I know how ugly hookers feel.

A quiet evening at home listening to Christmas music, wrapping gifts that i bought yesterday (and one that was waiting on the doorstep when i returned), and doing some light reading by the glow of a twinkling plastic tree. I did very little actual work at work today, between meetings down the hall, meetings in the corporate building several blocks away, walking to said meetings, and kicking into party mode at about 3.30 with the rest of the building for the second day of “slush week”, the official unofficial Christmas party. Each day is themed – today was gin and tonics. Monday was beer – several of the crew actually make their own, so it was a very involved affair to start the week, tomorrow is scotch, i think, unless scotch is thursday and tomorrow is vodka, leaving friday for wines. As my department is lazy and not actually sponsoring a day (which is too bad, since i have an iPod full of great Christmas music and party provisions just begging to be shared), i’m really not sure of the schedule until the last hints of daylight depart the conference room windows and the merriment begins appearing from desk drawers and mailroom cupboards. Unlike for real life modern pirates, there is no shortage of free booty at the office this time of year.

My whole world seems a bit upside down this week. After several years of alternating between admitting i’m broke and living accordingly, or denying my lack of funds in temporary (and usually oft-regretted) splurges, i’m finally looking down the barrel of a comfortable salary after the new year begins and that combined with prodigous Christmas money stockpiling has me purchasing gifts based on other criteria besides sale price this year. It’s a great feeling, and the festive – and larger than usual – pile of paper-wrapped good intentions accumulating around the concrete-filled terra cotta pot under my plastic evergreen has me in a perpetual Christmas mood.

My garage is empty. I tromped in there this evening in search of empty boxes to contain my purchased expressions of merriment and, like i always do, took a large step straight in and then turned quickly on my heels to avoid hitting my car that – ack! – was not there this time. I stood silently aghast in the empty concrete space, momentarily concerned that i had misplaced something large and automobile-shaped, then concerned for my own sanity, and finally prodded with a twinge of guilt for forgetting already, as my poor Z – out of sight and apparently all too quickly out of mind – sleeps in a strange, lonely bed tonight. I delivered it to the body shop monday morning, where it’s panels will be exorcised of the ghost of garage doors past. The logistics of the hand-off involved reviewing my two-page typed list of quirks, repair guidelines and operating requirements with both the service manager and the lot attendant – including a copy for each of them and another in the car – and then walking a few blocks to alderwood mall to catch a bus home, to fetch my pathfinder and expend a half tank of gas driving downtown to work, alone, so that i would have transportation to the doc in bellevue after work and then back home again, in order to complete the most inefficient commute cycle possible. Apparently community transit did not receive that memo, however, and felt it would instead be an opportune monday morning to test the “random chaos” theory of bus scheduling and completely disregard any printed timetables in favor of buses driving haphazardly around snohomish county wherever their drivers felt would be scenic for the passengers, or wherever discounted breakfast specials could be combined with unfiltered tobacco. After waiting 30 minutes on north hwy 99, feeling what ugly hookers must feel when they stand on hwy 99 waiting for a ride that never comes, i finally gave up and walked the last two miles home in disgust. I kept my unused transfer ticket, though… so i can staple it to the flaming bag of canine excrement that community transit will be receiving for Christmas this year.

I went skiing on saturday. The Summit was a bit crunchy compared to what i’m used to and i worked my body really hard on some tough runs, but it was sunny and fantastic up there and i had an incredible day. Other than a couple of freak days out in Europe in 2003, i hadn’t skied – or physically engaged any snow that wasn’t at the business end of an ice scraper – since i was in college, and never in a west coast climate, so i had no expectations and figured on being a total noob; finding that some semblance of confidence and ability still lingered was a welcome surprise. Driving up by myself and spending the day following my own desires and energies on the hill took me back to MSU, to the days of decade-old gear and “HHD 161 – Alpine Skiing”, except this time my gear is all new (save the sticks) and a season pass hung around my neck. I felt like a king. The king of the mountain.

Can we just agree that we are all tired of the bus?

Watching this week’s StrongBad Email with Ian, while he expresses his frustration with his home computer – he’s trying to log into it from work, but he broke it over the weekend and now it just constantly reboots, leaving it (obviously) inaccessible. My Powerbook never does that. 😉

This is my seventh day of work in a row – i’m very much looking forward to having tomorrow off, mostly cause i have a lot of stuff to get done! And also cause i’d like to sleep in past 5am (at least just a little!). I found a steal of a deal on a parking lot just 3 blocks from work that’ll only cost me $25 a month (the company pays the rest) and is available 24/7 to accomodate my non-traditional shift hours, even during baseball games and stuff. Very good deal. Not that i hate riding the bus… okay, that’s not entirely true. Some days i really hate it. 😉 In the mornings on weekdays i don’t really mind it, although as there’s only a few routes to this part of the city i have to catch the one-and-only bus that will get me to work on time, as the next one will put me here like half an hour late. Driving is much more forgiving in that regard. But the real pain is in the evenings, as i’m headed home after the regular commuting hours, and on weekends, when the routes are limited and i find myself chasing buses all over downtown. What could be a 10 minute drive turns into more than an hour of walking, waiting and riding when all i really wanna do is just get home. With such long days and short evenings, that really makes a dent in my free time. So for $25 a month plus a little gas in the truck, why wouldn’t i drive? See how easily i justify that? 😉 And let’s not even get into the environmental impact of driving my SUV into downtown every day instead of taking the bus… they’re going to name a hole in the ozone after me.

