Underneath it all is this almost gargoyle appearing monkey. Dressed differently according to the season, I just noticed this version the other day. Walking down the hill with Miriam and Angel, I took them this route on purpose.
And I am headed down the hill to Haas Pavilion for another Cal Women’t Basketball game. But first an addendum to yesterday’s post:
As Noah and I were returning home from picking up burgers from Barney’s
Heading east on Vine with Noah after picking up burgers from Barney’s, I needed to turn left onto Shattuck. About ½ way through the cycle, a woman in dark clothing, obvious grey hair started across the street in the crosswalk. So I waiting. Good person here, pedestrians have the right of way. Even if they are strolling. Even if they are walking with their phone held out in front of them talking. It took her the rest of the light to get across the street while I snuck behind her as soon as there was space. And then Noah and I went down the rabbit hole of older women, shorter hair with a perm, walking slowly. I actually never saw her face, but we both judged her on the hair…
Otherwise, we sorted out several boxes of “stuff” in the garage ending in a break till the garage pick up on Mon.
I met her at the Safeway just down the hill from our house. An slightly bent-over woman with a walker who didn’t appear that much older than me. We exchanged comments at the cheese counter about getting an education, then that education didn’t guarantee common sense. And, that occasionally, being a woman meant that you just had to work harder.
She also remarked that, long ago in Tokyo, wearing her USA team clothing didn’t get her a seat in a restaurant. Apparently being Black was more important than being courteous to a visitor. We introduced ourselves, chatted a few minutes longer, then went on our ways. And I am thinking – Olympics?
Finding information on the male athletes from 1964? No problem. Finding one of the women? A bit more of a challenge. But starting with the name Rosie and assuming California – I found her. Rosie competed in the 80 meter hurdles, coming in 8th overall. There are other athletes in her family, she doesn’t capitalize on them. For years, she has been quietly supporting various athletic clinics along with other Olympians. She is a tireless advocate for seniors. None of this she told me, and it took a while to dig it out.
Trust me on that. But just after I emailed last night – first one set of lights blinked out. Less than a minute later, all the other circuits went dead. And it was quiet, a very quiet 2230. Good writeup in the Berkeleyside which is an on-line only Berkeley newspaper.
At least it was quiet in my the house. Most of the time, none of us notice all the background noise produced by various machines, electronics, and appliances. I wasn’t able to say the same for the renters up the hill from us. Quiet? No – they had been partying hard since 2000, complete with barbecue from the smells of things. Suddenly they were literally (as apposed to aware of their affect on others) in the dark. More noise, complete with laughs, shrieks and giggles.
Rather than starting WWIII in the neighborhood, I just shut my window. Plus, I finally realized that it was Saturday night. If you are young, I guess Saturday night is for partying.
Which takes us to this morning when I started smelling smoke in the house – nothing burning near us – just the wind had changed. It was now blowing from Sonoma to us. We still have no power and I am expecting the situation to remain unchanged through tomorrow. The dividing line turns out to be Spruce Street runs parallel to Euclid only four blocks further down the hill. Peet’s was packed this morning with hordes coming down for coffee, wifi and a chance to charge their phones.
I am sure that there are still those who don’t believe PG&E should have shut off power. But then, perhaps they are not paying attention to the brush fires this afternoon along HWY 24 near Walnut Creek. Or the continuing spread of fire in Sonoma. Or all the trees down along the route we took from Berkeley to Richmond (California) due to the high winds.
Practically speaking, all of us are going to have to make changes. It isn’t just the US. Or some areas of Canada. There were massive wild fires last year in Sweden destroying millions of acres. There have been fires across huge swaths of Russia. My intrepid friends in Australia note that fire season now starts two months earlier. There are fires burning in New South Wales and Queensland.
We can also hold our politicians accountable. Yes, I moved back to a country with a leader who epitomizes the “everyone for themselves,” attitude. Who has cut safety funding, who has cut both education and senior citizen services and benefits. And doesn’t believe that it is anyone’s responsibility to leave the world in a decent shape.
