6 Months a Bus Rider

I’ve been commuting on GRTC regularly for nearly 6 months now, and I still like it. It’s now my habit and I can’t imagine having to get to work any other way.

Some observances:

  • I don’t like driving. Taking the bus every day has made me recognize how much I don’t like driving a car. I know I’m normally all about things I DO like, but I get no direct joy from operating a motor vehicle. Having to drive somewhere at these days feels like a chore (probably because most of my remaining car trips are chores)
  • I’ll happily take 30 minutes of playing on my iPad sitting on the bus over 15 minutes driving myself home. That decompression after a work day is exactly what I need to arrive at my family ready to be immediately present with them. After driving a car home, I’d often have to “take a minute” to myself.
  • There’s a freedom that comes with not worrying about where you’re going to park. Much like a mild chronic back ache, you don’t realize you have it until someone takes the pain away.
  • I greatly value businesses on my route to and from the bus, or generally in walking distance. I can stop and do those “pick something up on the way home” errands at Little House Green Grocery or my local drug/beer store. I’m even considering changing my primary doctor not because he’s bad at his job, but because his office is near Short Pump.
  • I’m fully in favor of the Richmond Transit Network Plan and the “High Ridership” model. That model emphasizes bus frequency over stopping on every block. This means, practically, that you might have to walk two more blocks to a stop, but most busses will come every 15 minutes. I take the Magic 37 and walk a kilometer home rather than take the direct bus because the Magic 37 comes every 15 minutes and I don’t have to worry about missing it.

I’d love Richmond to become a city where not having a car is a stress-neutral choice for its citizens. It’s there for me, and with the Transit Network Plan we can get there for more, if not most, Richmonders.

6 Months a Bus Rider

Tech is a young human’s game

Time was, I’d spend hours tinkering with my computer stuff. I’d tweak the order my Extensions launched on the classic Mac OS to optimize my system. I’d figure out how to minimize fan noise. Once, I even tracked down a hardware bug where very exact conditions caused my Bluetooth and Wifi to conflict, prompting a motherboard swap.

I recently purchased an iPhone 7. The first one I received worked for a couple days then had a video failure. Apple sent me a replacement. I used the replacement for half a day, now it won’t connect to a cellular network.

I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s not fun. I just want stuff that works. I don’t want to ever have to deal with support reps and exchanges. I’ve always been one to want the new and the shiny, but now I just want the known and reliable.

Tonight I’ll be going home and swapping my SIM into my iPhone 6 that I thankfully haven’t sold yet. It works (though, it *was*the third one of that model I received under warranty). I haven’t decided if I’ll keep trying with this iPhone 7 or just return it. This has definitely soured my enjoyment of this purchase and I will probably be just as happy with my old phone, but I’d have to drive to Short Pump and talk to people.

UPDATE: Apparently a “hard reset” on an iPhone is different then turning it off and on again. A hard reset is when you hold down two buttons on your phone and it resets. It never occurred to me that these would be different actions. So, I’m keeping my new phone, but I still feel Tech Old.

Tech is a young human’s game

See ID

My signature’s been the same since 8th grade. It starts with a curvy S followed by a squiggle, ending with a lower-case L. Then a big D followed by a squiggle. It’s fast and I’ve always liked the way it looks, but the problem is with my credit cards.

We all know that no one really looks at a credit card signature. I could sign every credit card slip with “Jesus Q. Fartmaster” and no one would care. But some sort of merchant requirement has store clerks quickly glancing at the back of the card to make sure that the card is signed. It’s during this quick card flip where my signature collapses.

No one really looking at my signature could mistake it for “See ID” but with these quick glances, the clerk sees “S…l D….” and asks to see my driver’s license. This happens maybe 7 times out of 10. I say “oh, that’s just my signature” and they say “oh OK”. But those two extra sentences are enough to make me start signing my name differently, adding my middle name from here on out.

See ID

Soothing Grind

Lately in my downtime, I’ll spend it grinding in Final Fantasy V. Final Fantasy V was an SNES game, never released in the US until nostalgic ports were released for later consoles. I first played it on a poorly translated ROM in emulation in college.  It has a robust job system where each character can “master” different classes and combine skills in whatever ways you want. Want a Bard/Ninja? Go for it.

