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.