Me? I am reading regulations, I will vote, I will play my part. But I believe in leaving the world a better place than what I found it. I won’t pat myself on the back for reducing my carbon footprint this past year – my decreased travel was not voluntary. But it has made me stop and think about waste, cost, and where I spend my precious dollars as well as who I want representing me.
Depending on where you live, you may/may not have followed the massive Northern California wild fires last year. Paradise (the town) was destroyed completely. Other communities and scattered homes were also affected, either directly by the fires, by blowing debris, by the efforts to control the fires, etc, etc. At minimum 86 people died. It might well be more as this has long been an “off-the-grid” area where weed has traditionally been one of the largest cash crops. At best guess, one of PG&Es transformers blew, starting the fire which spread extremely rapidly due to high winds and drought conditions.
There has been a lot of finger pointing for the last year. A lot of he said/she said. A lot of “no one is personally responsible.” What I do know is that PG&E, like some of the other massive industries (see Boeing) underwent a culture shift in the last 10-20 years to an emphasis on making money and paying dividends to stockholders
Honestly? Maintenance and upgrades of an aging electrical system aren’t cheap. Money spent on maintenance isn’t available to pay high salaries to certain executives and stockholders. At the same time, no one seems to want to pay the real costs of the energy they use. So – no win all around and more finger pointing.
None of this is helped by the fact that this fall, we once again have extremely dry conditions, high winds, higher than normal conditions, coupled with areas of brush not cleared and trees interfering with power lines. Yes, PG&E is making progress on clearing trees and branches away from power lines and transformers, but it isn’t realistic to expect that years of neglect are going to be remedied in a few short months.
Parts of the area have already gone through one power outage. To say that the communications were terrible is an understatement. As it turned out, most of the areas that “might have to be turned off” were not. And, of course, there are all those whose very lives are dependent on electricity who suddenly realized they were going to have a problem. Now, I can understand the issue if you are living in one of the accessible buildings – it is part of the cities responsibility to make sure that your respirator will have power. That you have a location where you can recharge your electric wheelchair. But for everyone else. Hello? What part of living on a portion of the Hayward Fault don’t you get? An earthquake could easily knock out your power. What were you planning on doing?
The city of Berkeley has been desperately trying to identify those at highest risk and assist in plans. For a city of independent people, leftover hippies and the like, there seems to be a huge element of “you need to take care of me.”
With PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) literally supplying millions of customers, I would have expected some confusion. After all, I guess it is too much for some people to understand that if some portions have to be taken off the grid – everyone downstream is going to be without power. Because of the cost (see above) most areas are supplied by a single source. You turn off that grid area because it is in a high fire risk zone and ……. you get the idea
Which leads us to today. It is unseasonably hot. It is windy. The hills in which I live are fairly high fire risk. Not only is it dry, but over the decades, people have planted eucalyptus, a lot of eucalyptus trees. Originally, our power was scheduled to go off at 1700. Now potentially it is 2000. We have made plans: Richmond is not affected which means that I can drop off everything that needs to stay cool or frozen with Shana. I have a couple of coolers. Because of George’s med supplies, we have lots and lots of cold packs, all of which are frozen. We will leave only if there is an actual fire. Everything is charged, and frankly – I can get internet on my phone if I am desperate.
I am not sure why a skunk wanted to live in our neighborhood. It is not car free, people free, other animal free. But apparently this particular skunk has been hanging out down the back hill from our house for the past several years. I saw it a couple of times on the stairs and gave her a wide berth.
Unfortunately, that skunk decided to chitter at one of Dani’s dogs. A German short-hair pointer, she doesn’t have much of a sense of humor about being scolded by an animal she thinks of as pray. Alex had the dog on the leash, the skunk scolded, the dog took off.
It was a draw – the dog got the skunk, but not before being sprayed.
It is a day or so later. The dog has been bathed, groomed and both upstairs and downstairs have been aired out several times. There is still a definite whiff of skunk in the air.
We are not amused.
The BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system covers portions of Contra Costa County, essentially all of Alameda County and San Francisco. It doesn’t cover south on the Peninsula much past SFO. There is the underway runnel connects San Francisco with the East Bay. Since the system was developed in the 1970s, maintenance was not exactly factored in. Not sure why but in order to work on the tracks under the Bay, the whole system has to be taken down to uni-directional for that stretch. Admittedly, the weekend is the best time to conduct this sort of work, the ridership is much less than that of weekdays. If people are smart, they will plan to stay on one side or the other.
And then there are those like me who need to get across the Bay, or from Berkeley to the Coliseum which did not involve a train change for Alex & me. However with just one train from our station, it meant that we also had the entire “going to San Francisco” crowd on the train.
We will ignore the As game, Lou Trivino, dropped balls and the Mariner’s four run 8th inning.
The real fun began on the way back. Only one train from Freemont/Dublin etc and going to Richmond. Want to go anywhere else? Change at 12th for SF or MacArthur for Antioch. When we finally were able to get on the ONE train headed across the Bay to SF, it was sardine time again. A change to the N-Judah at Embarcadero saw only minimal improvement. It was also packed. End result was that it took almost 90 min from the Coliseum to UCSF.
And, it took just about as long to get back to Berkeley with N-Judah -> BART with the same only one train going under the Bay -> change at 19th.
When I got home, it was more than time to crash.
A long time ago, which you will all agree 1984 literally qualifies for (if you weren’t born yet, just take a breath and remember the world has existed a lot longer than any of us have been around. Not the center of the universe, which is true, but not always fun to remember) George, Shana, and I moved back to the US from Germany. He was looking at being involved in a legal practice with a couple of school mates, I was headed to Johns Hopkins for graduate school. Shana? Well at age, she was pretty much along for the ride.
Now consider, Washington DC. It is June. Our house was just outside the beltway in Kensington. It was hot. It was humid. Houses came with air-conditioning. Cars did not, unless you paid extra. (you know where this is going, don’t you?) I wasn’t realistic, after all, air-conditioning was not exactly needed in Germany. Too hot? Open a window. And then there is the slight matter of being concerned about finances. Spending an additional $500 on A/C just didn’t make sense to me at the time.
So there I was, commuting 3-4 days a week to Baltimore over the summer in our small, red, reasonably warm car with the windows open on beltway and the Baltimore-Washington corridor. It was probably the least expenditure of calories to become heat acclimatized in my life. Now fast forward to the East Bay. It is mid-June. The temperature has been in the low 90s (think 32*C) in an area where windows open, fans aren’t standard household features, and few can even spell A/C. In fact, I was surprised at how few people were even wearing long sleeves.
The Eldest’s cats are sunning themselves, which seems totally and completely insane considering that Richmond is even hotter than Berkeley. OTOH – they do have jungle cat ancestry.
As it turns out, on this D+14 day, George’s ward is one of the few that actually has air-conditioning. Which, if you think about the fact that all the air going into the ward has to be filtered and scrubbed makes perfect sense. The windows don’t open, the double sets of doors not quite completely providing an air-lock, controlling the temperature of the inbound air is probably the easiest of what is essential for patient health. Of course, you can’t control the temp in each room, that requires a call to the maintenance people but that seems like a trivial thing to complain about.
I spent the morning and early afternoon running errands before heading back to SF. He now has clean laundry, I have a couple of projects that I can complete over the next several days. More than likely I will stay on this side of the bay till Sat night.
Pictures at some point, promise.
Yesterday while I was waiting for the NCL Bliss to dock (and Mary to get off the ship) I wandered along Pier 27, checked with one of the guards to find out that the end of 27 was closed off, but I could walk out to the end of Pier 29. Just in time as it turned out as the Bliss came around the corner from Pier 39 accompanied by her pilot boat. The guard was charming and on the way back I stopped again to thank him for pointing me in the right direction in order to take photos. A second gentleman was standing there. As it turns out, he was the Port Engineer. After attending the Maritime Academy followed by interning on several of the NCL ships he decided that enough travel was enough. Returning to home to the Bay Area at just the right time, in 2014 he became the engineer for the brand new Pier 27. More interesting than ships’s boilers, steadier land beneath his feet and not much more interaction with the general public.
