donuts

31 March 2017

Dear J—


Donuts, donuts; man, do we have donuts today. I got up early and left the house so I could ride up to Rolling Pin Donuts on San Bruno Avenue. It’s not far – according to the fitness tracker, I’m 7.3 miles away from home – but it feels odd to be getting on so early (and then as I pick up my usual stops, it feels strange to be already seated, doesn’t it?) and in a different spot than usual. A regular rider had to point me down the platform (where I was standing initially I would have had a good chance of seeing the driver, but not so great a chance to actually catch the train) and everything feels weird but it makes it all worth it.

I’m glad the conductors have regular weekly schedules so I can do something nice for them a week later; last week was sort of dripping on Friday, so I biked down to my closest station, San Mateo instead of my usual one; the platform was closed off with sawhorses and barrier tape, advising us to board on the opposite platform so we all dutifully trooped over to stand under the mural; when the train arrived (SB102) we had to make a mad dash across the tracks to catch the train and the conductors held up for us, which I do appreciate because I know it blows a hole in their schedule. You get what you give, right?

Mike

Birthday

30 March 2017

(7503.301)

Dear J—

Stardates, at least according to the old 1982 Star Trek calendar I had when I was growing up (got it in the mid to late 80s, when 1982 was a distant memory, by the way) are in the format YYMM.DDW where YY is the year, MM is the month, DD is the date, and W is the optional day of the week, 1=Sunday, etc. So far, so good; I’ve gotten up on time and I’m sniffing the right side of the ground. Another year older and I’m still around but not getting much rounder, which is also a plus.

What has happened so far this year? This month? This week? I’ve got a long way out to go yet, don’t I? Let’s also not forget the unexpected rain this morning, which surprised me and the surprise I had this morning looking at the station announcement board: hey, it’s March 30 already and what is up with that? I’m continuously amazed – still – that my commute involves a train and a bike; seriously, it’s like I’m living in Disneyland. So yeah, amazing, just like last year, and next year, for that matter.

Mike

Remembering

29 March 2017

Dear J—

No, not in memoriam or anything like that – remembering things, like things to remember.

  • New schedules roll out in two weeks, so we’ll have different train crews and slightly adjusted times starting Monday, April 10
  • Turn in my papers that need to be reviewed. I should have done this last Friday, but I’m running behind. As usual.
  • Get up early on Friday to hit up Rolling Pin Donuts. Steve and the rest of the train crew deserve donuts.
  • Encouraged and emboldened by praise, continue to work on Caltrain articles.
  • Oh, yeah, taxes. Taxes, taxes, taxes. I need to grab the portable hard drive and look up some passwords to see if they’re still valid or not. If not then I’ll have to figure out how to log in to their email to reset their passwords.
  • Start putting together the presentations for training at the end of next month. Because if I don’t then …

That’s it for now. I’m sure there’s more. I’ll have to write these down in the little journal I keep at work in order to take the burden off me trying to remember everything every so often.

Mike

Grand Land

28 March 2017

Dear J—

When I first started work my vice was reading a few of the longer articles on Grantland while I waited for the computer to churn on some things; now that website has gone defunct and I haven’t followed its writers to the various corners of the web where they’ve landed. Same thing happened with gawker, so help me: I loved reading the Behind Closed Oven Doors column of reader-submitted stories by C.A. Pinkham and I followed him as far as Wonkette but then everything moved on and … well. Creating content is interesting too, though it’s on a volunteer basis and the rewards are not very tanglble.

I spent the weekend researching and writing about Caltrain’s CTX (Caltrain Express) project and when I was done and the article was published, it immediately becomes one of the top hits on Google just by virtue of being on Wikipedia. That’s heady, though I don’t necessarily then have to go back and refresh the page every few moments to see if anyone else is looking at it or linking to it, now, do I? Instead, I’m moving on and putting more Caltrain projects on line, though sadly they seem more planned than completed.

Mike

Shining Summer

17 March 2017

Dear J—

We’ve had summer-like weather this week, meaning highs in the sixties and seventies and lows into the forties, making it quite comfortable indeed. That hotter stuff we get in September and October, I just call that the hot season. The kids are getting thick blood too, what with this weather like this, as they will volubly complain that it was really hot this last week when we got to wear shorts for the first time all year. 

This may be an issue if they choose to live literally anywhere else in the country, but weather is one of those things, you know: you get used to it after a while. This is not bad to get acclimated to, though you might have to carry a jacket in case you’re out after dark. Back in San Diego … the hot days would be almost unbearable by noon, and the heat hadn’t even crested, and the winds would fail. Perhaps that’s what would help, though both kids would be sweaty messes by the afternoons of really hot days.

