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.

09 May 2006

#41???? and #4144

Two, read 'em, two bus numbers and, folks, that's no lie. Today could be the greatest and dumbest as in (duh..mbest) bus day ever! I haven't laughed so hard in a long time and never felt so dumb, either. The story...

Dave and I were at the stop, per usual, waiting for the 6AM #66. We got into a discussion about my dishwasher (broken, no water?) and the bus arrived. We got on and it wasn't the regular driver and newspaper guy wasn't there. Odd, but not impossible. The driver apologized for being late - said he was fussing with the sign or something. Odd again since he really wasn't late. Things were unusual but no real alarms. We continued the chat about the dishwasher as the bus continued down Guadalupe. The bell rang and I knew the other passenger was getting off - I made a mental note that he must be leaving us at the Rural stop, just north of Guadalupe. Dave and I were still talking when I noticed the bus didn't turn right on Rural, but continued across, going west on Guadalupe. I thought the driver missed the turn and wondered what the problem was. He came to a stop for the other passenger when I suddenly realized we might not be on the 66 after all. I quickly asked the driver what bus this was and he told us it was the 92. I squawked and, like a flock of chickens with a fox in the hen house, Dave and I bailed off the bus. We started laughing - it took several seconds to recover enough to get our bearings. We then hotfooted it back up Guadalupe, crossed Rural and were smiling and waiting when #66 pulled round the corner. We were still laughing hysterically when we got on and the driver and newspaper guy (hey, Bill!) looked at us like we were crazy. We explained the situation, but I fear they think we're just this side of totally nuts.

In our defense, I don't believe the sign was lit and, given the arrival time, we had no reason to believe it wasn't the 66. I'm still laughing thinking about it. The image of us diving off the 92 is still fresh and cracks me up every time I dwell on it. We could have stayed on the 92 as it actually ends up where we get off. It just takes a circuitous route that goes through Arizona Mills mall and takes quite a bit longer to get to ASU. It was so funny, I just can't tell you.

08 May 2006


A little late posting today. Working hard at getting the new web pages up for the college re-naming and fussy stuff like bus blogs can't interfere. Need a break from the tedium of HTML, however, so will post a bit about today.

Again the bus was nicely populated and the repeaters are really working on becoming regulars. There are three people who have ridden as steadfastly as anyone the last couple of weeks. I still won't bestow the "regular" moniker until after a couple of months, but it's looking good for them. Of course, they could bail out if the gas prices ever retreat. Never have understood what makes the prices of fuel rise and fall - not convinced the old "supply and demand" principal is at work here. Whatever, I really enjoy not being in a car among the crazy Valley drivers and am considering taking exploratory trips on the weekends to see just where I can get to on the bus.

Engineering Guy was there today - geez he's entertaining. His best words today were "ductile fracture" and "crack propagation." The uninitiated might think he was discussing street drug distribution - crack propagation????? I am currently obsessed with chain stitch embroidery (thank god I got obsessed about something in art - thought I had burned out and lost interest). Anyway, I have a small piece I'm working on that I carry with me on the bus. Thought I'd scan it - not finished - so you could see how I occupy my hands during the ride.

05 May 2006


Well, no SRO today, but still nicely full and many, many repeaters. Just heard on NPR that Arizona's gas prices are higher than the national average, so wonder if that is adding to our ridership. Scottsdale tops out at $3.14 a gallon - whew!

Interesting discussion today - Dave is contemplating piercing. He asked if I ever heard of "industrial piercing." I told him I hadn't and wasn't sure if I wanted to ... apparently he is seriously thinking about an industrial style piercing of his ear to celebrate his graduation next spring. He wants a bar that extends through two sides of his ear (see photo) and he hopes to have it in the shape of Sparky's pitchfork. Seems a bit aggressive to me, but whatever floats your situation, I guess. Big hair lady was sitting next to Dave and told us about a guy she saw in the store who had a series of barbell piercings running down the center of his bald scalp - a kind of metal mohawk. She said it was quite unusual and I know if I'd seen him, I would have wanted to touch it. It was a lively discussion and so nice that she joined in. We're becoming a group, I believe. Too bad it's an early morning crowd. If this was a late afternoon ride home, we'd be stopping for margaritas by summer's end.

