27 December 2007

back in the saddle . . .

Greetings, greetings, greetings - been awhile since this blog has seen a new post. Work became incredibly busy and I needed to let this go. Things have settled a bit and I miss making my weird little pictures and opining about my daily rides with Valley Metro.

The 81 northbound occupies my ridership these mornings. A fire at the Memorial Union, here on campus, closed my favorite coffee shop, so I started getting my morning brew at the Einstein Bros shop across the street from the bus stop. They serve a lovely winter blend coffee that opens my day with a gentle push. Not sure what I'll do when winter ends - hope they brew an equally lovely spring blend. Desert mornings can chill through to the bone and a nice cup of coffee keeps the internals going.

I took a class in the fall semester on Thursday evenings - since it kept me later at work, I started taking the 7:57am bus so I didn't end up with a 12-hour work day. Roy runs the 7:57am 81N employing stellar customer service. He recognizes regular passengers, always offers a pleasant greeting and makes every attempt to wait for passengers transferring from other buses. I haven't seen him handle an aggravated customer, but perhaps that's due to his personable nature. Nothing to get passengers riled about.

Today's image tells it all. I donned full coat, gloves and scarf this morning - temperature was 38 degrees (F) with a NW wind at 20-25 mph. Brrrrrrr says it all.

08 August 2007

#4157 (81S)

Gearing up for my trip to NY so not much time for blogging. Must write about last night, tho. I chatted with a woman who I frequently see on the 81S. She, too, works at ASU and at one time lived in my little neighborhood. We compared notes about our rides home the evening of the Great Monsoon Flood Extravaganza. Her ride exceeded mine in both time and interest. While I experienced a bus u-turn, her driver took them through back roads and neighborhoods, on small side streets with parked cars and tight turns. It took them two hours, compared to my one. She always rides the 4:45pm and I took the 4:30 that night. Amazing what a difference 15 minutes made.

Our conversation moved on to general bus riding and she told me about a new woman in her office, from Denmark, who intended to use the bus. However, this woman's son told her not to ride the bus, that only poor, uneducated low-lifes ride the bus "here" (quotes added since I don't know if he meant Arizona or the US). Poor, uneducated low-lifes - what the ...? Only an uneducated low-life would make a statement like that. Some people must use public transportation and not always for reasons economic or intellectual. I could not drive after my eye surgery and still needed to get to work. My options included what - taxi? bicycle? limousine? All of the above, but I chose the bus as the most convenient, economic and practical approach. Amazing logic for a poor, uneducated low-life. Wonder what this guy would think if he heard some past discussions on the 6am66? Engineering Guy would dazzle him with Quantum Polynomial Propagation! Some of the most rude, boorish, low-life behavior occurs among the rich, educated, high-lifes - look at our president, for gawdssake. What a doofus! Oh well, he's only allegedly educated.

Today's image relates to nothing about the ride or the blog post. This cactus, which grows outside my office building, completely fascinates me. I love that it begins straight and takes such a lovely twist at the top. Reminds me of my hair, which starts straight at the root and grows out with a twisted curl at the end. Even more, it looks like a soft-serve ice cream cone - ummmmmm.....if only soft-serve came in pistachio or mint chocolate chip!

31 July 2007

Crazy ride home

Originally uploaded by mfebber
Again with the flickr upload - not sure if I like this style, but we'll see. Will edit this later with a story about last night's ride home in the rain.

Ok, here's the story. Left my building to go home last night and fell victim to one of the best monsoon storms ever. Lightning, thunder, wind and torrential rain. It spilled and poured and blew the rain and in one minute I looked like I swam fully clothed to the bus stop. Even "drenched" really understates my condition. Amazingly, the bus arrived on time. A driver switch occurred, so I huddled (and puddled) in my seat, wishing for less efficient air conditioning. The new driver got herself organized and we took off.

The standing/running water in the streets was amazing and the bus created huge waves since it must ride in the curb lane, where most water collects. All seemed swimmingly good until we approached Apache. The traffic stopped moving about 1/2 mile before the intersection and I wondered if the railroad underpass was flooded. We inched forward and finally cleared the Apache Road intersection, only to see the fire department had blocked the street - as I surmised, the underpass was under water. They made everyone do a u-turn (why did they even let them through???) and that included the bus. The driver waited for things to clear a bit and then did an excellent job of turning us around. She didn't receive any directives from her dispatcher and had to create an alternative on her own. We talked to her and suggested she go east on Apache to Price instead of trying to turn left (west) on Apache to Rural. We took a vote, she accepted our decision, and she took our detour. Traffic, though heavy, moved steadily and we ended up back on McClintock at Broadway - a mere 3 mile detour. The rest of the ride played out as usual, although we only picked up two people the whole way. This ride normally takes 20-25 minutes for me and last night it took 65 minutes.

I took a few photos and picked the best three for blog viewing. I realize that in the world of floods, this doesn't rank; however, in the desert, this much water falling from the sky and collecting in the streets at one time - well, it's pretty amazing.

A rainy day on the bus . . .

Originally uploaded by mfebber
Trying out Flickr's direct post to the blog.


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

30 July 2007


Unusual start to this bus riding day. Pulled myself from the lovely snugness of my bed at 4:58am in order to catch the 6am66. I did a fair job of getting ready and ran out the door at 5:52am - the last few times the bus arrived at 6:06am, so I felt sure that time would be my friend. A brisk walk down the street and, while waiting for traffic to clear to cross Guadalupe, I saw a bus coming. No panic since most days, the 92 precedes the 66 by 3 or 4 minutes and I felt confident that the oncoming bus was the 92. As it flashed by, I read "66 Mill Ave/Fashion Square" on the headliner. What the ...? I looked at my watch and it was 5:56am - what the ...? I crossed Guadalupe and decided to walk up to McClintock to catch the 6:12 am 81. Not my original plan, but occurences in the bus world do force occasional change.

As I walked east on Guadalupe, another bus drove past me headed west, and I looked just in time to see "92 Downtown Tempe" on its headliner. What the ...? How could the 92 be that far behind the 66? What the ...? I reached the intersection, started across and suddenly, there came ANOTHER bus!!! What the ...? The headliner said "66 Mill Ave/Fashion Square" ... what the ...? I looked back to see if he turned into the bus pullout, thinking I could double back and catch him. However, he roared on by the stop - heading west on Guadalupe, out of the sunrise and into the future sunset.

Dazed and confused, I staggered to the 81 stop, sweating large raindrops (it's monsoon here in the desert). What just happened? Two, count 'em, two 6am66s? What the ...?

26 July 2007

#4117 and some

Gloriosky, what a bus day, yesterday - I bit the bullet and got up in time for the 6am66. It paid in spades since a new driver controlled the wheel (good-bye surly Spaniard) and both Mark (aka Bicycle Guy) and Mike (aka Engineering Guy) rode the bus. What fun to see them and chat during the ride. The time goes by so quickly when immersed in conversation. Mark looks fit and well, post graduation. He received a nice promotion and new position with his degree and wants to begin his master's work soon. Also doing well, Mike should graduate in December. I enjoyed it so much, think I'll get back on the 6am66 track in the mornings and use the 81 to go home.

