I witnessed an accident the other day.

It was a completely preventable accident and I'm surprised that I haven't seen one just like it before.

I was on the 5 line with a student who was practicing for his in-service test. He's a good driver; he was an instructor at First Student. We were northbound on Chicago at 42nd Street when he pulled over for a red light.

The woman in the SUV behind us, who had been "pushing" my student driver from behind, took that as her opportunity to get around the #!&% bus.

But apparently Ms. Andretti couldn't be bothered to look at the stop light. It was still red, of course.

She accelerated into the intersection and plowed into the front of a older, smallish Honda or Toyota driven by what appeared to be a Latino immigrant.

We stayed long enough to make sure everyone was OK. My student wasn't comfortable making a call to Control to tell them that he was a witness, so since I'd seen the whole thing, I called them. I filled out the appropriate form later.

So you know I'm kind of cynical. There was at least one other witness and everyone appeared to be OK, so I probably wouldn't have had to call Control or fill out the report. But all I could picture was the woman in the SUV telling the cops that she went through that intersection on yellow and that Pedro over there jumped the green by a few seconds. And "Pedro" might not have the English skills to explain otherwise.

Yeah, it's a complete and total stretch, from top to bottom. But I felt better for having done it.

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Two beers caught my eye at the liquor store the other day.

Hello Tyranena Hop Whore and Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner! This is the time of year when the sweet switch in my body gets flipped and I start to bake cookies and pies and get thirsty for heavy, sweet beers. Both of the beers above claim to be very hoppy- pretty much the opposite of sweet. But I bought them anyway. They are both as hoppy as advertised.

I noticed this summer that I suddenly enjoy beers hopped with American hops. In the past, I simply haven't enjoyed the grapefruity flavors that American hops provide. Surly Furious was a staple of my summer beer diet. (I still think American hops are overused, though. How can a beer be called an India Pale Ale if it uses American hops?)

This recent purchase affirmed that my deepest love is still for the European hops.

Kassie and I tried a couple Tyranena beers at the Autumn Brew Review. We liked them a lot, so when I saw the Hop Whore, I figured it would be a good bet. I was not mistaken. It's really good, and heavily hopped with grapefruity American hops.

But the Imperial Pilsner is the one for which I'll be making a trip to the store to purchase again. It's super-hopped, but not grapefruity. Hooray for Samuel Adams and German hops!

I just need to stave off the craving for the sweet beers for a little while longer.



honestly, I can't jump

I drive bus through a variety of neighborhoods and interact with a wide variety of people. When people board the bus or otherwise greet me, I get called a lot of things: sir, guy, young man, young fella, dude, cuz, bro, etc.

Yesterday, my students and I took a restroom break at the 5th Street Garage. I stayed by the bus to talk to another driver for a minute, so they went in ahead of me.

As I neared the entrance to the waiting area, a young African-American guy smiled at me, kind of waved and said, "What up, my nigga? How are you, my nigga?"

That's a new one.


the blob is Jeff and this would have been much, much better if I hadn't taken it with my phone... but you get the idea (and I hope you have QuickTime)



oh yeah...

My three students all passed their in-service driving tests today!


minor bus geekery

I sort of think Dan S. might be the only person who enjoys these posts, but I can't withhold pics of a brand-new hybrid bus! I would have liked to take more, but my phone was acting flaky.

It's not even marked yet. We're getting a bunch of these at Nicollet, so the Nicollet instructors who happened to be at the Instruction Center today got to take it out for a spin. We ran some people off the road and tore through residential areas at about 50 mph. We figured no one could identify us. The bus does accelerate very quickly. It's almost as fast as our '94 Corolla. However, the majority of M*tro Tr*nsit's accidents are people falling inside the bus, so I'm quite sure that the acceleration will be adjusted. Too bad. Oh, and nice aluminum rims!

The interior is kind of ugly. The seats were really hard, so we're hoping/assuming they'll get changed. Yes, that's the spare on the floor. You'll just have to walk around it.

