30 January 2006

More than just a bus blog ...

You'll notice a link to a blog post on Communication Nation - I really like this blog (and several others as well) and have decided when I read a post that seems worth the repeat, I'm going to add a link to my blog. Seems like cross linking is a good way to reach out and communicate.

Communication Nation: A simple recipe for effective communication

Communication Nation: A simple recipe for effective communication


Well, sadly, the ride has become so boring I failed to note the bus number. I had the flashing reflector on my bag, but the driver (a different one again) didn't say a word - how sad. This semester has really been a disappointment. There were regulars, but by the time I got off the bus, there were only six of us riding. The back seat newspaper guy returned today and Steve the Mechanic was back. There's a young Hispanic guy who has become a new regular - he wears a gray sweatshirt and pants that appear to be covered in paint or stucco or plaster or the like. He obviously works in the construction trade and for the time being is going to the same place at the same time every day. He doesn't seem to be someone who will enter into conversation, so I'll probably never know what the substance is that is dripped all over his clothes. It's almost a work of art, but I better not go there. We had a new guy come on in front of Marcos de Niza - bet we don't see him again. Another man got on at Southern and that was it before we got off. What a drag.

HTML codeDave spent most of the ride talking about his trials and tribulations with HTML code. He must learn it for his Online Media class, I guess, and it was quite chilling to hear him talk about color fonts and finding images that move. What are they teaching people? Oh well, whatever makes them happy. Truly, anyone can make a website; the trick is in making a good, accessible, functional website. That is another matter. In my quest to add visual interest to the blog, I created an image of a wee bit of HTML - nothing else of note was worth imaging on today's ride.

27 January 2006


Great gloriosky, I am validated!!! Again this morning I put my little reflector on my bag and waited for the bus. When it arrived and I got on, the driver said, "It looks like a disco here." I laughed and told him I was trying to improve visibility at our dark stop. Devo album coverHe said it was a great idea - he noticed it right away. Am I smiling hugely or what??? Yesterday Dave said with my coat and the flasher I looked like a member of the band, Devo (???). Today it's disco - from Devo Woman to Disco Momma in a scant 24 hours. The future is looking bright, Burt.

The bus was uneventful again. Of course, it's Friday and that is always a slow day - very few classes, so ASU is less busy. One regular lady came back on, but she was the only returning regular. I'm the only person who rode the 6am bus every single day this week - now that's regular.

26 January 2006

Notes about the blog ...

Just a few comments about the blog - notice the "new look"???? Decided to begin to bring this baby up to the next level of CSS expertise. How about the bus image on the header? It's a photo of a real Valley Metro bus, but it's a 6000 class vehicle - longer than the 4100 class that are regularly used on our little low-budget route 66. If you notice, I did put 66 on the top sign - one of these days we'll move to bigger buses - I'm confident.

I'm trying to add more images to give the blog a bit more visual interest. While my written words are obviously delightful, entertaining and thoroughly capable of keeping your attention, good design dictates that I add images. Not entirely sure about the colors yet, but will let it stand for a month before dabbling.

Gosh it's fun to blog.


A bit better ridership today, although it didn't pick up until we got to the stop at Baseline. Steve the mechanic got on and then a couple more fall regulars. Still just doesn't have the character from my early rides. Maybe when the sun comes back up ...

Found the little flashing reflector and put it on my bag. (Note - the image to the left is a reasonable facsimile of my actual reflector - mine does not say "Tropicana" - it is red with a white "Centerville Police" logo. Remember, I said "reasonable facsimile" not exact duplicate.) Wearing it while it flashed made me feel like a piece of road blockage, but the driver came to a lovely stop and made no remarks about the state of darkness. Not sure if it was my device or this driver just has better night vision. A stop is a stop, so since when did the passengers have to make sure the bus stopped? Seems out of whack, to me.

25 January 2006


A bit better on the bus today. At least more people, but still very quiet. A couple more regulars (fall) and one new (spring) regular. Wonder if some of the former regulars are riding at a later (or earlier ?!?!?) time? Students might adjust because class times change, but there are people with real jobs and those don't usually change. Here I am trying to organize the bus riders - need to just sit back and observe.

