29 December 2006


Couple of bus tales today. For openers, Dave's daughter, Sarah, visiting from Kansas City on her way to Seattle, accompanied him to school. She supports public transportation and wanted to experience Valley Metro's finest, the 6am66. Dave sat in his usual back bench seat location and noted that a loose panel behind the seat exposed the motor compartment, filling the BTA with fumes and noise. In his best "Tim the Tool Man" mode, Dave resourcefully stuffed two bus route schedule books between the seat and the panel - problem abated. After his efforts, Dana, our dear regular driver, gave Dave a towelette to clean the bus grime from his hands. Images today are the book wedges and Dave's hands and dirty wiper, taken with my phone camera. The quality suffers, but the event was not lost.

Sadly, coat guy did not make an appearance and I missed my last opportunity to go tactile and test the faux vs. leather of his jacket. Wish there had been more time with coat guy - so many questions. For example, those coats are quite bulky and I keep trying to picture the closet where those bad boys are housed. It has to be exceptionally large to accommodate the 26+ coats. Perhaps he turned an entire bedroom into a hanging shrine of sorts? No end to the speculative possibilities coat guy enabled - not to mention the game. Sigh . . .

28 December 2006


Geezleweez - absolutely can't remember to look at the bus number. And to think I once considered a series of charts and graphs with bus number info - ha!

Ridership has slipped to the poverty level. Wondering why I didn't take vacation days this week - it appears everyone else did. NG and BG are conspicuously absent - bright boys. Bad news for the guess-the-jacket game - the coat guy told Dave that tomorrow is his last day on our bus. Seems his apartment was purchased and is going condo so he has to buy or move and he's moving. Probably can't buy as his money is all tied up in coats. Kidding, I'm really just kidding.

There's a lot of this apartment-go-condo happening and it really sucks for people who can't afford to buy. The real estate market went ballistic and now most people can't afford to sell and buy back the house they currently own. People get excited because their property value is up, but they seem to forget that if they sell their house and make the big profit, they have to go buy something equally inflated in value from someone who also wants a big profit - good luck with that! How on earth did I go from bus blog to real estate whining? Apologies.

27 December 2006


Missed a few days for the holiday vacation. For years, ASU closed down for the two weeks surrounding the winter holidays - an alleged money savings move. A couple of years ago the then-new university president declared the savings a myth and now the university is "open" - business as usual except for the four specific holiday observance days. The bus ride belies the "open"ness of the situation as Dave and I owned the craft until the ride was well half over. Most ASU employees schedule additional vacation days to fill in and create an extended holiday, so I felt no surprise at the paucity of riders. Dave told me he used the bus on christmas day and it was quite empty. Dave said all bus rides are free that day and despite the freebie, he rode solo most of the time. The drivers are probably compensated with double time and a half pay that day and no revenue is generated. Nice gesture for the bus company.

The coat guy got on today but not wearing a football jacket. He had a Cleveland Cavaliers cap and his jacket said "hockey" on the front and four Warner Brothers cartoon characters filled the back. Without direct touching, not sure if I can find out if these jackets are real leather. They look a bit vinyl and I can't figure out how to get tactile with his sleeve in any subtle way to check out the real vs. faux situation. He never comes up to the BTA, just stays on the seat near the back door since he only rides about two stops worth. I'll figure something out.

Image today is a new quilt block I'm trying to design. I like the rotation - wish I could do some screen printing to catch the effect of multiples of the inner square. Sure do miss the big print tables in the fiber studio.

21 December 2006

#41 yada yada yada

Totally forgot to look at the number today. Still not in a good bus habit. Stayed home yesterday as I overdid on Tuesday. Guess you can't be extremely inactive for six weeks and expect to leap immediately back into the jaws of full activity. Sigh . . .

We're having a bit of a cold spell - Weather Channel said it was 28 degree wind chill this morning. I believe it was every bit of 28 degrees and possibly lower. I sported full winter coat and gloves - usually wear them two or three times during the winter season. Arizona's nice, but you can't toss away the winter woolies - they are necessary, especially while waiting at the bus stop.

NG, BG, Dave and I had full command of the BTA today. The professor has ridden a couple of times lately - odd since classes are out and teaching types don't need to be at school. There's a new regular who started during my absence. What makes him especially interesting is his choice of outerwear. Every day he dons the ball cap and jacket of a different NFL team. The new BTA bus sport is guessing which team will grace his cloak-of-the-day. He said he has a jacket for every team (26, I believe) which is a substantial financial investment. If these are real leather and not WalMart faux, the coats must be $200+ for each. Very impressive.

Image today is in honor of the freezingass cold of this morning's bus wait.

18 December 2006


Missed on Friday - daughter drove me to work and I never pass up a chance to visit with my offspring. Ridership is way down. School is out for the winter break, but I never felt the 6am66 was awash with students. Students don't usually break the bond with their blankets until the last possible minute and the earliest classes don't begin until 7:40 AM - only the most industrious would get to school an hour early. It is dark, dark, dark right now and maybe people forget to wake up? That's assuming they don't use alarm clocks. I find I don't want to crawl out of bed in the dark and I'm easy to rise. Oh well, guess I don't care how many are riding as long as the bus continues to arrive. Mark and Dave are foggy with colds - glad I got mine out of the way before the surgery. They don't seem to have the cough, just lots of nasal maneuvers.

Since I can't wear glasses yet, my distance vision is a blur (ho, ho, ho) and it makes for interesting viewing out the window with the dark sky and city lights. While looking for a night light picture for the blog, I found the "Earth at Night" map in jpg format. If you haven't seen this, click on the picture for the larger view. If you think we don't share this space called earth, this picture will help you re-visit that thought. Amazing considering the first electric light bulb wasn't invented until 1880 and the bright, long-lasting tungsten filament didn't get into the bulb until 1910 - if you go back just 100 years, this map would not be so bold. Not bus talk, but one thing leads to another and etc., etc., etc.

14 December 2006


Brrrrrrrrr...... forgot how cold it could be waiting for the bus. The extremes of Arizona's winter temps always confound me. How does one dress for 38 degrees (no humidity!) in the morning followed by 76 degrees in the afternoon? Layers, my friends, lots of light-weight layers. The true layering master can combine the right pieces that enable morning warmth, yet shed simply and lightly for portage as temps climb later in the day. Ah, an entire blog might be devoted to desert dressing. I digress.

Today's ride was interesting - when Dave and I boarded, Dana, our current regular driver, handed us Christmas cards which even included personal notes! How nice is that? Both NG and BG failed to appear and ridership was generally light. Dana sat in the front passenger seat, directing a rookie who had control of the craft. This rookie appeared to be learning to drive the bus as well as learning the route. Cautious approaches and halting stops prevailed as we jerked along. Dana kept telling the neophyte to not run over the curb. I don't believe we ever ran over one, but wonder if a bad curb cut occurred before we got on the bus. We safely arrived at ASU - good luck to the new driver.

Found a nice image of a saguaro cactus decorated with holiday lights. These are everywhere in the Valley of the Sun and thought it made a nice companion to Dana's cards.

13 December 2006

She's baaaaaaaaaaaaaack ............

Time to explain the unexplained absence. On November 1, I had eye surgery for glaucoma - a trabeculectomy, to be exact. It's a procedure that creates a drain site in the eye to aid in reducing intraocular pressure. We all have drains in our eyes and mine don't work well enough to keep internal pressure down. Drops, the standard glaucoma treatment, weren't working and I was losing vision, so the next alternative is this surgery. It's done as an outpatient and not painful; however, it requires limited activity until the eye stabilizes. Thus, I've been home for the last few weeks, taking it easy while my eye gets it together. At first blush it seemed like a dream-come-true. Stay home on sick leave while not feeling sick - how great is that? Au contraire . . . it's all fine if you can lead a normal life, but the restricted activity got to be seriously boring. I would have blogged, but life and times were so drab, there was nothing happening worth the write time. Anyway, I returned to work and the bus (#4135) today. The BTA was just as I left it - Newspaper Guy in situ and later Bicycle Guy sans bike - it's cold in the morning! It's good to be back in action - let the blogging resume.

30 October 2006


Today was kind of boring, so I'll write about Friday's morning ride - much more interesting.

