Monday, September 30, 2013

SCHADENFREUDE, ALMOST

I know this post is way behind schedule, but I am happy that I finally got my life organized enough to have a backlog of posts for this blog (baby steps . . .)

As I've mentioned before, I never read the Salt Lake Tribune, except when I see blatantly misleading headlines, which is, okay, all the time. I see the headlines in the Tribune box near the bus stop I patronize on 39th South. Recently there have been a lot of headlines that incensed me (and certainly had no business being on the front page), though it mercifully seems to have died down in the last month or so. And then, the other day, there was one that talked about layoffs and early retirements at the Trib.

I got out my pensieve and looked at a few thoughts, expecting to find at least a little bit of Schadenfreude. Or some Selbstgefälligkeit. I'd even have taken some Vergeltungswaffe. But there was none of that. I'm not happy that anyone lost their job.

But I was interested in one thing: that people in the infamous comments section were ascribing the layoffs to various motives, in response to which the official Tribune account responded that it was none of that, just the bottom line.

And I thought, wait a second: did the Tribune just have SERVICE CUTS?

Fascinating.

I'LL BELIEVE THE TRIBUNE NEEDS TO CUT STAFF WHEN THEY FIRE TWO-THIRDS OF THEIR EXECUTIVES AND THE BOARD! ALL THEY'RE REALLY TRYING TO DO IS GET RICH OFF THE NEWSPAPER-READING PUBLIC! EVERYTHING WAS FINE WHEN THE TRIBUNE WAS JUST A REGULAR NEWSPAPER, BUT NO, THEN THEY HAD TO GO PUTTING STUFF ONLINE AND MESSING EVERYTHING UP. FIRE THE BOARD AND GET SOME PEOPLE IN HERE WHO ACTUALLY READ NEWSPAPERS, PAPER NEWSPAPERS, BECAUSE PROGRESS IS BAD! NOW THAT'S A NEWS STORY I CAN GET BEHIND!*

*I really don't care--this is a paraphrase of a few of the more precious comments the Tribune has had lately.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

GOOD FOR ME AKA THE CURSE CONTINUES

I have written in the past about how every time I move, bus service either gets better around the time I leave or worse around the time I arrive. Consider the following:

-I moved to my first apartment in Provo in 2006. I moved out in 2007. Shortly before I moved, UTA switched the 831 (which came every half-hour) and the 833 (which came every hour) so that the 831 was two blocks closer than before. I took advantage of this for a short time, but I had already planned on moving--to a house near where 831 used to run, and the 833 now ran (nothing runs on 7th East in Provo now, for the record).

-The next time I moved, it was to an apartment near University Avenue, where the 831 was my main connection to campus. Shortly after I moved there, the 831 was switched from 60-minute to 90-minute service on Saturdays, and several weekday trips were cut--granted, I was one of about three people that ever rode those trips, and I still had to walk home from the gym in the evenings, but I still used them.

-My next apartment was my first apartment with commutergirl. It was closest to the 850, which went from 30-minute service on Saturdays to 30-60-60 minute service (it was so hard to keep that schedule in my head that I finally just gave up).

-Finally I moved to where I sit today, at this moment, typing this. Commutergirl and I moved to Salt Lake on August 6, 2011, the day before the Red and Green lines opened. I don't need to tell you what happened to the 45 and 205 (and later the 39) after the TRAX openings, but I will anyway: no service from TRAX after 9:00 p.m. I ran up against that all the time trying to get back from BYU on an 811-TRAX-39/45/200/205 combo; if you timed it juuust right you could miss the last 200 at Murray Central, the last 205 at Murray North, and the last 39 at Meadowbrook by less than 10 minutes on the same train! Hilarious! I got over it. But it would have been easier under the previous service configuration (for me, anyway; I still support the existence of the Red and Green lines).

-Oh, and one more thing: have I mentioned that I graduated five days after FrontRunner South opened? Yeah, that was a good week. Except that it was finals week, and I was also trying desperately to get my master's project finished and turned in; so no, it was actually not a good week.

