March 2009


Two weekends ago, I went skiing with the offspring. I followed O2 down with my camera. Here is part of our run. The curmudgeonly O1 makes a cameo, as well.

The video ends abruptly when my battery dies.

I attended a funeral today for a retired member of my volunteer department.

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Nobody told me to clasp my hands in front of me. Obviously I was supposed to.

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Only time will tell.

I just sent a copy of my new National Registry card to the New Hampshire EMS office.  This concludes the last active task that I must perform in order to recertify my EMS certs until I start to prepare for the March 2011 recert cycle, say, December 2010. I have my Vermont card and National Registry in hand; the New Hampshire office will verify my NREMT card and send me an updated New Hampster one in the next week or so.

Maybe.

I received notification from New Hampshire ysterday (though dated the sixth) that my provider’s license had been ‘deactivated’ since I had let my CPR certification lapse.  Actually, I had faxed them a copy of my new CPR card in mid-February and they somehow lost the fax. I faxed them a new copy today and followed up by email to get verification that the card had been received; I have been ‘activated’ again.

Hopefully the state office will not lose my provider license application.  I’m only good in New Hampshire until the 31st otherwise.

This is my last day in SF for this visit.

I can’t wait to get home.

I’ve been sick and working from my room for the past three days. I’m presently on the bus to the office; I still feel ill but I think I should go in.

Tomorrow I will be traveling all day. Saturday is the Pinewood Derby; on Sunday I hope to take the boys skiing.

Filthy Hippie visited over the weekend. Our arrivals at Zeitgeist were so well timed that we met on the corner outside of my place as we each arrived from our separate directions.

John Zorn (a jazz musician and one of Filth’s very favorite artists) was playing in town with several of his bands. Filth called and made reservations for the ten o’clock show. We walked over to the ritzy jazz club and had an excellent meal before the show, including sushi with fish that had been swimming off Japan twelve to fourteen hours earlier. It was delicious.

The show itself was outstanding. We saw a band called Bar Kopa. In addition to composing all of the music, John Zorn conducted the sextet.

After the show we walked home. Filth went to bed while I did some work things.

We got up early on Saturday and took public transportation to Fisherman’s Wharf, a touristy area, to pick up the ferry to Angel Island. Once on the island, we stomped to the top of Mt. Livermore, the 788-foot hill that comprises the island. We off-trailed for a short while on the we down but generally took a direct route up and down. I figure we walked about two miles on the island.

We had lunch at a cafe in the cove by the dock. Around two, Ken (one of my work colleagues) arrived at the dock with his teenaged son in their 28-foot sailboat. We hopped on and went for an outstanding ride around the bay between Sausalito, Angel Island, Alcatraz, San Francisco, and the Golden Gate bridge.

About 5:15 we arrived in Sausalito. Filth and I hiked south through the town to Fort Baker, then under the bridge and up and around onto the bridge itself. We crossed the bridge just as sunset occurred; it was stunningly beautiful with blues, violets, and yellows as the sun set through the gate.

We found our way to the tourist parking area at the city side of the bridge and hopped on a bus back into town. We stopped for a beer at a bar with a lot of drama going on, then continued on foot down into Chinatown. We again had sushi, this time at ‘the sushi boat place’. It was certainly not as good as the sushi on Friday but still very tasty.

After dinner we walked back up to Nob Hill and went and had a drink at the Tonga Room in the Fairmount. The Tonga Room is a tiki bar from the 40’s and is slated to be closed; w agreed it was important to try to experience this bit of history before it ended.

The Tonga Room was quite nice although we were a bit underdressed. We probably wouldn’t have gotten in except that we conveniently didn’t notice the ‘wait to be seated’ sign at the door. The doorman gave us an odd look but didn’t stop us.

We had an overpriced drink standing at the bar while absorbing the ambiance.

After the Tonga Room, we walked down the hill and picked up the cable car running down Powell. We were chastised by the gripman for waiting for the car in the wrong. We apologized for our mistake and started to walk off; the gripman told us to get on anyway, telling us this was our first and only warning. For some reason, he elected not to charge us for our trip.

Arriving on Market Street, we took a bus the rest of the way home, had a beer, and went to bed.

