Friday, December 30, 2011

SUNSHINE TEASER

Now that Flashlight Day is behind us, the sun has been coming up earlier and earlier each morning--trust the man who leaves his house at exactly 7:37 each morning to know this.

As I have exited my house each morning and seen a little more light creeping sinuously over the mountains than the day before, part of me has found solace in the fact that nature has not completely abandoned me during my morning commute.  And part of me can't help but think, enjoy it while it lasts, kid, 'cuz next week  you start getting up at 5:00 again.

Oh, sun, why must you tease me so?

Wednesday's sunrise.  From desnews.com

Thursday, December 29, 2011

STOP THE HATE

People love to hate on their transit companies.  I'm not sure why.  But it's pretty much a universal phenomenon.  When I went to Spain two summers ago, I was very pleased with the public transit system in Granada, where I stayed for over a week.  When I googled the transit company's name to find out more information, however, I found people saying things like "Transportes Rober is going to run the new light rail line! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" and a YouTube (r) video describing "the deplorable state of Transportes Rober buses."  I thought, huh, you folks are pretty spoiled; you should come to the States sometime and try our public transit.

Of course, people in the United States like to hate on their transit companies, too--especially people who don't even take transit, which boggles my mind.  Take the following example:


Now it's time for the part of the show where I mock respond to the author of this letter's concerns.

"I resent"
Okay, you didn't count to ten before you wrote this, did you?

"spending by the Utah Transit Authority of my, and your, taxpayer dollars"
You can resent how UTA spends your tax dollars as much as you want, however illogically, but leave me out of that blanket statement, please.  I happen to think it's money well spent.  Personally, I don't think my tax money should be spent on freeway expansion in Utah County when there's a perfectly good train under construction.  But I'm not king.  And neither are you.

"Instead of spending $55 million"
It's estimated at $55.5 million, actually.  If you really wanted to drive that point home to prick the hearts of your readers, you should have included that $500,000 dollars.  And you probably should have spelled it out like that, because $500,000 looks bigger than $0.5 million.

Did you know that $26 million of that $55.5 million came from a TIGER II Grant (Do you even know what a TIGER II Grant is?  Look it up)?  That leaves $29.5 million from other sources, including local taxpayers.  In contrast, the Utah Legislature in 2009 approved a bond for $1.725 billion to finance I-15 CORE from Provo to American Fork alone.  Do the math: it's over 58:1.  Having done this math, I now consider myself quite magnanimous for not having acridly complained to the local newspaper, given that, once the train is done, I plan on never, ever, ever seeing that stretch of I-15 again.  Ever.

"a two-mile ride," "this short ride"
This is the only part of your letter that actually angers me.  It is also the reason I assumed, above, that you don't ride public transportation.  Listen closely.  It is very easy for people like you to write off the fact that not everyone can or wants to drive everywhere.  Have you walked two miles lately?  How about in a wheelchair?  It's a bit longer ride in a wheelchair than in an SUV.  How would you feel if Sandy City suddenly decided that people could "suck it up" and started putting parking lots to places like Costco (r) and Wal-Mart (r) several blocks from the store entrances?  You'd scream like a stuck pig.  Which is what you are.

"easily handled by buses two blocks north, along 2100 South"
Have you ridden the 21?  Are you aware that UTA doubled bus service frequency along 2100 South in 2007?  The 21 runs as often as any bus in the system.  And it is often quite crowded, especially on Saturdays.  Is it always crowded?  No, but neither is the street in front of your house.  And I doubt you would like it if the street in front of your house was busy all the time.  I pay for streets I don't use, and you don't use the transit you pay for.  Welcome to adulthood.

"you could buy a lot of eco-friendly buses"
I find it baffling that this sentence, in which you correctly use a hyphen, has an otherwise entirely sophomoric character.  Who is "you?"  What is "a lot?"  And, have you looked around lately?  UTA has bought "a lot" of new buses lately, and they're much more eco-friendly than the ones they replaced.  Any bus, actually, is more "eco-friendly" than the glut of single-occupancy vehicles on Salt Lake's roads today.

"an agency that pays its top people more than all similar agencies in the entire country"
Not people.  Person.  And while I don't know all the details, from what I've heard, he's none too beloved.

"an agency that, in the present negotiations with its workers, claims to not have any money"
I respect bus drivers.  They put up with large quantities of aggravation and receive very little thanks.  In my years riding transit, I have come to believe they don't get paid enough.  But they get paid more than I do.

"an agency that is controlled by a board of directors that appears to only be interested in its own area . . ."

UTA's board of trustees represents Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Weber, Tooele, and Box Elder counties.  That is, UTA's entire service area.  I don't know what "own area" even means here.

" . . . without regard to the entire taxpaying public"
I'm part of the entire taxpaying public, you twit.  Stop leaving me out.

"an agency whose members, in the past, have been found to use their position to fatten their own pocketbooks"
This is regrettable.  I, like you, wish terrible curses on those who use taxpayer money to "fatten their . . . pocketbooks."  UTA is not the only agency that has them.

"disgusting"
What are you, like, twelve?

"Sandy"
I like a lot of people from Sandy.  I have mission buddies and college friends from there.  But it seems as though Sandy is also littered with busybodies like you.  Quite frankly, much of Sandy hasn't been around long enough for any kind of urban decline to set in.  In Sugar House, on the other hand, heroic efforts have been put forth to reclaim crime-ridden, unsavory urban environments.  More efforts are needed.  Plans for urban renewal in Sugar House and other neighborhoods in Salt Lake City include transit improvements as an integral part of their execution.  Not, interestingly, more roads.  They've already got enough of those, apparently.

Also, I suppose the fact that Sandy already has three TRAX stations, is getting one more, will have a FrontRunner station nearby, and will, in a few years, boast a significant retail development at the Sandy Civic Center TRAX station is, to you, indisputable evidence that UTA has brazenly neglected your neck of the entire taxpaying public.  Yep, they sure don't think about Sandy, do they?  Did you know that SANDY, yes, your very own Sandy, is considering a streetcar of their OWN, to connect the Civic Center TRAX and the 10200 South FrontRunner station?  What a waste, don't you think?