At some point, I transitioned from the general public, and I am not sure why. But I was offered the opportunity to go up on the roof. Yes, the roof of the Pier building to take photos. Inside the industrial portion of the building, then up stairs, then up a ladder. No elevator, but then you don’t want anyone up on the roof who can’t get there themselves. Part of my view was blocked by the ship, but being able to see the rest of the city without vehicles and pedestrians in view? Wonderful. Now I just need to figure out a thank you for the next time I am in the area.
It should be simple. This is North America. We do not follow English custom on roads, sidewalks or stairs. We stay to the right when moving slower than those around us. Passing is on the left.
Well, most of the time anyway. There are those who simply can’t take their eyes off of their phone screen. Not to look around, not to avoid others, not to be polite, and most certainly not to let anyone pass since it might interfere with that all important kitty video.
Really? These are people who might never read a book, journal, or newspaper, but they put themselves and everyone around them at risk. You see the same thing all the time in crosswalks, on sidewalks, and occasionally even in bicycle riders. I have seen drivers looking at their phone rather than the road in front of them. Perhaps the only group that I have not seen paying more attention to reading their phones are motorcyclists. That might be just that the number of motorcyclists is minuscule compared to drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists (I almost wrote bivalves which might, in an absurd way, make a modicum of sense.
Back to situational awareness. I am not sure whether or not I am reacting to years of spending time in foreign locations that were not always safe, being concerned because of my age, or just irritated by the rudeness exhibited by those who don’t seem to care a whit about those around them. It wouldn’t hurt any of these individuals to tuck phones away, look at their surroundings, perhaps even see people as something other than objects interfering with their right to take up however much space might be needed in order to look at their phone screens.
As my BART this morning entered Powell station, we heard an announcement. It was a simple, there are no trains going north on the Richmond line beyond El Cerrito Plaza. Sorry for the inconvenience. Right, like t hat is going to make any difference, the “sorry” that is, to those who can’t get to work on time or for those headed home after a long night shift. I suppose there are alternative buses, but that isn’t a portion of BART that I normally ride.
The “sorry for the inconvenience” bit–it could have been worse. Maybe. Kind of like having a mobility challenge and getting on BART only to find that both the escalators and the elevators are out at your destination station. Sorry doesn’t help you get to street level with a wheelchair or walker nor does it help a parent with a buggy and small children.
Today’s shut down was even uglier. For some reason there was a person on the tracks just short of the El Cerrito Plaza. Hit by a Warm Springs bound train, from what I can gather the person was killed instantly.
For those of you not familiar with BART – there are no street level stations. All the stations are either underground or on elevated platforms. It takes an effort to get on the tracks. One would have to jump down from boarding platform, or be pushed from the boarding platform. Did I mention these trains run via an electric third rail? There is absolutely no reason ever to be on the tracks. Admittedly, those who live in the Bay Area do not queue as well as traditional English but there is nowhere near the density of people on the platform as occurs in NYC or much pushing or shoving. Someone on the tracks falls into one of three categories; stupid behavior (the pushing, shoving, dares); “oh shit I dropped something” – which might also fall under stupid but doesn’t involve other people; and finally–deliberate action. I suspect the later in this case as the person was not in front of one of the platforms.
There was nothing further in the news after the tracks reopened for the second time (police and coroner activity shut even the one track open). It has made be cautious enough, at least for a while, to make sure that I am standing behind the yellow line….
There were errands planned for early afternoon. They were only supposed to take a couple of hours. College Guy is back from CT and hanging out till school restarts, so he was willing to be the haul and tote person.
We went to Costco. Along with a bijilion and one other people on a Saturday afternoon. Unlike your average grocery store – there are no signs anywhere describing what is down any particular isle. Plus, they keep moving things around. End result? You have to push your cart through the whole store (getting into extra trouble) in order to find the things on your list. Often there isn’t a whole lot of choice, but that choice comes in a supersized container.
Example – go to your local Duane Reader or CVS or Walgreen’s drug store. There are 50 different sizes, brands and styles of tooth brushes, each in its own little package. Not so at Costco. Today there are two brands, each available in soft, medium or hard. That means six choices. Not 50. Since each package has 6-8 toothbrushes you simply won’t have to worry about buying toothbrushes for a few months.
