My union has done something that must be very, very unusual, if not completely revolutionary. The Amalgamated Transit Union has endorsed a Republican for President!

Dear ATU Member:

I am writing to advise you that the ATU General Executive Board has endorsed Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in the race... for President.

Blah, blah, blah.

Crazy, huh? Well, you know she won't be getting my support.



brew52, week 5

Summit Winter Ale:

I just can’t get excited about this beer, which is too bad, because if I read its description somewhere, I’d tell myself that I ought to get some immediately.

I’ve been drinking this all winter, both at Tracy’s and at home. On my most recent pour at home, I managed about a finger of head. Lovely reddish-brown color. Smells like someone put roasted malt in there!

And then…

I don’t know. It just kind of tastes like a basic dark beer. Thin-to-medium body. It’s got decent malt-to-hops balance, with the roast flavor coming on fairly strong midway through and a mild, hoppy finish. It tastes like a light porter.

I like it. I drink it. I just can’t get excited about it.

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I was pretty grumpy today. I woke up with a headache and it mostly went away with the help of some painkillers.

I was able to keep the 2 on time, though, so that was cool. Well, I guess I lost a few minutes on one trip when my bus was filled like a clown car with U students.

Yeah, that's all I have. Probably not even worth posting.

How about a photo from my stash?

Andy, bird, CJ in Grantsburg, WI- 1989, I think...



glad to be home

I make relief, or take over the bus from someone in service, on Tuesday mornings at 46th and Nicollet. Then, after a round trip on the 11, I get relieved at 46th and Nicollet. I save a lot of (nap) time by driving our car there.

This morning, however, I had to pull out and wait. I pulled a bus out of the garage and drove it down to 46th. That meant that I had to catch a bus back home. I lost several minutes of valuable nap time.

Turns out, I could have used it.

The mighty and capricious gods of transit turned on me this evening. I'm not sure what I did to deserve what I got, but I just downed a sacrificial Old-Fashioned in hopes of appeasing them. I hope they're cool now.

My first three trips on the 2 were pretty decent. The U of M is back in session, so I was a lot busier on that end than I have been for the last few weeks, but you know, thank the aforementioned gods for Go-To Cards!

On the fourth trip, I picked up a customer in a wheelchair. After I dropped him off, I was only a couple minutes down. No problem. Then it took me almost four minutes to make a left turn off Franklin at 26th Avenue.

And everything went downhill from there. Traffic was bad. Super-drunks wanted to go downtown, where I was not going. My bus filled up.

I lost my whole layover and then some; I left the eastern terminal about six minutes down. Then I hit traffic and my bus filled up. I was ten minutes down when I picked up the same guy in a wheelchair going the other direction. Then I picked up another guy in a wheelchair. Then there were people screaming and arguing behind my bus at the light rail stop.

Then I was 17 minutes down.

Then a brave and kind Control Supervisor was made aware of the trials and tribulations foisted upon me by the mighty and capricious gods of transit and intervened. I hope his actions did not incur their wrath. He filled my last trip (got someone else to drive it) and I came home early. Sweet.



brew52, week 4

This week's beer: Surly Furious.

used to hate American hops… still think they’re overused, and still really prefer European hops, but as they say- when in Rome… have come around to grapefruity beer in the last couple years… also in the last couple years, don’t wear as much vintage clothing…

prefer to drink this beer in the summer… drank a lot last summer… nearly went broke…

lined up a Furious and a Bender side-by-side last Wednesday evening… more on that later, I’m sure… did not do well at trivia that night, but it’s not Surly’s fault… maybe…

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customer complaint

As soon as I got to work yesterday, the dispatcher handed me a customer complaint, and for once, it wasn't someone claiming that I'd "passed them up."

Apparently, somebody felt that I cut them off.

Of course, it's entirely possible- probable, even- that I did. The person who complained seemed relatively reasonable and perception is reality, right? They noted that they were aware of the fact that they are required to yield to a bus coming out of a stop, but claimed that we were even at the stop until I bolted out in front of them and cut them off.

We were sitting at Chicago Avenue, eastbound on Franklin Avenue. The bus stop is in a right turn only lane. One lane continues straight and one lane is a left turn lane.

Here is what I do at that stop, and every stop like it.

When I'm ready to go, I put on my left turn signal, to indicate that I'll be leaving the stop. When the light turns green, I'll have already scanned the intersection, so I... wait for it... go.

I go straight forward, toward the parked cars on the other side of the intersection. That gives the cars on my left enough time to get past me. How many cars? Two. That's typically how many have time to get by me by the time I'm going to move back into traffic. Two cars sit next to the bus at a stop. The third is back far enough that they can wait for me to get in front of them.