By the way there’s a guy riding the car with me so far this morning: classic Stumpjumper, red, lugged with a unicorn fork and wide-profile cantilevers which look wholly original; I’m guessing late 80s? It’s not often that I see a bike even older than mine on the train. Dude’s up here to “escape the crowding” on the northernmost car; I hesitate to think what he sees in the afternoons.

Mike

Belay on Delay

16 March 2017

Dear J—

Belay is a nautical term that refers to rejecting or negating: belay that order means to disregard or not follow it.

I know I’m guilty of procrastination in the worst ways possible, but I dunno: I get home and all the ambition seems to leave immediately. It’s as if there’s not enough time to get through all the relaxing activities or research on the latest junk before I have to turn around and march back to sleep and the next day, though I know there’s at least an hour or two of me watching videos that I didn’t need to watch, not especially. So let’s belay the delay, all right?

Mike

Zip Down

15 March 2017

Dear J—

Well, it may be more information than you were bargaining for, but apparently I’ve been riding around and walking on the station platform with my zipper down (thankfully, that means only approximately half an hour of exhibitionism) so far this morning. That’s the way it is when I’m tired: small things distract bigly. You start out doing something and make a reminder to yourself as you’re going to “don’t forget, c’mon” and then of course what do you do (or not do?). That’s the way the life works. 

I’ve been exploring the Municipal Railway streetcar fleet and got hugely distracted last night after finding a fellow obsessive who posted appropriately licensed Creative Commons images on flickr yesterday: first you move the images to Wikimedia Commons, then you spend time organizing them into bins and that consumed a great deal of time, yessir. Distractions abound, though, and there’s enough work to justify not having to deal with them.

Mike

Anger Off

14 March 2017

Dear J—

I try to handle a lot myself instead of seeking the professional help I probably need for hoarding tendencies and anger management. I’ve been through enough touchy-deeply training at Edison, though, that I believe I can make an amateur, informed decision on what’s working and what’s not.

Anger with the kids – which extends to yelling at them – is sub-optimal for several reasons, not the least of which is this: it doesn’t work. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: “I just told you to stop” or “Why aren’t you listening?” And that’s a terrible thing strictly because most of the time they’re just being, well, they’re being a kid. There’s plenty of time to grow up and be an adult; we’re all in love with seeming prodigies but the truth is they wouldn’t be kids if they confessed they loved their coffee in the mornings and sat soberly at night like church deacons. Well, they’d still be kids, but they wouldn’t be the kids I love. Maybe someday when they’re adults I can point out the crazy things they’ve done but for now I’m just here to document and enjoy.

Mike

Much More

13 March 2017

Dear J—

The other day the senior guy in our group said he was waking up with nightmares of all the ways this particular project could be going wrong and yeah, I get that. There’s the awkward phone call we fielded last week and the project planning meetings we’ll need to go through this week and … well, there’s going to be a lot of different things going on this week in general. I’m still behind on some of the external-to-work stuff I’ve been dealing with, so that’s not going to help too much, either.

We walked up Telegraph Hill from the east on Saturday, an approach I’d never taken before (I went up the relatively less steep western flank last time, walking up through Chinatown and Little Italy) and I think the most notable feature was there were more stairs than you thought. You start out by ascending what seems like a sheer wall with concrete stairs in reasonable repair, but then you proceed through wooden flights in various heart-pounding views and just as you reach the top you spot the bottom of the next flight. And the next flight. And the next; Before long you realize how many more there are left to ascend, but at the top, the view is marvelous and your legs seem to ache that much less, don’t they? I know it seems like a lot now, but being done is its own reward, isn’t it?

Mike

Everyday Anger

10 March 2017

Dear J—

If every day I have to ask myself “how is anger going to fix this problem?” then I’m pretty sure I’m not doing it right.

You can get from zero to mad just like that and by you I mean me, of course. It’s part of the impatience and betrayal I suppose I feel when I’ll say something that isn’t heard. Let me reiterate: “I told you so” is not an effective teaching tool. If I hate it so much when I hear it, then how do you think it feels coming out of my mouth?

Can we continue? Patience is at least as much about listening and not so much about lying in wait to ambush someone with “facts” to prove a point. If you (I) can be patient enough to get the ass-whooping I deserve at work then I for sure am patient enough for it at home. Can you be totally blameless and virtuous? No, and you don’t have to be: just be decent and human.

Mike