the 21

I had a pretty decent day on Lake Street. I can smell Thursday coming, though. It's the 1st.

I kicked one guy, who happened to be wearing a bloody hoodie, off the bus after he sat down in the back very loudly, then I watched him take a swig out of his fifth of something clear.

I talked to old guy who told me he was the first of ten siblings. He was a twin, but his brother didn't make it; he was underdeveloped. The old guy's dad didn't take his mother to the doctor while she was pregnant. He told me all kinds of things. He didn't stop talking from Fairview Avenue in St. Paul until we got to Hamline Avenue. Unfortunately, if it was all as interesting as that tidbit, I'll never know. I could barely understand a word he said.

A very inebriated individual staggered up to my bus at the Chicago Lake Transit Center. As he got on, he said something about St. Paul. I was a 53E, which doesn't even get close to St. Paul. I told him that I didn't go to St. Paul. He assured me he knew where he was going and that he knew where to get out.

I was ahead of schedule at the Midtown Light Rail Station, and made an announcement that we'd have to wait a couple minutes. He told me that he was going to get out and pee. I pointed out that there was no place to pee. It was rush hour on Lake Street. There were people getting off the buses behind me and coming out to the street from the Light Rail Station.

Dude stood in front of the only thing on the sidewalk, a Star Tribune dispenser, and took a leak! Right in the middle of the sidewalk.

I didn't even bother to call anyone. I had one more stop before the terminal and I knew he'd be long gone before anyone showed up. Besides, not counting the very public urination, he wasn't terribly obnoxious and I didn't want him to get into real trouble.

When I got to my last stop on Lake Street, I made an announcement to the whole bus that I was only going as far as the transitway next to Wendy's. I waited for him to exit the bus. When he didn't, I left the stop. Sure enough, as soon as I moved into the left lane to make my left turn, he wanted to get off the bus. I let him out at Wendy's, and the lucky folks inside got to deal with him.




As part of Severe Weather Awareness Week, the National Weather Service issued simulated tornado watches and warnings Thursday. The warnings featured all the sirens. The bulletin in the garage at work said that we were not expected to physically respond to the sirens when we heard them, but that we should "think about what we would do" if there were a tornado. ha.

Since our instructions are pretty vague- "you and your passengers should take shelter if you think you are in danger," I usually just keep driving and hope for the best. I usually have little idea where we'd go. When I was part time, I got caught in Prestigious West Bloomington during a severe storm with nothing but trees around. I kept driving until I encountered a huge tree across the road.

On Thursday, one thing I thought about was how when I was in elementary school, I figured the Russians would be smart to attack us at 1:00 on a first Wednesday of the month when the air raid sirens were being tested.

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last weekend

Kassie and I went to Sioux Falls last weekend to visit my brother Corey, his wife Tara, and their kids, Cayden and Kyah. We got there Friday afternoon, so we had a little time to kill before everyone got home from work and daycare. We made a stop at Falls Park, to see the falls of the Big Sioux River. The city has put a lot of work into that park since I lived there. It was really beautiful.


the view from the observation tower, Kassie and Jeff- lower left

We had a really nice weekend. Corey threw some burgers on the grill for lunch Saturday afternoon. MinusCar Mike and his family joined us, as did KT. Corey, Tara, Kassie and I went out for sushi Saturday night at a place called Sushi Masa. It was really good, and relatively cheap!

After Corey and Tara got called out of church by the nursery and took Cayden to see a doctor, Kassie and I ducked out to go look around Sioux Falls.

After lunch, we all went into the back yard to play. We hoped to make sure Jeff was tired for the car ride home. He was already tired, but he wasn't too tired to completely level Cayden and give him a bloody nose! That was scary for a second, considering Jeff outweighs Cayden by about 2.5 to 1. Thankfully, Cayden is tough and made friends with Jeff before we left.

Jeff enjoyed the jungle gym.

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dog taking a dump, international edition

Simon took this in the Netherlands. For me.




Colorado Springs!


oh yeah...

I got a letter from the doctor. My guts are good.