Of course, it doesn't always work like that. Sometimes, the third car rides the second car's bumper and refuses to let me in. Then three cars get by me. Sometimes one of the first two cars is not paying attention when the light changes. Then I move forward and they do not. At that point, I often make my move to their lane and "cut them off," as they figure out that the light is green about the time I'm almost past them.

I can't remember the incident in question for sure, but I'm guessing that the complainer was someone who was not paying attention. I do remember having to stop in the middle of that intersection sometime last week because the first car next to me started too late, then rode alongside my rear tires. But they didn't pass me as I slowed and stopped, so I went ahead and got into their lane. I guess an argument could be made that I had cut them off. Again, I have no idea if that was the person who complained, but if it wasn't, then I have absolutely no idea when I would have cut someone off.

However, something about the story didn't quite ring true. The complaint stated that we were sitting side-by-side at the light and that I "bolted" out in front of the car in question. Really? I "bolted" somewhere, anywhere, in my 0-to-60-in-three-minutes rocket ship? Awesome. Um, or... not likely.



homeless guy, not too cold yet

One of our more well-known mentally ill homeless guys, or as I like to call them, Ronnie's Boyz, rode with me today.

He rides with me fairly frequently and I kind of enjoy his company.

Today he started by asking me if I knew there was a possum season in Minnesota. I did not. He said that people eat them; I guess that doesn't surprise me. Then he told me that he likes raccoons, but only if they've been killed by a dog, not if they've been shot or run over by a car. Apparently, the glands get destroyed and ruin the flavor in the latter two instances.

At this point in the conversation, he had thawed out pretty well and I could really smell him. Ah, whatever. It wasn't bad enough to apply a layer of deodorant under my nose.

He told me about animal research that gets done in a building behind "Mariachi" Arena.

Then we didn't talk for quite a while. As he got off the bus, I saw that he'd pulled out a full bottle of rubbing alcohol. Bummer.



brew52, week 3

This week's beer: Flat Earth Belgian Pale Ale.


Thin body, decent taste, lousy finish.

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Apparently, I've come home to something called "Meatless Monday."




Three people were waiting at a stop on 38th Street yesterday. Two of them were older women, the third a younger man.

One of the women was first on the bus. She leaned in close to me and half-whispered, "The lady on the bench isn't riding the bus!"

I screamed, "Not if I have anything to say about it!" and jumped off the bus, grabbed that lady sitting on the bench by her arm and dragged her on the bus. I threw her into a seat and took off. Now she was riding the bus, dammit!

Or maybe I just kind of said OK or something...

A woman got on with her two daughters. They sat behind me and discussed the girls' day at school. Much of the time, they talked about a spelling (or some kind of word) test that one of them took.

The mother had some kind of Caribbean accent, I'd say medium-heavy. The little girl had me in stitches because she kept telling her mother that she was saying the wrong word.

"No, not sheep! Ship!" And the mother would say one or the other, and they really did sound very similar. Eventually the mom gave up and moved on. And lest I sound like an insensitive clod, mom was laughing, too...

Two Roosevelt High wrestlers got on and sat in the back. A few stops later, a South High wrestler got on. He sat in the middle somewhere. I'm not sure if he noticed the Roosevelt guys right away or not.

I got on the PA and suggested a tournament to see who would be the Bus 528 Wrestling Champion. I mentioned that my dad used to be a wrestling coach and that I probably remembered enough that I could be the referee.

Once again, my passengers were not nearly as amused as I was.

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When I stopped in at the garage this morning, 2165's BFF Peter Bell was there. Sonic Youth had come up on my iTunes a few minutes earlier, and I decided that my ears could not take any more abuse so early in the day. Mr. Bell stepped forward to speak. I left.



brew52, week 2

This week's beer: Gluek Honey Bock.

I wrote:

My dad was a camp director. Every summer until I was 17, my family would pack up and move to the shores of beautiful Lake Mudhen near Siren, WI.

Sometime around 1980, we got a brand new dining hall/bathroom facility and with it, a new septic tank. Previously, too many flushes in the old bathrooms and/or our neighbor draining his sewage into/under camp property would prove to be too much for the old septic tank and it would occasionally overflow. I can still remember raw sewage trickling down the hill. My dad dubbed it the Little Yellow River, a nod to the Yellow River, where we sometimes took the campers canoeing.

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One Minnesota beer every week.