04 May 2006


Do the happy dance, Bert! We had SRO today. Been a long time since so many were on the bus and the best part of all --- many are repeaters! Looks like the billion-dollar-a-gallon gas pricing has done Valley Metro a favor. There were two new guys on the bus when it got to our stop - remains to be seen if they return. Ridership remained light until approaching Southern and then they began to pile on - what a delight. Engineering Guy was there again today and he polished it off by announcing very loudly as he boarded, "Wow! The bus is really full today!" EG is never at a loss for words. He and Dave stood for awhile until I made room for Dave on my seat and then someone got off and EG was able to sit down.

EG got off with me and Dave and talked as we walked onto campus. Dave and EG engaged in a verbal battle of who had the more difficult semester. There was a lot of crowing on both sides and I didn't detect a winner. Seems to me, difficulty is relative, kind of like pain threshold. Who is to say they had THE most difficult semester? Bet at certain times, any one of us would have traded days with one of the other. Perspective and relativity - hmmm .... need to make an image for that one of these days. Today, of course, celebrates SRO.

03 May 2006


What a great bus day! It had all the elements I crave in a good bus ride. Last night I shared a death ride home with bicycle guy, but that story will wait for a snoozer morning.

Today started off slow but as ridership built it got more interesting. The stop at Southern and Mill seems to add the most people to the ride. Today we got many repeaters and a man I've never seen before. He was tall and rather stout with white hair - probably in his mid to late 50s. He seemed as average as any of us seem, but as the ride progressed I noticed he was doing something with his hands. The right hand held out four fingers and his left hand held one - he moved them around as if counting and his head and lips would move as though talking to himself. A pattern quickly established and it was evident he had some type of situtation like autism. He sat next to Dave who later said the man smelled like the VA hospitals - an odd mix of soap and clay. He was neat and clean, the neurons were just not letting go. It's sad in one respect, but then again he was out and about on his own two feet. But for the grace ... Dave said he has seen him frequently on later buses going home.

The best part of the ride was the arrival of Engineering Guy! He hasn't been around for awhile and I do miss him. He makes me laugh and who can't use a good smile to start the day? He bounded (literally) onto the bus at Broadway and Mill and nearly ran the length of the bus to talk to bicycle guy. Seems EG saw BG earlier in the morning (is that possible? we are talking the 6am bus here) and EG was simply ecstatic. He didn't use any fabulous terms today, but it was just a pleasure to have his energy on the bus. I was surrounded by repeaters, EG was there in full form - it just couldn't have been better.

02 May 2006


What a nice bus day! Filled almost to capacity and lots of repeaters. Will call people repeaters until they have at least two months of reasonably regular ridership under their belts - then they get to be regulars. Tough, I know, but my standards are high and I want regular to mean something. Not sure how I'll know when two months is up, but it sure sounds good, eh?

Smoke hair lady is close to one month of reasonable regularness and two other women are easily in their third week. I do believe the cost of fuel has given people plenty of reason to ride the bus - especially ASU students and employees. We can get a free bus pass - free!!! Sure there are some inconveniences to bus riding, but free means no gas used, no trips to the pump, no heart-stopping terror as the numbers roll ever higher on the gas pump money meter - too bad Exxon! Tough cookies, Mobil! Sayonara, Royal Dutch Shell! We have free bus passes and don't need no stinking gasoline!

Wow - I'm bordering on rabble rousing today.

01 May 2006


Well, take a few days off and the brain goes to pond scum. Completely forgot to look at the number. Oh well. It felt good to be back on the bus and I'm very pleased at the number of regulars now riding. Smoke hair lady (darn smoke) has been there very frequently and two other women are now quite regular riders. Gasoline has gone to $3 a gallon and that has to be some incentive to make use of public transport. I found that the longer I rode, the more I didn't want to drive. Each new encounter in the car with traffic makes the bus look so much more inviting. The bus can have its oddities and even unpleasantries, but nothing in this old world is perfect and the bus sure beats driving in rush hour traffic.

Nothing very exciting took place today, although smoke hair lady and I are exchanging words more often. The bus suddenly made a very loud, very strange noise and we both were quite startled. I thought a wheel fell off and she thought the brakes exploded. Turned out it was the microphone when the driver decided to announce the intersections. The whole ride the driver was quiet and suddenly, at Broadway, decided to announce. I think she blew into the microphone and that was the loud noise. Smokey and I laughed and talked about it a bit. A minute later, Dave said something about Daisy Duke's and I told him it was no longer there. As she was leaving the bus, Smokey told me the new name of the bar that replaced DD's and smiled. Interesting lady. For today's image I put the word "regular" into Google and searched images. The most popular return was regular polygons and this is a picture of Delica beads done in a pattern of regular polygons. I guess each of those shapes could be a bus rider - each slightly different, but all lined up and riding the bus.