As I waited to make relief on the 21 yesterday, a cop pulled up to the bus stop. Almost immediately, another one stopped. The first one got out of her car and asked about a kid sitting at the stop. He was with his mother, so they were OK with that. I guess it's nice to see them making sure all the kids get to school.

The second cop left, but was quickly replaced by a third. A guy got out of the back of the new arrival's car and pointed at two fellows walking across the street. Two more cops arrived, including an unmarked car. They arrested the two guys, one of whom asked the pointer, "What I did to you, man?"

So, for those of you not keeping track, that's five cops, one possibly-truant kid, one victim and two perps in about five minutes.

Then my bus arrived.

The 21 has settled down considerably since I drove it last. I was able to keep it on time. But I see the 1st is on a Thursday next month, so I'll be out there again.

An older African gentleman (Kenyan, maybe) got on my bus and asked me if I knew of any law in the United States that said a person can't stand on the sidewalk and ask people if they love the Lord.

I said that I was unaware of any law that said that.

He said a young woman was asking him and another person if they loved the Lord and a police officer issued her a ticket. He claimed that they were simply standing there talking, not shouting, not hassling anyone. The gentleman was pretty upset. Clearly, there's more to the story that he didn't know, right? I wonder why she got the ticket.

My phone randomly dialed Val's phone number while it was in my pocket. Val dated Eric for a while, and we were roommates at Eric's house for a couple months while Eric was out of town. I got a text message:

Who is this

Then another:

Your phone just called me heard you were stopping at lyndale who are you

I noticed the messages and responded at my layover, asking Val how she's doing. I haven't seen or talked to her for at least a couple years, and I'd assumed she'd moved out of the Twin Cities.


From aqua? Or whatever its called now dark hair?

I responded:

You're not Val, are you?

It wasn't.

As I waited for the light to change at 17th Avenue, a young guy ran across the street and launched his Mountain Dew can into the curb in front of my bus.

When he got on, I said, "Aw, man! There's a trash can right there!"

And there was one, about five feet from his can.

When he made no move to go get it, I unbuckled my seatbelt and started to get up. "I'll go get it for you." I do that pretty often.

He said, "I'm not going to make you get off the bus!" and went outside and threw it away.

"I didn't want you to leave me!"

I assured him that I wouldn't have left him.



brew52, weeks 14, 16

Schell Maifest, Summit Maibock:

Put a Schell Maifest and a Summit Maibock side by side last night, in an effort to get caught up around here.

They looked about the same, pretty blonde color, decent head on both. Nice mouthfeel, excellent flavor (I like the maibocks). No disappointments with either one. The Maifest was a little sweeter than the Maibock.

Both these beers appropriately provide a great transition from my winter beer preference (dark, heavy and sweet) to my summer beer preference (lighter, hoppier). I’m pretty happy that we have more around the house.

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too much information

You've been warned.

My judgment is impaired. I'm all doped up on some kind of Valium substitute and some kind of codeine substitute.

Perhaps you noticed that I enjoyed a couple enemas this morning. Well, OK, I'm quite sure that the first one did not go as it was supposed to. I only know that because the second one, um, worked. I did not practice giving myself an enema in anticipation of the big day.

When I arrived at the Aspen Medical Group's Digestive Health Center and Clinic, I was assured that it would be OK.

I took off my clothes, I read some National Geographics, a nurse stuck me with an IV.

Then I got wheeled into another room where I was penetrated like a porn starlet. Upper endoscopy, deep into my throat? Check. Flexible sigmoidoscopy, deep into my bum? Check.

I guess the good doctor Rensch (who really was cool) removed some stomach polyps and took some biopsies in my esophagus and small bowels. Whatever...

Fortunately, I remember little-to-none of it. I woke up with a stomach full of gas. Other than that, I feel good. Reeeealllly good.

Kassie picked me up and is heating up some chicken noodle soup for me. I think I'll take a nap.


I have the day off


What should I do? Oh. Yeah.



new bus design

In an effort to brand M*tro Tr*nsit, to tie together all aspects of transit in the Twin Cities, the buses and trains will get a redesign. I've been sitting on some images of the new bus and rail designs for a few weeks because I talked to a guy in marketing who had a few reasons that he didn't want them revealed. You know, to the two or three of you still reading this...

