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.