For the day, we had travelled on six forms of transportation… Foot (eight miles total), street car, ferry, sailboat, bus, cable car.

On Sunday, we got up, had a lovely brunch up the street, and the Filth left to return home.

I haven’t posted about MUNI since I have been out here this time… This doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about MUNI. This post will round up my various recent MUNI thoughts, complaints, and anecdotes.

First, the general rant. MUNI is a very useful service but I have no idea of how they can stay in business… I guess because it’s part of the government and not really accountable to anyone like a business would be.

I have a new TransLink card. This little gem allows me to pay for service on Golden Gate Transit, the company that runs the ferry and buses that take me to Marin County, where my employer is located. When I get on the bus, I tag my card to a reader located near the driver. When I get off, I tag the card again; the fare is calculated and subtracted from my TransLink account. For the ferry, I tag the card in San Francisco, either as I get on or off the ferry, depending on direction.

The TransLink card works on some other area transit providers as well. Before coming out here, I found out that MUNI is trialing integration with TransLink. One could sign up to be part of the test group.

That sounded interesting though I was not sure if it would make financial sense as compared to a FastPass; a monthly pass good for MUNI only for $40. I would certainly use the card on Golden Gate Transit so I went ahead and signed up for a card on the MUNI site.

With uncharacteristic efficiency, MUNI called me within two hours of my submitting my application online. They were wondering about my Vermont address. I explained my situation and they agreed to send me a card.

Here it is.

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I’ve only used my TransLink card once on MUNI. MUNI claims that the card is very convenient to use; when I swipe the card on MUNI, they automatically calculate my 90-minute transfer duration. I won’t get charged again for that 90 minutes.

MUNI has this policy that when you pay for a trip, you get a transfer, good for 90 minutes. Back when I first started using MUNI, the transfer was good for two trips in 90 minutes; the first time you used the transfer (i.e., your second ride for $1.00 at the time), the driver would rip off a stub, the second time (your third ride) the driver would keep the transfer.

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MUNI has gotten away from this; I suppose it is too much work for the drivers. So now the transfer is good for as many rides as one can fit into the 90-minute window.

The thing is, half the time you get a transfer it is good for four or five hours. The transfer expiration date is based on how the transfer is ripped from the pad and so depends on the operator.

The other thing is, if you crumple the transfer a little bit and hold it in your hand so that the expiration time is obscured, it will work all day. I have never in the last two years seen anyone called out for an expired transfer.

Only a rube would pay for a bus ride on MUNI with a TransLink card. It doesn’t make sense.

Another selling point for MUNI’s TransLink program is that I can get off the ferry and onto MUNI with one form of payment. This is true, though MUNI does not tell you that, again, only a rube would actually do this.

Ferry passengers have access to Ferry/MUNI transfers when they arrive in San Francisco. These transfers are in two parts, one good for travel away from the ferry building on MUNI, one valid for travel towards the ferry building on MUNI. As issued, they are good for 24 hours. So if I take the ferry to work and back, MUNI is free in both directions.

I can actually take MUNI to a Golden Gate Transit bus, ride to work in Sausalito, take the ferry home, and get MUNI to drop me off at my front door for $7.75. Not bad.

Plus, the 24-hour transfer period is bogus. The MUNI operator has to actually look at the transfer to read the date and time; too much effort. My Friday transfer has always worked perfectly well on Monday morning.

Of course, there is no reason to pay to ride MUNI ever, if you work at it even a tiny bit. Yesterday’s transfer will work just as well as today’s; just show the back of the transfer to the driver. They won’t care. Get on at the back door; the operator probably won’t say anything. If they do, wave your wallet or some bit of cardboard at them.

Two weeks ago I was riding a streetcar. There were two MUNI employees on the car; one, an older woman, appeared to be a supervisor. The car stopped and people began to board the car at the middle doors although one is only supposed to board at the front.

The supervisor walked back to the doors and announced that she was going to check passes; only people with passes could get on at the back.

She made a cursory inspection. At one point she pointed out that the pass that someone had shown was from last July, this being in February. She made no effort to stop the person from boarding the car or to make them pay for the trip.

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