But now that a couple buses with the new design are on a tour of the garages, I figure it's fair game. Obviously, they're out and about with them.

So here's what the buses will look like.

All the new buses will come painted this way. The rest of the buses get repainted every few years (every couple years?) and they will get this design as they move through their normal rotation. As you can tell, it will cost no extra money to do this. (That was something the marketing guy wanted me to stress when I got around to posting this.)

Anyway, I like the design pretty well. It's clean. I'm not real crazy about the primary colors, and of course, it'll get mucked up with advertising on the side, but there's not much we can do about that, is there?

The bus pictured is a low-floor bus. The regular buses, when they get repainted, will have the yellow and blue stripe on the side, where the current blue, red and green stripes are.

The light rail design, which I will not include, looks exactly like the current design, with some color changes. In other words, still U-G-L-Y.

(current light rail design, courtesy M*tro Tr*nsit)

The heavy rail (North Star line) looks pretty decent, not counting the engine.

So I hope I haven't jumped the gun here. I like the design. Probably most of all, though, I like change.

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back at it

I went back to work Friday after taking three days off to feel better. I struggled a bit and didn't really feel well until today.

I drive one trip on the 133 in the morning. As I drove by Hale School, I saw a man walking his kid into school. The guy was wearing a Camp Ojibway sweatshirt, just like the guy a couple weeks ago, but in a lighter shade of blue.

I drove the 24 the rest of the day. I met a guy who is getting ready to retire. He told me about a coworker of his who had to retire a little early. He had Alzheimer's, and no one knew it until he got lost on his way home and ended up in Northfield.

Another guy told me he has been working for 56 years! He didn't look that old and I told him so. He said he started as a kid working in the cotton fields and has been working ever since.

Later that day, during rush hour, a guy jumped on my bus downtown. He whipped out his driver's license and showed it to me. It was unremarkable in every way.

"My car's in the parking garage and I just need to get to 17th!"


He could have said, "I have a frozen pizza in my refrigerator at home and I just need to get to 17th!" and it would have meant the same thing to me.

But I was in a good mood and let him ride.



please won't you be my neighbor?

Check it out! The house adjacent to ours has been (mostly) empty since we've lived here. It's finally for sale! Obviously, the market is ugly right now, but it's a unique property, so we have some hope for a sale.

And the selling agent? When you say...

you've said a mouthful!



nasty, nasty, foul dog

Today at the Bloomington dog park, Jeff distracted me with his Excited Turd- hot liquid, not easy to clean up- and rolled in the putrid, viscous stew of the remains of a dead bird a few feet away.

When we got home he got a bath.




iTunes on shuffle, this is from the Recently Played playlist...




My body says I'm sick. Due to having four Occurrences, M*tro Tr*nsit pretty much says I'm not sick. Tonight, though, my body won and I called in sick for tomorrow. I guess I'll just have to deal with the consequences.

And as dumb as it is to not be able to use my sick time without being punished, even worse is that I have to use vacation time next week to get some (UNPLEASANT) medical tests done, as ordered by my doctor. I could use sick time, but it would be another Occurrence. That would put me at six. Seven and I'd get a Record of Warning and I don't want to deal with that.



go greener

As most of you know, M*tro Tr*nsit has purchased a number of hybrid buses over the last few years. Right now, they are primarily being used on routes that travel the Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. Starting in 2010, all the buses on the Mall will be hybrids.

On Friday, though, when I checked in to drive the 24, I was given a hybrid bus.

(not this one)

Northbound, the 24 line snakes through the Longfellow and Seward neighborhoods before taking Franklin Avenue to Park Avenue, through the Elliot Park neighborhood and into downtown on 9th Street.

The dispatcher reasoned (correctly, in my opinion) that the people who ride lines other than the Nicollet Mall lines need to see the hybrid buses.

And really, the Seward and Longfellow neighborhoods have a pretty large percentage of green-thinking individuals, so the 24 was a fairly logical choice of lines on which to put a hybrid bus.