Yesterday afternoon's ride began a bit unusually. I took the 4:15pm81S and when it arrived, a driver change occurred. While not an entirely new experience for me, I observed a new facet to the procedure. The new driver took a device from the bus that resembled a remote control. He first went to the back right tire, I thought perhaps to check the pressure. I then realized he poked the device near or into a little hole just above the wheel. He took the device back onto the bus, seemed to look at it with confusion, then went back outside and went back to the hole over the wheel. He then went around the bus and put the device up to similar holes all around the bus - over the wheels and one in the very front. Confusion still muddles my mind - mileage? hydraulic pressure? balance? level? I can't imagine what the holes emit or the device reveals. Unfortunately, the ride did not permit time to ask the driver. You can bet I will ask the next time an opportunity presents.

The mysterious workings of public transportation.

19 July 2007


Took the 6:30am66 today. Got a blog comment from Mark yesterday, so decided I'd start taking the 66 again in the morning to see if I can catch him and catch up. Not sure I can pull off a 6am66, but he indicated he changes time so if I stay with the 6:30am66, I'll see him eventually.

It was fun to be back on the smaller 4100 bus. The 81N is always a bigger 6000 class and they carry double (maybe?) the number of riders that a 4100 carries. The 4100 provides a much more intimate environment. The bus filled by the time we reached Southern. Since the 6am6 didn't reach near capacity, I will assume that time of day dictates the quantity of riders.

Today's image is a Google satellite of the intersection where I catch the buses. I circled the stops and you can see how the arrangement enables me to easily select one or the other. The 66 runs on the hour and half hour. During rush, 6am-9am, the 81 runs every 15 minutes, :12, :27, :42, and :57. Lots of flexibility. Both buses get me to ASU in about 20-25 minutes, so no time-on-bus incentive affects my choice of route. I could get off the 66 much closer to my building; however, since I need the exercise, I took it all the way to the College Ave transit area. If I get off the bus at Mill and 10th, it's .25 mile to the office. If I get off on College, it's .51 mile. A quarter of a mile equals one trip around a track - that won't hurt and might do some good.

18 July 2007

Assorted 6000s

Wow, yesterday contained two bus rides of interest. Think I'll report on the ride home and save the morning for another time. When it rains, it pours . . .

I caught the 4:15pm 81N at the transit area on College Avenue. Taken this bus many times, love the driver, a very mellow fellow. Quite a few people boarded the bus, way more than usual. Among them were a young man accompanied by two young women. They seemed in the 19-22 year old range and became 'standouts' due to the guy's loud voice and language. He used essentially two four-letter words - 'like' and 'f--k'. The word 'like' appeared as every other word and 'f--k' (or a variation thereof ...) appeared as every third or fourth word. Needless to say, his conversation lacked substance or meaning - it reminded me of a stuck CD - same track section over and over and over. I'm convinced people who speak in this fashion don't really know how they sound. I think this speaking style starts young, inspired by peers, and becomes an unfortunate habit. Sadly, it reflects poorly on the speaker's ability to communicate and negative reaction seems inevitable.

Well, negative reaction occurred, swiftly and convincingly. Before we took off, a woman yelled at the young man and said, "You better stop the dirtymouth or I'll have the driver throw your sorry white ass off the bus!" Whew! She was loud, direct and the silence that followed was deep. After a couple of heartbeats, the young man said he could say anything he wanted and told her to shut up herself. She said she didn't have to listen to his pottymouth and he better quit. They went back and forth like a couple of junior high children and then both went quiet. The driver looked back, but didn't say anything as it appeared the situation had resolved itself. We took off and I could hear the young man's voice again - not quite as loud, but definitely full of his favorite 4-letter lexicon. I put my earbuds in to listen to NPR when I heard the woman screaming again. She overcame the volume of my buds so I removed them to witness the continuing battle. The junior high behavior had returned and volume on both sides increased. The driver pulled over, turned around, looked at the young man and very calmly said, "Chill the profanity, OK?" He gave no obvious indication of threat or menace, just a simple statement which quelled the riot and allowed us to continue the ride in peace.

While I admire the woman for complaining, her method lacked. She needed to ask nicely before jumping down the kid's throat. She didn't take the high road and ended up looking not much better than the offender she attempted to correct. She used the words 'dirtymouth' and 'pottymouth' in a fashion that made me think she harbors her own demons. She left the bus angry - bad way to end the day. As for the kid, he's just ignorant - not much chance he learned anything from the confrontation, but we can always hope.

09 July 2007


The morning ride today qualified for an immediate write-about. A little slow off the starting block, I needed to hustle to catch the 6:27am 81N. I crossed McClintock and then, as I crossed Guadalupe, the bus also crossed it. I gave a wave and my best attempt at a jog (challenging in flip-flops). The driver got my message since he turned into the pull-out and waited for me to get to the door. I climbed on, said good morning and sat in the front seat, the only rider. The bus took off and the driver said to me, "Nice shirt - I really like that color." Surprised, I thanked him and said it was one of my favorites. He told me it was a nice, warm color and made my tan look good. I told him I liked warm colors and thanked him again. By this time we were a few stops along and another passenger got on. Such a surprising conversation and what a nice way to start the day. Running late can be a snowball going downhill, gathering disasters the rest of the day. Today, however, I overcame the lateness and the driver's compliment erased any ill-effects of a nearly-missed bus. Amazing what a little positive reinforcement can do.

In honor of the compliment, I photographed my shirt. Difficult to adjust settings while memorializing one's own chest. I let the camera use available light which always makes for a grainy picture, but the color seems fairly accurate. Considered a warm colored garment, I would describe the shirt as resembling orange sherbet - a bit of a paradox.

06 July 2007

another 6000

I continue to struggle when writing about the ride home. I don't think the route gets as many interesting characters as the 66; however, for reasons I don't understand, I just don't want to take the 66 home. Oh well, I'll get through this block.

Last night's ride began benignly enough but suffered a semi-collapse mid-stream. We took on a wheelchair rider at University and McClintock. She wanted off at Broadway - two miles south. All went well until we reached Broadway and the bus wouldn't kneel and extend the wheelchair ramp. The driver fussed with the front door, fussed with the back door, turned everything off and everything on - all to no avail. Seated comfortably, I couldn't complain, but after awhile, wondered if the problem would resolve.

At the corner of Broadway and McClintock sits a restaurant called Ted's Hot Dogs. Ted's establishment embodies the near ultimate in sin eating. Outstanding hot dogs accompanied by simply fabulous onion rings and super delicious milkshakes - yowsa! A single meal at Ted's could easily reach the 2000-3000 calorie range - no doubt. I rarely partake at Ted's as vicious temptations usually prevail. The bus situation left me staring at Ted's Hot Dogs and the longer the bus sat, the more I considered disembarking, dining at Ted's and taking a later bus. I thought about eating and then walking down to the Southern or Baseline bus stops to work off some of the sin. However, it was hideously hot (116F) and I needed extra thought before putting the eating plan into action. While still mulling my options, the bus knelt and the problem resolved. I still could have done the Ted's thing, but once the bus was fixed, the option to continue on home overcame my desire to overeat. Thank god!