I'm not a huge fan of a lot of our locally-produced beers, at least the ones that I can buy at the store, but this looked like fun, so Kassie and I hopped aboard the good-time train.

This week- Schell's Snowstorm. Here's what I wrote:

Sometime in autumn, the cold trips a switch in my body and I suddenly want cookies, cake, pie and darker, heavier, sweeter beer. Generally speaking, hoppy pale ales, lawnmower beers and tripels are out. Barley wines, imperial stouts, porters and dubbels are in.

A beer like this Snowstorm is what I want when it’s cold outside. It’s not the best dubbel I’ve ever had, but the flavor is there and the body is almost there. It tastes, looks and feels like a fairly typical dubbel. As it warms up, it’s getting better.

I don’t mind Schell beers, but I don’t often buy them. I would have been really surprised that I like a Schell’s offering as much as I do if I hadn’t read that others were surprised by how good it is.

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music '7

I've delayed making this post because I'm kind of annoyed with myself, or with the state of music, or something. I don't really know what the problem is, but I seem to be really bored with music again.

The usual disclaimers apply: We purchase our music, so I don't hear everything I should or I'd like to. Kassie's student loan repayments kicked in, so our music budget is smaller than it has been in the past. Also, I never get to listen to what I bought as much I'd like to, etc. etc. etc.

Anyway, I'll try to make it short. And alphabetical.

The records I liked most:
Basement Apartment- Pine Tree Hill
The Clientele- God Save The Clientele
Jason Falkner-
I'm OK... You're OK
Mandrew- The Wonderful World of Mandrew
New Pornographers-

I like records that leave me wanting more. I love a 45-minute, 13- or 14-song record that makes me wish there were a couple more tracks. I liked the following records quite a bit, and would have liked them a lot more if they had restrained themselves or gotten an editor or something:
The Apples in Stereo- New Magnetic Wonder (24 tracks, plus 6-track bonus disc)
Future Clouds and Radar- s/t (27 tracks)
Sloan- Never Hear the End of It (30 tracks, plus 2 online bonus tracks)
Wilco- Sky Blue Sky (So there were only 12 tracks for 51 minutes... too much guitar wank!)

Then there were a bunch of records that I liked pretty well, but that I just couldn't get really into:
The Alarmists, The Arcade Fire, Cloud Cult, Mitch Easter, Explosions in the Sky, The Ladybug Transistor, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Los Campesinos!, Low, Eleni Mandell, The National, Of Montreal, Owls, Rogue Wave, The Sea and Cake, The Shins, John Vanderslice, Laura Veirs.

I think we only picked up three tribute/covers records this year. Somewhat surprisingly, I like the I'm Not There soundtrack (Bob Dylan covers) better than both Sensory Lullabies: Tribute to Jellyfish and Stereogum Presents... DRIVE XV: A Tribute to Automatic For the People.

Now playing: Kevin Tihista's Red Terror - Don't Breathe A Word
via FoxyTunes




I went to my niece's 2nd birthday party last weekend. Her great-grandmother fell down the stairs and landed a few feet from me. She broke a rib and a collarbone, but it sounds like she'll be OK.

A couple days later, I stopped for a woman along 38th Street, while driving the 23.

I could see that she was unsteady on her feet. Because of the snow banks, I had to stop a few feet from the curb. She made it to the bus, grabbed the handrail on the door, hauled herself up and then her legs folded under her. She sat on the bottom step and tried to pull herself up. She did not appear drunk. It looked more like she might have a neuromuscular condition. She was very unresponsive to me and seemed disoriented. I asked her if she wanted the lift. She eventually agreed to that. As she tried to get off the bus, she fell backward onto the ground. It wasn't a hard fall and she didn't hit her head, but it was still rather alarming.

I got outside and asked her if she was OK, if she wanted medical attention, etc. She laid on the ground and stared at me with wild eyes. Something was clearly wrong, but I couldn't figure out what it was. She eventually told me that she was trying to get to a store for some Gatorade. So she was dehydrated? It crossed my mind that maybe her blood sugar was low- I bought a diabetic passenger a Coke once when he needed some sugar in his system- but I didn't have anything but water.

I sat her upright and she sat on the ground with her elbow on the bottom step. I asked her again if I could call an ambulance. She asked me if I thought they'd have Gatorade. I said I thought they'd have something. She said to call.

I called Control and asked for an ambulance. The ambulance arrived and they took her.

I was talking to a friend 0n New Year's Eve who is diabetic. He and his wife were quite sure that the woman was suffering from hypoglycemia. She exhibited several symptoms of neuroglycopenia. And now I know.




Happy New Year and all that...