**deep breath**

I know I shouldn't spend time on such drivel.  But the problem is, such drivel gets printed, and people read it.  The time I have spent tonight is in the interest of counteracting such drivel, and reminding the internet that public transportation is a good thing that helps communities, not just an inconvenience for those too high-and-mighty to need it.  Thanks for playing.  See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

SERVICE PAST 3RD OPTIONAL

The other night I got on the 39 to go home.  There were several of us on the bus.  We came up to 300 East, as the 39 often does, seeing as how its route crosses 300 East.  Someone pulled the cord, the bus stopped, and we all got off.

As you might guess from its small ordinal number, 3rd East is not very far into the route.  In fact, I often am the first one to get off.  I slink off without looking at anyone because I don't want everyone to think I'm the lazy one that got off three blocks into the route (it's actually six blocks into the route, but no one ever seems to take into account that the TRAX Station is past State Street.  It's a mental block that afflicts all bus passengers, and I myself am not entirely immune).  But when everybody else also got off, I felt kind of bad for the bus driver, who would, in all likelihood, be all alone all the way to Wasatch.  This is not as bad as if, say, the 811 were empty, but still, driving all that way by yourself would be lonely.  Or eerie.  I don't know, as I've never been on a bus by myself; whenever I'm on a bus, there's at least the driver there.  That's probably enough.  Shutting up now.

All that way by himself, without even a twist or turn in the road to keep him company . . .

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ADD ME

Commutergirl, as you may know, is a genius.

She bought me two books about transit.  One shows maps of the metro systems of major cities around the world, and the other is about the history and current worldwide applications of rail transit.  Both are by Mark Ovenden, from whose "about the author" statement I now wish to quote:



"Mark was born in London in 1963.  His cartographic leanings probably began when his mother thrust maps at him in the vain hope that he might fidget less while traveling on the Underground toward downtown, whee his father worked in a West End store.

"Instead of reading comic books he pored over old cast-off road maps.  On one occasion, armed solely with a Tube map and the fearlessness of a seven-year-old, he left his grandparents and made it home alone, ten miles across London.  Using a dog-eared collection of transit fliers, he would spend hours doodling fantasy extensions and didn't see how an entire new city could be built without regard to how its 200,000 residents would travel around, hence Milton Keynes gained a fictitious urban transit system at his twelve-year-old hand.

"While more 'outdoor' boys played war games, Mark would buy a single ticket for the Tube and spend hours voyaging to the terminals of each line, scribbling impossible extensions or creating whole new imaginary mass-transit systems . . .

"Though he later pursued a career in media and music, he never lost his fascination with maps and urban transit, and he continued collecting treasures from around the world until assembling them in this compendium.

"Since its first British publication in 2003, he's been thrilled to find that he wasn't the only geeky kid fascinated by maps or by making fantasy rail plans -- designers of which now form an online army of passionate inventors . . ."

otrec.us


Which leads me to a letter I'm about to write:

Dear Mr. Ovenden:

If you ever read this, will you add me on Facebook?  Thanks,

BUSNINJA

Monday, December 26, 2011

THE DARK SIDE

A couple weeks ago, my sister called me asking for some bus advice.  It happens.  After she had successfully completed her bus trip, we had the following texted conversation:

Sister:  I made it to my destination on the bus! Thanks for helping me

Me:  Congratulations, my busninja-in-training.

Sister:  I'll never join the dark side.

Ha ha ha.  Resistance is futile, dear sister.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

HOLIDAY GREETINGS FROM YOUR FELLOW BUS PASSENGERS

Today, when I got off the 39, the driver said, "Merry Christmas!"

I said, "Same to you!"

Another man said, "Merry Christmas again!"

Another man said, "BUUUUURRRRP!!!!"

Merry Christmas to you, too, sir.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

HOW TO NOT SUCK AT TRAX


'Tis the season.

The season for lights at Temple Square, lots of shopping downtown, EVE, Jazz games, etc. etc. etc.  It is also the season for lots of people who never ride trains to ride one.  I support this.  I think everyone should ride TRAX.  Always.  Forever.  However,  I find that some people's experience riding trains is less awesome than it could be--for the sake of these people's health and well-being, let me offer a few suggestions:

1.  Do your homework.  I thought people generally did this, but sometimes I hear evidence that people have not done their homework before embarking on a TRAX trip.  Look it up online.  Call ahead.  Pick up a train schedule (if nowhere else, there should be free ones sitting there when you first get on the train.  They are saying "take me! take me!", if only you could hear them.)  That way you won't have to wonder from which nine stations out of the 25 on the Red Line you can switch to the Blue Line; that way you won't have to worry that you might accidentally end up in Murray, because the Green Line train you're on does not, in fact, go to Murray.  Oh, and if you rode TRAX to Temple Square last year, check again.  It changed.

Let me make it that much easier for you.  That's how much I care.


2.  Use crosswalks.  It is way more fun to walk a few extra feet or wait a few extra seconds than to get hit by a train.  If you don't understand that, you're an ignoramus.

3.  Stand on the correct half of the platform.  TRAX trains are shorter than TRAX platforms.  If you're standing on the southern end of the platform waiting for a northbound train, you're suddenly going to have to do some running to catch up to the last door of the train when it arrives.  Once you reach that door, you and all the other people like you are going to try to crowd through that last door, which takes forever, while listening to the train operator snidely saying over the intercom 'There's more than one door on this WHOLE TRAIN for you to get on!"  I would not post this if it had not actually happened.  Spare yourself the aggravation.  And the rest of us, who are all waiting for you to go through that ONE.  DOOR.

4.  Remember that children and adults are, generally, cognitively different.  Children are great.  I was one once.  I work with them at Church every week.  I plan on raising a whole gaggle of them someday.  I love children-poos!  But children-poos need a little extra help.  While an adult (probably) understands that you're supposed to stand behind the yellow line, a children-poo might be so distracted by the pretty lights that it might forget how it got there to see the lights in the first place, and that how it got there is going to come by very soon and rather fast.  I recognize that it is a sacrifice of a parent's personal enjoyment to be constantly monitoring their offspring while on a train platform, but if, in exchange, you get to keep your children, isn't it worthwhile?