Link HERE to read about Ted's and his fabulous food.

21 June 2007

6000 something

Riding in to work with my daughter this week, thus missing morning bus tales. Not sure why the ride home fails to ignite my blogging flame. Perhaps because I don't ride at the same time every day, I don't get a sense of engagement that the morning rides produce. Regular ridership belongs to the morning. Although ... how can I say that? Just because I don't ride home at the same time two days in a row doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I think I'm my own contradiction!

Anyway, yesterday afternoon I heard a brand new lady-voice announcement. We pulled up to the north Southern Ave stop and a couple of passengers left the bus. We continued to sit and I figured the driver needed to make up time. Suddenly, the lady-voice begins and says: "Attention, passengers, this bus is ahead of schedule. Please be patient while the bus waits to get back on schedule."

Amazing, eh? I wonder if some passenger complained about buses sitting, doing nothing. I thought everyone knew that a bus must speed up and slow down to do its best to arrive at certain locations at the times posted. Either that knowledge is not common, or some overzealous manager decided they have lady-voice software and need to use it more often. It certainly got my attention.

While waitng (patiently, I might add . . .), I looked out the window and stared at McDonald's. About twice a year I crave a Big Mac and I'm approaching my semi-annual need. The sign in the window said Big Macs were on sale, $1.59. Seemed like a deal and I wondered if the driver would continue to catch up time while I ran in for a burger. Probably not, but the next time the lady-voice asks for my patience and I'm facing a fast-food possiblity, I might just see what can be done.

12 June 2007


Another day on the 81N. Instead of doing the crack-of-dawn patrol, I decided to linger a bit and catch the 6:42 bus. An enlightening experience, this could be my bus of choice for awhile.

The driver, a woman, greeted me cordially. A number of riders already occupied seats and I settled in, across from the back door, ready to observe. A man in a hat and a woman in the seat behind him engaged in conversation. As we drove north on McClintock, past Southern, the driver hit the horn and pulled over to the curb. She opened the door and a few seconds later, a man walked up and got on the bus. He exchanged greetings with the driver and sat across from the man in the hat who asked why the guy was late. Apparently these people are quite regular and know each other well. The best part was the driver - she recognized a regular passenger and made a courtesy stop to pick him up. What great customer service, and she did the same thing a short time later when she stopped and waited for another young man running to catch the bus. The kindness and civility she displayed made a great start to the day. I'll try to make this time regularly to see the real players on this bus.

I took today's photo this morning to apologize to the Trader Joe's employees who I maligned in yesterday's blog. As you can see, the TJ cart was replaced by one from Walgreen's. I don't take store carts from their homes, so I don't really know how or why these transfers and swaps occur. I will, however, no longer hold store employees accountable for errant carts. I think tracking these trolleys off-site goes beyond the scope of their job duties. Not sure I want to hang around the bus stop and see where they come from, either. Just another mystery of life.

11 June 2007

another #6XXX day

Spent the weekend in the bathroom, spackling and painting and preparing to grout. My body did not want to sleep and then didn't want to wake up, so I took a later bus today and what a bonus that turned out to be!

Today's image tells much of the story. The top photo is the stop where I pick up the 81N. Well-used, a dirty patina covers the ground beneath the bench. An abundance of cigarette butts and small pieces of paper litter the area around the shelter. A cart from Trader Joe's seems a permanent fixture. Not sure what good the cart does staying at the shelter - guess TJ employees don't do cart searches beyond the bounds of their own parking lot. Regardless, I periodically look at the ground and wish someone would come by and steam clean the area, give it a chance to start anew. I figured neither Valley Metro nor the city of Tempe cared much about the conditions at the bus stops, and today I was proved wrong.

While waiting for the bus, the craft seen in the bottom picture pulled up next to the shelter. A man hopped out with a bag and a pokey litter picker-upper stick. He did a quick recon of the area, stabbing and securing the larger bits of paper. He put the bag and stick back and grabbed a hose out of the truck and did a quick run over the shelter floor with a pressure wash. He stuffed the hose back into the truck, jumped in and left. It was more of a drive-by cleaning - I would have preferred a lengthier hit on the shelter floor and some water on the bench, too. However, I can't complain as I didn't think anything was ever done. The bus came, we eventually caught up to the cleaning truck and I took a quick photo from the bus as we drove past.

As observed, this operation is courtesy of Tempe - my tax dollars are at work! I have been riding the bus very regularly for almost two years now, and this is the very first time I have ever seen the little stop cleaner. Wonder how long before I see them again?

06 June 2007


Been awhile - took some vacation time to refresh and recharge before the big work onslaught begins. Decided to put ceramic tile on the upstairs bathroom floor - so much for refresh and recharge. Have you ever tried to do the "score and snap" with cement backerboard? It's a nightmare, a complete nightmare. I still display visible bodily harm from the entire affair. Almost good to be back to work.

Caught the 6:12am 81N this morning at 6:18am. Not sure why he was running late since there were only five people on the bus and none of them in wheelchairs. I suppose there could have been an accident clogging an intersection, but methinks probably not. I meant to take the 5:57am since the driver makes for a nice ride, but excessive dawdling and futzing put me a wee bit behind the power curve. The 6:12am driver seemed a bit surly - just like the 6am66 guy. Perhaps they're not morning people? I will try to keep regular on the 5:57am - the driver provides an upbeat start to the day and it appears to harbor regular riders. Perhaps some interesting observations will result.

Today's image honors the aroma of this morning's bus. It smelled like someone transported an entire, unwashed football team after a long, difficult, extremely sweaty game - yowza - nasty stuff. A thorough steam cleaning would help immensely.

14 May 2007


A new day, a new bus - what fun! Thought I'd take the 5:57am81N today (whew! that doesn't print as easy as 6am66). Also wanted some coffee from Einstein's so I popped in there first, got a cup and went across McClintock to the stop. Looked down the street and there came the 5:42am81N - what a great start to the bus riding day - hot coffee and an earlier bus!

A rookie driver had the helm and the trainer sat in the front right seat. The trainer did a lot of instructing as we rolled along - not sure if he needed to be so verbose, but it added interest to the ride, especially his instructions about using the mirrors. The really interesting parts came when we entered "the detour".

At Apache Blvd., McClintock is closed to north-south travel for light rail construction. Either direction, traffic must turn right. Today's image contains a map of the detour. The purple lines and arrows follow the detour and the orange shows the regular route. We turned onto Apache and stopped to pick up a passenger. It didn't make sense to me since the 81N never travels on Apache, why would a passenger want or expect to catch the 81N on that road? The guy got on and we proceeded east on Apache, turning right (south) on River Rd. A mostly residential area, it apparently dazed and confused the new passenger. When the bus turned right (west) again, the guy started to splutter and finally asked, "where the hell are we going? how am I going to get to Alma School?" The trainer driver explained the detour procedure and finally advised the guy that he was on the 81N. "But I wanted the Red Line!" he proclaimed. It turned out OK since we headed back to Apache anyway. They let the guy off at the corner of Martin and Apache -- he had basically ridden around the block -- and he appeared very flustered as we pulled away.