Each monster you fight gives you normal experience points, but also Ability Points. Ability Points level your job separately than your level level. The story of the game is good, but I’m enjoying the meditative quality of just walking in circles grinding my jobs. In this one desert, only one monster appears—the Dhorme Chimera, and the Dhorme Chimera lands you THREE ability points. I’ve probably fought thousands of them and it’s very, very calming.

Soothing Grind

Powerless Parenting

A few weekends ago, further proving that we live in the end times, a storm came through Richmond, Virginia, severely damaging homes, displacing families, and, less seriously, knocking power out at my house for four days.

The kids were gone the night of the storm, away at grandma “camp”, but returned the next day while I was at work charging all the devices I could carry with me. When I got home in the late afternoon, things seemed pretty normal. The kids were doing kid things—reading books, coloring, the usual. The house was quieter without the hum of the refrigerator, but that was it.

It wasn’t until we started preparing dinner over our camping stove that things seemed dramatically different. Everyone who eats eggs would get eggs, and with makeshift grilled cheeses and quesadillas as an alternative.

But then, our neighbors brought us ribs they needed to cook before they went bad. Our other neighbor brought over beer to drink before it got too warm, yet another neighbor brought over hot dogs and s’mores stuff to cook over the firepit fire that we all spontaneously decided to start. It was delightful.

The girls stayed up later than their usual bedtime, going to bed with the sun, not the clock. I may be mistaken, but it might have been the first time the girls have ever caught fireflies. When it was time to go inside, we all had our flashlights and exhausted kids went to bed right away. So did the grown-ups, as lack of light postponed our normal end-of-day chores until the morning.

We had two more days ahead of us, but honestly it wasn’t that bad. It was like camping, but at home. Normally the weekend is a complex negotiation about iPad use, but with the necessary battery rationing, the kids only asked to play on them once, quickly themselves realizing it was silly to ask.

The weather wasn’t too hot, so we spend most of the day just hanging out outside. We read books on a blanket. We walked around the neighborhood. We made excuses to go on errands. I took a nap. One of my daughters made a doll out of grass like it was a Little House book.

The lack of options made it easier to enjoy the options we did have. Do I want the dishes clean? I better do it now while there’s light. Do the girls want to walk to their beds without stepping on their toys? Better go clear a path. Are you hungry? This is literally the only food we have in the house right now.

When the power came back on Sunday night, I cheered, but part of me was a little sad. Only a little sad (I like things like refrigeration as much as the next guy), but I started to think about what habits I didn’t realize I had. I started to think about ways I could manufacture less choice into my daily life.

I didn’t very get far though. I could look at Twitter again. I could play Threes! as much as I wanted. I had work the next day and things fell back into routine pretty quickly. Maybe the next time the power goes out, I’ll be forced into actually thinking about this, but for now I’ll just go watch some YouTube.

Powerless Parenting

The Saturday Blahs

My BMI is high with no sign I can ever get it lower. My blood pressure is on the border of being high, and I don’t have confidence I’ll be able to keep it in check.
I should exercise more but it’s hard and I don’t like doing it. When I do get in the habit of at least walking every day, I want to quit because the results take years, not days.

I long for more simplicity but instead take the path of least resistance. I’d be happier with so much less, but seem to always seek more. Was life better when the power was out for four days?

I get mad at myself for never starting on an idea, and get mad at myself when I finish something that could’ve been so much more.

It’s not even noon and I’m ready to write off this day to the sads. But, my six-year-old wants to give me a hug, and that’s pretty nice.

The Saturday Blahs

Primary Sources

Eliza, “The Schuyler Sisters”, Hamilton

Look around, look around at how
Lucky we are to be alive right now

Last night I watched a Congressperson use his phone to livestream a protest from the well of the US House of Representatives after the Speaker of the House killed the official cameras.

When the cameras came back on, and the Periscope stream stopped, I had to search around to find a place to watch the official stream on the Internet as I don’t have cable, but I eventually found it.

Part of my generation’s expectations are that we demand the primary sources. Give me the actual speech, not the editorialized sound bites on the 6 o’clock news. Let me listen to the actual audio of a longass boring public meeting to find out why my city council expressly wanted cars to park in the bike lane. Let me choose to watch the raw footage of gun violence so that I can feel the human outrage and horror that I should be feeling.

Everything Congress does is political theater, but at least I live in an age where there’s less centralized control over which scenes I get to watch.

Primary Sources