When I got on the bus, the driver (again, NOT a regular ... hmmmmmmm .....) said, "I almost didn't see you." I know it's dark and can't help but wonder what I'm supposed to do? Buy a reflective white coat to wear? I had on a long white scarf, my bag is light khaki and my hair! For gawdsakes - if my hair isn't white enough for them to see - it even glows in the light so it can't be invisible in those headlights! I can't see them and they can't see me. What are we gonna do about this? I thought about putting the flashing red reflector on my bag, but it might just look like a bicyclist in the roadway. Maybe I'll try it tomorrow and see if the next driver says anything. Not sure why I should be responsible for being seen ... it's a bus stop and people can be at any stop, any time. Why can't the driver just slow down and observe? I don't want to own reflective clothing or carry a torch - need to think through the power of this one.

24 January 2006


What is up with the bus??? When Dave and I got on today there was one other rider, a man, not regular. Eventually about four more people got on and only one was a regular. We also had a different driver. Good old route 66 has lost its neighborhood charm - geezy pete. Regulars are the people who rode during fall semester - I suppose we can create a whole new set of regulars, but so far there haven't been any. Every day is a new set of people (and not very many of them at that). I heard on CNN and read another blog about today being the most depressing day of the year. Some guy in England created a formula based on debt, days after christmas and broken new year's resolutions that indicated today would be the ultimate downer. He didn't even take into consideration (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) how dark and cold it is, too. Perhaps this depressive environment is holding back bus riders? Seems like as good an explanation as any. It's so boring, I might have to find something else to blog about.

23 January 2006


Monday morning and by the time we reached our stop at ASU, there were only 4 of us on the bus. Unprecedented! There was a man (not regular) on the bus when it arrived at our stop. Dave and I got on and we picked up a guy at Mill and Southern. It was unbelievably empty, especially for so early in the week. Is it a holiday and no one told me? Should I still be in bed sleeping? Dave was there, so he, too, thought today was a legitimate work/school day ... where is everyone? Almost like those old Arby's commercials. Is anybody there??????

The height of the morning occurred at the bus stop. I was standing and doing my keep-warm dance steps when a loud noise caught my attention. Sounded like a monster truck coming down the street and as I looked east on Guadalupe, there was a set of twin headlights fully capable of being a loud vehicle. As the lights neared, it became apparent that the twin headlights belonged to two seriously large, loud motorcyles, and as they passed, they honked! Or beeped ?!?!? Not sure how to define the noise of a biker dude's horn (noise maker?). Somehow honk and beep and horn don't seem appropriate words to go along with bike, biker, biker-dude - conceptually, horn, beep and honk don't get it. Have to think about that for awhile.

We noticed that we still don't have a regular driver. Had a new woman today. Dave suggested perhaps recently released prisoners could be given bus routes to drive - he thought it would give them a sense of purpose and teach them responsibility. Not to mention that they probably could easily handle the occasional unruly passenger. A noble idea, but my prosecutorial experience taught me that most criminals are criminals because they can't seem to make good choices. Give them the choice between an obviously good idea and an obviously bad one and they pick the bad choice every time. To top it off, they never see how their choice/behavior/decision is the cause of their troubles. It's always, always, always someone or something else that is to blame. Kind of like OJ - her behavior made him kill them - he had no choice, eh? Given all this, not sure I want repeat offenders driving buses - neither the buses I'm on nor the ones I drive near. A large motor vehicle full of people is not the place to be making bad choices.

Wow, did I just lecture on or what????? Pardon me, but I hardly ever get to speak about prosecution these days. I'm off the soapbox and back to the web.

19 January 2006


Yeah, yeah, another 4100 bus, yada yada yada. When I first started this I was very intrigued by the numbers - so much for that fantasy.

Another cold morning at the bus stop - lots of clouds so it was a bit lighter, but still cold. Worst thing is, if you overdress for the AM, you have to haul the aggressive clothing home on the bus in the PM and it's way too warm to wear it then. I tried lots of little layers, but then I'm like Hansel and Gretel dropping bread crumbs - lots of small pieces falling behind me as I head for the bus stop in the afternoon. Whine, whine, whine, eh? I know - if this is the worst thing I ever have to deal with ....

Nowhere near the energy on the bus as fall semester. I'm thinking dark and cold are pulling people down. No crazy people, no crazy driving - very dull for a wannabe famous blogger.

