Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Cell Phones Are Here to Stay, But . . .



Most of my friends and family members had cell phones well before the end of the last century. I wasn’t convinced that I needed a cell phone until the middle of September 2001. While I think that I someday might trade up to a much smarter phone, I currently have a slightly upgraded pay-as-you-go phone for convenience and security reasons.

Very few people have my cell phone number, and those who do seldom call it because I also have a landline that I’m not ready to give up. When people do call the cell, it's generally because I'm not home, and they're trying to track me down to meet for breakfast or get together later in the day.

When I answer my cell phone in a public place, I keep the conversations short and discreet. If I should ever need to discuss an urgent personal issue on the cell, I'll go to a place where I think the fewest number of people will be able to hear my side of the conversation.

I don't understand why so many people seem to think it's okay to loudly discuss very personal issues on their cell phones while they are shopping, traveling on public transportation, or having lunch at a restaurant. I'm sorry about the crappy way their lives seem to be going, but I really don’t want to listen to what should be private phone conversations about their problems with work, finances, family members, the legal system, or the next door neighbor's cat.

And if I should, perchance, make eye contact with the gabbers, they shoot me a look that would kill a zombie. Hey, if they’re loudly yakking about it in public, it's not private.

And if their conversations are that interesting, I might take notes.
 
[I actually did take notes while listening to a bus passenger’s very loud cell phone conversation a couple of years ago. I later wrote a mini-post about her, um, lack of discretion and published it on Blogger on March 30, 2012.]

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Snarky Me and the Bookmobile



I admit that I probably was not nice recently. This is an explanation, not an excuse.
 
A couple of weeks ago, I got up way too early after a night of too little sleep. At 5:55 a.m., I left to catch a bus to the train station. I rode the 6:30 Sprinter to Other City, where I boarded a local bus that dropped me off near a popular restaurant. As usual, I stopped for a coffee fix to perk up before going to my volunteer job.
 
The coffee fix did nothing for me. I dragged myself into the library and hoped the morning would fly by.
 
I started sorting beaucoup donated magazines and books in all sizes, shapes, and conditions. Forty-five minutes later, I decided that I needed to go upstairs for boxes and other supplies. I had one foot in the elevator when a man’s voice boomed, “Excuse me.”
 
I was the only one in the area, so I figured he was talking to me. I removed my foot from the elevator and swiveled my neck in the direction of the voice. “Where did you park your vehicle when you came in this morning?” he asked.
 
He explained that someone’s car either had blocked the bookmobile or had been parked behind the bookmobile. I didn’t catch exactly what the issue was. I think my mind got stuck on the word “bookmobile.”
 
I couldn’t recall ever seeing a bookmobile anywhere near the library. Actually, I couldn’t recall ever seeing a bookmobile anywhere since I got out of elementary school, way back in the Early Jurassic Period.
 
I hesitated for a couple of seconds, and then I said, “Well, if the vehicle I came in on this morning was parked out there, the Sprinter would be sitting in the parking lot.”
 
He looked bemused, but not amused. I guess that wasn’t the answer he wanted. A vision of the Sprinter sitting in the parking lot flashed through my mind. I giggled. He frowned and went off to continue his search for the owner of the offending vehicle.
 
When I left the library, I noticed that the aforementioned bookmobile was still parked on the premises. Actually, it would have been impossible not to notice that particular bookmobile. It’s a 74-foot tractor-trailer known as the OverDrive Digital Bookmobile. The Digital Bookmobile travels around the country, visiting schools and libraries and educating students and library patrons about eBooks and eBook platforms.
 
Going home on the train that afternoon, I decided that my comment about the Sprinter was probably just a tad bit snarky. I felt kind of bad about that. I really do try to be nice, but, hey, I was tired and a bit moody.
 
Sorry about the snark, but it’s probably not for nothing that I have a (custom made) T-shirt with lettering that says, “Sarcasm: just one more service I provide.”

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Cranberry-Apple Pie for Breakfast


Once a week, on Wednesday morning, I volunteer at a library in a city about fifteen miles away from where I live. Before going to work (yes, it is work, even if unpaid), I stop at a restaurant near the library for coffee and pie (yes, pie).

The fruit pies at this restaurant are yummy. The pies are made with real fruit, not with the gooey, too-sweet canned pie filling that so many restaurants seem to use.

While talking to the owner one morning, I mentioned that cranberry-apple pie is my favorite. She made a note of that and said she would make one the next Wednesday. And she did. A week later, I had the very first piece of a fresh-baked cranberry-apple pie at 7:30 a.m.

