassie for dinner at Rainbow this evening. Delicious.

We walked across the street to catch the bus. As we waited at the corner, I noticed a car of young Latino guys at the red light talking to two young Latino guys in the car next to them who were waiting to take a left.

They got the green light and the green arrow at the same time. I turned to check on the progress of our bus. POP! POP! POP! POP!

Turned around. Kassie and I both saw an arm firing a gun out the window of the car that was going straight, aiming at the left-turning car.



For what it's worth, it looked like this:

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When I wrote "at least a month" a couple posts ago, I guess I should have said "three months."



lazy sunday


This was the view from the booth where Kassie and I sat for a couple hours at Pride. The booth was for our church, University Baptist, and Judson Memorial Baptist, another progressive Baptist church in Mpls.


Satan Jeff, Steve. Steve, Jeff.

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saturday off, like normal people

Kassie and I took Jeff to the park, bought some paint and other hardware-type stuff, ate lunch, took a nap, took a nice ride on our scooters and watched the first two episodes of the last season of Deadwood. Oh, and we made dinner, too. Here's a trout I grilled. You can almost see how its eyes are bugged out.


new schedule for a while

Look! It's 10:2something on a Friday night and I'm not in bed! Don't I have to get up at 3:45 tomorrow morning?


Starting Monday, I'll be assisting Tom, a full-time instructor, with a new part-time driver class.

So it's M-F, 8-4 for me for at least a month. Nice.

I think I'll sort of miss driving, as summer is my favorite time to be out and about, but I'm looking forward to working with Tom and I need to take the breaks from driving when I can get them.


sk8 rats

Yesterday I was driving the 17 up the Nicollet Mall during rush hour. As usual, the Mall was busy. Buses lined the blocks going both ways. There's about three feet between the northbound and southbound buses.

I was loading passengers at 7th Street when group of kids on skateboards exploded through the opening between the buses, down the middle of the street. And they kept coming. I'm terrible at estimating numbers, but there must have been at least a hundred of them. I saw a cop yelling at them, but most of them just kept going. And the ones who quit only did so temporarily.

It was really cool; they made me laugh.

Update: Ryan pointed out in the comments that it was Go Skateboarding Day. Aha. I had looked around a bit online to figure out what was going on. I think it's kind of odd that 3rd Lair didn't mention a thing. (Or at least I couldn't find anything about it on that mess of a site...)

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spooky itunes

With almost 12,000 songs to choose from, iTunes (on shuffle) just came up with a weird coincidental selection: Sean Lennon followed by John Lennon. Some others I've experienced: Bob Mould/Hüsker Dü, The Three O'Clock/Jupiter Affect and Morrissey/The Smiths.


mustang convertible (top up)

Yesterday, as I was finishing a pretty decent afternoon on the 2 line, I stopped at a bus stop at a four-way stop to drop off all but one of my passengers.

I checked my left mirror and saw a silver Mustang coming up behind me. He was about a block back. I put on my turn signal and started to go. In the meantime, Duuude must have decided that he didn't want to be behind a bus for the three or four blocks until we reached Hennepin Avenue. As I was pulling out and into the intersection, he accelerated very quickly. He blew by me in the oncoming lane of traffic, totally janklowing the stop sign in the process. Then he slowed down and gave me the finger.

Car drivers, anxious to get in front of my bus, blow through stop signs relatively often. I understand that my bus blocks the stop sign. However, both the law and simple physics dictate that you ought to yield to a bus coming out of a stop. Additionally, if you're paying even the slightest amount of attention, you can see the back of the stop sign on the other side of the intersection.

Yesterday, unlike every other time it's happened, I caught up with the guy. I opened my door and informed him that he blew a stop sign. And, because I always take the high road, I believe I called him a genius. He started to whine about me blocking the stop sign, but I closed my door and drove away.


the past is now

I thought today might be an ordinary, average day. But as soon as I got to work, the rumble of an approaching tidal wave of goodness was so huge that the garage mice were building rafts.

Yo ho! M*tro Tr*nsit is being dragged, kicking and screaming, into, I don't know, the '80s (?)!

You must be thinking, "Aha! It's some sort of new management structure!"

No, rest assured faithful reader(s), M*tro Tr*nsit will still be a Top 5 exhibit in the Museum of Companies Run the Way Your Grandfather's Father Ran Them.

Well, then, what was the fuss about?

Direct deposit of our paychecks, my friend(s), at any institution of our choosing!

Dig it.

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earlier morning than expected

Just after 4:00 AM, I was awakened by sirens. It sounded like they were stopping close to our house, so after a few minutes, I figured I ought to go see what was going on.

Our neighbors' house was on fire. The owner had just put around $40,000 of work into the bottom unit. From what I understand, someone who lived there was an artist and lost all his work. Sucks. It was a pretty house. At least no one was seriously hurt.

update: Kassie pointed out this article in the comments.



are you sick of hearing about the 17 yet?

Another Saturday, another 3:45 AM alarm.