Both of the exterior mirrors are split and remote-controlled. And heated. I thought the mirror on the left was usable, but I didn't care for the one on the right. It was kind of hard to tell what I was looking at.

There's a handy compartment behind the driver's seat. That's for toilet paper, a chocolate bar and a bee sting kit.

I like the font used for the numbers on the speedometer. Those numbers look fast!

The person leaning on the door cracked me up. That can't be comfortable. It looks like he/she is just trying to prove a point.

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new pornographers

rock and roll



there was a lot of guessing

I took two of my students out to do some route training today. Another relief instructor had a free day so he was assigned to help me out. He took the third student.

We were planning to drive an articulated bus in service, but that wasn't going to work, so we opted to do the route training instead. There was a small problem. Neither the other instructor nor I work out of Heywood Garage, which is where the work is assigned, so we don't know the routes. OK, that's not completely true. It turned out that one of the routes is also serviced by Ruter Garage, which is where the other guy works. So he took the student with that route.

I worked out of Heywood about four years ago. I've forgotten nearly all the routes I learned there. But the two students and I had five routes to learn and I was the guy to teach them. It was a case of the blind leading the blind. We circled around to look at several areas twice. I took a u-turn that was safe, but not necessarily advisable. I went through a transit station the wrong way.It probably took an hour longer than it should have. But we managed to get through all of them.

And I got to see some areas I haven't seen for along time. It was pretty fun, really.


crumbly pie

Kassie and I went the Minneapolis Farmers' Market on Saturday. We bought apples.

When I was growing up, my favorite food in the world was my grandma's apple pie. I try to make a pie or two every autumn, and I follow Grandma's recipe.

One thing I don't do, though, is make the crust. Frankly, I love the filling and the topping and I think the frozen Pillsbury (Pet-Ritz) crust, which is what I always buy, is nearly as good as homemade anyway.

After the Farmers' Market, we stopped at the Lunds at Central and University. It's a smaller store, so there isn't a lot of variety. I looked a couple times before I found the frozen pie crusts. I started to wonder if they even carried them. When I found them, I saw that I had one brand to choose from.

They were something called Food Club. Food Club? Seriously? What's Food Club? (It's the store brand that you can find at Piggly Wiggly and some other stores I've never heard of.)

When the woman at the checkout asked me if I had found everything OK, I mentioned the pie crust issue. She was very sympathetic to my concerns. She said she's tried the Food Club crusts and did not have the success that she had with Pillsbury. And she said that Food Club is all that they are planning to stock.

So, if you're the person who is in charge of stocking at Lunds, generally regarded as an upscale grocery store, and you were going to stock one brand of a particular item, why on earth would you choose the off-brand option? Does that make sense?

I haven't made a pie yet. As I said, I'm not all that fired up about the crusts anyway, but I know what I like and it remains to be seen if I like Food Club.



big brother

When I returned to Nicollet Garage after dropping off my class at Heywood Garage today, one of the guys working in the garage told me that there was a bus in the yard that has recently been outfitted with the cameras mentioned here. I don't know much about the cameras, other than that they're digital and color.

I know that some drivers will get nervous about having more cameras on board. One of the cameras is pointed out the front of the bus. That will make it easier for our safety department to charge drivers with accidents, I suppose. Of course, it will also help absolve drivers of the blame for accidents. There are plenty of other things that drivers would probably rather not be seen doing, with or without passengers on board. (Not that I've ever peed out the back door at night at a terminal without a restroom or anything!)

But I think it'll be great to have more, better cameras to photograph and help capture the handful of miscreants who ride the buses doing the things that miscreants do.

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is this your card?

My friend Paul has a deck of cards and a really cool mp3 recorder...



merry xmas!

Every autumn, I get surprised the first time I see Christmas decorations in a store. I guess I haven't been out and about too much because I made it to October this year! Thanks for nothing, Kmart.



Daff sighting!

Here's the Daff at Barnes & Noble, reading Tolstoy (really!), sleeping, or possibly both.

Bored me, too.