Archive for February, 2007

Chasing after buses

I’ve posted before about roughly the same thing that Charles is referring to (ie – bus drivers who won’t let you on after they’ve inched out from the marked curb-stop and out to the red-light). Here were my thoughts on when it happened to me at Overlake TC one time…

It’s a massive pain when bus drivers are so rigid as to sit there stoically through the 2 minutes of red-light, being careful not to make eye contact. And it’s probably even worse if you’re hauling a couple of kids in your sprint toward the bus.

That said, Jodi and I had an experience the other day which changed my perspective on this a little bit, at least for buses while they’re operating in the downtown corridor. I now have a lot less tolerance for those who run after buses that have left the pickup zone while downtown.

Jodi and I were riding the 14 bus last Friday evening to the downtown. We did a driver-swap at 5th and Jax, which meant the bus was stopped at this corner for about 3-5 minutes… no short stops here.

But of course, the instant the bus pulled away toward the corner, up runs two youths cussing and screaming that the bus driver stop to let them on. Our busdriver (a fairly new driver, I got the sense) reasonably did not stop in the middle of the road (we had a green light) to let them on.

However, these two kids were having none of it. They cussed and screamed and kicked the door and pounded the sides of the bus. Total hooligans, and I’d say most of us were rightly glad he didn’t let them on.

But it gets worse.

I mentioned to Jodi that the next stop was only a block or two away, and we were about to get stopped at another traffic light so “if they really wanted to get on the bus…”, it should be fairly easy to do so at that next stop.

Well, it turns out they figured this out. They came running up at the next stop and (free ride area) darted in the back door of the bus. I suppose the bus driver was in a bit of a hard place here, since on the one hand this time they were at the stop in time to get on… but on the other hand, they’d just been cussing him out and kicking the bus 60 seconds earlier.

So now they’re on the bus and most everyone on the bus is (duely) nervous that these folks who clearly lack self-control are among us. Great. I was even a little worried that they might ride until most passengers had cleared out and then cause the driver retributive harm for not letting them on. Ugh, scary to be a Metro driver!

Fortunately they got off the bus about 2 stops later. Unfortunately, they “got back at the bus driver” by trying to snatch-and-run out the door with the ipod of a woman sitting at the front of the bus. We called 911, the driver pressed the panic button, and we all sat there a few minutes ruminating on how much damage a couple of young, misguided thugs could do in just 3 minutes and 4 blocks time.

They didn’t get her ipod, thank goodness. And, as far as I could tell, we were all more “shook up” than hurt. But presumably these idiots did get clean away, running empty-handed off into the night for more thuggery.

Here’s hoping they both got run over a block away. No, I don’t wish that on some innocent driver along 2nd Ave. Here’s hoping they tripped and fell down a sewer drain somewhere near the sound and then floated away to sea. Yeah, that’ll do. They don’t belong in my city. They don’t belong in anyone’s city. They belong in prison.

The whole episode reminded me a bit of the scene in the movie Crash with “Peter” and “Anthony” complaining about how badly they’re discriminated against (white people crossing the street as they walk by, etc). To each other, these two wonder out-loud why this is happening in society today and point out what a shame it is.

Then they decide that maybe it’s because they (Peter and Anthony) have guns… at which point they proceed to carjack someone. Totally unexpected, given the context of the discrimination discussion leading up to it. The whole point is that you’re supposed to feel terrible for implicitly discriminating against these two respectable, young black males, and they’re reminding you of it. And then the very next second they fulfill your worst fears — the very things you were just feeling bad about thinking!

A spot-on movie scene, and an unfortunate re-creation in real life.

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Viaducts, Viaducts Everywhere

Thanks to MetroBlogging Seattle for posting this link to “what a bunch of other cities would look like on their waterfronts if they were crazy enough to build a waterfront freeway viaduct like ours“.

Example photo – Paris:

It’d be funny if it wasn’t so serious… we’re actually voting for this stupid thing. And there’s a non-zero chance the rebuild option might “win” (at which point, Seattle loses)!

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Oh please please please go public!

Imperium Renewables, the Bio-diesel producer who is currenly finishing up a refinery at Port of Gray’s Harbor has just received $214 Million in additional venture capital to get moving on their next batch of refineries.