5.  Kindly consider that, while the vicissitudes of your life are fascinating to yourself (else we would not call them vicissitudes), they may be slightly less fascinating to the people around you.  Interesting people abound on trains anyway, but it seems like I've had to bend awfully low over my crossword puzzle sometimes when people who aren't aware that what they're talking about might make me uncomfortable talk about things that make me uncomfortable right next to me.  All I'm asking is that you consider it.

Conscientious attention to the suggestions given above will help assure that your TRAX experience is of the kind that makes you want to ride TRAX again someday.  I would hate for you to not have a pleasant time because of minor circumstances that are easily avoided.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

THE BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL SIGN

It's Christmas break.  Which, these days, means I don't have to go to Provo every day.  I don't really miss Provo, and I've a sneaking suspicion the feeling is mutual . . .

When I was on my way to Provo last, amidst the swimming of my head due to my brain trying to escape its bony enclosure at the prospect of finals, I saw a beautiful, beautiful sign as we passed UVU.  It said:

PEDESTRIAN DETOUR

I can't tell you how many times I've been walking around Provo or Orem and found out through experience alone that the sidewalk is closed.  There are times when this happens and there's nowhere else to go, so I either play chicken with large metal objects moving at thirty-five miles per hour or backtrack all the way around the block to get where I'm going.  For those of you who know that I refer to my easygoing temperament with a generous amount of sarcasm, you can imagine this is frustrating to me.

The sign I saw the other day not only said "detour" on it, it showed me where, as a pedestrian, I would have to go to get to the next intersection.  Arrows, dotted lines, and all.  It was a beautiful, beautiful sign.  I wish all such detours could be marked forevermore.  I'm sure it won't happen, but it is nice to be remembered once in a while.

Monday, December 19, 2011

CARLESS CHRISTMAS SHOPPING


Explanation of the foregoing:

1.  We took the train from our house to Temple Square, where we took Christmas Card pictures.

2.  Then we took the train from Temple Square all the way down to Sandy.

3.  We sat at Sandy for a while, then we caught a bus, like, two blocks so we could walk, like, six blocks to the mall.

4.  We wandered all around the mall and several stores around the mall, and we got hungry, so we ate lunch.

5.  Eventually, we wandered back to the train station in Sandy, and took the train back to Murray.

6.  Then we caught a bus to State Street, where we did MOAR SHOPPING.

7.  Finally, and about seven hours later, we returned home by a different way than we had left it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

ERRORS OF PERCEPTION (PART 3)

Having ascertained that I was standing in front of a McDonald's (r), I was not surprised that I now saw a couple coming across the grass to the bus stop holding McDonald's (r) paraphernalia. The guy got out a cigarette and lit it, and they took turns smoking it. Gross.

As they smoked, I thought, oh boy, here it comes. I hate the smell of cigarette smoke . . .

But either my sense of smell has gone completely awry, or they were smelling a cheeseburger-flavored cigarette, because I couldn't smell anything different. I considered this a rather lucky error of perception and stoically waited for the bus.

Friday, December 16, 2011

ERRORS OF PERCEPTION (PART 2)

Shortly after waiting for the 220, I was waiting for the 45. It was an interesting night. As always, at night, I scoped out the stop to make sure there was enough light for the bus driver to see me standing there without my having to frantically wave my cell phone in the air.

(I will, if necessary, frantically wave my cell phone in the air.)

I needn't have worried, however, because there was a car parked not far from me with its headlights on. And it didn't seem to be going anywhere. In fact, it started to annoy me with its not going anywhere. I turned to look at the car scathingly, because when I'm in good form my glares can stop car engines, I guess.

When I looked, I realized I was standing directly in line with a McDonalds (R) drive-thru. Oh.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

ERRORS OF PERCEPTION (PART 1)

Today, on my way home from work, I went Christmas shopping, which took me far and wide, and several hours. Part of my roaming led me to have to take the 220 somewhere, which is not a very common event for me.

As I was getting off the 220 today, I said to the bus driver, "Thank you, sir; have a good night."

He said, "I love you," and I got off.

Okay, I'm pretty sure he didn't actually say that. In eight years of riding buses, I have never been told by a bus driver that he or she loves me. But I swear that's what it sounded like he said. I must be tired.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

ACTUAL COMMUNICATION NOT NECESSARY

The other day at the Transit Center, a man I don't know asked me, "How you doin'?"

I was not even looking in his direction, so I turned around to face him and rejoined, "Who, me?"

He said, "That's nice."

Apparently actual communication was not the goal here.  Nor did the conversation continue past this point, so I turned back around and resumed contemplating my surroundings.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

PERSISTENT

The 811 hasn't stopped at the old park 'n' ride for a couple of years now.  That doesn't always deter people.  The other night a man wanted to get off at the old park 'n' ride, and, apparently shocked by the fact that we weren't automatically stopping there, asked the bus driver if she could let him off there anyway.  She politely declined.  He asked a couple more times, and she still declined.

He said something precious, like, "Son of a b****," after which the bus driver said, "Sir, watch your language," in her most composed voice.  Upon which, an idea occurred to him.

"You could kick me off the bus," he ventured hopefully.  She made a disparaging noise.

Several of us were much amused, and we quietly complimented his persistence among ourselves.

Monday, December 12, 2011

PARKING VALIDATION

Last week commutergirl and I went to a movie.  I think it's the first movie the two of us have been to since we got married.  No joke.  We saw it at the Gateway.  We like the Gateway, because trains go there.

As we were turning in our movie ticket vouchers to get tickets (which is part of the reason we chose now to see our first-ever movie as a couple), the man at the ticket counter asked, "Do you need parking validation?"

We responded in an exuberant, and entirely unintentional, unison "NO!"

He looked amused, and slightly taken aback.  I ventured a feeble explanation, but let it drop halfway.  We watched the movie, then took the train home.  Yay!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I PASSED THE FE


Let's celebrate, Jersey-Shore style.