But I didn't get much sleep that night. I couldn't get to sleep in the first place. I was still looking at my clock at 11:30. Sometime between bedtime and actual sleep, in addition to the simple inability to fall asleep, I had to attend to the noisy air conditioner and Jeff, who was licking me and growling at me to let him out of the room. Then, in the middle of the night, I was awakened twice. When the compressor in the air conditioner stopped, I could hear what was going on outside. And what was going on outside that roused me from sleep, finding my ears through the white noise of the air conditioner's fan? Our neighbor plays drums in a band and they had been practicing in his basement. They were long done practicing (I think) but someone was on his front porch, right under our bedroom window, with his guitar, singing his heart out, presumably to one or more of the lovely ladies who I'd seen hanging out there earlier. Eh, can't really be too upset about that.

I woke up at the aforementioned Hour of Evil and walked to work. I was pleased to note that I was assigned a decent bus for the day. So far, so good. Then I realized that I forgot the bananas that I wanted to bring with me.

On my way out to my first terminal, I stopped at a Holiday Station and picked up a banana and an orange. Back to doing just fine.

I had a pretty good morning. There were a few more cars out and about in the very early hours, but very few of them actually got in my way. I was tired and a bit cranky, especially for the first few hours. I see I wrote in my notes that annoying people = any people. Nice.

The only thing that really amused me was at the stop near Central and 4th Ave. SE. An older guy was waiting there, kind of checking out my bus. But he didn't want to get on. I had about 45 seconds to kill, so I sat there wondering what he was doing. I was just getting ready to leave when he finally approached me. He said, "My friend is supposed to be getting off this bus and meeting me here." Then he poked his head inside and looked around. "John! Get off the bus!" And John got off the bus.

And so I drove, mostly on autopilot, just concentrating on not hitting anything or anyone.

Then, on my last eastbound trip, my farebox began acting up. It didn't want to take dollar bills and it acted like it was shorting out. I called Control and was told that my relief driver would pull out and wait. So instead of a relief driver taking over my bus for me at Uptown, that driver was going to get his own bus at the garage and drive it to Uptown. When I got there, my passengers would get on his bus and I'd drive my bus with the bad farebox back to the garage. Excellent. Now I'd be done one block from home instead of a mile and a half. (Though Kassie was planning to meet me at Uptown with our car, saving me the hassle of catching a bus, then walking home.)

When I got to the terminal in NE Mpls, I saw a street supervisor. She pulled her van in behind me and walked up to the bus to talk to me. She said she planned to follow me and count passengers because she was aware that we were "working too hard out here," as she put it.

Well, that's good news and bad news. It's really nice to hear that someone cares about the conditions on the 17. But to keep it on time, or even close, I often have to, uh, bend some rules regarding speed limits and green-to-yellow lights. So I'd have to be on my best driving behavior and my relief driver would have to wait a little while for me to show up at Uptown because I was pretty much guaranteed to be late.

And then the trip went really well. The passenger load was light and traffic wasn't too bad. My farebox was completely useless, so no one had to pay. I picked up a woman in a wheelchair at 7th and Nicollet, but that only put me down about five minutes getting out of downtown. If I didn't have a street supervisor tailing me, I probably could have made most of that time up before Uptown. Instead, as we got within a block of Uptown Station, we were due to arrive about seven minutes late.

As I sat at the light at 28th and Hennepin, I could see my relief driver at the station. Then, just before I got the green, he turned off his four-way flashers, put on his left turn signal, and left!


By that time, I was really, really ready for a nap. Add angry to the equation and I was not thinking clearly. I called Control, which was what I should have done. But I sat at the station, which is what I should not have done. We sat there for about three minutes while I waited for Control to tell me that I would have to keep driving. If our relief driver is not at the relief point, we are expected to continue to drive the route until someone can take over for us. I know that, so I should have known what I was supposed to do, but my muddled head prevailed. Of course, by then the street supervisor's numbers were messed up and she was kind of ticked off.

I turned the corner on Lagoon and headed west. Thankfully, when I talked to Control again, they had contacted the driver and had him wait for me at Market Plaza. I got there ten minutes later than scheduled and the woman in the wheelchair was still on my bus. So, for the second week in a row, my relief driver had to start his day about fifteen minutes in the hole. That's tough.

I got 37 minutes of overtime, but I'd much rather have had that time at home napping in my bed.

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short day

My ENGINE FLUIDS light came on this morning, accompanied by an obnoxious buzz. I was on 35W, so I had to pull off at 66th Street and shut off the bus. After I restarted it, no problem. Since it's my short day, I did not welcome the idea of a breakdown. I'd like to save those for days when I can lose a trip somewhere in the middle of my shift.

Good story.

I noticed that my mom was at Curves bright and early this morning.

My phone is ringing, but I'm not going to answer it. Hopefully, it's just someone reminding me that I have a haircut this afternoon. Oops, it was T-Unit. Gotta go.



long weekend

My mom and I drove to Wausau on Sunday to see my grandparents and my Aunt Jane, who is visiting from Florida.