The "fam" had total ownership of the bus. Newspaper Guy aka Bill, was not there to secure the BTA, so the two little girls perched in full officialness on the back seat, in complete control of the surroundings with smiles as big as a crescent moon. The dad was in the middle of the bus, opposite the back door, guarding the girls and holding the stroller. The mom was in the very front seat, holding the baby on her lap. I sat in my original "regular" seat and exchanged shy looks with the baby girl. She is adorable and had those not-quite-awake heavy morning eyes. All she really wanted was to snuggle her little hoodie-covered head in the crook of her mother's arm and go back to sleep. I must say, I would have happily joined her were such a thing remotely possible. A rocking bus, dim lights and a warm loving arm and shoulder - recipe for the perfect sleep scenario.

The bus turned at Rural, stopped, and the mom and dad shepherded the little ones off the bus. The dad opened the stroller, helped the mom et al get organized and got back on the bus. As the door closed, a chorus of tiny voices yelled out, "Bye, dad, I love you." What a way to start his day. You've just got to admire these people, going to work and managing the kids' daycare all on public transportation. The husband and wife were discussing a doctor appointment for someone later in the day and talking bus times and daycare pickup. It's a challenge to keep all these things going under the best of circumstances and they are doing it without the apparent benefit of their own automobile. May all their buses be on time.

25 October 2006


Well, we certainly experienced an interesting ride on the 6am66. I almost need to elevate my feet and rest up before recounting the tale.

It began with another drive-by overshoot stopping. Clad in white linen overalls, I felt sure I presented high visibility at the stop today. However, the bus came down the road at an alarming speed and it seemed I would be completely passed by. At the last minute, the bus halted, quite a way down from the stop and another trek across the damp tree lawn ensued. As I got on, the driver apologized and screeched that the lights were glaring and she couldn't see. Refering to the interior lights, I guess, she turned them all off and we proceeded in complete darkness. NG, one of the Steves and I were the only ones on board, sitting in the BTA. We got to Guadalupe and Rural, the fam's mom and dad got on and the bus stopped running. The driver announced "they will send me a new bus", promptly re-started the bus and the ride continued. Not sure if that qualified as an official breakdown - her words implied yes but the actions implied no.

The ride continued in full darkness - felt much like a red eye flight, only missing the little pillows and navy blue blankets. We picked up BG and kept on going. Turning the corner from Baseline onto Mill, once again the bus stalled (?) and the driver easily re-started the craft. It appeared that turns might be involved in the stalls. Arriving at another stop, in answer to a question from a waiting patron, she had to advise that this was the 66 southbound. The bus was quite invisible without lights and the query made me wonder if she overzealously turned off a few too many lights. One of the new passengers needed a transfer and the driver had to bend over, her face almost touching the pad of tickets, to see what she needed. Time to turn on the lights? We proceeded and at the next stop, for reasons unknown, she suddenly turned on the lights. We kept going north on Mill and she roared past a stop where a woman was waiting. The woman yelled, the driver kept on going and Mark suggested she at least stop and wait. The driver just kept saying she couldn't see, the lights were glaring, and at the Broadway intersection, the bus stalled once more. So much for the turn theory. She again re-started the bus and we got underway. In spite of the stalls, we were quite on time although some poor people were definitely left standing in the dark. Today's image honors our invisible bus.

24 October 2006


Quiet ride on the 6am66. Rain threatens today and, as previously noted, life in Arizona comes to a halt when rain falls. Uncommon, yes; however, rain is not rare and it boggles the mind why moisture from the sky creates such havoc. Listening to radio this morning and the traffic report indicates accidents all over the place. We're not talking sheets of rain, not even a steady rain, not even a light drizzle - this driving collapse occurs with 15-20 drops hitting the pavement. People won't ride the bus because some of this moisture might land on them and god knows what happens then. I guess that's why all the wrecks - the bus riders are trying to drive. Needless to say, we had light ridership.

New twist on "the family". While waiting for the 6am66, the 92 approached. Ever since Dave and I hopped on the 92 by mistake, he is on full alert - making sure we don't go down that path again. As he stood there, waving off the 92, I saw "the family" sitting in the BTA of the 92. Both buses go west on Guadalupe to Rural and since that's where the wife and kids usually get off, it wasn't completely odd for them to be on the 92. What was fun - when our bus turned north on Rural and stopped, husband and wife got on our bus, sans kids. Dave asked if they were juggling buses today and they advised they dropped the kids off at daycare. There are two childcare places within an easy walk of that intersection and I wondered if that was always part of their daily routine. They've been very regular and I might have to dust off the regular crown and have a large-scale annointing.

23 October 2006


Ahhhhh, back on the bus. Thanks to all who offered kind words during my recent flu siege. Hope that doesn't happen again for a long, long while.

An interesting morning on the 6am66. It was late today - not horribly late - maybe 8 minutes - but we're at the beginning of the route and with only a couple of stops in front of us, little opportunity for things to happen and build up bus delay. When it finally appeared on the horizon, Dave and I got our packs on, good passengers that we are, and moved forward, ready to board. The next thing we know, the bus shot past us, just barely stopping. He overshot the concrete pad and we trekked over the tree lawn to get down to the bus door. Now, I must preface that the sun no longer shines at 6am - dark of day prevails and no street light illuminates the stop. When we got on, it was a new driver who announced that he didn't see us, using a tone that implied it was our obligation to be visible. He carried on about waiting behind bushes and trees ... huh? There are no trees or bushes at our stop ... what the hell? Made me almost want to cough on him. Looks like I'll have to find my trusty flashing reflector and start putting it on my pack. At the very next stop, he repeated the same action and, again, blamed the rider for waiting behind the shrubs. While there are shrubs at that stop, I've never seen that guy lurking in them. He usually sits on the bench, in front, at the stop. Unless that guy had a serious need to bush-lurk today, I think the driver was too busy talking to a passenger and not paying attention. Today's image shows the 6am66 flashing past.

On top of the crazy pickups, the dilemma of the family occupying the BTA repeated itself. We were forced to false sit when we got on and then move to our favored locations after they left. Dave hopped first to his regular spot and it did my heart good to see he is as Monk-like about his seating as me. Comfort zones, it's all about comfort zones. Later, I was especially glad I moved up to the BTA since a series of people got on who reeked of cigarette smoke. Smelling strongly in the BTA, I imagine it was suffocating in the main riding area. Is the aroma that comes off people who just smoked a cigarette considered second hand smoke? It smells bad, but it also makes me want to cough. Of course, my lungs are currently in a weakened condition, so it's difficult to judge. Oh well, c'est la vie.

17 October 2006

Bedside blogging

Developed a cold with flu-like symptoms or, the flu with cold-like symptoms, and have stayed bedside these past two workdays. Decided to write a bedblog as being home ill is a drag. I won't go to work tomorrow and the way I feel right now, Thursday's not looking much better. The worst thing is the cough. Hacking, chest heaving, gut wrenching coughing. It's hideous!!! I went to the pharmacy for a supply of meds and discovered they no longer put dextromethorphan into cough drops. That's the stuff that really holds the cough at bay, but I guess the teen set were consuming copious quantities of drops and getting "high". Seems like an alleged high to me - I've never gotten a buzz from cough drops, just relief. I'm eating vitamin C, drinking orange juice and water and sucking on zinc-based, get-well quick drops. I guess I'm better than yesterday and hopefully not as good as tomorrow.

The worst thing about illness is daytime TV. Thank god for BBC - I'm entertained by their daily lineup and only wish I had my friends from Ohio around to laugh about "Are You Being Served?" Three of us used to watch that on the local PBS station and enjoyed recounting the episodes. I wonder if they've ever seen "Keeping up Appearances" ... I know they'd love Onslow.

Oh well, I get this every couple of years - I think my antibodies get low and need a booster, so I get sick, build up the antis and stay well for another couple of years. At least it's early this year and won't interfere with holiday food consumption. One has to consider the up and downside of every scenario. Hope to be back with a bus blog in a few days.

13 October 2006


Haven't written in a few - not feeling so inspired lately and not sure why. Today is a Friday the 13th - some of my favorite days in the year. Don't forget to write your Law of Abundance checks!

Today's ride included a bit of a twist. Recently, a family regularly boards the bus between Price and McClintock. A father, mother, three small children and a folded stroller comprise their party and they always get off at Rural and Guadalupe. They usually sit in the very first seats - so noted because it requires a small climb over the stroller to get to the BTA. This morning, however, they filled the BTA (NG was not in situ) so I needed to make a quick seating decision. I plopped down near my original seat of choice and the ride continued. We got to Lakeshore and Guadalupe and a young man, regular rider, boarded. Since I occupied his "regular" seat, like me he faced a quick seating decision. He opted to plant across from me and the ride continued. I found myself wanting to get up into the BTA - I like riding on the bird perch with a view of the whole bus. I felt antsy and, almost, anxious. I sensed the young man didn't care much for his new digs, either. Once we turned the corner and dropped the family, I scooted up into the BTA and the young man popped across the aisle and into his standard space. Whew! A bit of an unsettling start to the day. So what was that about?