It’s not my fault that this city’s public transit is lackluster. It’s great for some people, if you work 8-5 in downtown and live in one of the city’s boroughs. But the problem with Metro’s bus system is that it basically goes to 50% operation at 6pm, and down to 25% at 10pm. And forget the weekends. So you can’t count on it to get you home if you, say, work a little late, or meet friends for dinner after work, or need to run an evening errand, or – like me – work hours other than 9-5. And this city wonders why we have a traffic problem… cause there really aren’t alternatives for most people! And then we all finally agree on a monorail plan (which would run all nite, btw, on the same predictable route 7 days a week) and these losers want to recall the monorail plan because the route changed by a couple of blocks from the proposal to the building plan! Morons. Firstly, big deal. As long as it’s still going thru all the same neighborhoods. Secondly, a proposal is not set in stone – that’s what proposal means! When landowners won’t sell, or construction costs change, or whatever, you have to be ready to adapt your plans, which is exactly what happens hundreds of times during a 10+ year project. Thirdly, although they try to pass off this recall thing as a “grassroots” movement (the website is even tacky and low budget to aid in the ruse) everyone with more than split pea soup sloshing between their ears knows that the recall movement is being primarily funded by a group of wealthy property owners along the proposed route who either 1) wanted it to stop on their dirt and it’s not, 2) wanted it to stay away and their dirt’s on the route, or 3) have a vested interest in other transportation methods or overpriced parking lots. So basically, a bunch of special interests with much less than the city’s general good in mind. I’ll refer them to John Stuart Mill’s apportionment of the relative needs of the many vs. the needs of the few. And i’ll be sure and spit my gum out the window of the monorail right as i go by their buildings…

Transportation stars in the moon and rising

A charmed day for sure, the moon must be in the third quarter of neptune, or whatever…

Had excellent bus karma today – walked right up to be met at stops by the one i wanted. Didn’t sleep through any stops. No large smelly people sat on the aisle seat next to me and smothered/suffocated/trapped me. Nobody mugged me for the ipod on the route through white center.

Good transportation day in general. Erica W gave me a ride home from downtown on her way to join us for dinner. Ron was at the dentist a few blocks from the Burien office and gave me a ride back to Bellevue. I rented a flexcar and drove from downtown to Lynnwood, leaving at five an arriving in only 40 minutes (it’s about 30 miles) – a rush-hour record for sure. Icing on cake: Travis found me a daily driver, a 500-dollar ’89 Nissan Sentra, a cheap-to-own 4-door that will get me back and forth to the garage for the next month until the Z is running again. After that, it will possibly be my work vehicle, to spare the Z from any chance of utility truck duties – at least on days when there is a chance of such travesty or when it’s not undeniably nice top-off weather. And certainly when the weather is hideous or i need more than two seats… and am not looking to impress anyone. 😉 It’s not an impressive car by any means – i’ve never been a big fan of brown interior – but all the mechanical stuff is solid and lots of parts replaced recently (axles, tires, alternator – good stuff). I mean, my mechanic found it, a diamond in the rough (okay, a semi-precious not-remarkably-sparkly piece of limestone in the rough) and i trust Travis wouldn’t have called me without being confident that it will run for a while with very little attention (the phrase “generic parts” passed his lips) and i’m determined not to be picky about things as silly as color. Am i picky about the color of the bus? Well, sometimes, the yellow and brown ones are really uncomfortable. Not enough leg room for tall people, and the seat backs dig into your knees. Well, maybe not your knees… mine tho. But no, i board anyway. And this will be substantially smaller and more mine than the bus. 😉 I’ll find out for sure friday afternoon, but by the weekend i might be a two-car family…! Uh… American over-indulgence rears it’s ugly head! LOL!

It’s not that i hate riding the bus… it’s actually kind of a nice way to get downtown, and i can listen to music and read a book, or fall asleep and miss my stop. Er… but anyway, i don’t mind it, but this job makes it miserable, cause i’m going to different places every day and always struggling to get there and get home. Last week my trip to Kent was 2.5 hours down and 3 hours home. Shoreline is just over 2 hours away on the bus – it’s 20 minutes by car. And often my transfers are in neighborhoods i don’t know, so rather than relaxing on the ride i’m peering nervously out the window reading every street sign and stressing about if it’s string-pull time yet. The freedom of jumping in with a friend after work, or not being tied down to a parking spot – and not paying for parking! – is pretty great… until i want to run to Costco after work or need to be in Everett to shop for tools, or want to work on my car in Woodinville for the weekend… ugh. That’s when it starts to suck. And yes, i’m a big spoiled fatty lazy capitalist pig American who can’t live without a gas-guzzling car. Well now i’m gonna have two… somebody call Captain Planet on me!

Stopped at Helly Hansen again today, but the goggle lenses i ordered haven’t arrived yet. Oh, well, guess i’ll just have to flirt with the cute sales girl… Thanx to her, tho, i spent a bit more than my gift certificate – on top of the new blue mirrored lenses from Smith, i came home with lightweight fleece gloves and a cool beanie, both by Dakine. Actually, i wore them both home, tried them out keeping warm as a walked through downtown… pretty good! I’m a big dork and i do stuff like that. The sales clerk assured me that about one third of her customers wear their new stuff home… i think that was just her flirting back. 😉

I achieved an improved balance of adequate sleep, reasonable diet, exercise and caffeine this week and have been getting a lot done, around the house, at work, on my resume, on a contract design job, on my Z. I’m not perfectly healthy by any means, but at least i’m not developing gout on the Atkins diet or getting fat by eating compusively in my sleep. Can you say the same? 😉

Okay, the furnace has turned off for the night and my office is starting to approach absolute zero… i’d carry the PBook to the couch or bedroom where it’s warmer but i brought the wireless antenna to Steph’s house and my battery sucks lately anyway, guess it’s time for a new one. $igh. Guess that’s coming out of the Christmas bonus… oh, wait, all i got from john l scott for Christmas was an empty card. Ok, new plan – guess i’ll get tarted up and take the bus back to White Center…