I’m going to miss that place (and the pies) when I eventually find a new volunteer gig closer to home.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Revelation at the Train Station


I was at the Sprinter station one afternoon, waiting for the train to Oceanside. The train station usually isn’t a very exciting place. However, things got, um, rather interesting about ten minutes before train time.
A man and woman standing some distance away from me began arguing. I couldn’t hear what the man said, but the woman obviously was annoyed by the word he used to describe her. “I’m not a chick. Stop calling me a chick,” she shrieked three times in as many minutes.
Hmm…. She looked like a “chick.” And sounded like one too.
The man apparently refused to cease and desist. A few minutes before the train arrived, the woman freaked out and yelled, “I am not a chick. If I was a chick, I’d have [female anatomy] and a [more female anatomy].”
Crickets!
Travelers on both sides of the platform stopped talking, texting, smooching, or whatever else they were doing and craned their necks in the direction of her voice.
About a half second later, the woman realized that everyone at the transit center had probably heard her. “Sorry if I announced that to everyone,” she hollered.
We were sorry too.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Maybe a Little Pricey but Worth It


I finally and officially earned my bachelor’s degree in January 1998. The road to that B.A. in English was a long one, both figuratively and literally. And, unlike a lot of college students then and now, I was lucky that I didn’t have to go into debt to do it.

I estimate that, over three and half years, I probably spent a minimum of $5,000 of my own funds to earn my B.A. as a part-time, non-traditional, transfer student at a public liberal arts college. I paid for my tuition, books, transportation, supplies, and occasional lunches. And, oh yeah, coffee and a donut in the morning before class (an old boyfriend from Way Back When scolded me about that).

How did I keep myself out of debt? Well, I'll admit it wasn't that easy. I do like nice things, and some of those nice things are pricey. But I managed to keep my personal expenses to a minimum. For example, I bought most of my clothes at Wal-Mart, bought school supplies at the dollar store, and used the college computers instead of buying one of my own.
 
I used a combination of resources to pay for my education expenses: wages from a part-time job, savings, and a very good tuition payment plan that let me spread my payments over ten months.
 
Was my undergraduate degree in English worth the money? Yes, for me it was. I realize that many English majors end up with jobs that have little or no relation to their studies. I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to put my skills in English and writing to use as an editor at a non-profit organization. No matter how good those skills are (and professors, employers, and clients have told me they are very good), I would not have been hired as an editor if  I did not have that B.A.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Introducing the Sprinter



I started writing a post about something that happened while I was waiting for the Sprinter. Then I thought, if I'm going to write about the Sprinter, maybe I'd better explain what it is.

So, here goes.

The Sprinter is the name of the light-rail train system that operates between the cities of Oceanside and Escondido, California.

Although riding a bus is tolerable for travel within each of the four cities the Sprinter serves, the train is the most efficient way to travel between cities. That's because the Sprinter doesn't stop every forty-five seconds to let passengers board or depart. And the Sprinter doesn't stop for red lights. And the Sprinter never gets stuck in the middle of rush hour gridlock. (Actually, the train contributes to that mess. Can you guess why?)

Anyone who frequently uses bus transportation will tell you that riding a bus can get a little bizarre (and even creepy) at times. I've witnessed too many obnoxious individuals acting out on buses (blog fodder for future posts?). However, people usually behave on the Sprinter. I suspect that's because armed security officers ride the train.

I began riding the train in February. After enduring the trip to Escondido aboard the Snail Special a few times, I realized that the Sprinter was a faster and less stressful way to travel to my Wednesday morning volunteer job. I was very pleased with the train service.

That is, until the Sprinter shut down indefinitely.

(to be continued, also see 10-11-2012 semi-related post, They Can't Arrest You, but They Can Shoot You) 


Monday, June 24, 2013

Another Hiatus (Sorry About That)


Yes, I know. I haven't been blogging for a couple of months. And I won't be until July (June is almost over, y'know). My excuse, um, reason is that I'm waiting for my new computer to arrive.

In the meantime, I’m doing some writing the old-fashioned way—with a pen and notepad. I’m making notes for the Camp NaNoWriMo challenge that I’ll be attempting (again) in July.

I participated in the April challenge. Well, sort of; I had the best intentions. I signed up to write ten-thousand words, but, with other things going on, I ended up writing about five-hundred words.

Maybe I’ll do better this time. Maybe….