Walking from the bus stop to the office, my eyes were filled with the beginnings of one of Arizona's finest attributes - a lovely sunrise. A colleague once said that Arizona is the most beautiful place on earth, twice a day, sunrise and sunset. Believe me, that can be so true. Today's show wasn't overly spectacular, but the contrast of the light and the silhouettes of the trees grabbed my attention. Not in current possession of my regular camera, I used my phone camera. A bit weak, it still gives the idea. There are probably a gazillion Arizona sunrise/sunset pictures on the web and none of them do justice to the real thing. Still, we must try.


06 October 2006

It doesn't matter

The 6am66 bus stop has "partial amenities" - chair-quality bench (back and arms) and trash can - no lighting or overhead canopy for shade or cover from the elements. We're a step up from the "natural" or "organic" bus stops with rock seats in Mesa, but not overwhelmed with extras. While waiting for the bus this morning, storms visibly moving in from the south, I wondered how much lightning protection does the typical bus shelter provide? Most Valley shelters seem almost treelike and we know that trees are verboten in lightning situations. However, as the bolts slam out of the sky, I feel extremely vulnerable without any cover.

Golf course protocol for lightning says to lie down on the ground. I understand the logic, but fear the bus driver wouldn't see me and stop if I chose to wait, fully prone on the ground. Or, if she did see me, just drive by and call the police to report a drunk passed out at the stop. Then the police would come and find out I wasn't passed out or drunk, just taking proper storm precautions and they might be angry and arrest me for wasting valuable police time. Then again, they might let me wait for the bus in the cruiser, providing much needed shelter from the storm. Probably not. Fortunately, storms during bus waits are infrequent and the lightning-dodging dilemma rarely surfaces.

02 October 2006

Another great blog from Phoenix

Degrees of separation - this web thing has turned the world into one big neighborhood. Through a blog link on the UK bus driver's site, I learned about Flight Level 390, a blog written by a pilot from Phoenix. His writing entertains and his photography catches views only a pilot can see. A great find.


Monday morning and lots of sleepy eyes on the bus. I tend to over sleep on the weekend and can't sleep on Sunday night. Didn't fall asleep until 1AM and then woke up at 3:30AM. Didn't really sleep that much this weekend, so don't know what that's about. Oh well, if that's the worst thing I ever have to deal with . . .

The bus windows were open and we enjoyed natural air conditioning. How nice to not sit under the icy blasts of cold conditioned air. The outside temperature hovered in the low 70s and felt simply mahvelous, dahling. Not yet jacket weather, but no longer sweating upon arrival at the bus stop. I do believe fall is in the air. The image today reflects the sleepy eyes often found on the 6am66.

30 September 2006

Another Valley Metro Bus Blogger!

Got a comment today on my most recent post from a guy named Coach Dave - he writes a blog about his rides on the Valley Metro. His blog can be found at http://davesbusride.blogspot.com/. He's a creative rider and I'm thrilled to read another's experiences riding in this Valley of the Sun - check it out!

Also, while looking at Coach Dave's blog, I found a link to a previoulsy unknown bus blog which led me to another bus blog written by a driver in Torbay, England - Bus Driving is neat - lots of good pictures and you get to hear the driver's side of the story. Definitely worth a visit.

28 September 2006


Back to same old, same old. Except, not exactly. Newspaper Guy (Bill) wasn't there today, but he's never gone for long. Bicycle Guy (Mark) has returned to the regular 6AM66 fold and Dave and I rounded out the BTA. Business as usual prevailed until a review of the riders revealed an abundance of new and different faces with some long familiar and some more recently familiar mixed in the pot. Broadmoor lady boarded and joined us in the BTA. Like trees that lose leaves in the fall and grow new in the spring, bus ridership cycles through change. A core contingent exists, and the rest come and go as life circumstances demand. Feeling a bit reflective today, I guess.

Have taken the 81 home most evenings recently. My timing to catch the 66 just sucks and I'm so glad I have a choice. Always a bigger 6400 class bus, the 81 feels like a workhorse next to the cartoonish quality of the 66. I like the contrast and will probably continue to do the dual route thing for awhile. Gives me that much more potential for blogging material. Last night a man with a white cane got on the bus, talking on his cell phone. He couldn't seem to pay and talk and board all at the same time and, to his credit, he abandoned the call to take care of business. He told the driver where he wanted to get off and then sat down and made his call. When he got off, he apologized profusely to the driver for his lack of attention when boarding. Amazing how a little courtesy leaves such a positive feeling. I might have thought less of him for using the phone, but he recognized the problem and made amends.

27 September 2006


Welcome back, eh? Took off last week to boost Amtrak's earnings for 2006. My mother and I flew to Chicago and trained to Seattle on the Empire Builder, then to Los Angeles via the Coast Starlight and finished back in Maricopa (yes, a train station lives in Maricopa, Arizona) on the Texas Eagle. A nice adventure which I hope to document somewhere on the WWW. While in Seattle, nothing would do but to photograph a bus so I captured this image of one of their articulating craft. Didn't realize a right turn was imminent or would have waited to shoot and display it in full articulation. Note the electric trolly poles on the top! Seattle's streets flourished with buses and the train station held "Sounder" cars - commuter-style trains covering the length of the Puget Sound region. They don't seem quite as enchanted with their autos as Phoenix, but still not as mass transit sophisticated as New York or even Chicago.

Speaking of Chicago, we experienced the death/thrill-ride of a lifetime on the Blue Line! Our pre-train train adventure occurred as we traveled from O'Hare airport to Union Station in downtown Chicago. The trains are much like NY subway cars - a bit shorter perhaps but with that same well-worn, industrial essence. We sat at the end of the next-to-the-last car on the train, right beside the car-connecting mechanisms. Not sure if that combination of car choice and body location worked to enhance the violence of the ride or not. The train would speed up to what felt like 100 MPH and then slam down to 0 MPH in a single intake of breath. While roaring along the track, the car swayed back and forth, in extremis. Envision a game of crack-the-whip and we were the last man attached. An awesome beginning to a train adventure.

Just like riding the 6AM66, I found that people constituted the best part of our train trip. You just gotta love public transportation.

14 September 2006

Believe me, it doesn't matter

Today's post does not discuss today's ride. Last night I experienced my most unique bus ride yet, so prepare for a longer than usual entry.

I worked late and headed for the bus stop about 7:10 PM. The bus "should" arrive at 7:28 but in the evening, schedules seem to get skewed. Luckily (hah!) I left early as the bus came at 7:20. Thus began a ride to remember. When I boarded, oddly, all the wheelchair site seats were set in the fully locked and upright position. This left only the two front seats and the brain trust area open for seating. I hate those front seats, so proceeded to the back where a young couple occupied the rear bench seat. We rode in comfortable silence, south on Mill, adding just one more rider. The bus pulled into the left turn lane to go east on Baseline and stopped for the light.

Suddenly, everything stopped. The lights went out, the air conditioner turned off and the engine became silent. The lights flickered on and off, but no action from the engine. The driver tried to re-start, but nothing worked. The driver opened the doors, said he couldn't identify the problem, didn't know if we would get a mechanic or a shuttle or another bus or what. He said he couldn't let us off the bus since we were in the middle of traffic and he would be liable if any of us got hurt. A very busy intersection, I had already envisioned us inching around the bus to get to the crosswalk area. The young couple and I started chatting - they questioned me extensively about my needle and thread tattoo - the other passenger talked on her cell phone. We relaxed in a what-are-you-gonna-do-about-it attitude and only the driver seemed rattled. Another bus pulled up alongside and I heard that driver ask our driver if we were broken down. Our driver affirmed and the other guy drove away. Turned out, that bus was the next 66 and the jerk eyeball ass driver didn't offer to let us get on his EMPTY bus and continue on our way. Not that it mattered, really, but what in the world happened to customer service?