And then the other day, I was thinking about all the changes that happened in Utah County recently (what, you DON'T sit around and ponder about buses?), and it suddenly occurred to me that the way the buses are now in Utah County would have benefited me greatly:

-It would have been the 830 going right past my place, instead of the 831
-The 830 would have gotten me to Orem faster than it used to
-The 830 would have run later (though the 831 wouldn't have, but the 830 would have made up for it)
-The 831 would have continued north of UVU, which I could have used on many an evening when I needed to get to Orem but the 862 was already done running
-FrontRunner, which would have run later in both directions than the 811 ever did, and would have also accomplished the journey from downtown Salt Lake about twice as fast as the TRAX-811 combo used to (and still does)
-I wouldn't have been forced to arrive at BYU at :27 after and :57 after (neither one ends up working terribly well if you have class on the hour, though :57 is just right when you are playing for a voice lesson that begins on the hour but you don't have to be there to play until the vocalist is done warming up)
-The 831 would have run every hour on Saturdays again--I might have used it more than once a month for this reason

Perhaps it would have been better if I had lived in Salt Lake before and moved to Provo. Then I could have had night service in Salt Lake and FrontRunnerish service in Provo. Of course, that would involve moving to Provo. I may be at a theoretical impasse with that one.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

BICYCLE TAP ON



I have tapped on and off at Salt Lake Central many times

YOU DON'T SAY

but a couple of weeks ago was the first time I ever saw someone successfully tap on while on a moving bicycle.

If you don't think it's that hard, try it.

But not when people are watching.

Monday, September 23, 2013

GOLF CLUBS

I have ridden the bus many times

YOU DON'T SAY

but last month was the first time I ever saw a man carry a full set of golf clubs onto a bus.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

DEAR STUPID PROVO DRIVER (60)



Dear stupid Provo driver:

In fairness, you did just get cut off by a bus driver.

But was it really necessary to blast it out to the world on your horn, shout, and make offensive gestures at the driver (who didn't even notice, by the way)?

Keep in mind that you're in downtown Salt Lake City.  While we were waiting at the same light at which you so colorfully expressed your displeasure, I saw two other vehicles get cut off in the middle of turning maneuvers.  Neither of them made a peep.  To the outside world, anyway.

Until people learn to drive civilly around here (or better yet, stop driving altogether), getting cut off is a fact of life.  It will probably happen to you several times a day if you drive downtown, so you really ought to find a better coping mechanism.

Regards,
BUSNINJA

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

DEAR STUPID PROVO DRIVER (59)



Dear stupid Provo Driver:

I realize (though you should understand that this is being uncharacteristically accommodating of me) that texting may occasionally be a matter of life and death.  But it usually isn't.

Unless, of course, you are about to flatten me because you can't look up from texting as you're pulling out onto 45th South.  Fortunately for you and me both, I am a tall, imposing presence, and I have a glare that reaches a mile.  You couldn't help but notice me, I suspect.

Even more fortunately for you, stopping to avoid flattening me also probably prevented you from pulling out onto 45th South while texting.  There is no shoulder on 45th, and you showed no signs of stopping whatsoever.  Did you think that was going to turn out well?

Actually, let's shorten that question: did you think?

Regards,
BUSNINJA

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

ROAD TRIP 2: SUNTRAN

So, St. George has a transit system.  I was going to ride it on our recent road trip and then blog about it when I got back.



Unfortunately, it doesn't run on Sundays, and it doesn't run on Labor Day.  So this ended up being a post about how I didn't ride the transit system in St. George.

I took a picture of a bus stop we walked by, though.


Very artsy signs.  The smaller sign below has the times on it.

SunTran has expanded in recent years: the first time I saw their map it had three routes that each came once an hour.  I estimate this required two buses.  Now it has four routes that come every forty minutes.  I estimate this takes four buses to do.  Doubling your fleet from one year to the next; not bad.

As we were heading out of town Tuesday morning, we did see one SunTran bus in action . . . it stopped at a stop, which I choose to believe meant someone was patronizing the system.

Until next time, St. George.