Not sure why the driver (newbie or trainer) didn't advise the guy he was boarding the 81N. Surely they realized he probably didn't want our bus? I figured it out and I don't do transportation for a living. I understand the passenger should know upon which bus he boards, but when there's only one bus ever scheduled to stop, it's easy to see the confusion. I'm getting really confused just writing about it.

Anyway, we made it to ASU and I can't wait to see the detour in reverse going home tonight.

11 May 2007


What a weird bus week! Mark's last ride took place Tuesday morning. Dave's last ride happened on Wednesday morning. Thursday morning, I got on the bus and -- surprise, surprise -- Bill AKA Newspaper Guy was in situ behind the paper! He rode the bus just to say hey and congrats to Mark and Dave! Great to see him and sorry he missed the dynamic duo. We had a great chat anyway - he appears quite content as a retiree - makes me look forward to my turn.

This morning I decided to try out the 81N. I already use 81S to come home and figured I might like the morning version. It runs every 15 minutes, so arrival time at the stop becomes relatively unimportant. Hate to "just" miss it, standing watching it go on down the road; but, 15 minutes goes by quickly. The stop for 81N is next to a gas/convenience store and quite messy. Have to go on a cleaning campaign if I continue to ride this route. The best surprise - the driver! He wished me a good morning when I boarded and commented on the greatness of being Friday. He greeted everyone who boarded and offered a farewell to everyone who got off. A couple of times he said, "thanks for riding." What a pleasant change from the surly sourpuss currently driving the 6am66. Think I'll do the 81N for awhile - I anticipate some interesting stories in the future.

Today's image is a salute to Mark and Dave - well done!

02 May 2007

6000 something

Just a quick post about last night's ride. Some may recall the SRO ride home when I determined the bus was picking up uncollected passengers from an earlier missing bus. Well, last night, ever alert, I detected the potential for another crowded ride and cleverly averted a repeat of that earlier situation.

In the afternoons, between 3PM and 7PM, the buses run every 15 minutes to get through rush hour. On the route I use going home, the hour and half-hour buses go from ASU all the way south to Chandler Hospital at Frye and Dobson Roads. The quarter and three-quarter hour buses only go from ASU to Research Park. Since I get off before Research Park, I can use either bus. Yesterday I intended to take the 3:45pm, which is an 81S to Research Park route. (is this confusing or what???) An 81S bus pulled next to the stop on College as I was walking up. I could see the 81S on the back and assumed it was my bus. A queue formed to board since a handicapped rider was getting off and no one can board while the bus is in full 'kneel'. While waiting in line, I read the side sign and it said, Frye/Dobson. I realized the big line of people was because this was a 15-minute late 3:30pm bus. I looked down the street and saw another 81S approaching. Figuring the 3:30pm would go first, I slipped out of line, walked back and got on the 3:45pm 81S ASU Research Park bus. No line, nice and quiet and cool. It was a brilliant move on my part as we followed the other 81S and it took in all the passengers while we sat quietly behind like a very, very, very large limousine. A lovely switcheroo for me.

01 May 2007


Long time gone, eh? Work really is quite pressing and I get so immersed as soon as I arrive that I never look back and blog. This past week was particularly hideous, although I did get to spend the weekend at a resort/spa in Tucson. A friend's company hosts a leadership retreat every year and since her husband can't attend, I get to go and enjoy the amenities in his stead. Capped it off (totally pun intended) with a full dental day on Monday - yuckorama! Half a day in the chair and the other half sleeping it off. Three crowns and a root canal later - I earned the afternoon nap.

Very uneventful bus riding lately. Bill, AKA Newspaper Guy, retired on April 27 and he didn't ride the bus his last week. Dave and Mark and I wanted to provide a card and bit of the bubbly for a sendoff, but he probably took vacation and we didn't get to say a proper farewell. Maybe one day he'll take a journey just to say hey. Mark and Dave are short-timers, too. School finals begin this Friday and both will graduate on May 10. Dave moves back to Missouri on May 12 and not sure if Mark needs to ride the 6am66 once he no longer takes classes. Think I will try inventive route-taking once my daily companions are gone. I can take a 6am81 (doesn't ring as well as 6am66) or perhaps change my time altogether. We'll see how energetic I feel about all this changing once our desert temperatures start to climb. I do think some of the lackluster bus stuff revolves around the driver. He fails to deliver the spark, personality or panache of his predecessors. I don't need celebrity, just a personality, especially since he knows I'm going to be there most days. How difficult is it to respond? Perhaps I'll stick it out on the 66 until the next change-o-driver situation and see if things improve.

Got a comment from a new bus blogger, Megan, author of "Driving Miss Boyer". Her blog looks like fun -- see the link. Image today is weak, but it's about all I can muster.

19 April 2007


Another bland morning on the 6am66. I can't even imagine how quiet it will be once the semester ends. I know all about peaks and valleys, but this valley seems very deep.

One nice event did occur today - Bill gave both Mark and Dave ASU Alumni t-shirts. They seemed very surprised and very pleased by the thoughtful gesture. A sense of loss and, as Mark said, melancholy begins to gather as graduation approaches. I found it like the two-edged sword of reading a good book. You eagerly approach the end with the long-anticipated finish in sight; however, you also feel the emptiness of nothing-to-look-forward-to once the last page turns. Regardless, it's a great achievement and kudos are in order for both of them.

13 April 2007

#4130 on the 730am66

Off a couple for grandmothering purposes. As a new member of that club, find I need to indulge myself when occasion permits. The small child and parents returned to their nest and I returned to work . . . sigh . . .

Very restless last night due to late coffee consumption so I let myself sleep in a bit and took the 7:30am66. It provided a refreshed view of the bus since many of the riders attend Tempe Union High School. Few and far between describes recent ridership on the 6AM66; not so the 7:30. Riders boarded at nearly every stop and it played SRO from Mill and Baseline to the high school at Mill and Broadway. I forgot how energized the kids make me feel. Early morning rides to school don't quite vibrate like the afternoon rides home, but I still find an undercurrent of energy as they approach a new day. Freshly showered, hair combed, backpacks in place, skateboards in hand - an army of workers, off for a day in the textbook mines. High school made me nuts and, while I wouldn't mind having that body back, not much else about high school beckons.

Bill retires at the end of April and two weeks later, Dave and Mark graduate from ASU. I might need to vary my bus routine in hopes of finding new inspiration. Perhaps the 7:30am66 will suffice.

10 April 2007


No point in worrying about today's bus number - the 6am66 lacks excitement and posting the daily number implies otherwise. Ridership remains sparse and with summer around the corner, it can only get more thin - the peaks and valleys of bus routes.