Eventually, a Tempe police officer arrived to help manage traffic. A large bus, stopped dead in the only left turn lane of a major intersection, seemed worthy of police intervention. He held up traffic so we could get off the bus and the four of us proceeded across Mill and then across Baseline to the next bus stop. I figured I'd just wait for the next 66 as I had no one to call and come get me. The young man from the bus called his father and arranged for a pickup. It turned out that they lived near me so I accepted a ride home. A motorcycle accident blocked the intersection at Rural and Baseline, so the rescuer had to drive down to McClintock to go south. I had him drop me off at Walgreen's - just didn't feel right having him backtrack to my house. I walked home and as I headed west on Guadalupe, what comes rolling up? The next 66. Timing rules everything.

This crazy bus ride produced a lot of interesting interactions. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Aaron and Isha, the young couple. She works at Trader Joe's, so maybe I'll see her some time when I'm shopping. What a disappointing lack of customer service from Valley Metro, though. I think the situation befuddled our driver and his critical thinking skills failed him. He could have asked the next driver to let us on his bus, but we were not on his mind. I guess we were on my mind because I was one of us - perspective. Oh well, get to blog about it and any blogworthy bus experience equals time well spent.

13 September 2006

#41something or other

Geez, I looked but have totally lost the number. Whatever, it was a great discussion day on the bus. Bicycle Guy (Mark) is back on the 6am66 and he and Goatee Guy were talking about bus riding and the city of Mesa.

Apparently Mesa doesn't want to put much money into public transportation, so it really doesn't have many routes and maybe 10 bus stops have benches. GG said he called Mesa to inquire about getting a bench for a stop and whoever he talked to said, "Doesn't that stop have a rock?", referring apparently to a semi large boulder near the bus stop sign. Not sure how many the rock seats, however. Outstanding customer service, eh? BG and GG then went off about an imaginary city council meeting where all the chairs were removed and replaced by a single rock. Also, council members had to walk two miles to get to the meeting. Also, a really large hole was cut in the roof of the council chambers to insure that rain and sun could enter. Also, oops, the meeting must have started early, so they'll have to wait 30 minutes for the next meeting to start.

It was a great discussion; just a shame council people are too busy driving their oversize, gas-guzzling, jerk eyeball trucks to worry about incidentals like public transportation, traffic congestion and the environment. I looked at Mesa's website, and, shockingly, they received an award recently from the EPA for being a "commuter friendly" city. Duh and hello????? Wonder how much the church city paid the EPA to get that award? Gosh, I hate it when I get political. Today's image is supposed to be depressing as in what I get when I think about cities like Mesa and their insulated, isolated, center-of-the-universe policies.

07 September 2006


Wow, it has been a few since my last post. I've become temporarily irregular as a rider and it damages my ability to blog, buswise. Oh well, helps me better understand the comings and goings of others on the 66.

Dave said yesterday the 6am bus never arrived and he had to wait until 6:30. He seemed to think it was an act of rebellion or vengeance on the part of our new regular driver. I didn't quite follow his reasoning. He said it was based on information he received about our driver from other drivers, but that didn't make sense to me and I'm thinking I just didn't hear him correctly. Anyway, when we got on the bus he questioned the driver about yesterday's missing 6am66 and she said the bus broke down. That seems more logical to me than a purposeful plot to upset the rhythm of the 6am66 route.

NG and EG were on the bus today - makes for a great sense of camraderie when everyone is chatting away. We had some rain this morning and ridership was light. People in Arizona behave strangely in the rain. Much ado about getting wet, as though they might melt if a drop of rain hit them. I've heard of people cancelling appointments because they didn't want to go out in the rain. Talk about a failure to understand the logic. That is one mindset I just can't seem to follow. Today's image is detritus. That's what I feel like so that's what you get.

28 August 2006


Whew - long time gone! Worked from home last week while new windows were installed. Missed the whole first week of school and I'm not complaining. Too many people - what are they thinking?

Wondered if the bus would have new wrinkles, but will take a few weeks to see what's up and who's riding. Bicycle guy is back, along with Engineering guy. We were all in the BTA and it felt nice and comfortable. If grades stay good and all goes well, we'll have some graduations in May. Need to have a bus party - mimosas at 6am?

A young girl got on the bus and I wondered about her destination. I wanted her to be in kindergarten, but reality told me she probably wasn't on the bus alone unless she was at least in high school - puhleez god don't let her be in college. Gloriosky, she got off at Mill and Broadway, the corner where Tempe Union High School lives. She just looked so very, very young and I didn't want to think I was old enough that college kids could look as young as her. Bad enough she's in high school, but hopefully a freshman. I remember when the NCAA basketball players looked like old men - somewhere along the line, they started to let children play the game. So what's up with that?

11 August 2006


Haven't posted in a few - things have been same old, same old, so nothing to report. I can verify, however, that today's bus had a white wall in the back and it does make a difference in bus lighting. Breathtaking news, eh?

Dave was back in the BTA - medical report must have indicated he is still alive as he got on the bus and sat upright without assistance. Good going, Dave. One of the Steves was riding and eventually we were joined by a man I will call Liberal Guy. He's been on before, but no discernible pattern of riding. I call him Liberal because he uses all the language and commentary that would make a good liberal proud. This is not a criticism, especially since I tend toward the left of center myself; however, he is so negative, it almost makes me want to be conservative. He definitely sports the half-empty perspective which indicates to me that no matter what happens, he wouldn't be happy with it. Even if everything happened as he thought it should, he'd find fault with why it happened or how it happened or etc., etc., etc. It's interesting to listen and, hopefully, learn.

On a totally non-bus topic (I know it's a bus blog, but it's mine and I'm the writer) I have to explain today's image. Through a feed from 37Signals, I read a blog entry about "pimp cups" which led me to a website called IcedOutGear. It is a place for the hiphop fan to outfit his/her gangsta self. What fascinated me most were the "grillz" - appliances that fit over the teeth for the ultimate dazzling smile. Initially, I could see the food trapped between the rhinestones; however, the ad cautions that these are decorative and not for eating. Since I'm not much of a hiphop fan, I probably won't ever get to see some grillz in person. Have to settle for the internet.

08 August 2006


Made sure and looked at the bus number today. The bus seemed different when I got on - finally decided the back wall was covered with dark carpet and it changed the lighting effect. Lighting effect on a bus? Seems a bit incongruous... Hope I remember to look tonight and see how the back wall is decorated in this evening's bus.

Today is a mishmash of uneventfulness - ridership was low, but this is one of the slowest times of year on campus and most humid in Arizona. I think people head for the hills and there's only a skeleton crew of us left to hold the place together. When I got on today, the driver was talking and it sounded like she was placing death-like threats on her husband. Newspaper Guy was fearful of more male-bashing when I joined the group, but I told him I'd save it for another day. Need to hold those cards sometimes. NG, who unintentionally collects dogs, was pleased to announce that two of his current collection are leaving his nest. Round of applause and yay!

In other news, Dave is in absentia - he's having some medical tests done and hope the results are good. He helps anchor the BTA on Mondays when NG is off and we need him back in position.

Not much else to report from the 66.

03 August 2006


Back in the saddle today - spot on time for the 6am 66. When I got on the bus, the driver and Newspaper Guy were chatting away and I joined the fray. Quite a bit of friendly male-bashing - NG was battered and bruised, but he'll get even, I'm sure.

Engineeering Guy was back! Said he's moved closer to the Southern/Mill stop and thinks he can make the 6:10am 66. He's so refreshing - hope we see him more often. No exciting engineering terms today; however, we discussed polynomials - one of my favorite words. Apparently, he looked at prime-rich polynomials from a new, non-math point of view and discovered (created? invented? not sure how new things evolve in math) a unique approach. His discovery so impressed his math professor, he will make a presentation at MathFest, the big annual conference of the Mathematical Association of America. We have a math celebrity on our route! Is that cool or what? In searching for polynomials to help create today's image, I found a nice website about math. Check it out. We'll send positive thoughts and karma to EG as he prepares for his presentation.

02 August 2006

4130, I think

A bit of a twist today. I fiddlefarted around and missed the 6AM 66. It wasn't a mad dash to the stop only to see the bus drive away - I knew I wouldn't make it, so hung around the house until time for the 6:30. I believe we can chalk this up to my vertigo, another dizzying experience.

The 6:30 was great, though, as Mark AKA Bicycle Guy got on and we had a nice catch-up chat as we rode to ASU. He said he'd be back on our 6am ride once classes start again. The 6:30 had a nice bunch of riders and the scooter guy from the other morning was there. It was just enough more people, I almost want to try the 7, 7:30 and 8am buses to see how they populate. I'll be staying late for a class on Thursdays starting fall semester, so maybe I'll use that as my experimental day and go in later to test the water. I'm thinking bus research could become a semi-career if I let it. There are places I want to go and things I want to do on the bus - just need to find the time.

