...and then

I didn't look at Facebook.

I'll probably forget people I shouldn't anyway.

giving in

I created a Facebook account to keep up with the Brew52 group. Soon after, I started getting friend requests.

I'm not one to turn down friend requests, especially since they were from... uh... friends. I've been ignoring most of the wild and crazy applications that can be part of the Facebook experience, though.

I think I've made one request (other than Brew52), and that was for a similar reason.

But you know, tonight, I think I'll make some friend requests.



made me laugh

Today an old man boarded my bus.

"I don't ride the casino bus! I like your buses. I gamble that my transfer'll work!"


what were they talking about?

Yesterday morning, as I drove by WCCO on the Nicollet Mall, I saw the MIC ON and ON AIR signs. The anchors sit with their back toward the mall when they do some of their broadcasts.

As I approached the intersection, the anchorman turned around, looked out the window and waved at me.

I waved back.

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brew52, week 12

Finnegans Irish Amber:

My grandmother’s maiden name was Sullivan. Her father dropped the O’ when he came to the US.

In ancient times, the O’Sullivans of Tipperary and the Finnegans of Galway were enemies. Something about a Finnegan goat that went missing. Despite the distance between them, the Finnegans blamed an O’Sullivan and it sparked a bloody feud that lasted well into the 16th century.

As a descendant of the O’Sullivans, I was eager to do battle with this beer called Finnegans. It made very little sense and I stopped midway through. No, wait. That was Finnegans Wake.

Upon further reflection, I take that back. I, of course, am talking about Ulysses. Yes, I did mighty battle with Ulysses and lost.

But I rather enjoyed the beer.

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So, ridership is up, we're told we're doing a great job, but all the signs point to an offer with no significant raise again this contract.

I don't want to strike again. I think negotiations are on; I hope they're going well.




Yesterday on the 11:

An old lady boarded the bus. A young guy stood in the doorway. "What bus takes me to the Convention Center?" The old lady said, "This one, freeloader!" The guy paid me with a 31-day pass.

Yesterday on the 24:

A woman exiting the bus turned to me and said, "The robber barons are starting to get their comeuppance!"

Today, at a layover at Uptown Station, another driver said, "Hey CJ! I heard you were going to go full time as an instructor!"


I assured him that I was very low on the list of relief instructors, so the opportunity wouldn't be there for quite a while.

That's an odd rumor.

I paid $.25 for this cup.
It's a pretty nice cup and everything, but I wish it would have come with the hot chocolate that I thought was going to be in it.


thanks, random passenger

When I checked in with the dispatcher the other day, he gave me a note to see my manager. There are always two sheets of paper. The first has my name, my manager's name, etc. and the reason for the note.

This one said Customer Service Call. "Oh, geez, what now?!?" I whined as I opened it to the second page.



Customer Description
Caller said driver was kind to everyone. Caller said he is just a good person to everyone.

Um, cool. I make light of much of the positive feedback I get from M*tro Tr*nsit. I appreciate it, I suppose, but I don't really have a lot of use for certificates and pins. It's the time off I really like.

A customer commendation, on the other hand, is something that I genuinely appreciate. It's common behavior to call and complain, and to take the time to call and praise a driver or say thanks is really a nice gesture.

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more fun on Franklin Ave

I kind of miss the 2. But I drive the 24 twice a week now, and it goes down Franklin Avenue, so I get a small taste of what I'm missing.

Friday evening, on my last trip of the night, I got behind an older green Bonneville headed west on Franklin. We caught a red light at the stoplight by Aldi. The light turned green, the first few cars moved along and we... sat behind the green Bonneville.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Franklin Avenue is a showcase of the worst driving in the state. So this wasn't really anything new. I gave the driver about fifteen seconds and honked my horn. Nothing.

The fourth rule of the Smith System of Driving is Leave Yourself an Out. It was written for times like these. As I slowly passed the Bonnesville, I checked out the driver. He was an older guy, sitting upright, and his eyes were closed. Hmm...

I pulled into the stop that was just past the stoplight and called Control. As I was explaining the situation to the Control supervisor, I watched a woman run over to the car, open the passenger door, talk to the driver, and walk around to the driver's side. By her gestures and behavior, I am almost certain that she did not know the driver.

The driver got out of the car and got in the passenger seat. The woman got into the driver seat. She drove the car around me and down the street to my right. She found a parking spot, parked the car and got out. The woman briefly spoke with the original driver and left. The original driver got out of the passenger seat and back into the driver seat.

Meanwhile, I had detailed the entire episode to Control. Since I wasn't sure of the guy's condition (seizure of some kind? drunk?), we chose to treat it as a possible medical emergency. The reality is that it's very likely he was drunk.