No, but seriously, the FE (Fundamentals of Engineering Exam) is an eight-hour long test that Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Chemical, and maybe more, Engineering majors have to take.  Basically, I needed to pass it in order to graduate.  However, coming at Grad School from the side like I did, I didn't take all the classes that would prepare me for it.  Thermodynamics?  What?

When I was taking the test, there were plenty of questions I had no idea about, so I was nervous when I got the email saying "The results of your exam are in . . . "  Why do they always make you click on another link?  Why can't they just send an email with "You passed!  You rock.  Enjoy graduating!" as the subject line?  Also, why did it take them a month and a half to send me the results?  It's a scantron.  The BYU Testing Center spits out your scantrons in a few seconds, and you can see your score by the time you get to the bottom of the stairs.  A month and a half?  I'd love to hear the story behind that one.

Anyway, the point is, I passed.  Phew.

Friday, December 9, 2011

READING DAY FUN

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days.  I know, I spoil you.  Today is Reading Day at BYU, which, so far, means I slept in three hours and read the paper.  I don't know if I've ever gotten actual studying done the first reading day.  I'm planning on doing at least a little.  But for now, I blog.

I thought about what I could do to celebrate Reading Day this year.  Ride the Red Line all the way to the end again?  Fun, but not quite what I'm looking for.  No, I think it's time to do a musical post.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote down a list of every song that was in my head during my journey to school.  I don't have an iPod or anything like unto it because I feel like it would interrupt the constant stream of music going through my head.  My brain is messed with enough anyway, these days.

So, what WAS in my head that day?

Gavotte, François-Joseph Gossec.



Except that I was imagining it in my head in C major, for some reason, with more pedal and a few extravagant trills here and there for good measure. No idea why; I only ever played it in D major.

Lazy Song, Bruno Mars.

I hate this song. It was only in my head because it was someone on the station platform's ringtone. I choose to interpret this song through GloZell rather than post the actual video.



Nevertheless, it was in my head for a considerable number of seconds after I heard the ringtone, so it counts.

Edge of Glory, Lady Gaga.

I have no idea where this came from. Once again, I find GloZell's rendition much more compelling than the actual video, and I know I'm not alone in this.



O Weisheit, Seven Magnificat Antiphons, Arvo Pärt.

This is just the first one. But there are six more. I. LOVE. THIS.



If you don't, we can still be friends. I understand. But Pärt is seriously my hero. No, really, ask my composition-nerd friends. They don't understand it either. But they'll admit it's true.

Sonata No. 7, III, Prokofiev.

This was in my head because I'm learning it. Because I'm crazy. But I also love this piece. The 3rd Movement starts at 5:12.



I will make no remarks about this video's legality . . . but it is wonderful to behold. Sorry, I'm one of the ones that think Argerich is the queen, though some may disagree.

I was originally going to write down every song that was in my head all day long, but that would have made a very long blog post indeed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A LITTLE CLARIFICATION

Recently, my meandering brain was made aware of an inconsistency in Salt Lake's street nomenclature.  It was brought on by the fact that the GPS guy sounds kind of like he's saying "900th East, 3900 South," when we go past 900 East 3900 South.

I hadn't really thought about this before, but it occurred to me that if we say "9th East" to mean 900 East, then "900th East" means


90000 East

That is, somewhere in the Uinta Mountains, I think.  Food for thought.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I FINALLY DID IT!

So, I finally rode TRAX all the way to the Medical Center.  I did it on my lunch break.  Because I can.

I have finally ridden all of TRAX.  I know, I know; it's taken me a while.  Especially considering that the part I hadn't ridden yet was the part completed in 2003, according to Wikipedia.  I'm a BYU student.  It's enemy territory.

Anyway, I took a picture, to prove that I was there.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

HOW 'BOUT THAT WIND?

Now, I would probably never live in Davis County, unless I literally lived at a FrontRunner station.  Today convinced me that I would never, ever want to live there, ever.  No offense.  But poor bus service AND wind?  Nope.





Images from ksl.com
By the way, KSL, you don't come to somebody's aide, unless you want to visit their aide or tell their aide something.  Otherwise, the verbal construction is "came to their aid."  No "e."

But seriously.  FrontRunner closed, the FREEWAY closed, thousands without power, car windows blown in, the list goes on.  How 'bout that wind.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

LESSONS IN MORALITY


This is a picture of a bus stop.  You may be wondering why it's here.

It's a new stop.  It's only been there for a couple of weeks.  Other than that, it's a fairly ordinary stop.  It's also an old stop.  It was a stop for a long time, until it got moved one block North.  Then, a couple of weeks ago, it got moved one block South again, and here it is.

It is, in short, the 830 Northbound stop at 100 North, 200 East, in Provo.

I had occasion to visit my old stomping grounds South of BYU Campus last week, and while I was there, I saw this bus stop.  And I was surprised at the poignant feeling I felt inside.  I thought, "Why couldn't that sign have been THERE two years ago?"

You see, it was just about two years ago that I learned an important lesson in morality, right here at this corner, while catching a bus.

This corner was not an official 830 stop at the time, but the 830 was on detour, and so used this corner to pick up and drop off passengers.  I should say, the 830 almost used this corner.

The temporary stop sign was placed a good 150 feet to the West of where the bench then sat, and now sits.  This created a difficulty: should I wait at the bench, or at the sign?  Oh, I know the rules say wait at the sign, but some bus drivers used to stop at the bench.  Most of them didn't make a big beef about which one you stood at, anyway.  I like to think that my intentions were pretty clear.  The corner of 200 East isn't really a popular sunbathing spot.

Many of you have heard the story of how a certain bus driver pulled up to the stop one night, slamming hard on the brakes exactly in front of the sign, throwing up his hands in righteous indignation with utter injustice plastered across his ample face.  I still get hot inside when I think of how I walked up to the stopped bus, only to get on and have him shout at me that where I was standing was not a bus stop, and how could he pick me up if I weren't standing at a bus stop?  At the time I was furious.