01 August 2006

something or other

Completely forgot to look at the number this morning. Let's blame it on the vertigo, OK? I might let this condition linger for awhile - could become the blanket excuse of the century. It was a medium level ride today - NG read the paper and commented while I knitted and commented back. Not too crowded and, at the end, a couple of men joined us in the BTA. After a good morning was exchanged, NG made a comment about going to work and let me tell you, release the hounds! The one man started in about his job and getting late notice and no time to get to work on time and etc., etc,. etc. He was not a happy man, but somehow it seemed he might be better for getting out his frustration. I got off two stops after he got on, so I don't know how long the diatribe continued. Hopefully, the rest of his day goes well.

In yesterday's mail, I received a Washington Post article from my Uncle John. He knows I write a bus blog and thought the article was appropos. It is about two guys who ride a Washington metro bus and wrote a play about the characters on their bus. I've often thought the bus could be the basis of a TV series - a kind of "Night Court" on wheels. You have the regulars and then each episode involves them with the different characters and situations that occur. I applaud these guys for actually doing what I only thought about. I found the article online and here's a link: "The 70" - Washington Post 25July2006" Reminiscent of the 66.

31 July 2006


Been a few days - got a bout of vertigo - weird stuff. Still dizzy and confused, but some would say that's my normal state . . .

Today's a bits and bobs kind of day on the bus. Newspaper guy is off on Monday so I had the BTA to myself for a few. There's a new guy at the bus stop - he smokes, so he lingers away from the actual stop area until the bus arrives. He seems nice enough and he got up in the BTA, too. There was a young man already on the bus who had a golf bag. He got off at Rural and Guadalupe - probably taking the 72 up Scottsdale Road to Karsten or one of the 3 million other golf courses in the Valley. Then a guy got on with an oversized razr scooter - he got off at my stop at ASU. It must have been equipment day on the bus - golf clubs, scooter and then a woman who has ridden 3 or 4 other times. She has a wheelchair that she sits in and when the bus comes, she gets up, folds the chair up, carries it on the bus, rides a few stops, gets herself and the wheelchair off the bus, sits back down and wheel-walks her way down the sidewalk. She has a nice quilt folded on the wheelchair and a pillow seat. She seems well-equipped and I'm ever so curious why she has the chair. She seems fit enough to get it on and off the bus - I know there are probably a million physical reasons why someone needs a wheelchair and they don't have to be obvious. She just seems so capable and I don't think she'd use the chair if it was for someone else. Oh well, ours is not to question why or whatever.

I'm obsessed with knitting right now, so thought I'd bring the current project on the bus - it's just going in circles at the moment, so easy to knit without a pattern on the bus. Scanned it and let it have its little corner of fame in today's blog.

26 July 2006


Geez, it's been a week since I posted on the blog. Work has been wicked and then I don't ride the bus on the weekend . . . guess seven days can slide by quickly.

Our regular driver, Steve, is on a different route now. He told me they switch routes so they don't burn out. I sure will miss him. He's been the best of the drivers I've experienced in the last year. Newspaper guy told me the new driver might have time issues. I knew Steve wasn't driving, so this morning I made sure and got to the stop with time to spare. I didn't notice the time the 66 arrived, but NG told me later that he technically "missed" the bus yesterday as it was pulling away when he arrived at the stop. He had his wife drive him to the next available stop and he finished the ride on the 66. Today was OK, but apparently timing could be an issue. Maybe it's just newness on the route? Gotta keep us riders on our toes.

Today's bus was full! People got on at virtually every stop and no one was getting off. When the Broadmoor lady got on, the seat at the very back next to NG was the only one left and she came back to the BTA. At Broadway and Mill, a young man in blue hospital scrubs got on and had to stand. I figured he'd get off at Tempe St. Luke's Hospital, but not so. Two more people ended up standing with the scrub guy. It was a full house, standing room only. Wonder what makes that happen some days?

19 July 2006


Calling today's bus the #41Steve is no typo. Our regular driver's name is Steve, so what could be more appropos? Then, yesterday, I met a new Steve who is a part-time regular on the 66. We all know Steve the Mechanic, who still shows up on occasion. And today, NG introduced me to another Steve, a regular who, for reasons unexplained, hasn't been with us for awhile. I assume he's back now and I'm surrounded with Steves. I have known the occasional Steve over the years, but to have so many circling about in the same microcosm of my life - I'm thinking some kind of "other meaning" is in progress - like crop circles or Stonehenge. If we were in Sedona, I'd swear a vortex had taken over the 66. Whatever, it's fodder for blog posts.

The bus was quite full today, equally balanced between regulars and irregulars. One oddity - Broadmoor lady got on at the Broadway and Mill stop - a good half mile south of her usual boarding point. If she didn't walk or drive, she needed to take the earlier 66 in order to get there to catch the 6am 66 (there we go with the 6's again...). Maybe she walked down to Walgreen's for something, planning to catch the bus at the corner? Whatever, she was out of place and that gets my OCD clanging. She still remained Broad, however - Broadway/Broadmoor - sheesh!

18 July 2006


Yes, we are double posting today. Tonight's ride home had several oddities I just couldn't ignore. To begin, I was 10 minutes early to the bus stop, and the bus never showed up. It was 111 degrees, no breeze and I had no water. The stop is in the shade, but the building that provides the shade is in sun all day and heat pulses off of it for hours after the sun has passed. To compound the frustration, a road closure re-routed all buses down Mill so bus after bus after bus passed by - just none of them was the 66. Finally, after 50 minutes waiting, the 66 arrived. A lady on the bus told me the previous bus broke down, explaining the delay. It was 5:10 PM, high rush hour, and the ride took forever. There was a bad accident on Mill, just past Southern although it managed to only block one lane. Rush hour and traffic reduced to one lane really drags out the ride.

There was a man in the front seat, opposite the driver, who was either loaded on drugs or suffering from some kind of neurological disorder. He would sway around in the seat, get a big huge grin on his face and then laugh. He'd straighten up, lean against the post for awhile and then repeat the whole thing again. It was weird. He was on the bus when I got on, so don't know how long he'd been riding. At Alameda a young man got on and sat a couple seats away from the front. The bus was approaching Southern and the front seat guy suddenly got up and started asking everyone if they had a cigarette. He got no response until he asked the young man who asked if he was getting off soon. The man said yes and the young man said hold on, I can help you. He stood up, got out a pouch of tobacco and a paper, and proceeded to roll a cigarette. It was amazing to watch him and I was torn at his generosity and yet it was a cigarette for godsakes! A paradoxical act of charity, I believe. He gave the man the cigarette and they both sat down. The bus continued on, stopping as usual and the man didn't get off. The young man departed at Southern and Mill and the front seat guy still was riding. I didn't see what happened to the cigarette, but I will never forget its creation. What a night on the bus.


That might be last night's number, but I'm pretty sure it's this mornings, too. I looked, but the ride was so interesting, the number left my head almost immediately. Maybe 4123? Oh well, we know it started with 41.

Today was interesting because on old "regular" was on the bus - Steve. Not Steve the Mechanic, but a man named Steve who sits in the BTA with Newspaper Guy. We were all properly introduced and it turns out Steve works for Amercia West/US Air and his shifts rotate. That's why he's a part time regular on the 6AM bus. I remember in early blog posts that I thought someone in the BTA worked for America West and I later learned that neither NG nor BG was an airline employee. Now that I've met Steve, I bet I heard him talking and assumed one of the others was the airline guy. I said something about my curiosity at why people come and go and he said he'd wondered that himself. I know BG is currently working a different shift and won't be back on the 6am 66 (wow, that's almost a 666 thing ...) until late August. I guess Steve will be with us for awhile and then gone again when his shift changes. It feels good to have a little order and reason behind these comings and goings. Sometimes I feel like Monk -- just need the ducks to line up.

17 July 2006


Another morning on the Valley Metro - low key pretty much says it all. Wonder if the heat is starting to take its toll. One evening ride last week I witnessed a near-fisticuff incident. A seriously intoxicated man got on the bus at Southern and Mill. He barely made it up the steps and kind of swung around, falling onto the front seat, next to the door. He was swaying so badly and his eyes were so red and bloodshot - I almost felt hungover just looking at him - yowser! Anyway, at Baseline and Mill, a young man got up to leave and stood in front of the drunk, waiting for the bus to stop. Suddenly there were words and the young man turned, faced the older man and took a fighting stance. You could feel the tension; however, the young man took the high road and turned away, walking off the bus. The driver conversed with the older man and in a couple of seconds, he got off, too. Figure the driver told him to leave. Probably not good to let him loose on the street, but can't have him on the bus harassing other riders. No good solution to that problem. Guess I can't blame the heat for that event - alcohol was the major player.