On the ride home last night I heard a new message from the electronic lady voice that announcees the stops. Occasionally I still hear the man voice reminding passengers to check for personal possessions before leaving the bus. The new one yesterday, in the lady voice, goes like this: "In consideration of your fellow passengers, please refrain from using offensive language." I forgot to ask Dave if he ever heard that bus announcement. Dave makes full use of the 4-letter lexicon. His sentence structure is based almost entirely on expletives, with a particular talent for turning a certain "f" word into virtually any part of speech. The new message could apply to him, I suppose, although I think it might be aimed more at the young men who sometimes ride in packs and feel a strong need to speak loudly to each other using shock talk. I think ignoring it works more effectively to take away their thrill - they thrive on confrontation. When I heard the beginning of the message I thought it might end in 'cell phones' instead of 'offensive language'. I would rather encounter the occasional smarmy comment than become audience to loud speaking cell phone addicts. With expletives, you might learn a new way to curse a bad driver - half a cell phone converstaion usually reveals nothing of interest or import.

I leave you today with a link to a story in the Daily Mail about a cat who rides the bus. I have a year-old Abyssinian. Hoover, who needs to read this article. She could learn a trick or two from this enterprising feline. Hoover is featured in today's image.

04 April 2007


Bus rides lately seem pretty bland and work continues to aggravate. No time to write! Worst of all, work will get worse as we move deeper into new site development. I might resort to drugs of abuse before this process ends.

My latest excuse for not writing, however, centers around a new family member - Emily Sarah - my first grandchild, born Sunday, April 1. She arrived a week early and surprised us all. Undoubtedly the most fabulous granddaughter ever born . . . I swore I would remain calm and not get all grammy-weird, but much, much easier said than done. She belongs to my son and daughter-in-law and I stayed fairly detached during the pregnancy. One look at the newborn, though, and release the hounds! Best of all, everyone correctly stated it - you can give them back to their parents! Such fun.

Today's picture, of course, is Emily Sarah. Thought we ought to welcome her to the wonderful world of bus blogs. You can be sure she will be on the bus with me at the first opportunity. She must learn to see the world through bus traveling eyes.

22 March 2007


Interesting morning at the bus stop. I arrived first and saw a plastic Target bag lying on the bench. Grabbing it to put in the trash, my hand felt something solid inside. Assuming someone left it by accident, I let the bag sit, uninvestigated. My life story recounts multiple "accidental leavings" where some helpful soul gave my left-by-mistake item to someone else for safekeeping. Experience says to leave found objects where they lie - it's the first place to look for lost things. I realize others might come along and walk off with it; however, on those occasions when the loser quickly remembers the loss, a return to the last-known-sighting will be rewarded if the object stays put. I digress . . .

Along came Dave who immediately picked up the bag and looked inside. I don't know if he takes or leaves findings, but he definitely looks. His investigation revealed . . . a cutlery set! Not new - the knife tips were broken - and I immediately assumed these knives meant CSI might swoop down on us momentarily. Used cutlery in a Target shopping bag? Just the way a demented murderer would carry his/her weapons of choice - I cautioned Dave about leaving fingerprints that could link him to any felonious activities associated with this particular set of knives.

The question begs - what's with Dave and the found weaponry? Remember the Gun Incident, reported in this very blog? For a pacifist, he sure attracts some seriously intense found objects. To help keep CSI at bay, I photographed Dave's hand holding the bus-knives. Although, perhaps that makes me an accessory? Whatever ...

19 March 2007

Home on the 81S (Southbound or Sardine?)

Couldn't see the number on the 81S going home tonight. Not because of my eyes or a bad paint job or a bit of graffiti - I couldn't catch the number because of all the people. This bus was packed! I took the last seat when I boarded on College Avenue. This stop begins the route and most times I have the bus to myself. Ridership usually doesn't pick up until McClintock and University. Today, however, ridership maxed as we left the corral. We seemed to stop at every stop and when one or two got off, three or four got on. Eventually, only standing room remained and even that became a slim bet. At one point, I counted 18 people standing in the center aisle. As a 6000 class bus, it holds more people than the little 4100s from the 6am66; however, not so many more that 18 people had anything resembling elbow room. Inexplicably, wall-to-wall bodies and the driver kept picking up more.

I started to think I would have to fight my way off the bus. Visions swarmed around my brain - me crawling down the aisle, dodging bags and skateboards, feeling my way to the back door off-ramp. A kick and a shove and I'd find myself curled up on the sidewalk, a little bruised and beaten, but successfully disembarked. Fortunately, my fears abated as riders left at Southern and Baseline and no more joined the fray. By the time my stop arrived, I could walk off the bus, unaided, fully upright. What an unusual ride. Walking home, I ruminated on the oddity of it all and decided that the previous bus probably didn't make it around so we actually picked up a double load of riders. A sensible explanation - that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

14 March 2007


This seems like a new number, but after almost 18 months of bus blogs, hard to really tell. Perhaps an archive dive would reveal a re-occurrence? Whatever.

This post belongs to yesterday - work continues to bear down and eat up blogging time. Tacky, eh? Anyway, when we got on the bus yesterday it evidenced a lack of that human aroma that lives so strongly in bus seat upholstery. Clean, fresh, well-scrubbed air circulated throughout. Not to be confused with "new bus" or "new car" smell - this felt like the aftermath of a serious Merry Maids attack. So refreshing, Dave commented to the driver who acknowledged the pleasant atmosphere - and this driver never volunteers anything! I surmised an upholstery shampooing took place but neither Dave nor I could feel any moisture on the seats. The fresh bus smell combined with the scent of orange blossom that prevails right now - an aromatic delight! When we got off the bus, Dave discovered his pants seemed a tad damp in the pertinent seating parts - appears we did owe the fresh scent to upholstery cleaning!

Image certainly needs no explanation.

08 March 2007


Still a struggle to get a greeting from our semi-new driver. He finally began responding to my croaky felicitations (you never heard about my laryngitis!). I feel tempted to get on the bus and say "buenos días"; however, I always fear that could indicate I actually know some Spanish and, once exposed for how sadly monolingual I am, conversation opportunities would plummet immediately. A cheery, if crackly, "good morning" must suffice.

The other day, the BTA contemplated the legality of champagne on the bus - anticipatory brainstorming for the upcoming graduation celebrations. I suggested covering the surveillance cameras with masking tape and the conversation moved on to question who monitors happenings on the bus? Is there a human at the other end of the camera, watching as we bump and sway along the route? With so many buses on the road, it seems impossible that real time viewing could take place. Mark said everything is recorded and kept in the bus' black box. I knew planes carried black boxes, but until that nasty accident in Atlanta last week, I didn't realize buses also used them. The real surprise came when Mark pointed to a black container under one of the lower lateral seats and declared it "the black box." I instantly drew out my camera and, voila, today's image. Sure hope I don't participate in a bus ride where the black box becomes a player.

07 March 2007

another 41........

Been a couple of weeks mostly due to benign bus rides and a madhouse work agenda. Once in the office, the immersion factor takes over and I don't think to blog until way past inspiration time. Yesterday, however, the bus ride strayed from dull and needs documentation.

