Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Humble Pie

During the holiday season I find I'm very susceptible to, "catching," the collective stress of others.  The whole hoopla sometimes leaves me feeling Grinchy and it takes a jarring moment to remind me of what Christmas should mean.  And I had quite the jarring moment this morning.

Monday, December 21, 2009


This year I got my first real Christmas tree and was pretty jazzed to decorate it.   After unpacking and hanging a lifetime of handed-down ornaments I still couldn't decide on what would top it off.  Neither of us is religious so an angel would be disingenuous and I think stars are kind of played (burnt?) out.  The poor tree went topless for a few days until Josh came home with the perfect secular and nerdy solution...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas with Teddy

Back in the day my great aunt Teddy (who is turning 80 this year) would host a holiday party in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  My memories of her house in Colonie are so vivid; the split level ranch would burst at the seams with decorations and spirit.  Our job, as kids, was to adjourn to the family room on the lower level and string popcorn garlands for her tree.  We patiently threaded kernel after kernel while the grown ups cooked and chatted upstairs.  The food was always spectacular: antipasto, Sicilian pizzas covered in sausage, peppers and onions, and cookies.  My god, the cookies.  I don't know what makes an Italian cookie so magical, but that combination of almond, butter and a light dusting of powdered sugar is just perfection.  Perfection in simplicity.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

(Mori)Bus Philosophorum: The Polite Police

Yesterday morning I noticed a new poster on the bus and had to grin.  It read:

CDTA wants everyone, customers and employees, to enjoy the ride and arrive safely at their destination.  Use radios and CD/MP3 players with headphones only.  Speak at a reasonable volume when using a cell phone.  Smoking is prohibited.  Food is allowed on the bus for transport only.  It should not be consumed while riding.  Thank you.

I couldn't have said it better myself, but, to tell you the truth I doubted most of it (except for smoking, of course, which, does anyone really whip out a cigarette indoors anymore?  It's not like the law was changed last week!  You haven't been able to smoke anywhere for years now) was enforceable.  Until yesterday afternoon's ride home.  A young man was listening to Let's Get It Started at about 10,000 decibels.  Sure, he had his earbuds in, but he'd cranked the volume up so far I could practically hear Fergie pumping her tiny fist from half a bus away.  This type of display is annoying at worst so I was shocked when the bus operator buzzed in over the intercom and said, "Someone has their headphones turned up too loud.  Please lower to volume.  Please lower the volume."  Everyone was surprised, especially the sonic offender, who sheepishly looked around the bus before lowering his music to a whisper. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

(Mori)Bus Philosophorum: When You Are Engulfed in Flames

This week I heard from a shuttle operator* that CDTA is now number one in the country for, get this, bus fires.  Number one!  How exciting.  Am I the only person who's more than a little concerned about that (unverified) statistic?   I imagine that CDTA's fleet is tiny in comparison to that of a larger city and still we're beating them soundly in the category of burning up.  Both weathered (4-5 years old, in the case of a shuttle) and brand spankin' new hybrid buses have been affected, with electrical and mechanical failures identified.  So what does that mean?  What is the underlying issue here, and, more importantly, what is being done by CDTA to remedy it?  The fact that no one has been injured is a testament to the skill and level-headed reactions of the drivers involved but I certainly hope that it doesn't take a rider or operator getting hurt for changes to be made.  As someone who tries to devote a lot of time to promoting public transportation these incidents are frustrating and scary.  I already have enough people looking at me like I'm equal parts pathetic and nuts when I tell them I ride the bus.  The potential for explosions does not help. 

*who should have been driving the ill-fated bus on Monday, but wasn't, because he had taken it as a personal day.  Employees who are recognized for excellence in safety during the year are awarded a floating holiday and thanks to fate or coincidence RB chose Monday as his.  In my opinion, avoiding being engulfed in flames is an awfully appropriate way to celebrate one's attention to safety.