Bus this morning was freezing. We can shuttle back and forth in space and have quantum physics, string theory, fast food - why is heating and air conditioning so difficult to manage? I realize the variables are constantly changing, making accuracy difficult, but I'm on a bus in Arizona summer, wishing I had a winter scarf and coat. What is that about? Image-inspiring, I guess.

13 July 2006

I forgot . . .

Today was such a fun day, I completely failed to note the number. Let's make something up, let's say it was 4141 - OK?

The ride started out as usual - Newspaper Guy in the BTA, along with me and Dave. Thursday must be a big paper day as there were tons of sections and NG was sharing stories with us left and right. I just learned we have two serial killers and a serial rapist at large in Phoenix! I never watch local news and only read international press online, so it is difficult to keep up with who is doing what to whom. Anyway, we were reading and chatting and discussing and Goatee Guy got on and it just got chattier. Then, at Broadway and Mill, Engineering Guy boarded the bus! Long time gone and he was a welcome sight. He nestled right into the BTA with everyone and said he felt like he was coming into a family. Isn't that nice? Public transportation really does have a nice side.

10 July 2006


Missed posting on Friday - lots to do and not much time to do it. We had a great bus ride - it went to SRO! Summer has been such light ridership - it was amazing to see so many people. All the serious regulars were perched in the brain trust area and the bottom of the bus was full of newbies - standing, sitting - they were everywhere. Oddly, it was fairly quiet for such a crowd. No one knows anyone else, so silence prevails. Today, there were lots of people, but we didn't get to SRO. I have noticed that cat lady and Broadmoor lady haven't ridden lately. Gosh, you give a girl a crown and she calls it quits. Hate to lose good regulars.

The other thing that happened Friday, or maybe it was Thursday . . . the days do run together when it's hot. Anyway, it rained! A lovely event which prompted me to buzz around outside my building and take pictures of the remnants. I've built a rain quilt picture and included it in this post. I'm particularly fond of the little seat raincoat on the bicycle. Nothing worse than a wet butt when riding home.

05 July 2006


Whew! Been awhile since the last post. Took some time away from work and no work means no bus. The 4th of July holiday is always good for extending the long weekend and I just took it a few days longer. Back to the grind and I am not finding it easy to return.

Return is the name of the game for the bus - today, Mark (AKA bicycle guy) came back for a visit. He changed to a later work schedule and we haven't seen him on the 66 for quite a while. He said today was only temporary riding status, but we'll see him around occasionally. Goatee Guy sat in the BTA with us all and we had an interesting discussion about an uncle of his who built a basement, after the fact, under his house. Guess the uncle collected lots and lots of guns and wanted a safe place to store and otherwise take care of his ordnance. Never know what you're going to talk about on the bus. Neither cat lady nor the Broadmoor lady got on today. They had been so regular, hope this means vacation time, just like me.

Made an image for commemorating the 4th of July. Went to Flo and only saw what fireworks were shooting up in the various towns between Flo and Tempe. That's one of the nice things about desert living - you can see for miles, including fireworks displays.

22 June 2006


Yeah, I got the number - apparently the gray cells are not on vacation. Today wasn't eventful, just another bus ride. Newspaper guy, Dave and I had command of the brain trust area and a young woman got on fairly early and joined us. For some reason today, Dave took off his ball cap. I was getting sun in the face, so I put on my big raffia ray-resistor. He always wears a cap and I save my hat for campus walking but today we went polar opposite. Newspaper guy never has a hat, but since he brings the paper and sits in the back in a commanding position, I gave him an honorary admiral's hat, constructed of, what else ... newspaper, in today's image.

Yesterday, there was a young man sitting on the back seat with newspaper guy when we got on the bus. He kind of joined in the conversation and even read some of the paper. Today, we got on the bus and the same young man was on again, but not in the BTA. Instead, he was sitting on the lower level, next to the BTA. He was on the seat facing the front of the bus with his legs stretched out over the whole seat. He had bags and, frankly, looked like he planned to become a permanent fixture on the bus. We got lots of riders and I was curious if he would move if the seat area his legs occupied was needed. The timing was such that as a new person got on, someone else got off and no one needed the space. He might have been asleep — I was above him, looking down and couldn't see his face. I like riding the bus, but sure wouldn't want to make it my home. Curious to see if he's there tomorrow. Care to wager?

21 June 2006

what's in the bag?

Haven't blogged for a few. Work is busy and the morning ride has been so normal as to be nearly a yawn. Last night's ride, however, was a different matter. I opted to catch the bus at Stadium Drive and College Avenue. It's a bit of a hike from my building, but that's the point. I sit all day and need to stretch out my legs. The heat doesn't bother me if I keep the pace moderate, and I get to see more of campus. Anyway, as I approached the intersection where College deadends into University, there were three police cars on the sidewalk and lawn and two more parked in the street. I pushed the button to cross and a little man, standing in front of me, stepped back and said, "It's a suspicious bag. That's why they're all around here. Better hurry and get out of the way." The light changed, I crossed University and went on down toward the bus stop, wondering if they were going to hold the buses and if I was in for a long evening. Other buses were leaving, but mine hadn't arrived and I was afraid they might not let them enter College Avenue. The time came and so did the bus, so the emergency hadn't expanded to public transportation. However, instead of going south on College and turning west on University, our driver was forced to turn west at 6th Street (2 blocks earlier than usual) and we went to Forest before heading over to University. It was completely blocked to traffic and the backup and nightmare was just beginning. We slid on by and I wasn't even a little late getting home. This morning, newspaper guy asked if we got caught in it and showed me an article in the paper saying the streets were blocked for 4-1/2 hours while they dealt with the "suspicious bag". Apparently it was full of clothes and of no harm to anyone. The owner probably sat it down while they talked to someone and walked away, forgetting it. Imagine reading the paper today and finding out your missing bag immobilized Tempe for 4+ hours! Don't think I'd be hurrying over to the policed department to claim my property.

14 June 2006


Well the oddities of the 66 continue. Newspaper guy was again absent and we haven't seen bicycle guy for almost three weeks. Change of schedule, I hope. Dave and I have become permanent fixtures in the brain trust area and pretty much own the bus for the first half of the trip. It's kind of like having a seriously stretched limo but none of the amenities. The driver is nice and the door opens automatically, but that's about it. I guess the upholstery on the seats is a "plush" fabric, but nothing about it gives that lay-back-and-lounge feel of the lovely deep leather found in most limos. But the driver is nice.

We are starting to get some serious repetition with a few new riders. Cat lady and Broadmoor lady are living up to their recently acquired "regular" crowns and we have a young, tall, African-American man who has been riding with a great deal of regularity. He will be the next crown candidate if his current riding pattern persists. He sits in the very back seat and today as he entered the brain trust area, we had official smiles, nods and "good mornings" exchanged between him and Dave and me. He has a very nice deep voice and is a welcome addition to the BTA. A man who is an irregular regular got on and also came to the back of the bus. I knew he talked to NG and BG in the past, so I wasn't surprised when he engaged us in conversation. Dave told me the correct pronunciation for Gallaudet University and that opened the door for the man to discuss regional word usage. He said that in Milwaukee, water fountains are called "bubblers" and Ohio is the only place where people say, "I'll be darned." He had several other examples of regionalisms, euphemisms and mixed metaphors. Not sure what he does and didn't get a chance to ask where he learned so much about naming practices in so many places. His accent was decidedly New York or Massachusetts so, who knows? Maybe he hitchhiked his way across the US to Arizona and learned all about local talk on the way? Probably nothing near so interesting.

13 June 2006

again with the missed number

I was so happy to see newspaper guy back in position, I completely forgot to look at the bus number. Oh well, yesterday was 4153 for those who really need the digital reference - we can pretend it was the same number for today.

Didn't blog yesterday, just too busy. The ride was uneventful except for the appearance of a fellow who claimed the 66 was always early and he kept missing it even though he was at the stop 10 minutes early. Just a wee bit of exaggeration, eh? The other regulars down the line seem to make it just fine and I'm not getting to work unusually early, so I'm thinking he needs a new watch. He was there today and all smiley and chipper. Wonder if he's going to become a regular? Two days barely makes him a repeater.