And the people of the 24 were very excited. I answered questions about the bus all day. Yes, I do like it. It's a nice ride and it accelerates very well. Yes, very quiet and much fewer emissions. Yep, we do lose some seats because of the low-floor design. Love the wheelchair and walker ramp (vs. the lifts). Slightly better gas mileage, but given the number of miles these buses will travel, it'll save a lot. etc. etc. etc.

And I felt like an absolute hero every time I drove by the Birchwood Cafe, with the hippies sitting outside, waving and grinning at me all misty-eyed as they nibbled on their grilled abalone mushrooms and polenta...

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action, taken

I went bowling today for TakeAction Minnesota's Bowling for Victory.

When the announcement was made that the next strike would be worth a free pitcher of beer, I took action, Minnesota.

Here I am with TakeAction Minnesota Executive Do-Gooder Dan McGrath, and the prize.

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The mighty and capricious gods of transit did not smile favorably upon me yesterday.

The teeming masses are still flush with money from their big payday earlier this week, so the 30-ring circus that is Lake Street was full on. I ended up 18 minutes late to my terminal on my first trip on the 21. I pretty much made up that time on my second trip, then ran 12-to-15 minutes late on my third. I had to DROP OFF ONLY for part of that third trip.

I talked to one guy who's awfully concerned about the state of the country (aren't 81% of us!). He told me that he has his money in a bank in Quito and a boat docked in Florida ready to set sail for South America.

The highlight of my day happened when I was driving the 53. A guy ran from the 21 behind me at the Chicago-Lake Transit Center. His transfer had expired and the farebox took money off his card, so he asked me to put it back on and then ran back to the 21. Funny enough, but that wasn't the great part. Although I can say with certainty that he has not been there for at least 30 years, if at all, he was wearing a late model Camp Ojibway hoodie! (My parents directed C.O. for the first 18 summers of my life, and I spent an additional two summers there as a counselor.)


drove the school bus today

Interesting choice of colors, there, marketing...



it's the 1st of the month

Everybody got paid today and I drove the 21. Ugh.

It was crazy out there. I had standing loads where I do not usually get them. I ran five-to-ten minutes down for a few hours. I got tired.

As I approached Marshall and Cretin on my second eastbound trip, a guy jumped out from behind the shelter with his thumb out, like he was hitchhiking. He was Super-Energy Boy. He jumped on my bus and dropped off his groceries. Then he handed me his transfer and leaned in close to me with his head parallel to the floor.

"Still working, huh?"

I confirmed that I was, indeed, still working and noted the strong smell of booze on his breath.

We moved along Marshall without incident and turned onto Snelling.

As I prepared to make a stop at the first stop on Snelling, the car in front of me inexplicably opted to stop. I had plenty of room in front of me, but I had to slow down faster than I would have liked.

A woman who was making her way to the front of the bus lost her balance and had to catch herself. Of course, it's not easy to catch yourself when you're holding a phone to your ear.

One of drunk dude's grocery bags fell into the woman.

"It's not your fault," he said.

"I know, it's the one who's driving this thing! It's the driver who's a damn idiot!"

Uh, that's me. "Have a nice day!"

A few blocks later, I hit a big water-filled pothole as I stopped to let Drunky off the bus. This time, the stop would have been as smooth as usual if it weren't for the pothole.

He said something about my brakes and something, blah, blah, something, something. Yeah, have a good one, dude. You might be able to keep your balance if you weren't loaded...

Fortunately, I turn into the 53 midway through the day. Everything settled down by then.

I was glad to get home this evening.



We had to eat some fish before it went bad, so Meatless Monday... wasn't!


brew52, week 13

Flat Earth Winter Warlock:

Some of my favorite beers are English barley wines.

I can’t quite figure out what it is with this beer, and it’s been the same with the other Flat Earth beers: Close, but not quite what they’re presumably shooting for. And not quite what I’d be eager to drink again.

I know I want more body, more flavor and more finish from a barley wine. I don’t know. I feel kind of bad slagging it, ’cause it sounds like the brewers are decent folk.

I guess it left me uninspired. Thus, probably the dullest review I’ve ever written on here…

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