Monday, September 16, 2013

TREASURES FROM THE INTERNET (7)

Tonight's first treasure should speak for itself, I think.  Read on:


  • Ummmmmmmm . . .
  • Ridership can't be down through July "even though" the Draper TRAX Line opened in August.  Something that happened in August can't cause something that happened in July.  That's gotta be, like, Kindergarten physics.
  • Or are you implying that the opening of the Draper TRAX Line had a retroactive negative effect on ridership?  How very postmodern of you.  You may be on to something . . . no, wait; you're not Kurt Vonnegut.  Never mind.
  • How do I put this tactfully--this is the quality of reporter the Trib retained?
 I've been saving the second one up for a while, but I think the first one has finally provided the appropriate context for it:

  • The Salt Lake Tribune "performs analysis" in the same way that my blog "is a syndicated newspaper:" I could say it all I want, but that doesn't make it true.
  • Have you employed statistical process control on UTA's trended ridership, taking into account the combination of external factors affecting choice riders' decision to take transit?  No?  How about a detailed comparison of executive and management salaries and other compensation across a representative cross-section of transit agencies throughout the United States? 
  • (Hint: comparing UTA's service to New York, which has four transit agencies, then comparing UTA executive salaries to Lexington, Kentucky's is not a "representative sample.")
  •  If you disagree with me on this point, I would respectfully ask that you explain the first quote above to me.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

HEARTS ALL WHOLE

Last year I put up a video of Leonard Slatkin conducting the BBC Philharmonic in Barber's Adagio for StringsYou should watch it, then come back.

Back?  Okay, good.

This year, I offer a somewhat different video, also with music by Barber that captures a different set of feelings I have about the events of September 11, 2001, and about life in general.



Not what you were expecting?  Me either, when I decided to search the depths of YouTube for a good recording of this piece. But I think this recording captures what I'm trying to convey best of any I found.

There are four lines from the poem (by James Agee) that are my favorites:

The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.

This passage inspires a lot of feelings in me, most of which I won't burden you with tonight.  Suffice it to say that there is a healing that comes with the passage of time and the living of life.  I believe this because I am religious.  As I was looking at last year's post, it suddenly struck me just how crazy my life was last year at this time, and how crazy it is not this year (Baby notwithstanding).  And this poem started creeping back into my veins: All is healed, all is health.  And I realized that even life with all its problems and tragedies leaves so much to be grateful for, so much to be happy about (or in my case, to be happily somber about).  I have a grown-up job with benefits.  I still only drive about once every six months, which is absolutely the way I prefer it.  I have a loving wife and a cute baby.  I am happy.  Most of this was harder to come by than it must appear, to look at me.  There have been times when I was completely empty, but now I am full.  Hearts all whole.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the next generation is fussing in the other room, probably because he rolled over and can't figure out how to get back onto his back; I need to turn him back over so he can look at me with a shocked face and then immediately fall asleep.  Good night.

(Don't worry, I'll be back to normal tomorrow.  I took pictures!)

Monday, September 9, 2013

PARKING LOT

They paved paradise to put up a parking lot,

sang Joni Mitchell, before launching into an invective about pesticides.

She didn't know it at the time, but she was actually singing about State Street in Salt Lake City this past weekend.  The cars weren't moving.  There were, like, five buses stuck on the one block of State Street between 100 South and South Temple.  Mostly different routes, though there were two 200s about two blocks apart.

One block to the west, TRAX was humming (or rather, hissing) merrily along every 7.5 minutes, carrying loads of  happy, colorfully-costumed people (and those were the ones going to the MoTab concert, you should have seen the Comic Con goers . . .).  One block to the east (one block!) there was no traffic on the street--three cars or so whizzed merrily by, unware of the extreme traffic jam one-eighth of a mile away.

When we got to 2nd East, commutergirl contemplated the scene and dryly remarked, "They can't even drive intelligently.

Friday, September 6, 2013

PART OF THE PROBLEM

Comic Con.

The Greek Festival.

James Taylor with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

The State Fair.

And to top it off, an inversion that smelled like diapers and bad eggs.

(An angry woman asked a security guard at City Creek tonight why everything smelled so bad.  He assured her there was nothing he could do about it.)

And tomorrow, there will be all this AND a BYU game AND a U of U game AND a Weber State game (there was a more mathematically precise way to notate that last sentence, but this isn't xkcd).

