Sunday, December 23, 2007

Wonderful holidays and happy new year

Don't know about most of you but I have mandatory shut-down next week at work, meaning they take 3 days off my PTO but we don't return to work until 1/2/2008. I like that because everyone in the company stops working, whereas when I go on my own vacations, I come back to an insane amount of emails and looming deadlines.

I am looking forward to relaxing this week and doing nothing at all...well, except for spending quality time with my family and relatives who are visiting the Bay Area this holiday season.

I want to thank all of you for taking time out of your day this year to check on! It's been a fun and stimulating experience to read all of your comments.

Happy holidays, everyone! Here's to a great 2008!

Oh, one more thing, don't forget to check the new BART schedule and adjust your BART fares starting 2008! Yet another fare increase for us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No win situation

I noticed the heavy rain this morning and decided to check the news in case there were BART delays. KRON4 reported that there were delays between 15-30 minutes both ways. Whenever the schedule is off, I can't reliably catch my connecting shuttle, which could be problematic. And admittedly, part of me just did not feel like dealing with the crowded and late trains, wet umbrellas getting on my body and things, and waiting for the shuttle in the rain. So, I made the decision to drive in, fully knowing that traffic could be pretty miserable today. I braced myself for a bad drive but felt that I could at the very least "relax" in a private and clean space (my car).

The drive from home to the Bay Bridge was unexpectedly smooth! At that point, I felt for sure I made the right decision. But as I approached the toll plaza, I moved about 10 feet per minute....until after Treasure Island. It was absolutely miserable. I shook my head It took me an hour to get to work, which is probably the same amount of time it would have taken me to take BART.

Should I have taken BART? Probably. I would have saved money and gas. Oh well...stupid decision on my part but some days, I just don't feel like dealing with the crowds and little inconveniences associated with BART. Sometimes I just need a break from BART.

BTW, Don't forget to add your input to the BART Xmas Wish List!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Donate your small amount tickets this holiday season!

I know we can do this all year long but since it's the holidays, and if you've saved up all your small amount tickets throughout the year like I did, there is no better time to donate it to a non-profit organization!

I can't seem to find an easy-access list of all the charities that accept these tickets as donations (if you know of a url, let me know), but with a quick Google search, the list seems to be quite long!

I have about 40 small amount tickets saved up this year and will be sending them off to Berkeley East Bay Humane Society.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Our Holiday/New Year Wish List to BART

Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of the year, it seems like a good time for us to think about what we need and want on BART as we head into 2008.

All year long, we've talked about many many things that we want to see changed or improved or enforced on BART. If we could send a holiday wish list, which I fully intend to send this one, what will we ask for?

Think about it for a moment and add your wishes on! I'll start.

BART, are you ready to make some improvements in 2008?

Monday, December 10, 2007

What can one say?

A big part of riding BART is the people watching, especially on days when I'm out of reading material and my work email volume is low. Last Friday evening, without a magazine and with most of the company heading for the weekend, I chose to people watch to entertain myself while I waited for the Pittsburg/Baypoint train at the Civic Center station.

I heard screaming and kids crying. I turned around and saw a young mother with 3 kids. Two of them were crying while the older kid just watched quielty. The mom yelled at them repeated to shut up. They kids (probably 3 and 5) continued to cry. Then, the mom slapped them each on the face hard and said, "I said shut up. Do you want me to smack you again?"

The 5 year old stopped and grabbed the oldest kid's hand. The 3 year old continued to scream and protest. The mom slapped him again and said, "Are you done?" He cried even louder and she slapped him yet again. I was getting uncomfortable watching this sight. She then pulled him aside, away from the other 2 kids, and grabbed his hair while telling him to behave.

I was very uncomfortable with what I witnessed, so were others around me. But what can we do? Everyone raises their kids differently and uses different methods to discipline them! I don't want to judge so quickly but her actions definitely raise many eyebrows. Does that mean she's not a good mother? I don't know. Does it mean she's abusive? I don't know. Perhaps she was just under a tremendous amount of stress that day? Maybe. With my limited observation, I can't jump to conclusions.

People see all sorts of things while riding BART but this will be hard to forget. The youngest kid finally stopped crying and they boarded the train. Perhaps it was just another day for that family? For their sake, I hope it was a one time thing.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Use a leash in the city please!

This is unrelated to BART and only remotely related to the commute but I'm still upset over it so thought I should share it with you guys.