I shouted back.  I am known for being a person who keeps his feelings under wraps (though I do say many snarky things online that I probably wouldn't in public).  I have only lost my temper in public a very few times since returning from my mission.  But I was sick of being told that I didn't know how to ride a bus, sick of being treated like dirt by someone who didn't even know me, sick of feeling like I was being accused of shanking this man's only child when all I had really done was stand too far away from the bus sign, even though every other bus driver in the system would have picked me up anyway and not made a big deal about it.  So I shouted back.  And I freely admit that I still feel a little cold satisfaction when I think of how it took him by surprise, when I think of how I sneered at his retort and blandly walked down the aisle to my favorite seat (according to my seat-finding algorithm, which I always follow).

Apparently, the Anal-Retentive Bus Driver isn't used to being stood up to.

Now, fairness requires the observation that Anal-Retentive has been a lot nicer than he used to be.  He's been downright decent, at times, and this brings me joy.  I hope that he may be decent forever, and not harass any more slightly incorrect passengers.  I hope that this story refers only to past conditions, and that there will be no further need to belabor the point when this post is o'er.  At the time, though, I wondered how I could get him fired.  I composed about twenty angry emails to UTA that evening, none of which I sent, because, well, he was technically right.  I wasn't standing next to the bus stop sign.

It wasn't until considerably later that I realized he was actually wrong.

People who use their correctness or their moral superiority as a bludgeon are wrong.  The fact that someone is right about something does not give him or her the right to abuse other people.  It isn't right.  I have been fortunate in that I've only met a few people in my life that are this way.  It was hard for me to understand them, or why I was so angry at them, until I realized that they are, in fact, wrong.  Now I pity them.  I pity them because they feel they have to resort to pushing other people around to get their way.  I pity them because I have learned in a few short years lessons that will elude them for the rest of their lives.  I do not hold this over them, but I pity them.  And I have learned that I do not need to feel guilty when I have committed a minor indiscretion and someone tries to hold it over my head, nor do I owe such a person any apology or recompense when their supposed complaint against me is only that I stood up to their bullying, or that they need leverage to try to control me or gratify their own ego at my expense.  While I humbly beg pardon for any minor indiscretions I may have committed, I am not really the one who stands in need of forgiveness.

Forgive me; that's getting awfully thick.  I certainly didn't intend for this post to be so long.  Bless you, if you got here, for reading this far.  I hope this is useful to at least someone who reads it.  If not, please excuse me this post and check back tomorrow, when I shall post something amusing.  Until then, good night.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

AREN'T YOU COLD?

It was cold this morning.

As I waited for the train, I blandly contemplated my surroundings.

Then I saw this.



Who would actually WANT to sit on a frosty bench at that hour of the morning is beyond me.  It made me cold just looking at it.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I NEVER SAID I WAS THE CARNINJA

We successfully found the Bountiful Temple this morning.  Finding the restaurant where some of our friends went after the wedding was another matter.

We knew we were close, but we kept driving back and forth on the same few blocks.  Finally we called and obtained very specific directions.  It didn't help that the address we were seeking was right on the border of Bountiful and North Salt Lake -- I've gotten surprisingly used to all of Salt Lake County being on the same grid, and it distresses my soul greatly that Davis County is not the same.

When we finally arrived, I was confronted by the accusation that I was a bad busninja.  This cannot be!  I immediately pointed out that the 470, 471, 461, 462, and 477 (I believe that was the order I said them in; I was trying to respond quickly and was unable to list them in numerical order) all stopped at or near this intersection.  They thought that was funny.  Phew.

That evening, we successfully found the chapel where the reception was being held by following the 460 route into Foxboro.  That was a needed boost for my ego, I admit.

UNCLE

I'm going to my friend's wedding later today (it's 12:14 a.m.).  He's getting married in the Bountiful LDS temple.  Commutergirl and I will be driving, but I decided I would look up how to get there on the bus for fun, even though I already know how to get there (it's a looooong walk from the 470 . . . )

ldstemples.com (This image may have been altered)


See, there's a bus that runs reasonably close to the temple, but not on Saturdays or Sundays.  The 470 runs Saturdays and Sundays, but not reasonably close to the temple.  So when I looked up how to get to the temple, it told me to leave on Monday.  I can't do that, so I put into the directions to arrive today at 10:00 a.m.  Then it told me to leave this past Wednesday.  I gave up.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

HAPPY GIVINGTHANKS

"Givingthanks" comes from a quiz in 3-2-1 Contact magazine (r) when I was a kid.  The question was asking how Thanksgiving was different in Canada from the United States.  The answer, of course, is that it's about a month earlier, but one of the choices in the multiple-choice question was "They call it 'Givingthanks' instead of 'Thanksgiving.'"  Probably to throw people off, they included a picture of a mountie saying "Happy Givingthanks!"  For whatever reason, my odd brain has stuck with occasionally calling it that.

Today I am thankful for many things.  I am thankful for buses, and blogging, and my wife.  Not necessarily in that order.  I am thankful to live in a place where government agencies consider working together for the transportation benefit of all, rather than never talking to each other at all.  I am grateful to live close to a train, and that there will soon be a train to Provo.  Outside of transportation I am thankful for my friends, my family, my job, my religious faith, and the chance to get an education. I'm thankful for a place to sleep and food to eat.  I am also thankful for other things, but if you want to know more about that, you'll probably have to ask me in person, since that's ostensibly not why people are reading this blog.

You may also be interested to know that commutergirl is starting her own blog.  I say "commutergirl", but I really mean "fille de la nourriture," because that's her new title.  I shall be known on her blog as "DC," which is short for "Dining Companion."  It's a useful role I play in our marriage--I make it so that she doesn't have to go to restaurants alone to try them.  Part of the reason I encouraged her to start a blog is so that when we go to a restaurant and she's bursting with wisdom and commentary, it isn't all just lost on me (If you think I talk about the bus a lot, you obviously haven't heard her talk about food).  In addition to restaurant musings, she plans on sharing amusing food-industry-related anecdotes, historical tidbits about food that may well surprise you, and tips on how to get your food/server/hungry husband to do what you want.  If you enjoy her at parties, you'll almost certainly enjoy her in written form.  Not that I'm biased or anything.  Expect to see her postings (and my snarky responses to them) soon!