Whatever it was, I hope he's OK. And that woman who got him out of the street deserves a medal.


LaQuinta Inn

I took a quick trip to Wausau (WI) Friday night.

My grandfather and three other people in the retirement village where he lives were celebrating their birthdays. He will be 95 next week.

When I complimented him on it, he asked me if I wanted his excellent Pendleton jacket.
Of course I do, but it wouldn't fit me.

Somewhat surprisingly, it was really fun. In addition to my grandparents, I got to see a bunch of my mom's cousins and aunts who I've known since I was little, but only see every few years. I didn't really talk with them very much, but it's still nice to make that connection. Anyway, here's a photo of the scene outside the cafeteria...



back on the 21

It's been quite a few picks since I drove the 21. I think. Maybe it hasn't been all that long, but it feels like it.

I drive it twice a week this pick. I thought it might be too much, but I change over to the 53 midway through the day and that, as I think I've mentioned, is like turning into a breezy, floaty butterfly after a long, meaningless existence as a slow, plodding caterpillar.

Yesterday, a woman got on and recognized me. She'd ridden and chatted with me on Tuesday. I think she might be about my age or possibly a bit older. She's in grad school at the U.

The woman sat down next to me in the peanut gallery. There was a young guy sitting behind me, across the aisle from her. She said something about school- it's tough right now and she's looking forward to Spring Break. He said, "That must be hard. I'm glad I only went to MTTC." (Yes, he was talking about MCTC.)

He told her (us) that he had gone to school to get his gemology certificate, but had to drop out because of non-school related stress.

Then he looked at her ring. "It's sapphire! Is it real?"

She assured him that the ring, sapphire encircled with diamonds, was real. He asked her how much it cost. She said $2500.

He told us about where sapphires come from. Then, he leaned closer to her ring, looked carefully and said, "I think some of those are zirconia."

ha ha!

When Gemology Dropout got off the bus, the woman told me her boyfriend, who bought the ring, was going to get a kick out of that!


brew52, week 11

Anagram for Schell Pilsner Beer:

Rebel Princess Hell

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bus 2372

When I got my bus assignment this morning, I thought to myself the same thing that I've been thinking for the last week or two every time I see a 23XX bus. Shouldn't that pile of junk be in the bus graveyard? The 2300s are fourteen years old, and as far as I know, the goal is to get rid of the buses by the time they're twelve.

But I wasn't too annoyed. Some of those 2300s are pretty fast. Bus 2372 is a fast one, and it seemed to be a decent bus. After one-and-a-third uneventful trips, however, my passengers and I found out otherwise. We were headed north into downtown when I noticed that the bus was getting jerky. Very soon after that, it was clear that the transmission was not right. Then, when the DO NOT SHIFT (TRANS) light came on and the bus refused to move, I knew we were in real trouble. I shut the bus off, restarted it, and called Control as soon as we got moving. Control advised me to shut it off for three minutes, so that's what I did at Franklin. But it did no good. We were late and only going to get later.

The bus was super jerky. It quit every few blocks, requiring me to restart it. I hobbled through downtown and into NE Mpls. My follower caught up with me and took all my passengers except one lady, who seemed to enjoy the adventure.

Finally, the bus got stuck in 4th gear and didn't quit on me, so I was able to make it to my northern terminal about seventeen minutes late. I waited for a replacement bus (2379!) and left about fifteen minutes down. Control filled part of my trip, so I put up my DROP OFF ONLY sign at DeLaSalle High School. I was empty at 10th Street, and I actually got back to the garage early.

It's my short day, so I'm done for the day. I'm ready for a nap.



It wouldn't be an early Wednesday morning if the fire trucks didn't show up, would it?

The white house, which is on the lot behind/next to the site of the most recent fire, was the center of attention. Fortunately nothing seems to have come of it. What may have looked like smoke was fire truck exhaust and what may have smelled like fire was the leftover odor from the pile of rubble. There were quite a few trucks, but they left about twenty minutes after they arrived.



never did like the maths

It's common for passengers to ask me what the fare is upon boarding the bus.

Today, though, I got a new one. The fare was $1.50. A lady boarded and put a dollar into the appropriate slot. Then she asked me, "How many quarters?"


Division? No thanks. I quickly decided to add 25 until I got to 50, keeping track on my fingers. The answer was 2.


feeling loved

When I got to the garage this morning, I was met by the smell of a lovely breakfast spread and the sound of everybody's favorite upper-management-type guy. It was employee appreciation day (driver appreciation day? whatever...)

I nabbed an Appreciation Banana.
You are welcome.