Or laundry detergent for six months. Or tissues (package of eight large boxes) or garbage bags (box of 70) or dog treats for… forget that one – dog treats get scarfed up promptly.
I had a list from the eldest, from daughter #2 (see dog treats mentioned above) plus a two part list I had started. There were those items for the house and the items for UCHastings food pantry. It should not be surprising that there are students with little money once they have paid tuition and found a place to live. This fall, the student support office started a food pantry shelf. A number of us contributed to it regularly. The holidays pretty much had the shelves wiped clean. Costco turns out to be a good source of goodies in bulk (protein bars, jerky packages, rice bowls, ramen, cup-of-soup). I suppose I could use their purchase and ship option, but it is a bit cheaper to buy in the store and schlep myself.
We managed to pack everything in the car, then I went back to ask about buying an additional “Fast-Trak.” Oh – any register. Argh. There are no express lanes. I looked around, not a check-out lane under 10 long and all with piled high carts.
We stopped at Pet Express instead for kitty litter then dropped off things for the Eldest before heading home and doling out the purchases. The dogs were pleased, beef treats were obviously for them.
I would have stayed home. I could have stayed home. But I couldn’t find my beads. The ones which I had just purchased for the Wild Swan. Out again, this time with Dani riding shotgun. JoAnn’s for the beads. CVS for the floss threaders, Daiso for seaweed snacks. And Costco, again. 15 minutes in line to purchase the Fast-Trak. But this way when Dani makes an airport run tomorrow, we won’t have to turn out everyone’s pockets in order to find enough money for the toll.
Up front, I am not much of a football fan. US football just so there is not any confusion. I don’t detest it the way I do boxing (no excuses, a sport where you win by inflicting brain damage on your opponent? – I DO NOT think so). While in the military I was continually confronted with that particular bit of stupidity. They needed a doctor for their boxing matches. I left it open to my crew – no penalties if they wanted to support – complete back up if they didn’t want to participate.
The catch was – no doctor – no match, so you understand the pressure.
Really, there we are in a combat zone continually screening people for TBI (traumatic brain injury) secondary to just about everything. And they want to box in their spare time? Really? Let’s support our enemy by damaging our own troops ….
Oops – I think I was starting to discuss today’s Cal football game. I was there because? George has season tickets. Since he attends somethings with me (As baseball) and lets me off the hook for others (formal receptions, cocktail parties), the least I can do is go with him. When it is not raining, or snowing or there isn’t someone else begging to go along.
So there we are, in our usual seats. Maus & Friend are sitting over in Q for the first half. They join us for the second since the season ticket holders next to us don’t appear. The marching band is great. The football team? Meh. Unlike those around me, I don’t have any objection to the quarterback. Hello? He is a freshman. Let me repeat that – this is a college game and he is new this season. I don’t care how good you were in high school – this is NOT high school. He has a great and a good running back. He has a couple of really good pass receivers. What he doesn’t have is decent blockers from the line to protect him.
Cal won by points. Colorado won on everything else. They had more yards passing, rushing, 1st downs made, fewer penalties. What destroyed them was the first few minutes of the game. You can’t receive the kickoff and on the second play throw a pass that is intercepted by Cal and returned for a touchdown. That means you just tossed (literally, sorry) away your chance. Seriously, what you don’t do is repeat the process on your next return and have another interception mean that you are down 14-0 in the first five minutes of the game. Then there was a fumble…
Colorado came back and almost managed a win. By the time we hiked up the hill (which seems like a mountain about then) it was dark and cold. At least the Cal-Stanford Game (rescheduled to next Sat because of the air quality secondary to the wildfires) will start at noon. Whole game in daylight. Much better deal.
And now back to studying for my first exam (on Wednesday).
Or maybe it was NoCal? (5 Nov update – it was actually NorCal – title above edited to reflect correction provided by George)
Anyway, it was a benefit for the Cal Marching Band held last night at the University Club at the top level of the new stadium.
