Thursday, June 25, 2009

Seven Deadly Sins of the Train

As many of us lock ourselves voluntarily in shiny metal boxes, "contestants in a suicidal race",Sting might say, it occurs to me that perhaps bringing back some of the shaming techniques of the middle ages might be helpful. We've already started going medieval on our prisoners of war, so why not bring back more of those "Dark" ages to brighten up our day. We can avoid the listing of virtues, as they are always a bit grating...

Learn from this justly irritating Youth,

To brush your Hair and Teeth and tell the Truth.

- Hillaire Belloc, from A Moral Alphabet

Now onto the sins!

The seventh sin is smell. Bringing hot, greasy food onto the train entraps us all into a McNightmare from whence we cannot escape. Coffee is neutral enought to get a pass...but smokers are always going to make me gag. The only thing alleviating the smoking sin is that you can escape the smell by moving a bit away, not always an option with the fast traveling smell of food.

The sixth deadly sin is "headphones". By encasing it in quotes, it indicates the headphones are at such a loud volume as to penetrate the heads of all in a 10 foot radius. The loudness of headphones is directly proportional to how truely awful the music being played is. I have yet to hear anyone blasting out a particularly engaging interview being given by Terry Gross

The firth deadly sin is cell phones, though it bleeds into the sixth with blended purpose phones much as the crappy ringtone you downloaded is making all our ears bleed. Exceptions for loud use of cellphones are if you have to give instructions to Jack Bauer how to best torture a suspect into opening a socket to save the city. Otherwise, as my late friend K_ would say, "Shut it.".

Fourth on the list of deadly train sins is paying for the ride. As the train prepares to leave, there are inevitably some dazed riders who only now realize they have to get off the train, and slowly make their way to the front, so they can lay down their bags across two sets of seats to only now begin looking for their ticket. Followed by a five minute conversation with the train conductor - who they seem to not know cannot leave whilst they are hanging out of the door - about where the train they are now leaving might be going next.

The third sin is person space. Not satisfied with taking up two sits as they nap on the train, these folks also stick the legs out into the hallway, making a dance necessary to get by. Not to mention the baseball fan - not sure why it's always them - who comes onto the train solely for the purpose of stretching, which can only be accomplished by placing their arms and rapidly balding heads as far back into the seats behind them as possible.

The second sins can apply to bicyclists, people with stroller carrying babies or groceries and those with giantic cardboard boxes of unknown seeping items who then find the only place for these is in the hallway, completely blocking egress for everyone behind them. This could be an actually deadly sin, in the event of an emergency.

The first deadly sin belongs not to passengers but to the management. Not aligning schedules to reality is not the fault of drivers if the schedule is impossible to keep - it's up to the Train-masters to correct. No GPS on trains, announced "times" for trains that are just someone reading the printed schedule, and not the real time when the train will arrive, is keeping us all in the dark.

Gone forever

Now no married person will be able to tell their spouse they want to "go hiking in the Appalachians" without being given at the least a quizzical look.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

10 Years

10 years, and thousand of two rivals will meet again.

Mrs. Peggy


Lakewood, Ohio - the Battle of the Lake! Then Peggy goes to Niagara Falls with M_ for a tad. Conner is disdainful of waterfalls, since "the incident".

Daily Proverb

Watching birds bathe and drink from a birdbath, one sees they have not heard of the germ theory of disease.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Seen on the train, an ongoing series

Work - or rather, concern for excess fuel consumption involving us overly in the middle east, leads me to enjoy the trains in our areas. It's a bit sad that even where I live some are against more rail lines being built:
I HATE sitting on one of our many side streets waiting for a train to roll through. It's a danger at each street crossing. Does anyone know how many streets a train crosses at street level? The answer for the Rapid is zero. Add to that the danger to pedestrian traffic and the additional noise of a train through Lakewood and it's hard for me to see any benefit for Lakewood.

- Donald Farris, the Lakewood Observer forums

Actually the trains cross the streets a lot in Shaker Heights, but they've built the street alongside it. And as someone in the thread notes, cars are not too friendly when they bounce pedestrians around either. At least to be hit by a train, you have to be on the tracks. Cars can get you anywhere, on the sidewalk, in your homes, in balloons, and even in Canada.

There are still plenty of folks riding the rails who are just kept rapt by our ever-exciting economy that makes you wonder if buying a 5 ride ticket to get to your job is a wise investment. I saw one fellow eagerly reading, which makes people who might want to write pleased, although he was reading Dan Brown, which is a bit like watching someone eating scallops raised in a bathtub, if you see what I mean.

In other news the RTA (the local train and bus concern) is about to improve service for us all! They're going to...eliminate ticket booths in favour of ticket machines....and patrol the trains for those without proof of purchase. They already have the machines, sitting in Tower City and elsewhere. They have not been used for at least a month or more so far. They are still all on, and using electricity, but it being summer that's probably a good idea.

The main thing is I am still living in the region and enjoying mass transit, and so are many others. People who cannot bathe, smokers, and those carrying bags of deep-fried breakfast can feel free to avoid the trains if they wish, I've been told they help the environment more by being outside or in cars, or standing on the ends of piers on the lake.