While waiting for the bus, Dave and I speculated on the whereabouts of Engineering Guy (Mike) and his marked absence from the 6am66 this semester. Dave said he sees EG on campus occasionally; however, like ships passing, they exchange nothing but words of greeting. We got on the bus and talked to Bill about his retirement and the need for an on-board graduation party for Dave and Mark - Mimosas anyone? The bus stopped at the Southern and Mill light, the door opened (illegally, I might add) and on hopped none other than Mike AKA Engineering Guy himself! Gloriosky - the gods heard us and listened! He looked good, albeit a bit weary. He took a killer schedule this semester, hoping to graduate at summer's end. His big announcement - his wife's pregnancy - a tadpole grows in the pond! What a nice ride - very heartwarming and reunion-like. I sure will miss these people when they all move on.

I took today's picture at the bus stop I use going home. A good rear view of Valley Metro's 6000 class bus (probably the 72) and good eyes will catch ASU's gold "A" on Hayden Butte in the background.

15 February 2007


What a great day on the bus! The BTA was in full swing with Bill, serving as librarian, handing out newspaper sections with articles of interest. At Mill and Baseline, a young man dressed in chef's clothing got on and sat next to Mark. Mark asked him if he would make us some eggs and the conversation went totally gastronomic. The young man attends the Scottsdale Culinary Institute and, as revealed in the conversation, Mark spent 18 years in the restaurant business - explains why he makes good French onion soup! He quizzed the chef-to-be about the seven basic sauces (I had no idea!!!) and I asked him if he received chopping lessons. Always wanted to do the speed vegetable chopping, but figured my digits were too valuable to my job to take the risk. The young man said it was all in the weight and quality of the knife - just like everything else, the right tools make things work.

The discussion moved to scrambled eggs and Mark said water is the key to fluffy eggs. He advised that milk coats the egg and holds it down. Makes sense - and to think all these years I served flat eggs because of milk or cream . . . I confessed to all my deep and abiding love for Waffle House cheese and eggs, not caring if the cheese lowered the height of the eggs. Mark told me to grate the cheese and add it to my eggs at the end of cooking. I can hardly wait to make my next batch of scrambled eggs.

I knew we turned on Apache and pulled the cord to signal our stop. The bus halted, Dave and I got off, and it turned out we were halfway down the block, away from the stop. Pretty sure I signaled in time, I wonder if the driver overshot the stop, distracted by thoughts of delicious scrambled eggs?

14 February 2007


Totally forgot to look at the number today - and I was doing so well. Raining this morning, so I'll blame it on that. Everyone in Arizona blames the rain.

A couple of interesting discussions today. Bill showed me two articles in the Arizona Republic about love on the bus. Today is Valentine's Day and the media panders to it tremendously. I guess retailers make huge profits on 2/14, but it seems like a huge Day of Guilt - right up there with Mother's Day. I always feel bad for recently widowed or divorced people who face the bombardment of "love" as February 14 approaches. Greed blinds us to the plight of others.

The other discussion, and focus of today's image, is the Arizona State University Visitor's Center. Valley National Bank built it in 1962 and ASU later purchased it. A gold, geodesic dome, it was much hated and maligned by ASU's newish president. Apparently he and his New York imports are appalled by the architecture on ASU's campus. Coming from Columbia University in NYC, they want old buildings and ivy. Since Arizona didn't become a state until 1912 and ASU didn't become a university until 1958, seems difficult to expect 200-year-old buildings and . . . ivy in the desert? Needless to say, the building was recently razed; however, rumor has it the dome survived and is stored somewhere on ASU's campus. Dave suggested the dome be used to shade a large, outdoor gathering area and Mark thought it could be situated over ASU's football arena, Sun Devil Stadium. Outstanding suggestions by all - too bad university presidents don't read bus blogs.

12 February 2007


Staying late at work tonight, so went in late this morning. Caught the 66 at 10:30am and - surprise, surprise - the driver was our old best driver, Steve! I said good morning, but was fumbling with my bag and pass and general half-blind clumsiness and didn't really get a good look and know it was him at first. Once sitting and situated, I realized his profile looked familiar and greeted him properly when I got off. Wonder if he's back on the 66 full-time? If so, and the route runs as usual, he should be at the wheel of the 6am66 - tomorrow will tell.

A very young couple got on with a baby, maybe a year old, and the baby was a screamer. Not crying, just one of those little bodies that screeches loudly and abruptly, like animals in a zoo. The child sat on the seat between them and I finally decided the screams erupted to gain attention. The mother ignored the baby as she became engrossed in conversation with another young woman who boarded after the couple. The girls/women seemed to know each other from the past and their discussion contained lots of expletives, each one prefaced with the word "like". The father "controlled" the child, but never said a word to him/her. I speak more to my cat than this man did to the baby. I felt bad for the child as his/her future appears dim with learned behavior from this couple. A bit later, a man got on carrying a baby, about the same size and age as the first one. This man held the baby on his lap and talked to him. The little boy remained quiet and calm throughout the ride. As the bus rounded the curve next to Gammage auditorium, the father held the boy up and showed him the building. A striking structure designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, it looks like a giant birthday cake and it caught the child's attention. Unlike the young couple, this man nurtured his child. Got to see the best and worst parenting practices on today's ride.

I took a quick photo of the bus stop signs, looking west on Guadalupe. Been awhile since I spent daylight time at the stop.

08 February 2007


Another icy day on the bus. Might have to move to the back bench seat and grab some heat from the engine. I don't like that seat - a bit too throne-like, but the cold is miserable.

An interesting discussion day on the 6am66. I asked Bill what he planned to do after retirement and he mentioned "Habitat for Humanity". He indicated prior experience with the group and said it is a satisfying means of public service. The discussion then moved on to various places and ways to provide public service in the Phoenix area. Mark has taken his children to St. Vincent de Paul to work on a food serving line and Bill has participated in similar activities. This year at Christmas I did something I have wanted to do for a long time and my eye surgery and immobility provided the perfect impetus. In lieu of purchased gifts, I made donations to several non-profit organizations. It was so nice and felt so good to put money toward something helpful. Now started, I intend to continue the tradition.

It's nice to ride the bus, especially with such good and caring people.

07 February 2007


Once again our regular crew filled the BTA. I realized that after May, I might be the lone regular to occupy that exalted space. Bill retires at the end of February and Mark and Dave graduate in May. My life plans look pretty static right now, so I'll be left alone to carry on. Can a Brain Trust exist with only one brain? Think about that one.

Don't know what's up with the weather and the buses. We've enjoyed 80+ degree days lately and the buses aren't acclimatizing. Yesterday, on the ride home, the bus heater blasted us with warm air waves. The outside temperature was 83 and it must have been 183 inside the bus. This morning, the outside temperature was 53 (that's cold with only 12% humidity) and the bus air conditioner sent shivering waves of cold throughout the craft. In the cold mornings, waiting at the bus stop, I look forward to the warmth of the bus. It wraps around me like a blanket and keeps me snug and safe. Today, though, my protective cover was missing. Where was this air conditioning yesterday afternoon? Is bus interior climate control a challenging concept? I want the drivers to be comfortable - our lives and timely arrival depend on their ability to function well. However, I don't want to die of hypothermia in the process. Seems like a no win situation - death by uncomfortable driver or over air conditioning. It's always something.