Dave is taking the same bus as me since he got a student worker job that starts at 7am. He's driving a golf cart to pick up and deliver disabled students. Some of them are regular (boy, that word pops up everywhere) and some are temporary broken legs and such. We were talking about crazy cart drivers and he said he thought about the irony if he would run into and disable a person with the disabled transportation cart. We got almost hysterical laughing about it. I suggested he could purposely run over people and then they would need the cart - kind of a job security thing. In Ohio, we had a couple of volunteer firefighters who set fires on purpose so they could go on the calls and get paid - same thing, huh? Oh well, the conversation added spark to an otherwise dull, dull, dull ride.

18 January 2006


Another 4100 bus - there are signs on the buses about new buses coming, but I'm thinking route 66 doesn't qualify - we're a small market route and I think it's going to stay that way. I don't really care as long as the buses run - see one broken down every now and then. Wouldn't be so bad in winter, but a summer breakdown could get testy.

School started yesterday and I rode the bus but didn't have time to blog - nothing exceptional happened so I'll make this a two-for-one post. Today was actually pretty tame, too. A few regulars, but not as chippy as last semester. Maybe it's the weather. It is cold and it makes hibernation seem like a viable option. There are quite a few apartment complexes in half the ride and I wonder, too, if people move. Arizona is quite the transient state and moving is a way of life. That would account for many of the missing regulars.

Speaking of regular, we have no regular driver. Wonder what happened to my little printing pirate friend? It's more fun when the driver gets to know you. The driver today was a crank. We got on and the first thing he says to me is, "You need a light." I know our stop is dark, but didn't realize it was my duty to light the area - I'm supposed to carry a torch or something so he can see? It's not an unreasonable request, he just made the request unreasonably. Then, Dave was behind me, and the driver yelled at him for tossing his cigarette in front of the bus. Said, "What if I had a gas leak and you tossed your cigarette there?????" Again, a valid point, but made in a very unfriendly, confrontational way. You would have thought Dave was 5 years old and was receiving severe discipline. We both kept our mouths shut and the driver eventually moved on to other things. Hope he doesn't get our little route too often - would prefer he did not become the regular.

12 January 2006


big bus man
This feels like a new number, but don't they all? The moon was setting and occasionally caught glimpses of it getting larger as it went down. It was a reverse harvest moon - very cool.

Today was "Big Man's Day" on the bus. There were three really large men riding - I'm talking 6'4"+ and and easily over 250 lbs. All three had large frames and when all were on at one time, it seemed to fill the bus. The one man was already there when I got on and sat in the front, at an angle letting his oversized backend hang over into the area I usually occupy. He didn't seem interested in moving his large carcass, so I sat at the other side of the seat. I don't really care where I sit, but I didn't appreciate the apparent attitude that he could sprawl all over the bus and people were forced to move around him. I wonder if very large people have a sense about the space they occupy? His leg blocked the aisle and yet when others boarded the bus, he made no attempt to move his leg. Do large people just push their way through life? He really got on my list when his cell phone rang. It was actually funny - the ringtone was a pathetic midi version of "Hall of the Mountain King" - the middle notes were all wrong and it seems that song should be very easy to program - it comes down in thirds, but this missed the mark. When it started to ring he just let it go - waited through the whole ring before he answered - WTF? Then, of course, his voice was loud - with his size would we expect soft-spoken? He was quite chatty and went on for several minutes - more rudeness. The final act was hilarious - he was wearing sweats and when his turn came to get off the bus, he stood up in the middle of the aisle, paused a moment, then made a large deal of pulling his pants up. Perhaps it wasn't a large deal, just seemed like it due to his overall largeness - hard to miss the act. It was such a geeky move - he walked off looking like PeeWee Herman on steroids. Very entertaining.