The key part that caught my attention was this bit from the PI coverage:

“Obviously, (the latest funding) is not enough to do all four or five projects that we have identified,” said Plaza, adding that it could target the public markets for more capital.

Now, I’ve been watching this company develop for months… hoping that they’d do some sort of public offering (it’s currently 100% privately held). I’m crossing my fingers.

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Skiing Follies at Alpental

Last Saturday Jodi was on call so I went out to Summit for a day of skiing. Overall it was a good day, and I enjoyed some parts of it. But there were 3 irritating things worth reporting:

  1. Dogs
  2. Sleds
  3. Heat

Now these first two were totally preventable, and I was mostly irritated just that Summit let them go on with no response. The 3rd was unavoidable, I guess.

Dogs – People brought their dogs to the base of Alpental and let them run all around without a leash. I like dogs as much as the next person (this is probably a lie, but I don’t particularly DIS-like dogs at least)… but I ALWAYS find it irritating when people go out in public with their dogs not on leash. Dogs roaming freely among groups of people/strangers is a recipe for dog excitability and trouble. Plus, if you’re allergic to dogs, as I am, dogs rubbing up against you is the last thing you want. Conclusion: I think it’s generally in bad taste to bring your dogs with you to a ski resort and let them roam around. Point made.

Sleds – Now, I don’t even know if dogs are allowed at Summit. For all I know, it’s an official off-leash dog park. But I *DO* know that sleds aren’t allowed. It’s posted all over the place. And I found it particularly frustrating that a group of kids were totally ignoring the signs and were sledding right near the buildings at the base of Alpental. But truthfully, what bothered me more than these kids ignoring the rules and sliding near and nearly into skiiers was that when the Summit staff came out to talk with them, they were all friends and had a good laugh. Nobody said “hey, stop sledding”. It was all “Hey Bob, that was a great sled run”. It reminded me a bit of when you go into a restaurant or an area of the restaurant where smoking is not allowed… except when the manager decides it’s his good friends and the rules don’t apply. Then all those around are negatively affected by this violation of the rules. Yuck.

Heat – It was hot. VERY hot. It was proably over 40 degrees F at the base and still probably above freezing even at the top of Alpental. I was sweating like a pig with all my winter gear on. I don’t hold this one against Summit. 🙂

What was good though, was that now I’ve finally gone to the top of Alpental. I’ve skiied down the “double black diamond” parts on the way down. Ok, let’s be fair, I’ve fallen through the “double black diamond” parts on the way down (by no means would anyone with style call my experience skiing!). So, it’s an accomplishment in that sense.

It was a bit of an interesting experience coming down: All the parts of the slope in the sun were melty and sticky (2-3 ft deep power on top of ice) and all of the parts of the slope in the shade were sheet ice.

I expect I’ll still go skiing once or twice more this season, but perhaps I’ll stick to my more familiar Summit Central next time.

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Even 3 weeks earlier I can’t wait for it to be over

Now, if you’re a regular reader of this blog you KNOW that I’m crazy for timezone stuff. This year, however, I just want to make it all stop…

This year, we’ll be starting Daylight Saving Time 3 weeks earlier than we have in the past. Here’s where the problem starts: Lots of computer stuff won’t be happy about this. When lots of computer stuff isn’t happy (ala Y2k), we get lots of news coverage. And when we get lots of news coverage about Daylight Saving Time, I get a big headache because it seems like EVERYONE CALLS IT DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME.

STOPITSTOPITSTOPIT!

Repeat after me: “Daylight…. Saving… Time“. Not Daylight Savings Time. Never.

I think this one is the worst. Yes. Even worse than Safety Deposit Box. ACK!

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Viaduct Rebuild = Monstrosity

Have a look at these great renderings of what the rebuilt viaduct will look like.

No way the good folks of Seattle will allow such a hideous monster to eat up the entire waterfront… that would be the height of insanity.

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“Seattle Traffic” lacks understanding

I can help to answer a question posted the other day to the Seattle Traffic blog. (and yes, I realize it’s rhetorical.)

I believe that high tolls would have the dual effect of paying for construction and reducing traffic as people make other commute decisions. Over time it would probably also cause people to re-think the wisdom of living and working on opposite sides of a major body of water. Of course, I’ve never understood why people would do that in the first place, tolls or not.