That's all for today.  Happy Givingthanks!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

WAITING FOR THE BUS AT UVU


We shall not let construction deter us from waiting in a long line all the way down the sidewalk!  Nothing shall keep us from the 830!

Monday, November 21, 2011

HERE'S YOUR SIGN

On the internet, and, I assume, at appropriate places in the real world, UTA has put up some train safety signs.





Got it?  Good.

I'm the last person that wants anyone to get hit by a train.  But, seriously, folks, if you're gonna do things like sit on the platform with your feet on the tracks, hop the tracks between station platforms, or run in front of an oncoming train to frantically wave at a departing bus from the WRONG side of the train gates, don't blame me when you get hit.  Blame natural selection.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I ADMIT IT

I have in the past made much of the fact that it takes me about two hours to get to school in the morning.  But did you know it sometimes takes two hours to go halfway across the Salt Lake Valley?

Today, I got off work.  This happens most days that I work.  Unless I work past midnight; then I technically get off work the next day.  But that hasn't happened in years.  I don't think . . .

Anyway, as I got off work, due to circumstances that are innocuous but that I don't care to describe here, I found myself on the corner of 200 South and 500 East in Salt Lake.  I was planning to catch the 205.

Then the 205 didn't come, and it didn't come.  And then it didn't come some more.  Then the 2 came.  I'm not dumb.  It was cold.  The 2 was warm.  I got on.  I thought to myself, self, you can take the 2 to the University Hospital!  The Red Line goes to the University Hospital!  You can catch the Red Line home!  You're so smart.

Except that I've never been to the University Hospital on a train before.

It may shock, and flabbergast, and flummox, and cause palpitations in, some of you to learn that I have not, actually, ridden all of TRAX.  It's true.  I haven't.  I haven't ridden the part in between the Stadium Station and the Medical Center.  This is, I suppose, not too surprising, given my current university affiliation.  For better or worse, I haven't.  So I was going to today.  I was even going to blog about it -- about how I had now finally ridden all of TRAX.  I was hoping for supportive comments.

Then I got off the 2 at the University Medical Center and realized I had no idea whatsoever where the train stopped.  Hm.  I wandered around for a while, but, getting nowhere, I walked into the hospital and asked for directions.  The hospital turned out to be surprisingly unhelpful.  So I wandered around some more.  Then I thought to myself, self, you are stupid.  Next time you shouldn't make such rash decisions without consulting me first.  Then I told myself that I was being too existential and to stop talking.  Especially since by then it was snowing, and I really needed to get home.

So I caved.  I caught the 2 back to University Street and walked the three blocks down to the Stadium TRAX Station, because I do know where the Stadium Station is.  Sure enough, there it was.  There may have also been a football game going on -- the stadium lights made the snow look pretty.  But as I don't really care about Utah football, I'll just have to wonder what was really going on.

As I was waiting to cross the street to enter the TRAX station, the train came.  If you have never had this feeling, you haven't truly lived.  I had it rather poignantly at this moment.

The light changed, and the train hadn't left.  What the heck.  I ran for it.  Oh, how I ran.  The train -- and I have no idea why this is -- didn't leave.  I actually caught it.


As I gained firm footing on the floor of the train car, just before it departed said Stadium TRAX Station, I suddenly realized that I had about a quarter-inch of fluffy snow still perched on top of the umbrella I held in my left hand.  And by "I realized," I mean that someone pointed it out to me.  At that point it was too late to do anything about it, so when we got to 900 East I opened the door, leaned the umbrella out, and shook it off.  I can only imagine what someone witnessing it from the outside would have thought.

Between Library and Courthouse I called commutergirl to inform her I was not dead.  The conversation was a bit touch-and-go.

I got off the phone with her and realized that the train hadn't moved during the entire 3:22 phone call.  And by "I . . . realized," I mean that the same someone from two paragraphs ago pointed it out to me.  All we heard was that there was an "incident."  I didn't hear the nightly news indicting UTA again tonight, so apparently it didn't involve a train.  Or maybe it did, and they're still just working up a good indictment.  It's one of the many things I don't know.

Eventually, the train did start moving again, though by the time we reached 3900 South there was no 39 for 28 more minutes.  So, I walked.  Did I mention I was wearing shoes with no tread on the bottom?  Boo.

Mine are blue.
I started walking very slowly through the quarter-inch-or-so of slush on the sidewalk.  Occasionally I would hit a patch of sidewalk that was not covered in a quarter-inch-or-so of slush, and I would suddenly be able to walk normally.  This never lasted for more than about two seconds, though.  About halfway through my journey, that is, State Street, I remembered how to walk quickly in slush.  Then I slipped twice, so I stopped walking quickly.  But I slipped four more times after stopping walking quickly.  I never fell over during any of these slips, though.  I retained my grace and poise throughout.  Not that there was anyone to see me anyway.

As I walked, perhaps with a hubris borne of finally, at last, after two epic hours, almost reaching home, I thought to myself, "People who drive are missing out!"

Admitting that you have a problem is the first step.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

CO-NINJAS

When the 811 is really, really, really, really full, sometimes people have to get off.  This means that the people standing in front of the back door have to squirm around and try to avoid awkward personal contact.  When this is pretty much impossible, sometimes the people in front of the back door just get off, to let the other people get off more freely.

But then, they have to get back in the back door before the bus driver closes it and pulls away. 

***Cue action-movie music***

The other day, the 811 was really, really, really, really full, and some people had to get off.  The guy standing in front of the back door got off to let them off.  While he was still off the bus, he heard the hiss that means the back doors are about to close.  He sprang into action, and in one great leap cleared the doors just as they were closing.

Back on the bus, he contemplated his surroundings, and with a look of delighted surprise on his face, said,

Dude!  I'm a frickin' ninja!

(Yes, the word was frickin')

I thought to myself, "Okay, brother, we can be co-ninjas for a day.  But just for today."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

ANYTHING BUT

The other day I was calmly sitting on the 817, eavesdropping on the other passengers.  SHHHH!

I'm a very good eavesdropper, if I do say so myself.

