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On the Road

The era ended, for me, unceremoniously on the 24th of October.

That was the day that the universe made it very clear to me that the hitchhiking portion of my commute to school would be, from then on, so unreliable as to render it useless. While the shocked expressions of many of my schoolchums at the news that I had to routinely thumb my way up to Placerville to begin my comute down to school made me think my commute may have been atypical, it was still part of my daily routine all summer long, and up through mid-semester it'd been a critical component of my commute to work and school both.

That third week of October, however, everything went south. Where before I could almost guarantee finding a sympathetic driver within a quarter hour--since early June that'd been true, without fail!--suddenly hours passed without so much as a whiff of compassion or the slow depression of brakes.

So this is to you, lovely people who helped a sweaty freak make his way up out of the canyon to get to work--especially you total strangers that felt compelled to give me a ride all the way to wherever I needed to go, be it the newspaper I worked at or the bus station I needed to get to school from.

From the retiree on his way down from Georgetown to "the big city"(Placerville) and the fisherman on his way to put his boat in storage before he flew off to Alaska, thanks for the "when I was your age" sympathy, it meant a lot on those hot days.
To all the single women who picked me up claiming you'd never picked up a hitchhiker before "but [I] didn't look like a murderer," thanks for that. I'm pretty sure I'm not a murderer, and I appreciate being given the benefit of the doubt.
As to the 17-year-old blond, blue-eyed home schooler in the CRX--I hope your family didn't celebrate Prop 8 too heavily, and I hope Obama's victory didn't encourage any new firearm purchases.

Thanks to all of you for helping me to work on my interview technique, and for the ride out of the otherwise unwalkable canyone. I wouldn't have made it without you. Literally, I wouldn't have gotten to work or school. For next semester, I'm getting a car. It's the only way to get reliably out of here:

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This Nissan needs extra room

I stumbled upon this parking gem up on the roof of Parking Structure II early this afternoon.

So this is one way to avoid squeezing into a compact spot. This guy didn't have to worry about someone denting the doors of his Nissan, or being cramped for space when exiting on either side.

But this kind of parking job isn't just inconsiderate, it's an easy way to earn a $35 fine.

UTAPS Director Nancy Fox said in an email that this car would qualify for one of two violations, for parking in two spots and parking over the white line separating the spaces.

She referenced the Sac State parking regulations, which this person was evidently not concerned with:

Parking is authorized in designated parking spaces only. Parking spaces cannot be created. A parking space is designated by a white parking space line on each side or end of the vehicle. Vehicles must fit within the parking space lines. In the unpaved section of Lot 4 and Lot 9, vehicles must be parked in an orderly manner at a wheel stop.
Here's hoping the driver finds a $35 surprise when they return.
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Driving at the mercy of the radio

The cassette deck on my 1990 Buick Century recently shorted out and I have been forced to endure the radio for the past month or so. It's brutal. Few things in life are as taxing on the human spirit as being stuck in gridlock listening to repetitive ads and grating DJ's. At this point At this point, I can't distinguish a difference between Rob Williams' suffocating self-importance and those kids from the commercials for Paul Blanco's.

It's all blather, and I'm stuck listening to it like a jackass.

With no money to spend on luxuries, there is no way to remedy my situation. All I want is to fix the damn tape deck so I can listen to my iPod again.

I've tried riding with my window down, but all I hear is my clunking motor and all I breathe is polluted air.

Until my finances improve, you can look forward to my constant and prolific insights on radio in Sacramento. Continue Reading>>


What is this, a phone booth on wheels?

Just when I thought I was going to have a quiet commute home, I stepped on Bus No. 87 from Sac State this evening.

I typically get picked up from school but the traffic coming to the university is perpetually bad-- especially after 4 p.m. I was already having a bad afternoon and just wanted to head home and complete my homework. The buses were running kinda late because Facilities Management was installing new signs. It would not have been a problem except they parked their truck in the middle of the bus terminal exit, meaning any bus leaving would have to back out before continuing on its way. I watched this happen for 10 minutes before growing bored with the whole affair.

If having to deal with that annoyance was bad enough, once my bus was actually on the road, four people hopped on their cell phones and yakked away. One girl sitting near the front was laughing and talking so loudly, I though she lost her mind. Another person in the back of the bus was also talking away on her phone-- though not as obnoxiously. Yet another person in the back of the bus was talking loudly on HIS cell phone. And to top it off, one more person just two seats ahead of me was on her phone as well. I could hear what all four of them were talking about, yet I have no idea what they were talking about. Something along the lines of:

"I'm on the bus now, heading to the train station... what are you doing?"

"Yeah, I saw that last night, it was funny...(laughs hysterically)"

"No I didn't... you did! You're so crazy, fool..."

Four conversations, four loud voices, and a rumbling bus made for a very unpleasant ride to the 65th Street light rail station. I finally had enough and put on my headphones and turned up the volume.

The last time I had this much fun on the bus ride home, a woman threatened to kill the bus driver because he sped past her bus stop one day...
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Light rail is unhealthy transportation

When I started planning for my first year as a transfer student to Sac State last year, I decided, instead of driving to school, I would take light rail.

I knew light rail was part of my tuition fees and both my youngest daughter and my niece said the parking is awful at Sac State, so my decision seemed easy and logical.
Also, I consider myself to be conscious of ways to keep from doing too much harm to the earth and thought having one less driver on the road is helping our planet.
What I didn’t realize was how unhealthy riding light rail can be.

Waiting for the train, people are smoking and smashing their butts into the sidewalk. Not a pretty sight. I try to find a spot where I’m not inhaling smoke, hard to do. Then after I board the train, I get to sit next to someone that reeks of cigarette smoke. By the time I get to my destination my lungs are burning and my nose is completely stuffed up.

Getting off the train, I once again have to try and dodge the smoke. And, of course, walking from 65th Street to the campus, I get to inhale exhaust fumes from the hundreds of cars driving by.

To be continued…
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UTAPS objects

Just because it's the cover of night doesn't mean you won't get a ticket. What I don't get about this one is that there was plenty of open parking in the staff/faculty lot.

The best part was when I asked the UTAPS worker who was writing the ticket if I could get a picture of his truck in the background. No, that was not acceptable. His supervisor had expressly told him to not let things like that happen. I'm guessing our post with the picture of the UTAPS truck is a definite violation. Continue Reading>>


Jog your commute?

The Sacramento Bee's Sam McManis ran an interesting article today on a rare commuting niche: the route runner.

Apparently, there's a small group of commuters in the region - mostly marathon enthusiasts - who run their commute home and back. Doesn't sound too bad, until you realize some of these folks are running 36-mile round trips five days a week.

Wait, what?

Surely not for everyone, but as a insouciant runner, the story made me perk up. The article caught my attention in the same way Japanese author Haruki Murakami's mini-memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running made me take note.

Admittedly, Murakami's book is still on my reading list and you won't see me jogging my way to campus any time soon. But I can agree the idea of the commute jog is novel. And as McManis coyly notes, cycling is soooo 2007.

You probably won't see the fixie kids giving up their bikes for a fresh pair of New Balances, but as the article observes, jogging subculture is as vibrant as any other fitness-oriented subculture. It just happens to be a little sweatier.

Who knows, maybe this will be more common at Sacramento State when they get that Recreation and Wellness Center up and running. Assuming of course, the center has public showers.
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