There is a great view of the field –
from the outside seating area on the visitors end
From opposite of the stadium (University Club is on the West Side in case you hadn’t guessed
we had a great view of the sunset and San Francisco.
and me without my decent camera. George thought I left it at home deliberately. All I can say is that I forgot it.. iPhone will have to do.
Anyway, the evening was to benefit the Marching Band. Yes, I know I said that before. Many of those present fell into the category of parent or band alumni along with partners. I think that George and I were the rare folks who, other than enjoying the band, have no real relationship to anyone in the band.
I had lovely conversations with former band members, parents of current band members and several band members as well. We didn’t buy raffle tickets and skipped the silent auction on some limited edition Grateful Dead Stuff. Sorry, but I am just not a Deadhead. Let someone else who really wants it, get it. I don’t have a qualm about just donating the money to them straight up.
What I didn’t mention was the need for ear plugs. We had two sessions from the Marching Band. As much as I enjoy them, the space is not conducive to large numbers of brass instruments. But the kids looked like they were having a great time and their reward was a most excellent flourless chocolate cake.
Today was a quiet day. I finished up a paper due on Tuesday and uploaded it before I changed my mind. Played a number of computer games, read a book, studied some more, did research on the National Guard (YES! I was right about Title 32 for operations out of home state) and otherwise tried to be sensible.
Yes, I know. Me sensible? It might just apply.
with blue skies and balmy temperatures. It was shirtsleeves in normally cool San Francisco with t-shirts and shorts in the East Bay.
The weather in much of the rest of the world hasn’t been as kind. But then, it would take a flaming sword, a burning bush and forty days of rain to make certain people believe that humans have an impact on their world beyond that of other creatures. Certainly science has not been successful, no matter how solid in convincing someone with fingers in their ears singing la-la-la-la that the world is not how they perceive it. That just because they believe does not make it so.
This is not Star Trek. The Captain can’t just say “make it so” and all the action then proceeds along the path best ordained to finish the story in the 60 minutes (minus commercials) that have been set aside for our entertainment.
My long sleeves and fuzzy vest which had been a comfort in the morning was now much more than I needed to be wearing. Those around me gave me those sideways looks which clearly could be interpreted as “you are an idiot and over dressed.” It was uncomfortable in San Francisco, it was well beyond insanity once I exited the BART in Berkeley and faced the several block dash to catch the 65 Bus up the hill.
Did I mention the earlier conversation with my well loved husband? The one where he said he was at an appointment in Oakland followed by a meeting in Berkeley? The one with the implication that he was going from one to the other. So there I am, hot, tired and whining as I stump up the driveway to find that he is home.
I came home.
Why didn’t you tell me you could have picked me up.
Don’t you just love married communications? I am glad it was a beautiful day with a great sunset. It meant it wasn’t worth really getting upset.
(attempt two – the first of course was eaten by the gremlins who hate me and anything I attempt to place in drafts. I don’t think it is personal, it is just what they do).
I had no clue about the Berkeley rules for Halloween Trick or Treating. Neither did George when I asked him on our way home after my Wednesday afternoon detour through the Intro to Public Health Course at Cal (the one which I so foolishly volunteered to help teach next semester). We thought about checking the rules for, oh, about ten seconds, then decided to blow the whole thing off.
My thought, evil woman that I am, is to leave the house dark and not encourage any sticky fingered critter to hike up our driveway in search of sweets. Saves me buying sweets, decorating, dressing up or running the risk of anyone falling and getting hurt on the march up the hill.
Then I thought about Trick or Treating in the US as a child of the 1950s. We dressed up in whatever our moms could make for costumes at home, then we were escorted around the neighborhood. You knew everyone, and they knew you. The only similar parallel I can draw today is all of those books nostalgic of small towns (remember Prairie Home Companion? All the women are smart, the men good looking and the children above average?). I remember two things clearly: the first is that normally in Minnesota at the end of October after dark it was freaking cold; the second was that I wasn’t all that interested in candy by 1-2 days afterwards.
