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.