These particular passengers were remarking on the slow progress we were making down the freeway, and one of them said to the other "Looks like this express is anything but."

And I thought, Umm, you do realize that none of the cars around us are moving, either, don't you?

Monday, November 14, 2011

IT IS POSSIBLE

It is possible to clear your throat fifty-three times between Sandy and American Fork.  I know.  I heard it happen.  And I counted.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

THE PROCESSION OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE

Lately school has . . . addled . . . my brain.  That's the best word for it.

The other day on the way to work, having just completed a term paper and with two midterms the following day, I blandly looked out at the rainy world around me, and, finding a long line of people under umbrellas exiting the TRAX platform, thought to myself, "It's like the procession of the mushroom people."

Then I lost consciousness.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

THE "RYDE" -- REALLY?

For reasons that escape me, BYU is still trying to find the perfect alternative to UTA.

Their first attempt was car-sharing, which, as far as I can tell, has been a spectacular flop.  I'm glad of that.  Not that I have anything against Hertz (r).  I was just insulted, in the original email that BYU sent, at the implication that FOUR CARS could replace over three thousand bus passes.  Guess what?  They didn't.  Surprise, surprise.

This new attempt, which I first saw advertised on campus yesterday (though apparently it has been noised for at least a few days now), is a direct-from-your-apartment to BYU shuttle service called The Ryde (r).  You can find out more about it at their website, studentmovement.com.

I honestly think this idea has a chance at succeeding.  But I think it will be rough.  Here's "Y":

1.  Substituting the "i" in a word for a "y" doesn't ALWAYS make it cool.

It's corn and corn alone day!


2.  Sure, a Ryde pass is less than a UTA pass.  But a Ryde pass takes you this far:





while a UTA pass takes you this far:


I can see a Ryde pass working for people who only go from their apartment to campus and back, but what about the Mall?  What about downtown Provo?  What about the airport?  Carriage Cove?  Old Mill?  The many, many apartments in Joaquin?  The Temple?  The Templenacle?  Or anywhere else?  Nope.

3.  If you feel like perusing the schedule, you'll notice that the Ryde shuttles service campus from about 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.  I don't know about you, but if I left campus before 6 p.m. as an undergraduate, it was because I was sick.  Or dead.

I don't know why I'm in such a Teen Girl Squad mood tonight.

Now, I know not everyone was a music major in college, but there are other reasons than practicing piano in a tiny little room in the basement of the Fine Arts building without any significant human contact for people to stay on campus after 5:50 p.m.  Like concerts.  Or parties.  Or whatever.  In any of these cases, this service would not be useful to you.

4.  There are lots of other costs to operating a bus than gas and driver wages.  Like maintenance.  If you can afford to buy these buses, they're probably not new.  And cleanliness.  If your buses are really going to be "better looking than your old ride" and if they really are white, you're going to have to wash them every day, all winter long, so they don't look like slushsicles.  And that all costs money.  Running a bus company is not easy; believe me, I've been studying it for years.

I could go on, but I presciently sense that I'm losing my audience.  You get the idea.  If this were a free-ish service, or if it served more of the student population, it would better meet the student need it purposes to address.  As it is . . . we'll see.  But I still think it would be better to go with UTA.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

THE CORE OF THE MATTER

The other morning, I got on the 39, as I often do these days.  I sat down, as I often do when I get on the 39.

As I sat there, I shifted my foot and realized that there was something slippery on the bottom of my shoe.  I shifted my foot again.  No doubt about it.  I had stepped in the mother of all dog poops.

I discreetly sniffed the air and could detect no odor of "dog's droppings."  Whew.  I made sure not to shift my foot again for the rest of the trip.

If you don't understand what this picture is doing here, please don't trouble yourself about it.
When I got to the TRAX Station, I hurriedly wiped my shoe off on a friendly patch of grass, only to see . . . an entire apple core, smashed flat from mine and others' abuse.


Utterly bemused, I made my way onto the train.


P.S. Sorry for the really lame pun in the title.  I figured it was better to have a lame pun as a title than something about poop.

Monday, November 7, 2011

PLEASE BE CAREFUL

To all those who have perished in train accidents this year, to their families and friends and loved ones, I extend my deepest condolences and wish to impart to you my genuine sorrow and horror that anyone should ever have to die in a train accident.  I am heartsick over the news that another individual, who presumably had family and friends and loved ones and much to live for, met his end this morning while riding TRAX.

To those of you who are yet living, let me direct a few remarks.

Please be careful.  Please.  Please.

Your life is not worth an extra fifteen minutes.  Don't try to race the train.  Don't try to sneak under the train gates, on foot or in a vehicle.  Don't text as you walk across the tracks.  Please.

The yellow line on the station platform is not there to challenge your ability to think for yourself and stand where you want.  It is to protect you from getting hit by a train.  Please, stand behind it.

The train gates across the road you are driving on are not coming down in front of you because they hate you.  They love you.  They don't want you to get hit by a train.  They don't want the train to get hit by you.  There are probably a lot of people on that train, for whose safety UTA is responsible.

For those of you who hate the train, and are trumpeting the recent rash of accidents as another reason why the evil TRAX should be shut down, let me respond simply, if tersely, that TRAX is here to stay.  It's not going anywhere.  TRAX is what makes it possible to remain in motion on the freeway on your way to work in the mornings.  TRAX is what makes the traffic jam after General Conference, or a Jazz game, or anything like it, last for an hour instead of for a day.  You may not think it, but you would sure notice the difference if TRAX suddenly stopped running and another 1,500,000 car trips per month were suddenly added to the roadway system.  And, while you were sitting in traffic, you'd probably still blame someone else.

And, KSL, how am I even supposed to take you seriously if you can't even write "Gerry Carpenter?"  That is the name of UTA's chief spokesperson, not "Gary," not "Sarpenter."  The Daily Universe gets it right; why can't you?

People at UTA weep when an accident happens.  Train operators have quit their jobs because of accidents they have been involved in.  This is not something to be taken lightly.  In a few months, everyone will be used to the new trains.  Right now, many people aren't.  Please be careful.