Let me add some understanding to your life, Mr Traffic… some of us live and work on opposite sides of the water because we’re married. Married to folks who live and work on the SAME side of the water.

I work on the eastside. My wife works in Seattle. We both live in Seattle. Short of one of us quitting/changing jobs (not too likely), getting to telecommute 100% (slightly more likely, but still pretty farfetched), or getting divorced (terrible!)… it seems like one or the other of us will have to commute across the lake.

I wouldn’t even mind high tolls, even if they were applied to both bridges… with the caveat: I can take public transportation that doesn’t get stuck in traffic and bypasses the toll.

I’m all about taking the bus/train/teleporter to work rather than a car. I just hate getting stuck (in the bus) in horrible stopped traffic. Now, I don’t delude myself into thinking that some not-insignificant part of the commuting public taking the bus will really do much about “reducing traffic”. There’s always more to back-fill any “reduced traffic” that appears.

The real problem is how do we solve the transit problem so that riding mass (rapid) transit is *MORE* appealing than driving your car single-occupancy. If tolls can help, then let’s get some darn tolls already!

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Four Trials

Recently I also finished reading John Edwards “tell all” book Four Trials. This one was from the Seattle Public Library rather than Audible.

This was a book published back in 2004 (as he was running for Vice-President), so of course the style and tone were conducive to making him look Vice-presidential. But that’s not why I was interested in reading it. I was interested in reading it because it promised to give me some insight into his trial-lawyer — and more importantly, medical-malpractice trial lawyer — days.

Yes, that’s right. He was previously a medical malpractice trial lawyer… a point that has not escaped Jodi’s notice at various times. In fact, around the doctor-folk, it seems like this is the key piece of relevant information about this candidate. And that it inherantly renders him disqualified for the office.

So, I set out to read (admittedly in his own, likely biased perspective) about what he did as a medical malpractice trial lawyer.

Short version: He sees himself as a protector of the helpless/underprivileged. He considers what he’s doing as good work. He chose to use only examples of his trial work that make him (and his clients) look good.

Now, that last one should not be a shocker. Even if his client was badness-incarnate, I doubt he would have written it that way. He needs to show himself defending the little guy. That’s his schtick, even as a candidate.

But let’s take a step back and consider for a moment… maybe he really *IS* that guy. Maybe he really *DOES* seek out clients who are helpless/underprivileged. Maybe his clients really *DO* deserve multi-million $$ settlements. From the way the stories are laid out in the book, these are all true points.

Of the 4 trials, two were medical malpractice related. (observation: he didn’t do *ONLY* medical malpractice litigation). In both trials he describes, it seems like pretty clear-cut malpractice: one patient strongly overmedicated with a dangerous drug until he went into a coma, the other patient delivered naturally (vs C-section) well after indications proved it was unsafe.

So, I guess I really don’t have a solid conclusion. I didn’t really expect to find out that he’s a filthy bastard from the book he wrote about himself. But I also didn’t expect to find out that he never even was a malpractice attorney (and it was all just a nasty rumor). What I found out was somewhere in the middle: He did sue doctors, but maybe some of them deserved it. Ugh. I hate saying that, but it’s probably true. Nobody’s perfect.

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False Impression

Recently finished “reading” False Impression, by Jeffrey Archer. It’s been so long since I added it to my Audible queue, I can’t remember why I did it. Probably because it got good ratings and was recommended by Audible in one of their “buy more books” emails.

Oh well, in any case it was an ok book. But barely. It was one of the typical formulaic thrillers that always seem to sell well in these last few years (think anything by Dan Brown…).

Short summary: Some baddies do some bad stuff. Some records they need are in the World Trade Center. On September 11th. All of the main players make it out alive (duh), but now there’s sudden intrigue about whether the heroine can “save the day” based on the lost records and some other ingenuity. Occasionally they refer to “Safety Deposit Boxes” (ugh, now there’s a pet peeve).

It held my attention, but mostly just to see if the “twists and turns” would really be as predictable as it seemed. They were. And they all lived happily ever after.

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Tanning in Sheboygan

Oh fun. You know the city you grew up in has hit the big time when it makes the national (blog) news… Here’s Slog’s take on the woman in Sheboygan who just had to go tanning for her vacation (leaving her young kids in the car unattended in way-below-freezing temperatures).

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