A New Way Home

Since I was coming home to an empty apartment this evening, I decided to experiment with a new commute home.

I walked south along 5th Avenue, through Pioneer Square, under Yesler Way, and into the International District. It’s a part of town I’ve never walked through before. Obviously, I saw sights I’d never seen before – government buildings and apartments, with mix of old and new architecture. It was a nice walk – not very hilly.

I was about two blocks away when I saw two streetcars arrive, and depart, at the stop at 5th & Jackson.

I got to the streetcar stop. The arrival sign said the next one was due in 10 minutes. OneBusAway agreed. They were both right.

I rode on the “Japantown” streetcar, which, until today, I thought was rather pretty. Well, I still think it’s pretty, but the problem today was that I chose the seat next to the window with the big flower on it. I’d never noticed this before, but those decals are not transparent. That big flower blocks almost all of the view. All of those inkbrush lines do, really, but that flower is the worst window blocker.

Japantown Streetcar

This photo wasn’t taken today. That’s the flower, however.

The streetcar was full when I got on. Otherwise, I would have switched to a different seat. I kept glancing back for a free seat after every stop, but I soon resigned myself to a viewless ride. Oh, I could see out, through the gaps in the design, but I wasn’t pleased with the design choice.

I glanced at my watch when I boarded the streetcar at 5th & Jackson. I glanced again when I exited at Broadway & Denny. The streetcar ride took around 20 minutes. That’s about twice what a light rail ride from Pioneer Square Station to Capitol Hill Station takes, but the views are better – when you can see through the window, that is. I didn’t factor in the time I spent walking.

I stopped off at the library, where a third hold had come in.

A Tough Commute That Wasn’t

I received a Transit Alert text message late this afternoon. University Street Station was closed. Link light rail would be serving the other tunnel stations.

Then came another alert. Expect transit delays Downtown, due to “a police action”.

There was a police standoff of some sort that closed a block of 3th Avenue, right in the centet of Downtown.

I thought about catching the streetcar home, avoiding the tunnel and Downtown. The streets would be jammed, and Link would be crowded with people. Getting to the streetcar, even heading south to the International District, would be a challenge. Link seemed the best option. Besides, I was a little curious how they’d announce that the train would be bypassing the next stop.

I got to Pioneer Square Station just as a Link train arrived. The train was no more crowded than usual. There was no announcement about a station closure. The train stopped at University Street Station. Apparently, the police action was over.

I walked from Capitol Hill Station to the library. I returned one book and checked out another. Then I walked home.

A commute by light rail is often dull, but that’s a good thing.

Where My Heart Is

I took the 12 bus/streetcar route home today. I got to Marion Street just as a 12 bus was pulling away from the stop. I had a six minute wait for the next bus.

I exited at Broadway and rounded the corner just as a streetcar was leaving the stop. I had an eight minute wait for the next one. I took a seat on left end of the bench at the streetcar stop.

Two semi-homeless men (I guessing) sat down to my right. They started a conversation between themselves. I wasn’t listening, but I did hear some favorable thing about treatment at Harborview. They seemed like pretty nice guys.

Suddenly, I heard: “That guy has a map on the sole of his shoe.”

I looked over and the guy on the far right was smiling at me. “Addis Ababa,” he said, reading my shoe. Then he asked, “What kind of shoes are those?”

“Oliberté,” I replied, “They’re made in Ethiopia. Right there.” I touched Addis Ababa with my finger.

“Isn’t that where your heart is? In reflexology?”

I said I didn’t know, but that sounded right.

He said, “So I guess you can say your heart’s in Ethiopia.”

The three of us chuckled at that.

Seattle Parking

After a 20-day safety check, following a mechanical failure on one of the cars, the First Hill Streetcar returned to service today. I am thrilled.

I decided to celebrate by riding a 12 bus up the hill, and riding the streetcar home.

I got to the stop in front of the Seattle University parking garage. The sign said the streetcar was due in 2 minutes. Just for completeness, I checked OneBusAway. It agreed with the sign, and also told me I’d have a 24-minute wait for a 9 bus.

stuck streetcarThe streetcar showed up on time, but then got stuck just before the stop by a stupidly-parked SUV. It looked like maybe the streetcar could squeeze by if only the SUV’s mirror were folded in. The design of the streetcar is such that only the top half of the driver’s window opens, so the driver couldn’t reach the mirror. I could see her radioing for assistance.