You might know Wausau from this:
Dig it:
We had fun. Grandpa has season tickets to the Wisconsin Woodchucks games. He's 94, but still gets around like he's 74.

The Woodchucks play in the Northwoods League, which is a league for top college players. They with the same rules, equipment and schedules as minor league teams.

Last night we watched the Woodchucks lose to the Green Bay Bullfrogs.
Too bad about the loss.

That's baseball how I really like it. They're playing because they love it and they're not concerned with the money aspects of the game.

Oh, and on the way to Wausau, we stopped at a rest area. I couldn't resist taking a picture of this:
I don't know, maybe Iceburg is somewhere north of Waterburg and I'm just a jerk...


the 17 got "fixed"

As I mentioned when I posted my new picked work, the last time I drove the 17 on Saturday, I got absolutely destroyed. When I started driving full time, the 17 was a good line to drive. Then, a few years ago, someone in scheduling thought they had a good idea and they completely overhauled the way the schedule worked.

It looked good on paper, of course. On Saturdays, for instance, one set of buses would go back and forth between the northernmost terminal and a western terminal just past Uptown. (The 17's route makes a backwards L- from NE Mpls through downtown and Uptown to Hopkins, a western 'burb.) The other set of buses went between downtown and Hopkins. I drove the latter path for a couple picks. So there was a big overlap in the middle with one group taking NE part and the other group taking the western chunk.

In practice, it was ridiculous. The western part is really busy and the schedule was not written to accommodate the load.

Someone finally noticed that the 17 was running really late way too often and decided to fix it. Our buses are equipped with GPS, so there was a wealth of information for them to study. I submitted that chart and commentary during that process.

I was rather skeptical when I saw the result of the study. I don't remember exactly how it looked, but they added a minute in a few places, mostly on the west end of the route.

So I've been avoiding the 17 on Saturdays. But when I picked work for this pick, it was the 17 from 4:42 AM until 2:00 PM or some other route until 8:44 PM. I decided to suck it up and get done early. Now, except for one round trip, I drive between NE Mpls and Hopkins all day.

I suspected that it would be OK for most of the day. There are very few passengers early in the morning and there's hardly any traffic.

When my alarm went off yesterday, the time started with a 3. Ouch. But, as I predicted, it went really well all morning. I was able to keep it reasonably on time. That's when I really enjoy the 17.

The layovers are pretty weak, but I did get one decent one- with free entertainment!

Everything was going really well... until about 11:30. I turned the corner onto Lagoon from Hennepin and saw a small nightmare. Construction workers had two of the three lanes blocked off heading west on the best way to get to Lake Calhoun on a beautiful Saturday morning.

I arrived at that terminal with two minutes to spare before I had to get going again. Then, on the next trip, I ran late into downtown, got stuck behind a 25 on the Nicollet Mall, and got even later. I had about a minute-and-a-half at that layover. Then, on my last trip of the day, I picked up three passengers who required the lift. I got to Uptown Station, where I got relieved, 13 minutes late. Sorry, Mr. Relief Guy.

I realize that I can't make a judgment based on one day. But the only time I ever kept that bus close to on schedule was when I had no passengers and there was no traffic. As soon as Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Minneapolis woke up and got into their cars and on the bus, it was over.

For me, it was only a couple hours of hassle, but I felt sorry for the guy taking over for me. I haven't seen his work, but it's never good to start out 15 minutes down.

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the 2

I drove the 2 yesterday for the first time in a few months. It did not disappoint.

I told one very friendly young guy that he should probably stop using the UPass (cheap fare for University of MN students) that wasn't his. I wasn't 100% sure that it wasn't his name and picture on the back, but I was at about 90%, so I didn't try to take it. He looked busted, though, so I was right. I'll call if I see him using it again.

A couple women in a minivan next to me at a stop light offered me a hit on the joint they were smoking. Nice. I laughed and told them I'd be in trouble when it came time to pee in a cup.

Then a drunk woman told me (twice) that her bottle of vodka hadn't been opened. I suspect that there wasn't much but backwash left in it. She kept dropping it. But at least she left the lid on it while she was on the bus.

Overall, though, I kind of enjoyed getting back on that line.

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route training

I was route training most of the week. I think I've mentioned that it's kind of a nice break. It's been a relatively relaxing week.

Today I drove my regular Friday work. The 17 was really busy this morning. The 23 was quite slow this evening.

I talked to a guy this morning who lost his job last month. This morning he left the "mean, mean girl" with whom had been staying for the last several days. He was going to move in with a hooker. I wished him luck; I didn't have much else to say.

A lady this evening lamented, "I smelled like Prince all damned day!"

I don't have to get up at 4:00 in the morning tomorrow. It's the first day of the new work pick and I'm going to be in the garage to answer questions for people with new work that they might be unsure about. I'm also going to show someone the 23 line.

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