06 February 2007


Wonder how they decide which bus goes on which route? While I want to believe in a highly technical, logical decision process, I bet it's totally random. It could be a "release the hounds" thing where the drivers race to get their bus of choice. Probably not.

Not much discussion in the BTA - the Suns loss and the crazy lady astronaut's 1,000 mile love triangle trip. The whole story makes space travel much less appealing if that's what it does to one's gray cells. Think I'll stick with the 6am66.

Our new driver is Hispanic/Mexican/Latino - don't know what word is best, so HML must do. Since he started driving our bus, the number of HML passengers has increased; as if an underground network lets people know which bus route contains a Spanish-speaking driver. It makes no sense since the chosen route should coincide with destination; however, the 6am66 gets more HML riders every day. Probably just coincidence.

Today a young man with a bicycle wanted on the bus, but the bike rack was full. The driver had the guy bring his bike into the bus where he held it until one of the other bicyclists got off and space in the rack opened up. It was a nice gesture by the driver.

02 February 2007


Aaaaah, Friday - best day of the week, no doubt. Once again, Dave missed the 6am66. Bill, Mark and I filled the BTA with food talk. Bill said Uno's has great French onion soup and Mark advised he makes the best FOS. The conversation stirred my taste buds and I now embark on a quest to consume some FOS today. One never knows where bus talk will lead.

I must take time to ponder last night's ride home on the 81 southbound. A woman flew onto the bus, breathless and carrying on about missing the #?? and so she was just going to take the 81S, blah, blah, blah. She sat down and continued to talk loudly to the driver. She kept it up as we pulled away and got louder, as though to drown out the noise of the moving bus. We kept going and she kept talking. Shortly, a man sitting across the aisle from her got up and moved to the back of the bus. I understood his move but felt the gesture was lost on this woman who embodied "oblivious".

Eventually, she got up and stood in the aisle near the front door. She talked and talked and talked. She didn't appear angry, just a talker and a loud talker, at that. She made it difficult for people getting on to pass by and yet the driver never said anything to her. He would make an occasional comment and that just kept her going. With passenger pick-up and drop-off, route timing and the usual driving challenges in Tempe traffic, I don't know how the driver stayed on top of his duties while this woman yammered away.

Finally she got off, introducing herself and shaking the driver's hand as she departed. I don't know whether we were in potential peril from the distraction she posed or if this driver proved that we humans absolutely can multi-task, contrary to all the research that says we can't. I just don't know . . .

01 February 2007


A lovely full moon provided visual extras for the Guadalupe crossing this morning. The clouds broke up enough for the celestial body to perform its streetlight act. Well done, moon.

Dave failed to make an appearance today but Bill and Mark and I kept the BTA chat alive. Somehow we ended up in a comparative religion discourse - started with a movie that Bill saw in his church. I absolutely don't remember the movie's topic, but it prompted the discussion that ensued. Former altar boy Mark gave insight into the Romans while I tossed some Anglican info into the mix. Bill never referenced his particular flavor of denomination, but we do know they show movies! Mark said Mel Gibson follows the practices of the extremist RC sect, Opus Dei, depicted in "The DaVinci Code" - a self-flagellating, excessively penitent group. If that's what Hollywood fame and fortune creates, I must revisit my plan to become a major star. Amazing what is talked about on the bus, eh? The current crop of semi-regular riders is a pretty morose bunch, making BTA chat all the more crucial for a good start to the day.

Guess today's image explains itself.

31 January 2007


Another rainy day in the Valley of the Alleged Sun. Cloudy, cold and damp - I thought this was the desert? Guess good weather needs a vacation, too. Oh well, how fun to wear snuggy clothes and full shoes AND socks! Put those flipflops to bed for awhile.

We enjoyed a full busload today - another mix of unusual non-regulars. Apparently, we need to redefine the meaning of "regulars". In the last six months, two consecutive rides equals regular - not like when I first joined the 6am66 team. Ridership varies like the speed of a roller coaster - don't get too comfortable cuz it's gonna change.

We had a full crew in the BTA and a new guy got on at Rural and Baseline, placing himself right smack in the middle of us all. Bill gave him a smile and an official welcome and our conversation resumed. We were all talking back and forth and I would bend forward to talk past the new guy to Dave, then sit back to converse with Mark or Bill. The middle man wore a grim, scowly face - not sure if it resulted from the early hour, life issues, or just a personal desire to look fierce. Eventually, he moved across the aisle to the little seat next to Mark, twisting his body to the side, facing away from the BTA. I want to think he moved to accommodate the logistics of our conversation pit; however, his somewhat surly demeanor contradicted the idea of a thoughtful gesture. Some people just don't want to interact with others and I respect that. Glad everyone's not that way, though.

30 January 2007


Whew! Survived another mad dash across Guadalupe this AM. Rain added an element of terror since Arizona drivers become even bigger idiots when moisture mixes with asphalt. Perhaps the rain/road mix exudes a potent brain numbing agent? Something happens cuz these people suck at driving on a good day with worse effects during the rain. Ask anyone, Arizona drivers are hideous.

Neither Bill nor Mark graced us with their presence today, so Dave and I owned the BTA. When we got on, a man sat in one of the middle side seats. He was hung over (literally) as he sagged sideways in the seat, barely upright. He re-arranged himself as we walked by and then seemed to sleep throughout the rest of the ride. He appeared well groomed, as if a shower and shave were part of his recent past, but sleep definitely occupied his mind. It made me sleepy to look at him. An odd collection of people filled the bus &ndash until the Broadmoor lady got on, only one couple seemed familiar. As if reading my mind, Dave commented how some days on the 66 could seem like a different world. Maybe the rain/road mix was affecting us, too?

29 January 2007

the eyes have it

Thanks to all for concerns about my eyes. I am healing nicely and back at work, earlier than the last eye. The pressure still needs to go lower, but the paralyzed muscle is loosening and, since this weekend, every day seems to find added mobility. I guess a nerve, knicked by the anesthetic needle, caused the problem and it takes time for the nerve to re-build. Healing appears to be in progress and my stiff eye will soon be but a side item in a bus blog.

Crossing Guadalupe to get to the bus stop provided a bit of a challenge. The sun wasn't up and my depth perception remains somewhat compromised - not sure which is scarier, my inability to judge the speed of the cars or the unseen vehicle without headlights. I contemplated going later, after sunrise, but by then the traffic is much heavier and crossing becomes a game of Frogger - splat! Such choices for a visually impaired bus rider, eh?

Today's craft was #4107 with a new driver. Dave said this guy started off being 10 minutes late every day. Apparently the man had a different time schedule in his head than the one published in the bus book. I appreciate the intricacies of timing while driving a bus, but we all need to be on the same time at the starting gate. Not sure why the GPS on the bus didn't alert the dispatch to the time conflict? I thought they could tell exact bus locations at all times? Another technology myth, I suppose. The 6am66 arrived at 6:08 - new activity for me to blog log.