Back to the present – there were a few houses in my area that decorated for the holiday and several in Shana’s area as well. Perhaps next year I will make the effort to get out with my camera.
One of the challenges that I am facing four days a week is BART between Civic Center in San Francisco and North Berkeley. It isn’t that I love riding on a crowded system, but rather it is a better alternative than driving back and forth. Part of the joy involves the basic mechanics of getting to and from the subway platforms. Most of the time the escalators are working, except when they are not. Most of the others taking the system are polite, except for those who are just plain rude.
Let me explain:
- there are elevators which most of the time are working, bear no relationship to the main portion of the station, and smell like pee at best;
- there are escalators which are usually, but not always, in the middle of the platforms and mostly work;
- finally there are stairs which connect the platforms with the main portion of the station; and
- there are normally all of the above which connect the main portion of the station with the surface of the local neighborhood.
So to get from one level to another you have to pick one of the options. Leaving out elevators which are to be avoided if at all possible, one has to navigate either stairs or escalators. There is the standard custom in Europe which translates to walk on the left, stand on the right. This convention is observed in almost all non-Commonwealth countries some of which may apply this standard in reverse.
It is not a hard concept. Stay on the right if you are not going to walk up if you are on escalator. There is really no great reason to stand on the left. Reading your phone is not an excuse. Making a play for someone in whom you have interest is not an excuse. Placing your luggage or grocery bags at your side rather than in front of you is not an excuse. Any of these are rude and obstruct the flow of those who want to walk up. Why anyone wants to walk is not a concern or needs a comment. It should be sufficient to recognize that someone wants to get by and to allow them to proceed on their way.
Then we come to the stairs. All of the stairs in the BART system have railings on both sides. The railings are there for reasons of safety. They help those of us who need them to haul themselves up, they provide stability for anyone with an unsteady gate, and they help direct the flow of traffic along the sides. NOT DOWN OR UP THE FREAKING MIDDLE. (Emphasis is obviously mine). I don’t mind someone who needs time to get up or down; in fact I can applaud their strength and courage in tackling stairs. I can appreciate anyone who looks at the stairs as a mountain to climb or a chance to burn off a few calories.
What I don’t understand is anyone who needs to walk up (especially) or down a flight of stairs in the middle. Not holding a railing, not keeping to the side, and effectively obstructing completely the flow of foot traffic in both directions. I am exempting anyone with medical/psychiatric reasons for not complying with normal traffic flow. But your average commuter, fixed on their phone, dragging themselves up the stairs while effectively preventing anyone from getting around them.
This morning it was a well-dressed woman with three bags. Since the bags were held in her left hand, there really was no reason for her to hike up the middle of the stairs. She could have used the railing on the right side. She could have even been obnoxious and walked on the left. Instead, she chose to take more than her ½ out of the middle, effectively blocking anyone from below in getting past her on the stairs and forcing the rare person attempting to get to the platform to play skinny statue to the side.
As you can imagine, I had already navigated down at North Berkeley, numerous stops and crowding on the Milbrae BART followed by a scrum on the first set of stairs up from the platform. So my temper was not the best when confronted with someone who obviously wasn’t paying attention to anyone else. I am older, I have grey hair and simply, I didn’t care what she thought of me.
“Excuse me, I need to get past, please.You are completely blocking the stairs.”
(picture the interruption, the angry look followed by glancing behind to see a mass of people including, but not limited to- big, burly people with bicycles.) She actually pulled over at the intermediate platform and started berating me for being rude and not giving due consideration to her age.
I just thanked her for getting out of the way and dashed up the open stairs, laughing because I obviously had 20+ years on her.
(written while snarling since my original post vanished into the bitbucket or wherever drafts go when WordPress decides it is not going to cooperate. You would think I would learn to copy drafts before hitting the “save the draft” button. Unfortunately that lesson has not yet been learned).