Friday, November 4, 2011

ANOTHER THING PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ASKING ME

Several of my friends have also been asking me a train-construction-related question to which I have a very definite answer.  Assuming that my friends constitute a simple random sample of all humans, and that their results can thus be generalized to the entire population of the world, most people probably have this question, so I shall answer it forthrightly, here on my blog.  The answer to the question you all have is:

The construction on I-15 is not for the train.  It is for the freeway.  It is for.  The.  Freeway.  The train line is being constructed placidly to the south, hardly getting in anyone's way.  If you look to the south at key points along the freeway, say, the American Fork Main St. exit, you can see train stations or train tracks calmly running near, but not in the middle of, the freeway.  Fear not!  The construction through which you must drive to go anywhere but Provo is for your benefit, not mine.

Although, you should all take the train anyway.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

TRAINY-TRAIN-TRAIN

For those of you who have been asking me when the train to Provo is getting finished, and who have been receiving vague answers from the likes of me, I now have an official answer.


If you would like it to be not-small, you can read the actual article here, as well as see a lovely slideshow about this project and all of UTA's rail projects in general.

The line is scheduled to open about early 2013, which means that it will be completed about the time I graduate and no longer have to commute to Provo.  Oh well.  I'll probably find some reason to ride it.

While I know that you don't feel the joy I feel to get updates on the FrontRunner South Project, I hope you can in some measure share in mine (and many others') bliss at the thought of a train from Provo to Salt Lake that takes you there in less than an hour, transfers to every other train in the UTA system, has free Wi-Fi, runs as smooth as a dream, and is completely immune to rush hour and almost immune to weather.

I could keep going.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

402TH POST SPECIAL: THE MUSICAL POSSIBILITIES OF TRAX

I am a transportation nerd.  I am a music nerd.  And I didn't want to have to come up with a list of 400 things for this special.  300 left me emotionally drained.  So here it is:

The musical possibilities of TRAX.

For a long time, TRAX ran a certain sort of train for all its trains.  These trains make a certain sort of noise when the doors are about to close: 

 
 

Unless there are two doors closing at once, then it sounds rather like this:
 
 

Three doors at once creates a variety of possibilities.
 
 

But then, when UTA opened the two new TRAX lines, they bought NEW trains, and they make sounds like this:
 

And when two doors are about to close:
 

And then there was the time when I got off and I swear it sounded like this:




The musical possibilities of TRAX are practically endless.

401TH POST

Last night was my 400th post.  I like to do special features for posts that end in "00."  This one is no exception.

Except that it's 1:00 A.M. (never mind what time Blogger says it is when I post this) and I've got two midterms tomorrow, so if you don't mind, our four-hundredth-post special will actually be the four-hundred-and-twoth.  Or the four-hundred-and-threeth.  Or somethingth like thatthth.


ththbth ththbth ththbth I'm going to bed.

Monday, October 31, 2011

HALLOWEEN

Today on my way home from work, I was sitting on the train, thinking, man, there sure are a lot of weird people on the train tonight.

And then I remembered what day it was.

Oh.

Friday, October 28, 2011

ASIAN INVASION

Tonight we were waiting for a train.  We were coming back from the Temple.

ldschurchnews.com
The Blue Line wasn't coming.  And it wasn't coming.  It didn't come.  Then it didn't come some more.  The Blue Line, and the Green Line, and the Blue Line all came, going the other way.

Then the Blue Line southbound finally came, and we all understood.

It was full of Asians.  And by Asians, I mean they all had nametags that said, "Korea" or "Japan" or "Malaysia" on them.  Apparently they are all here for the NuSkin NuGeneration conference.


nugeneration2011.com

The train pulled up, so full of people that when the doors opened, some people literally fell backward, and had to be pulled back up into the car.  As I peered more closely, I saw that not everyone on the train was from Asia, just almost all of them.  There were a few regulars, looking utterly bewildered at how crowded the train was.

I asked commutergirl, "Where did all these Asians come from?"

She said, "Asia."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

THE 817 LOVES US

The other day I was waiting for the TRAX train to take me down to Sandy so I could catch the 817 to Provo.  It's a long story (and even longer when you're in it).

Now I didn't notice this, but apparently the train before the one I was trying to catch never showed.  Or, at least, was about 15 minutes late, so as to appear to be the train after the one it actually was.  Like I said, I didn't notice, because a train showed up about when I thought it would, but as I made my way southward, I kept hearing people saying things like "FINALLY.  I thought the train would never come!" or "I was waiting out there FOREVER."  This led me to the assumptions I described in the previous sentence.

As we got closer to Sandy, people started getting antsy.  I have a theory about this, which was corroborated by the fact that everyone was suddenly overjoyed when we actually got to Sandy.  My theory is this: everyone thought they were going to miss the 817.  See, there are two 817's fifteen minutes apart, at about 7:45 and 8:00 a.m.  There are also two earlier ones, but no later ones.  If you miss the 817 at about 8:00, you're out of luck.  You have to take the 811, and no human should be required to do this (even though I've done it many times).  Taking the 811 instead of the 817, for example, would most likely make you late to whatever you were taking the 817 to get to.

I assume that all these people were sure they had missed the 817 at about 7:45, because they were getting antsy by the time we got down to Sandy.  People don't usually get antsy and worried like that on the train.  Then, when we got to the station, there was an 817 sitting there.  This is not an unusual occurrence for me; I'm used to getting off the train in Sandy at two or three minutes to 8:00 and seeing an 817 sitting there.  But for all the people that had been intending to catch the bus fifteen minutes earlier, and apparently had forgotten that there was another 817 fifteen minutes later, this was a small miracle.  I could hear their brains thinking, as we got off the train,

THE 817 WAITED FOR US!!! IT WAITED FOR US!!! IT LOVES US!!! THE 817 LOVES US!!! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!

We all got on.  Then, instead of antsiness, I felt consternation.  It seems everyone was confused because the 817 still sat there for a few minutes, after we got on.  See, it hadn't been waiting especially for us.  It was always supposed to be there.  I just thought it was funny that I was the only one who seemed to know this.