10 January 2006


Completely forgot to look at the number this am. I know it was a 4100 craft - just not which one. Guess it doesn't matter since I don't look for repeats right now. Very discombobulating start to the day - packed up my backpack then left without it. Didn't realize it until I was at the bus stop and it was too late to run home and not miss the bus. The only trauma is Sarah's birthday card is in the backpack, so she won't get it until late today. Bummer .... really wanted to have it for her at lunch. I might have thought of it earlier, but when I went out, the garage door was up. I had to go through, shut it and come back out again. Disconcerting as I know it was closed last night. I specifically remember closing it when I got home and later I walked and passed the house a hundred times and would have noticed if the door was up. Around 9:30 I thought I heard it go up and wondered if Sarah had stopped by, but she didn't come in and I figured I had imagined the noise. Guess not, but not sure what made it go up. I wonder if she's at the hand and hits the remote button... could the door raise from that distance? We might have to run a few tests to see just what is the range of the door opener.

Oh well, I digress - this is a bus blog. Another somewhat odd day on the bus. There were only four regulars and no one got off the bus until me. I was the first one off which is so rare as to be unheard of in my bus experience. There weren't a lot of riders, but usually someone gets on and then gets off two or three stops later. Everyone who did get on, stayed on and I felt like I was breaking a rule when I pulled the cord for my stop. It broke the silence and created reverse movement - really weird. The early morning dark bus rides have a surreal, Twilight Zone quality and then when things get a little sideways - whew - the universe is in full tilt.

06 January 2006


Still recording the bus numbers, but have really stopped looking for duplicates. One of these days I'll be seriously mindbent and go back and create a chart - possibly after retirement?

Today's ride started off unusually. When the bus pulled up to my stop I noticed the inside was completely dark. The door opened, the interior lights didn't come on, but I kind of groped my way in and found the slot to slide my card. I was the only one on the bus and asked the driver if the lights were broken. He gave me a long answer that I couldn't really understand (had my headphones on) and was finished by the time I got the 'phones off. Due to the length of explanation, I assumed the lights were fine and he just had a problem with them. I heard the word "glare" and assumed he meant for his vision. He said he'd leave them off until somebody complained. I told him I didn't care - made viewing outside easier. We picked up another passenger and she commented about the darkness. He didn't offer her any explanations, so I figured it would take a major complaint to get the lights on.

I really didn't mind it at all, although it felt a bit like a cross between a haunted house ride and an episode of the Twilight Zone with maybe a little ColdCaseFiles/CSI thrown in. Perhaps the driver was a serial killer who had hijacked the bus and was planning to murder passengers in the dark. I didn't see any bodies on the floor of the bus, so assumed any murdering was going to start with me. We kept collecting people and poor Steve the Mechanic couldn't read his USA Today - he never said a word, but had a bewildered, confused expression. We do like our ducks to line up the same every day, don't we? Finally, at Southern and Mill, the driver turned the lights on. An elderly woman got on and I thought he wanted to cut her some slack. I expected him to turn them off after she was seated, but he left them on the rest of the ride. I think he was experimenting and when the bus reached a certain passenger saturation point, his nerve failed him and he caved to conventional wisdom. It made for an interesting ride.

05 January 2006


Well long time, no blog. Over the holidays there were lots of days off and I drove other days - errands to run, places to go, etc. We're back in the regular routine now, so bus blogging should resume with some regularity. Both yesterday and today there was a scarcity of regulars. Not sure if it's post-holiday syndrome or school being out. Today had a few more riders, but none of the hubub from the past. I know school will add more riders, but a lot of the regulars aren't students. I guess they are now the irregulars ... One of the regulars, Steve the Mechanic, sat in a totally new place and actually shared his USA Today with another regular. They get on at the same stop and must have engaged in a relationships of sorts. Steve always sat on the front seat and read his paper. Today he came on and, even though a front seat spot was available, he went down the aisle and sat next to the other guy. It was kind of chummy and neat. The bus driver wasn't a regular and he spent the whole ride chatting with a newbie driver. He was on a serious ego trip, kept saying how he'd "been there awhile" and "knew all the ins and outs" - later said he'd been there for five years - that doesn't seem like "awhile" to me, but I guess that's a relative concept. He had that negative, union mentality, bashing the management and claiming you weren't safe as an employee if you didn't have union representation. Sounds like he's totally bought into some labor propaganda. Who IS the enemy? Oh well, she says and buries her head deeper in the sand.

A quick re-read and the beginning of this is full of the word "regular" - let's see what the dictionary has to say about that ... hmmmmm ... here's the #1 definition: Customary, usual, or normal. That seems to sum it up appropriately enough.