Anyway. I think that I am representative of my generation – at least the European version or the person who lives in a major city. My first thought when going anywhere outside walking distance is to take public transportation. If this is not possible, I will drive. What is not first, second or fifteenth on my list is Lyft/Taxi/Uber. I don’t even think about them. It is not that I haven’t had occasion (a 0600 flight out of SFO for example which is earlier than is possible to safely make on BART. And not being willing to inflict cruel and unusual punishment on a family member by forcing him to drive back through San Francisco during rush hour – which for purposes of anything can assumed to run almost continuously from 0430-2330 Monday through Friday with occasional gasps of total insanity on the weekends when even more fools come out to play) to use them. But I view them as a fall back.
Not so much by the younger generation which views taxis and the private alternates as a routine method of transportation. I can easily understand part of their thinking. When a bus doesn’t go directly, why spend 90 minutes on the bus when the drive takes 13? If you are not eligible for a Senior Discount, the price isn’t going to be that much different if you have to change bus lines (hint, UC Transit doesn’t include transfers on your fare). If you live in the city, you really don’t need to drive. The monthly cost of using public transport and Lyft is going to be less than that of owning a car, even given the limits on convenience.
All of this is explanation of why, after seeing one daughter off to the house of another that I took BART and the #65 home rather than call a Lyft. BART runs, and allegedly the bus does as well. My total cost was under $3 (remember what I said about senior discount?) I am sure that it took longer to get home than if I had taken a Lyft. In fact, I know that since the bus was running late and I didn’t exactly have the jacket and three sweaters than are often needed for a Northern California evening jaunt.
But I arrived safely home, didn’t spend that much. And avoid having a bill to pay at the end of the month.
Back we are to a rental beast. Beast being the literal truth as the smallest thing on the lot when George went over was a Jeep SUV. Hello? That is not a small or easy to drive car. Nor, just to add insult to injury is it terribly fuel efficient. Add to that clumsy, difficult to park and stark white and you will start to understand how completely I loath this particular vehicle.
It isn’t a car in which I would feel safe with a new driver as it seems to take more than its fair share of the road. George was the poor person who had to deal with Enterprise this time and has agreed that if it is going to be more than a few days till our car is returned he will take the responsibility for swapping out for something smaller and a bit easier to handle.
What started this rant in my head was the challenge of driving with the standard US driver neither knowing or understanding the use of turn signals. Heaven forbid that you actually provide the driver behind you with a clue as to what you might be considering next. Much less someone coming in the opposite direction. I won’t even bother to describe the California driver and traffic circles (roundabouts for you English driving types). Signal? Who? Why? How?
Meanwhile – in other challenges, I have been working my way through all the documents that UCHastings seems to require. Every other minute there is yet another document, paper or mandatory course to complete. Not that I mind TitleIX training, but I have already addressed the fact that training geared toward incoming college freshmen is insulting at best to mature students and incomprehensible to the average foreign student.
Gee, back to my usual mode of being a total PITA. Feels natural, even if it falls under the guise of making the whole experience more appropriate and relevant.
As I was driving home from dropping off daughter #2, I took a variation on my usual route. Not sure why, but that is what I did. Maybe my brain said I was driving back from North Berkeley BART rather from dropping off Dani. In any case, I drove up Cedar rather than Rose. At early in the morning, most of the traffic lights are flashing rather than regular red/green cycles. Depending on the intersection, the change from night to normal happens sometime between 0500 and 0600 on weekdays. And this is a Tuesday, not a holiday.
For whatever reason, as I approached the Cedar/MLK intersection I didn’t completely register the stoplight as having changed. The end result it that a Lyft driver who was turning right interested with my right rear passenger door. No one was injured and his car, from what we could see in the dark, seemed to have only minor scratches on the front grill. Not so my Golf. After exchanging information we both headed on our way. He said he had a passenger to pick up then would check in about a police report. Just to make sure, as soon as I got home I called the non-emergency Berkeley Police Line. This is not Germany. Since no one was injured, I was told just to notify my insurance company and an official report wasn’t required. What? No ticket? No. Amazing.
Next call was to USAA. By 1000 I had dropped off my car, been picked up by the rental car agency, provided a 2018 Japanese something or other and was back home. It made me glad that I had paid the extra few dollars a month for rental car coverage.
This was not exactly how I had planned on spending my day. But it did help that the As managed to win 6:2 against the Padres.