If you drive downtown this weekend, you're part of the problem.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

NICE TO BE WRONG ONCE IN A WHILE

A while back, around the time the Airport line opened and the 517 got severely shortened, I expressed the opinion (in the comments) that the 517 would probably fade, and go into the west

Go to Comic Con this week.  Take TRAX.
like other routes have done (223, 227, 232, 832, etc.):

"Speaking of canceled, I wouldn't be surprised to see the 517 dwindle quite a bit in the future, especially on weekends. The 517 used to really load up through downtown, but a lot of those people were going to North Temple. Now TRAX is going to do that. It'll be interesting to see. Not that I'm trying to give you ideas, UTA people that read this blog . . ."

We've already seen the scenario around here many times: first a route loses weekend service, then night service, then all-day 30-minute service, and sometimes all existence whatsoever.

So I was interested to hear that UTA had something else in mind for the 517: combine it with a new 217 on Redwood Road and DOUBLE the frequency on Weekdays and Saturdays.  Holy cow.

Apparently this isn't happening as a result of major service cuts elsewhere, either (except the 218 on North Temple, which I can attest is just not what it used to be since the Airport Line opened).  I was worried that the opening of the ESS Line would necessitate a cut on route 21, which has already been cut back quite enough, thank you.  Hopefully this doesn't get sneaked in at the last minute . . .

I remain optimistic that things will start turning around for bus service at UTA as construction wraps up, though progress sometimes feels heartbreakingly slow--I guess it is easy for me, as well as everyone else, to remember that the FrontLines construction is still finishing, and that the construction of five rail lines in five years is no small feat for any transit agency, let alone a mid-sized one like UTA.  I only hope that things can keep improving for a while before UTA has to take another hit on their sales tax revenue or something like that.

In the meantime, it's nice to be wrong once in a while.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

ROAD TRIP 1: THE WRATH OF BABY

For Labor Day weekend this year, we decided to go on a vacation of our very own as a family.  We probably should have told Baby beforehand.

See, in his brief four-and-a-half months of life, Baby really hasn't spent that much time in a car seat.  And we just drove with him to St. George and back.  You can understand his frustration at having to spend that much time pent up in a car seat.

Mind you, we took several breaks along the way, both to visit relatives and to feed Baby, but that only made the journey even longer.  By the time we got to St. George, he was quite grumpy, and felt the need to take it out on us.

So it was that the next day he fussed all the way through church (though this was also partly because of his mission to make all the grandmas in the world happy, as there were several grandmas in the foyer who were all heartened by his cuteness).

What, me cute?  You're too kind . . .
Then, of course, he spent the whole afternoon crying and carrying on despite the fact that we had attended to his every need all day long, including all during church.  And once we did finally get out of the hotel ("Everyone around us is going to hate us," I said to commutergirl; "They all asked for other rooms long ago," she rejoined), he had a three-wiper blowout halfway through the Brigham Young home; that was the end of that.  We had to exit two restaurants and a shopping mall in great haste because Baby was proving himself a disagreeable neighbor.

He was pretty good for the rest of the trip, but then we had to drive home, of course.  I spent much of the drive fantasizing about high-speed rail.  Baby actually spent most of the drive home asleep, but by the end of the trip he was clearly at the end of his rope.  It took much consoling and cajoling to get him to go to sleep last night, as he was determined to convince us of his displeasure (trust us, Baby, we get it after about three seconds; there's no need to go on and on about it!).

Tonight we fed him mashed up sweet potatoes for the first time, and it appeared that all was forgiven.  But then, as all things must, the sweet potatoes came to an end, and we were stuck with a very wrathful Baby.

No more car seats for a while.

(Only buses and trains . . .)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

NOSTALGIA

Today when I got on the blog I saw that there was at least one new post from Asleep at BYU, one of my favorite blogs, and one in which I certainly would have been featured had it not, regrettably, debuted toward the very end of my BYU experience, when the only place I ever took naps was behind a door with a key code.  And I was reminded that today was the first day of school at BYU.

As I looked back through the blog, at pictures of beautiful people in places I recognize, I began to feel nostalgic for the time, still-a-single-digit-number-of-years-ago, when I was a fashionably dressed, carefree single college student who

NO

NO I DON'T MISS THAT

WHO SAID THAT

Don't get me wrong, I would do it all again if I had to (and if I could begin with the energy level I had when I was 18).  But the idea that tomorrow is just another day of work makes my soul expand within me.