On my way out the door this evening, the dispatcher handed me this:
Yeah, it's on the fridge. Of course, if I want to continue to be a relief instructor, I pretty much qualify for OOA by default. M*tro Tr*nsit's draconian sick policy looks positively enlightened compared to the more-specific Instruction policy. If I recall correctly, I can't call in sick more than four times in a rolling year. (That's why I sometimes go to work when I shouldn't.) Good thing we don't have kids.



fantasy draft today...

Joe Mauer
, Min C
Carlos Ruiz
, Phi C
Carlos Pena
, TB 1B
Ian Kinsler
, Tex 2B
Mike Lowell
, Bos 3B
Jhonny Peralta
, Cle SS
Yuniesky Betancourt
, Sea SS
Casey Kotchman
, LAA 1B
Aaron Rowand
Jose Guillen
Kosuke Fukudome
, ChC OF
Coco Crisp
, Bos OF
Felix Pie
, ChC OF
David Ortiz
, Bos DH
C.C. Sabathia
, Cle SP
Joe Nathan
, Min RP
Javier Vazquez
Brad Penny
Oliver Perez
Mark Buehrle
David Weathers
, Cin RP
Orlando Hernandez
Carlos Silva
, Sea SP
Marlon Byrd
, Tex OF
Wandy Rodriguez
, Hou SP
Shannon Stewart
, Tor OF
Reggie Willits
Tom Glavine
, Atl SP

As usual, I had no idea what I was doing. I simply don't follow baseball closely enough to even know who half the guys in the last fifteen rounds are.

I relied heavily on the draft order set by ESPN, but I moved some guys around in that order based on a few other lists I found online. ha. I picked several of the guys because their names make me smile: Jhonny Peralta, Yuniesky Betancourt, Kosuke Fukudome, Coco Crisp, Felix Pie, Wandy Rodriguez.

I just figure it's nice for the other teams to have me around. I enjoy playing, but I don't feel too bad about being terrible.

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My very early Wednesdays are always pretty quiet. People aren't inclined to talk very loudly at 5:00 in the morning, I guess. I like that, because I'm already annoyed that I got up at 4:00 and I'm often in just-don't-hit-anything mode.

The other day, though, a guy boarded my bus on my second trip and almost immediately started talking. To me.

Fortunately, he was a very Daff-ish individual (does that link work?). I had a hard time understanding much of what he was saying. He was pretty excited about his new cowboy boots. And he has a long goatee that he's planning to braid. Excellent. I hope I see him again.

The next day I was driving the 2 and a guy got on the bus and sat in the peanut gallery. He asked me if I'd ever played a role-playing game. Sweet.

Well, I have, kind of. I think it was in about 7th grade. I joined my friends Billy and Reed a couple of times when they played a remedial version of D&D. And that's what I told him.

He got kind of excited and asked me if I'd ever heard of online role-playing games like World of Warcraft. I have heard of them. I've never looked at anything like that, though, unless you count the three or four minutes I was on the Second Life site.

But I told him that I have heard of the online games. He got even more excited.

He started talking about ten-sided dice (percentile dice?), whiteboard (?), how I only have to make one chart (?), something called Mythic, and all kinds of other stuff. I think I gathered that it was a way he was going to set up role-playing games with friends and family around the country without a central host site.

But really, I had little-to-no idea what he was talking about. However, he assured me more than once that I already understood way more than his psychiatrist did- so I have that going for me.


brew52, week 10

Lake Superior Special Ale:

Sonny and Cher, Gutter Twins, bbq chicken and white zinfandel, MySpace and News Corp, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? and Kitchen Nightmares, eMachines and Vista, HW and Reagan, Renault and AMC, you get the idea… right?

Mixing the boring with the bad.

The Special Ale. Ho hum. Yet another American-style pale ale. Booorrring. Seems like everybody makes one and they all taste more or less the same. It’s the new American-style lager. And though I may bitch, as thoroughly bored as I am with the style, I thought this was a pretty tasty example. I like it, it just bores me.

More interesting: I took last week’s beer, Frame Straightener, and mixed it with this one. It’s a good way to finish the rest of that Brau Brothers six pack.

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brew52, week 9

Brau Brothers Frame Straightener:

I'm a little late here, as last week the local beer to be had was Belikin.

I'm OK with the Frame Straightener. It tasted pretty good- I like fruity and yeasty- but I like more body and more finish (broken record). I put it in my mouth, I tasted something in there, then it was gone. Did I even swallow it? I think so, but I can't be sure.

On the other hand, the Belikin Stout was surprisingly tasty. I'd give it four stars.

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did you miss me?

Probably not, I guess, but here's where I was.