Today was an odd mish-mash of new and unusuals. A man got on the bus with a big, leathery duffel kind of bag. It appeared to have a few miles on it, as did he. I wondered if he was the male version of the bag lady? He had that scruffy street look and his bag would have been typically used for an athlete or traveller. He certainly didn't appear athletic and his travels seemed to be mostly of the public street variety. Dave was telling about driving large football players in the DR cart and this guy jumped into the conversation, talking about a large man trying to get into a very small car. He said it later turned out to be Lou Ferrigno of Incredible Hulk fame. The story sounded good - he even said something about talking to Lou on the phone. Off the bus, Dave said Ferrigno is deaf and wouldn't have been on the phone, so the story probably took place in fantasyland. Oh well, it passed time on the bus.

08 June 2006


Completely forgot today's number. I blame blogger.com - the connection with them has been terrible the last two days. Server overload perhaps? Whatever, I couldn't get the site up at all earlier and the bus number faded away. Sure hope they resolve their difficulties. I like their blog site best - at least I did until this slowness thingy.

Today was a fun bus day. Dave and I again entered the brain trust area. Newspaper guy and bicycle guy were both in absentia so someone had to keep the brain trust area alive. The fun part of the day was the arrival of engineering guy who sat back in the brain trust area with us. We had a nice chat, although not one engineering term was used. Most of the discussion centered on a hot wing eating contest he entered, wherein the wings were allgedly seasoned with habanero peppers. He said he worked on a plan to deal with the supposedly extra-hot wings and when the competition began he found that the heat of the wings landed somewhere between non-existent and a yawn. Ah, maybe there was an engineering connection - relativity! The measure of heat of a hot wing is relative to individual tolerance, taste and experience. Maybe we could invent a formula and become famous - like the Mohs hardness scale for minerals, we could have the 66 heat scale for wings?

EG did enlighten us somewhat about one reason for the reduction in ridership. He said the bus is getting to Southern and Mill at least 6 minutes earlier than it did in the winter. That's enough time off-schedule to miss the 66. EG says it's sunrise messing with the driver's circadian rhythm. I'm not sure - the bus arrives right on time at my stop; however, there are quite a few people who are no longer getting on between my stop and Southern and I wonder if that's speeded things up? It's a mystery. Today's image reflects the "cornucopia" of topics discussed today from habanero hot wings (not!) to sunrise.

07 June 2006


This was a slightly odd bus ride. Newspaper guy and bicycle guy have been conspicuously absent for the last few days and this morning Dave and I decided to ride in the brain trust area on their behalf. It was a nice cloudy morning so I sat facing east since there was no sun to blast my retinas. I usually face west, which is looking across traffic at the opposite side of the street. Facing east, I could see the bus stops and the "same side" that the bus travels. Nice change-o-pace. It was odd not only because of where I sat, but because Dave and I were the only passengers until just before Southern when the cat lady boarded. The driver even commented on the lack of riders. Don't know what's up, but it sure makes for a quiet ride. I like buzz and hubbub on the bus - not to be found these past few days. It's been unusually hot, but I'm not seeing a correlation with low ridership. Oh well, just like life, it's peaks and valleys.

Today's image is in honor of cat lady and Broadmoor lady (I don't like calling her "Broadmoor" as it could be taken in multiple ways, but nothing else fits right now - I'm working on it ...). These two are my repeater-almost-regular riders and today I bestow upon them the title "regular". They have been faithful to the 66 long enough to earn the crown. Congratulations ladies and welcome to the club.

02 June 2006

didn't look

Completely forgot to note the bus number. Decided to ride in the brain trust area with newspaper guy and the change-o-pace must have created a void in the daily think process. There were lots of irregulars riding today and, I'm about to anoint the two repeater ladies with full, regular status. They have been extremely regular, more even than some of the regular regulars. On Monday, if present, they will be elevated to regular status. The one is cat lady but I don't have a name for the other one. She gets on in front of the Broadmoor development, so perhaps that can play into her blog ID.

The bus today (whatever number it was) had a squeak, probably in the shocks. Seemed to squeak excessively over bumpy terrain. I noted the noise and NG suggested we should create a bus maintenance kit to attend to the minor things that go awry. WD-40 was at the top of the list and, you know me and odors, I had to add a bottle of Febreeze. Recent tire troubles indicate good use for a tire pump and an assortment of hand tools couldn't hurt. The image today and the bus FixIt! kit are born.

01 June 2006

#41 whatever

I looked at the number but absolutely can't recall. Oh well, c'est la vie! Today we'll cover some random topics - a bit of blog housekeeping. First want to note that Engineering Guy (aka Mike) has kindly provided some very interesting weblinks to help explain one of the terms that he used and I mentioned in a previous post. The term in question is "ductile fracture" and his links are contained in a comment he made at this bus blog post. Link 1 is an "Introduction to Fracture Mechanics" - is that cool, or what? Quantum physics, fracture mechanics - these words just roll on the tongue and beg to be repeated. Not to mention that there is a science devoted to studying fractures - ductile failure, tensile strength, etc. These things affect our lives and most of us don't even know they exist. Kudos for the links, EG!

Another facet of the day (and days to come) is Dave's class in American Sign Language. He needs to practice, so he will use our bus stop wait time to teach me what he's learned - adding to my knowledge base and reinforcing his. Today I learned "same", "different" and "nice" and reviewed how to communicate my name or ask the name of another. Could be an interesting summer - thought it was worthy of "image of the day."

Want to note how the bus provides more than mere transportation - EG's studies, Dave's sign language. Yesterday, newspaper guy learned I was shopping for and told me about his replacement windows. The bus - a virtual buffet of information.

30 May 2006


And yet another interesting day on the bus. Riders were in scarce supply. Dave and I were it until Mill and we picked up the two repeater-nearly-regular ladies at their respective stops. That was it - no irregulars, wannabes, semi-interested or otherwise. Kind of a surprise since today is the first day of classes for ASU's summer sessions. However, it is also the day after a long, Memorial Day weekend, and I'm sure some extended holidays are being observed. I believe either bicycle or newspaper guy is vacationing this whole week. We'll see what the rest of the days bring.

What made the bus day interesting wasn't the lack of ridership but rather the lack of air in the right front tire. The tire wasn't completely flat; however, it was heading in a downward spiral and the driver was in touch with the powers-that-be, attempting to procure a new bus or mechanic. At Rural and Guadalupe, the driver hopped out of the bus to check it and while he was calling the garage, Dave and I took turns hopping out to view the situation. It was my first ever bus off-and-on after boarding and it was delightful. I guess the sentiment is true to "be careful what you wish for." In a previous post, I mentioned a secret desire to be on a bus that breaks down. Didn't expect it to occur so soon. Sadly, the driver thought he could make it to College and 6th St, which is past my bus departure point, so I didn't get the thrill of a malfunction-related bus transfer. Close, though.

26 May 2006

#4127 (I think)

I looked at the number but it didn't register firmly in the gray matter. I think I'm close. The bus was a little late today - apparently the original one was stalling so our trusty driver asked for and received a replacement unit. I secretly always wanted to ride a bus that broke down, but do appreciate his desire to keep the flock happy and criticism of bus travel to a minimum.

Gotta tell you, this was one smelly ride. At Baseline and Mill a wino got on and he smelled like he spent the night inside a beer keg - whew! He looked odorous - crusty clothes (ugh!) and very weathery, leathery skin. He sat in the front seat, right behind the driver. Dave sits across from me in the first seat next to the front, so he was, unfortunately, downwind of the guy and receiving the odors in waves. About two stops later, a worker guy got on who smelled as though he'd smoked an entire carton of cigarettes while standing in a closed phone booth - geezo pete! He plopped down on the seat to Dave's right and proceeded to fuss with his bag while getting out and putting on some knee pads (carpet layer? tile setter?). The more he moved around, the more the smoke smell swirled. Dave was surrounded with odor and almost needed a nitro pill to survive.

As we walked toward campus, Dave and I talked about the smells and he said the cat lady still had a strong odor. She got on today and sat next to me, but I didn't notice it. Of course, I reallly dislike bad smells, so at the first hint, I go into subtle mouth-breathing mode. I was non-nasal from the minute the wino boarded, so I couldn't have smelled cat lady if I wanted to (hello??? who wants these smells????) It was an interesting ride and today's image will be used on future AROMA trips.