21 January 2007

trabeculectomy #2

been a week or so - had second eye surgery on thursday and just didn't have time earlier in the week to post about the bus. needed to get all the work ducks lined up before the post-op leave.

as good as my first surgery went, this second surgery has gone bad. one of the nerve block shots paralyzed a medial muscle in the operated eye and I have double vision when looking to the right. a "clarence the cross eyed lion" kind of thing. my surgeon didn't see me on friday (day after surg), I had a stand-in who was more interested in the problems with my pressure and surgical site (pressure high, bleb not open, bleeding - fubar indeed) he generally dismissed my newly developed "lazy eye", so am assuming that it's not an unusual consequence and will rectify. going to see the surgeon tomorrow afternoon and hope the news will be better than it was on friday. to say that i am a bit distressed is quite the understatement. my first surgery was the cover story for successful eye events - i fear this second one could become a journal article about how many things can go wrong with a trabeculectomy.

hoped for much quicker return to work with this surgery, and not sure what the future now holds. will post if things get interesting, but fear the bus is stuck in the terminal for now.

ever the optimist (ha!), i did manage to find an art opportunity buried in the post-op mess and the image posted is an eye patch i knitted and embroidered for myself. decided i didn't want to sport the traditional black pirate patch (deepest apologies to J Depp), so developed this faux eye patch. the lashes are somewhat thicker than my own, but the basic eyedea is there. a close look reveals a few knitting flaws, but not bad work considering i did it with one dilated, half-crossed eye. can't keep a good fiber artist down.

10 January 2007


Nice day on the bus. The BTA was full of regulars: NG, Dave, BG and one of the Steves. I realized we had the "Back Seat Boys" plus me - could shorten it to the BS Boys, although in all fairness, not too much BS flows in the BTA.

It was a nice ride with commentary shared on eye surgery, health care, overzealous lawyers and our litigious society, the hideous BCS game, the Phoenix Suns winning ways, the Godfather II and Robert DeNiro, libraries that might carry Godfather II, and possible illegal downloading of movies. We had a nice discussion about making coffee and donuts available on the bus. Options included taking turns bringing the coffee/donuts or installing vending machines on the buses with coffee and donuts for purchase. Bus attendants to serve coffee and donuts was also suggested, but we determined that bus fares would increase to pay the attendants, so we returned to the vending machine plan. Can you imagine the poor drivers if they installed vending machines on the buses? As if they don't have enough to deal with - I can hear the requests to make change, complaints about the food and drink, the spills, the smell. Bad, bad, bad idea.

A nice bus ride.

08 January 2007

forgot to look

Completely ignored today's bus number - apparently some old habits die very easily.

Cold/flu has abated and hope that's the end for this season. Seems everyone is down with some version of it and I'm not the only one to suffer a recurrence. Guess we just run around infecting each other, over and over and over. Can't even blame the bus as ridership is way down. Had an interesting guy riding today. He sat in the BTA, back bench seat, Bill's usual area. Bill doesn't ride on Monday, so that space is unreserved until Dave stakes his daily claim. The odd thing about this guy was his dress. He sported a head-to-toe quilted camo suit with a knit cap and boots. An oversized duffle bag and backpack occupied the seat next to him. Dave commented that a hunter was riding today and the guy laughed and said yeah, deer hunting. He actually looked like he was going or coming from some outdoor expedition, but camping via public transport? It was very odd. He got off at Southern so figure he meant to transfer for a long ride east or west. Deer hunting??? I think not.

Today's image is in memory of my lunch bag which I forgot to grab from the bench at the bus stop. It had my breakfast bar, my vitamins and a plastic tub of lovely crab and corn chowder that I really looked forward to enjoying for lunch. I bet that chowder's gonna be a little rank later today - whew! Oh well, c'est la vie. Speaking of food, check out this website: http://www.cheddarvision.tv/ - you can watch cheddar cheese ripen - simply amazing.

04 January 2007


This flu thing got seriously unfun yesterday with fever, chills, headache, etc., so no work for me today. Yesterday's ride home, however, included enough interesting elements to provide bus blog ramblings for a post today.

I took the 81southbound which meant a ride in one of the larger, newer 6400 class buses. The ride began uneventfully - my weakened condition making me grateful for smooth, quick passage - just wanna get home. All that changed at Broadway and McClintock when we picked up a wheelchair rider. The maneuvers to get him on the bus went without hitch; however, when the driver went to leave the stop, a warning light on the dash said the wheelchair ramp was disengaged and the bus wouldn't move. Clearly, the ramp was up and in place, but apparently the bus brains didn't know that. The driver reversed the procedure, opening out the ramp, but the bus didn't "kneel" - the hydraulics that lower the bus toward the curb failed to do their thing. She brought the ramp back up, closed the door but no-go, the bus still claimed the ramp was down. She then shut the bus down, waited a few, re-started the bus and the warning light returned. Looked like we were in for a bit of a wait.

The driver got on the radio with her superiors and the smokers on the bus all piled off to take advantage of the momentary lapse in travel. A couple of knuckle-draggers in the back cretinously shouted at the driver, "what's going on, man?", "can't be late for work, dude" charming group, eh? The driver got off the radio and proceeded to put the little orange safety triangles outside the back of the bus. Past experience told me it might be prudent to get off and be ready to get on the next bus, due in about 20 minutes. It meant standing in the middle of the gaggle of smokers, but I wanted to get home and knew the next bus would only pick up people waiting at the stop - not sitting on the broken bus. I did what I could to stay out of the smoke drifts and was happy it was sunny and 70 degrees - great bus breakdown weather. The driver turned the bus off again, waited several minutes, re-started and the warning light was gone. She tested the wheelchair system and this time the kneelers worked. She put the bus in gear and it moved, so we all re-boarded the bus and continued on our way. There was a bit of breath-holding when the wheelchair guy got off, but all systems functioned properly. The usual 25 minute ride took an hour to complete - no complaints, it gave me a blog post!

03 January 2007


Back to business as usual - always such a letdown after the holidays and, yet, kind of nice to return to order out of the chaos. NG was in full BTA repose and Dave and I rounded out the set. Mark (BG) hasn't been on in awhile, but I think his schedule moves around school. When classes are in, he's an early rider. Both he and Dave graduate in May - do need to arrange a bus celebration.

A guy got on in front of Marcos de Niza who seemed to know Bill but I'd never seen before. Nice guy, happy to have him along for the ride. I wonder, though, he had an MP3 player and I could hear the music coming out of the earpieces. Now, if I could hear it sitting across from him on a not-so-quiet bus, what is it doing to his hearing? Is he playing it loud because he has a hearing situation or did he develop a hearing situation from playing it too loud? One wonders . . .

Image today is in honor of the lousy, friggin' head cold that has returned to haunt me. I have a cough, although nothing like the killer croups of my previous sojourn. This time, my nose is completely stuffed up. I sound like a caricature of a person with a cold - "By dame is ebb febber add I have a code id by dose" - central casting, where are you???? Hot toddy, tonight - I have no choice.