On my shuttle ride over from Civic Center to the office, I saw someone walking their dog, a cute little Jack Russell, in the busy streets. The dog was off-leash but seemed well-trained and well-behaved enough to follow the owner closely. But suddenly, the owner decides to J-walk across 8th Street (past Market), a busy street during commuting hours with buses, shuttles, cars, motorcycles, and bicycles moving about in the lanes! As the owner j-walks across 5 lanes, he seemed like he had forgotten about his dog. The poor dog was lagging behind, confused, scared, trying to follow his lead as a Muni bus was coming his way!!!

I was in shock! I was scared to death that this poor dog was going to be smashed by the bus while his owner seemed to have completely left him behind as he reached the other side of the street. I was afraid to keep my eyes open. The bus was less than 12 feet away. The light had just turned green in the previous block so vehicles are charging his way!

Amazingly, this dog dashed with all his might across the street, beating the bus and a few cars coming his way!

The owner had turned around at this point. He saw what happened and called out the dog's name as the dog dashes over to him safely. The dog looked relieved to see his owner.

I would never risk my dog's life like that. I would never j-walk when walking him, especially not in the city! I would never even consider walking my dog unleashed in the city streets because the traffic and movement is too unpredictable!

If you want to walk your dog in the city off-leash, fine, but don't j-walk, and don't put your dog in harm's way. Goodness!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Help! Can't breath.

Morning trains were delayed today, maybe because of the rain. As a result, the lines were longer, the trains were packed to the max. With the humidity, lack of fresh air, and an abundance of bodies, the air within the train was dead stale. You actually could feel that there is a shortage of air as you were inhaling. The air was heavy, or so it seemed. It was uncomfortable.....and as more people piled in, it was making me sick and dizzy.

I was lucky enough to be seated during most of the crowded ride. But that has disadvantages too since there were crowds standing next to me, exhaling on me, piling on more CO2 in front of my face.

It was just an awful ride. Way too crowded. I know the train operators try their best to discourage people from piling on but everyone wants to get in now, after a prolonged wait on the platform. They all have somewhere to go! Sometimes doors close on people-- they pry it back open! And even more people squeeze in during that lapse.

Anyway I was really happy to finally exit the train. The first thing I did when I got to street level was take a long, deep breath of fresh air, uh, well, as fresh as the Civic Station vicinity air gets...with a hint of pee.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Parking lot fight this morning

This morning, I was engaged in a little altercation over the last spot in the closer reserved lot. In Orinda, there are several reserved parking areas. One area is immediately in front of the BART station entrance (let's just call this Lot A), whereas the other (we'll call this Lot B), is about 80 footsteps away. Lot B is really not the end of the world, it's really just an extra 90 seconds of walking, but everyone covets the Lot A reserved spaces, including me!

Usually by the time I pull into the lot, there are maybe 1-2 spaces left in Lot A, on Mondays, Lot A is usually full! This morning, I pulled into Lot A because I eyed an open space from afar. I was so happy!! Wow, a closer space on a Monday! I already knew the quickest way to the space from the lot entrance and instantly pulled into the spot without hesitation. As I was about to take out my keys, I saw a SUV behind me. The driver was angry. Gesturing at me! I didn't know why she was upset as I got out of my car.

She remained parked behind me and yelled, "This is my space, I was circling around the lot, making my way over here, and you took it."

First, I had no clue she was in the lot..and why would you circle around the lot for a space when there is one right in front of you. She obviously didn't see it in time!

I responded politely, "Sorry, I didn't see you, I pretty much turned in and drove directly into the space," and gestured the short and straightforward path that I took to let her know that no circling was needed so it's her loss.

While I hoped the conversation would end there, she went on to say, "I'm in a hurry- I do not have time to look for a space. OK? I got into the lot before you did, I just happened to be on the side!"

I almost lost my cool here but said, "I'm in a hurry too and I didn't see you one way or another alright? You'd probably save some time by going directly to that lot over there instead of arguing with me. It's also reserved parking. There are plenty of spaces."

At this point, I was thinking to myself, "Oh, s*it, my car is going to get keyed for sure, what the heck did I do to myself?" but I'm not moving and I was there first.

To my surprise, she said, "Oh? This is a reserved lot? I didn't know that. Ha. Where is general parking?"

Oh my god, did I just waste my time arguing with someone who didn't even know she wasn't supposed to be there?

I pointed her to the general parking lot and she was off on her way. I almost missed the train because I wasted my time debating with someone who wasn't even entitled to park there!

She should thank me because I saved her from a $20 ticket!