I was thinking that I should walk over and fold the SUV’s mirror in myself. But every time I’d start to take a step into the street, another car would come whipping around the streetcar at high speed, making up for precious seconds lost, as if there couldn’t possibly be anything (anybody) in front.

I woman braver than I did walk out into the street, folded the SUV window in, and dashed back to the stop platform. The streetcar proceeded forward, with just an inch or two between it and the SUV.

We boarded the streetcar, and we were on our way.

I imagine that the owner of the SUV found a parking ticket on their windshield when they returned.

Stops At The Library

Phillip took the day off today, and I had the morning to myself.

I put on my Zabilo shoes (my shins are still trying to get used to my Nusnik boots – it’s been only two days, and the breaking-in period is continuing) and decided to walk up the hill to Capitol Hill Station, instead of catching the 47.

I stopped outside of the Capitol Hill Library long enough to catch a couple of Pokémon and get the Pokéstop at the library. Then I continued on my way.

It was a pleasant morning – a little chilly, but not too cold.

The platform at Capitol Hill Station was busy on the southbound side. Despite what the arrival sign said, I had less than a 4-minute wait for the train. (While I agree that the arrival signs need work, but with the trains running every 6-10 minutes, I don’t feel it’s a big deal.) The back car of our two-car train was standing-room only when we arrived at Westlake Station.

I started work with only one, all-day task ahead of me – which is a rare occurrence these days – and it was all data-entry. So I binge-listened to “A Day in My Life” videos from Texan in Tokyo.

It was a nice, quiet day at work.

I rode Link light rail home. I stopped into Phoenix Comics and Games and bought a book I’ve had my eye on for quite a while. I bought it for the 2017 Reading Challenge, so I won’t tell you what it is, yet.

I stopped into the Capitol Hill Library. My hold on Season 6 of Game of Thrones is currently “In Transit”. When I un-paused my hold last December, I was in position 701 on 125 copies. A couple of days ago, my place in line dropped to 78, and it was my turn. It was still “In Transit” when I started home today, but I figured I might as well stop in and check the holds shelf, since I was there.

It hadn’t arrived yet, so I walked home.

Another Reason To Ride The 47

There are many reasons why I would occasionally choose to ride the 47 bus home from work, rather than my preferred ride on Link light rail. Maybe I want a change of scenery. Maybe I want to stop into the Downtown Post Office. Maybe I feel like playing Pokémon Go on the ride home. (Yes, I know, Pokémon Go is supposed to be about walking.)

Today, I had a new reason to ride the 47 home: I have new boots. They fit me wonderfully. They received lots of complements around the office. (One coworker asked me if they have maps on the soles. They do.) I wore them all day today. But they are boots. And they are made of leather. And they are new. Like all new leather boots, they have a breaking-in period. At the end of the day, my feet felt fine, but my shins were a little sore. I could have done the six-block walk home from Capitol Hill Station, but I wanted to give my shins a rest, and a shorter, flatter walk home from the 47 stop seemed a better option.

Decisions, Decisions

I started this morning by paying three bills. I still prefer to write checks and drop them in the mailbox, the old-fashioned way. I’m not opposed to technology, but I do like things with a physical quality. There’s an almost meditative aspect to taking the time to write a check and then sticking a stamp on an envelope.

I used our last Harvey Milk stamp. (It was our stamp, even though I’m the only one who uses postage stamps on a regular basis.) Our Janis Joplin stamps were used up long ago. None of the three bills were due soon, so I picked my favorite debtor, stamped it, and set the other two envelopes aside.

A library book I had on hold came in today. I wasn’t ready for it, but that’s the way it goes. I decided I’d pick it up on my way home. I also decided I’d buy more postage stamps on my way home, too. The Post Office on Broadway is on the way from Capitol Hill Station to the Capitol Hill Library, and I’d have time to stop in on my way home before it closes, but there’s no stamp vending machine, and I’d have to stand in line. I just didn’t feel like standing in line.

The Downtown Post Office has a cool stamp vending machine. I like things with a physical quality, but technology is awesome, too.

I stopped into the Downtown Post Office after work, and had the machine print me up some postage stamps. Then I walked to the bus stop at 4th and Pike. My plan was to catch a 49 bus, the closest bus to the library, but a 10 or 43 would work, too. I got to the stop, and a 47 bus – the least convenient of the four for the library – was there, loading passengers. I decided to board it. It was a nice evening, and I have nothing against walking.