25 May 2006


Another day when I wasn't going to post to the blog and things conspire to make me write. First of all ... I got a comment from Engineering Guy! Is that slick or what? Don't know how he found the blog, but he did and has offered to give me links to define his phrases that I love so much. I have responded in the affirmative so we'll see what happens.

The second writing reason was an incident on the ride home today. I defected a bit and took the 81 home - it was hot and the 81 was sitting there, so I caved. I never like it as much as the 66 - just not as nice, as you shall soon learn. We were driving east on University and suddenly heard a voice yell, "hey" from outside the bus. There was a woman walking down the sidewalk toward the bus stop, but she wasn't at the stop and wasn't hurrying to get there either. The driver heard the yell and pulled the bus over. The woman got on the bus and started bad mouthing the driver for going past and not stopping. The driver gave it right back to the woman, telling her she wasn't at the stop and the bus was going 40 mph - can't be stopped on a dime. The woman continued to jaw at the driver as she walked to the back and sat down. Someone rang the bell to be let off at the next stop, we turned the corner, stopped and it was the crabby lady who got off! WTF???? All that nastiness and she went less than a quarter mile. As she stepped off the bus from the back door she yelled up at the driver that she was going to file a complaint. What a sleazoid, jerk eyeball person! A couple sitting across from me talked to the driver and assured her that the woman was all wrong. The driver said she wasn't the first and wouldn't be the last and we rode off, parallel to the sunset.

I am amazed at the slimyness of people. The driver had no way to know that woman wanted to take the bus and was treated terribly by that slimoid sleazette. Geez - who needs such negativity? Oh well, just makes me appreciate the 66 all the more. Today's image is inspired by Arizona's heat, and the heated argument that took place on the 81.

24 May 2006


Not sure why I still keep putting the bus number on these posts. Beats coming up with a new name each time, I guess. Still have hopes of one day making a chart showing all the buses ridden and number of repeats. I will have to be seriously bored to go there, however.

Nothing exceptional occurred on the bus today, but one of the repeaters (almost a regular) got on the bus today wearing a jacket that caused some olfactory concerns in earlier rides. At least, I think it was the jacket. This woman usually ends up sitting next to me and several days in a row there was a strong odor of cat urine about her when she got on the bus. Dave noticed and mentioned it, too. It was so strong to me, I couldn't imagine she wasn't aware of it. She always wore a blue nylon windbreaker and I wondered if it was new, hadn't been washed yet and maybe the fabric/sizing was giving off the catlike smell. Whatever the case, she stopped wearing the jacket and the odor left her. Today she got on the bus, again wearing the blue jacket and there was no smell. I think the jacket got a bath and be it cat or fabric sizing, the aroma is gone. The whole odor thing made me think about bus smells - how you can detect the cigarettes on people and then those who haven't been one with their shower in awhile. I decided it would be nice if the bus had a misting system around the front door that would emit a fine spray of Febreeze or some type of deodorizer as passengers stepped onto the bus. Clever, eh? It could delicately remove some of the more pungent aromas that occasionally come onto the bus. OK, so I'm a little nuts ... gotta love it.

22 May 2006


Wellllll ...... I wasn't going to write today - this morning's ride was nice and normal and we've had enough of those. Coming home this afternoon, however, had some high spots, so can't resist the post. It was the same bus as this morning, so one wonders if this craft wanted so much to be featured in the blog that it arranged circumstances to make me want to write. Anything is possible, eh?

This morning, there was a sign in the window of the bus, 66N, and the overhead lighted sign wasn't working. This afternoon, there was no sign in the window and the overhead still wasn't working. A man at the bus stop gave the driver a very hard time for having no sign. She seemed impatient at being asked which bus it was, but what does she expect when there is no sign and the stop has four different routes that use it? Haven't we visited this before? Anyway, I got on and started to read. The buses have these electronic lady voices that announce major intersections and where transfers to other bus routes can occur. The lady voice is lovely, enthusiastic - ending every phrase on the upbeat - almost makes you excited at the possibility of a transfer. You get used to the sound and eventually don't listen. So I'm riding along and suddenly a man's voice loudly states, "Please remember to take your personal items when exiting the bus." I almost dropped my book. I have never heard this announcement before and it actually sounded like it came from a microphone, not the electronic lady-voice place. It was very reminiscent of the "mind the gap" announcements on the London tube. I have been a regular rider since August, 2005, and never once heard this before. No one else seemed to react, so maybe my timing has just been off and everyone else has heard it time and again? Whatever, I was taken aback as they say. It actually felt like a guy at the bus garage was looking at us through the camera and wanted to make sure he didn't have to put more stuff in the lost and found? It never repeated during the rest of the ride and I couldn't quite figure out how to phrase a question about it to the driver. She was in a pissy mood anyway with all the what-bus-is-it questions she'd been fielding. Might ask our regular morning guy.

We stopped at Baseline and Mill when a white van pulled in front of the bus, backed up a bit and parked. It seemed to want to block the bus and a man in a fluorescent road guard vest got out and came back to the bus. The driver opened the door and the guy handed her a yellow piece of paper with 66S printed on it in black marker. The driver told the man to place it in the window, he did and left. Apparently she had made arrangements to solve her bus ID problem. Not sure it means she can be cranky, but at least she was trying.

Needless to say, after this ride of bus firsts, I had to post on the blog.

18 May 2006


What a fun day on the bus! Got on and newspaper guy was in situ as well as a man who has ridden a couple of times before. He wears a purple polo-style shirt with a logo or emblem on the left breast area and I think his shirt holds a clue to his daily occupation. Sadly, my eyes are bad and I'd have to do a serious stare-thing at his chest to make a proper identification. Unfortunately, a casual-sauntering-by isn't an option on the bus, so will have to figure out some other shirt-reading methodology if he returns. After bicycle guy got on, NG asked me about my web work. Instead of hollering across the bus, I moved to the "brain trust area" - joined the upper crust (literally). All the seating past the back door is elevated two steps up - it's over the wheel area and I think they keep the whole area up to accomodate engine parts and things. Anyway, it's nice back there, I just never got in the habit of riding there in the morning. Enjoyed a nice chat with NG and BG and learned I missed a city voting opportunity this past Tuesday. Got a card in the mail and knew something was up, but I confess I avoid the news like the plague and am woefully out of touch with things municipal. NG works for the city of Tempe so perhaps I'll become better informed about local issues. Just think, the bus is becoming a kiosk on wheels. I sketched a bus layout so you could envision the brain trust area.

17 May 2006


Took a few days off and then yesterday was just too busy to blog. Things are really slow on the bus, so will probably be more discriminating and write when it's worthy. Today was really sparse. There were a total of nine people who used the bus while I was on it today. Newspaper guy, bicycle guy and goatee guy (he's been around for awhile, but I just never had reason to comment about him) sat in the upper back "brain trust" area; I was in my usual midline seat and the two new repeater-almost-regular ladies were in the front seat. There was a new man who got on and quickly got off and then, a couple of interesting ones - the street workers. At least I call them street workers as they are dressed as our street department people dressed when I worked for the city of Kettering in Ohio. They had white hard hats, work boots and carried shovels. This happens periodically - some worker-type person gets on the bus with a tool, rides for awhile and gets off. These two had transfers and got off at Southern, so must have been headed east or west. I don't know why I think they work for the city other than the dress and the tools. I can't see the city sending them around on the bus, but then again, who knows? These guys didn't have an approachable facade, but the next time one does, I'm going to ask. Decided to try and take pictures from my view at various stops. Today is from the stop at Broadway and Mill, facing west, looking at Tempe Union High School.

10 May 2006


Today's post will be rather calm after yesterday's calamitous beginning. The driver and newspaper guy were glad to see we worked out our bus difficulties and were back to routine. We did have a new rider join us at the stop this morning. He appeared from the condos that are directly behind the stop. Couldn't get a feel for his occupation or destination, so will just have to see if he repeats. There's a young woman who works at ASU who was a regular rider when I first started. She disappeared from the morning ride, although I did see her on rides home occasionally. She's been back on the 6am bus for the last week - wonder if she rides with the sun? Maybe uses a later bus in winter and earlier in spring? Might talk to her one of these days. Steve the Mechanic was back today for the first time in ages! He had his USA Today, but was not wearing the mechanic uniform. Vacation? Retirement? Unemployed? Hope it's vacation and nothing of a negative nature. The calm and normalcy of today's ride made me search for a pastoral image. I think this one is from New Zealand - can't get much more pastoral than sheep.