On the way out of Downtown, on the 47, a man recognized a former social worker (or maybe public housing employee) and walked up the aisle to say hello. I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the conversation – the social worker was sitting right behind me, and the man spoke very loudly. The social worker was working at another facility, and the man was still at the old place. He was doing well, was happy, and proud that he’s in stable housing – and the social worker was proud of him. As the man exited at the next stop, he made an excellent observation: “As long as you pay your rent, everything’s going to be all right.” I missed my old job at the clinic (most of it anyway) at that moment, but I’m happy where I am.

I exited the 47 at Olive Way, and walked over to the library. Then I walked home with our new postage stamps (just flags – no Harvey Milk, Janis Joplin, or anyone else interesting) and another borrowed library book.

Alerting My Commute

As I was getting ready to leave our apartment this morning, I received a text alert from Sound Transit: “Link light rail service is temporarily interrupted due to a non-Link accident. Updates will be provided when information is available.” It effected my commute, but not much. I’d just ride a bus in the Downtown Transit Tunnel, instead of Link. I was glad I’d signed up for text alerts. (I thought it was slightly amusing that it specified that the accident was not their fault. It’s good customer relations, I suppose.)

Shortly before the 47 bus arrived at our stop, I received a second text alert: “Link is temporarily not serving the DSTT due to a non-Link accident: Ride 101 or 150 from Bay C to Link at Stadium Stn.” OK, I thought, so I will be busing it through the tunnel. Really, the only reason I wait for a train in the tunnel, in the mornings, is that it’s roomier, even when it’s crowded.

As our 47 entered Downtown, I received a third text alert: “Link light rail has resumed normal operations at all stations with service delays.” OK, so I’ll wait for a train after all.

I got to the station platform at Westlake and checked my phone. There was a fourth text alert. This one was from Metro Transit: “Link light rail and buses in the downtown tunnel have returned to normal operation at all stations with service delays.”

These text alerts, going from a service interrupted to service resumed, happened within a span of about 30 minutes. I am really impressed with how well, and how quickly, Sound Transit handles interruptions like this. I just wish Metro could send out similar, timely, alerts when route 47 is delayed.

Standing Is Nice

The Link train has been so crowded in the mornings, lately, that I don’t bother trying to find a seat for my short, two station ride. I stand for the ride. It’s good to see the trains so well used. I don’t mind standing at all

The ride home is long enough that I do try to find a vacant seat.

Fare Inspectors boarded at Westlake this evening. The one in our car got to me just as the train arrived at Capitol Hill Station.

When I come home these days, I almost immediately open a book. I am enjoying this year’s Reading Challenge a whole lot. I’m into an especially good book right now. Of course, I won’t tell you what it is until I finish it and post my review. (That’s a rule I made for myself last year, just for fun, and I’m sticking with it for 2017.)

I find amazing that I’ve finished seven books this month. (Granted, two were short ones, but I’m still amazed.)

I continue to have a love/hate relationship with The Sims 4. I love playing the game, and it’s gorgeous to look at. I hate how buggy the game is, even with no custom content or mods. (Last night, Phillip and I spent a long time figuring out how to make his Sim get some sleep. The last time it happened, a camping trip did the trick. Last night it did not. Internet searches came up with just about everything from resetting the Sim to removing vegetables in his inventory to removing pictures from the walls. Last night, moving to a different bedroom solved it, but it probably won’t work the next time.) Also, I’m frustrated by the restrictions to creativity the game offers.

But I keep playing The Sims 4, and I continue to enjoy it (when it works right). Phillip and I said we wouldn’t spend any more money on it, but we’ve bought the City Living pack and the Vampires pack.

Phillip and I continue taking turns playing The Sims 4, and we’re playing it in the same world in rather different styles.

Phillip’s Sim has become a vampire. Daryl is living alone, and dating a lot.

My Sims, Henry and Mary Burke, have retired to the countryside of Windenburg. (Henry’s a happy ghost, and Mary will be joining him in ghost form any day now.) Their son, Aquarius Burke, has grown up and moved to the city. After an awkward courtship, Aquarius married his roommate Francine Cha. Their daughter, Lily Cha-Burke, has grown into a teenager, and their son, Spencer Burke-Cha, is a child. They may outgrow their small apartment soon.

mary-and-henry

Mary and Henry Burke

Phillip is playing the wild, dark, single life, and I’m playing the multi-generational family life.

(I didn’t know where this post was going when I started it.)