Tuesday, September 29, 2009

318 – Car Review: Mazda 3

As you well know, I have had some less than pleasant experiences with Zip Car. I’ve been using them just over a month and half of my interactions have not gone well.

That said, I’ll start with positives: The reserved car was there at the appointed time and it started. This is light years ahead of where I was last week.

Now, for the review of the actual car: a Mazda 3. 2.0L engine, 4 cylinders.

As someone who just got rid of a Mazda, one might think me a harsh critic. I expected to adore this car. My Mazda worked great until the bitter end and frankly I thought the same would be the case for this little number.

Not so much.

I noted the following:
  • VERY loud when driving on highway/interstate.
  • Engine was also very loud during acceleration..if you can call it that. It did not have good “zip”.
  • Horrible system for adjusting the tilt wheel. I seriously thought I broke the steering column while trying to maneuver the thing.
  • Headrests so large they obstructed vision while checking for traffic in blind spots. Other than Kanye, no one needs a headrest that large.
  • TERRIBLE headroom. Granted I am 5’10 so I am taller than the average bear. I felt like Dino Flintstone riding around in Fred’s Flintmobile with my head popping through the fabric roof. Not a good feeling.

In Summary: This is not a car I will consider purchasing or even renting again. The Prius and Civic outshined this vehicle in terms of both performance and comfort. Since all three are priced the same at Zip Car, I’ll forgo using the Mazda 3 again.

319 - I took some Advice from Stereo MCs

and stepped it up today.

That is I got out my pedometer and logged my steps. All 8,302 of them.

Apparently wearing the pedometer has special powers; all the buses where in their appointed locations at their correct times today.

So on the day log I finally can get a true snapshot of my mileage the amount of hoofing I had to do was acutally rather limited.

Let's see if the special powers hold up on Tuesday.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

322 - Top 10 Things I Saw on Marta This Week

10 - Umpteen people reading The Lost Symbol. Thus far, I am not feeling the love for DB's latest.

9 - Fuchsia hair on a pontificater

8 - Plaid, argyle and polka dotted rain boots

7 - A moth. Which I had to kill after some lady pointed it out..which caused the lady sitting next to me to FREAK out. Overreact much?

6 - 2 travelers taking up 4 seats with their luggage...on a standing room only train. Rude, party of two, your table is now ready.

5 - College kids doing homework. Most popular subject to do on the train? Math. Hey, I always put off doing Math homework too...so I am down.

4 - A guy who resembled what I imagine Evan Chambers will look like in about 10 years. If you don't know who Evan Chambers is, check out GREEK on ABC Family. It's actually a really good show.

3 - Several females who I thought might be "working girls", if you know what I mean. Hey, the economy is rough...but I'd imagine there will always be a market for that sort of business.

2. A dude rockin' out to Ravi Shankar. For real. I was able to read his upside down IPod and that was the "Now Playing" artist.

and the number 1 thing I saw on Marta this week:

A Kip Winger look-alike. I saw this gentleman as he exited the train in Buckhead. Not sure where he was going...I just hope he wasn't headed for a heartbreak.

Friday, September 25, 2009

323 – Reading is Fundamental

I’d guestimate that 75% of all readers on Marta this week were reading The Lost Symbol. All of us at various stages in the book; all of us on the collective journey to the end of Dan Brown’s latest work.

With such a high volume of readers, it is easy to see why it’s currently the #1 book in America. In its one week of release it has moved more than 2 million copies in various formats (book, audio and e-book).

I’m currently reading it…and once I finish it I hope I can confirm that is worthy of this lofty position. Hopefully it will be more like Angels and Demons (and no, I haven’t seen the film) and less like The DaVinci Code.

“Sometimes, divine revelation simply means adjusting your brain to hear what your heart already knows." Angels and Demons p. 484

Thursday, September 24, 2009

324 - The Black Hole

I cannot recall one single thing about yesterday's commute.

I am not sure if this is becuase a) nothing of note happened; b) I was so tired I just failed to notice anything; or c) my powers of perception were occupied with the realization the rain had stopped.

Whatever the case, I am happy to report that on this day, absolutely nothing happened.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

325 –WJWD – What Jesus WOULDN’T Do

Yes, today I had my first run in with a religious zealot on the train.

When I entered the crowded train car and saw a seat next to a woman with fuchsia hair I snagged it. In retrospect perhaps I should figured something odd was going on since NO ONE else sat there. But I just considered myself lucky and didn’t really think about it too much.

Now I always listen to my IPod and rather loudly I might add. So it wasn’t until we started north I heard this lady and her sermons, judgments and dissertations on God. As is often the case, she was not speaking to anyone specifically and just kept repeating the same thing. Maybe she thought if we heard it enough we’d finally see the light, as it were?

Lady, I am happy you have such a strong faith. Perhaps I am even a bit jealous. But the last thing Jesus would do is go about casting aspersions and judgments on random folks who are just trying to get home after a long day at work.

Maybe if you focused your sermons on forgiveness (an often forgotten theme in the Bible) and stopped being Judgey McJudgerson you might be able to engage your hostages…urm, I mean listeners.

After all, isn’t the old saying, “judge not, lest you be judged?”

And with fuchsia hair, I’m not certain you should be judging anyone.

Monday, September 21, 2009

326 - Is that a Lighting Rod You Are Carrying or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Okay class, we have a dilemma.

I've got no problem getting soaked on the way home. (This you know if you've read any posts in the last week.)

However, we now are contending with thunder and lighting..and by that I do not mean C.J. Spiller and Richard Jackson from Clemson. Those two I could handle.

I am talking old school electrical storm. Think "1.21 gigawatts" from Back to the Future. Think of the storm in Caddyshack that fell the Bishop. Yeah, that kinda storm.

Maybe by the time I head out the "storm" part will be over and we'll be back to just plain rain.

And the fact that I am excited about the concept of "just plain rain" illustrates how much this past week of ridicoulous weather has worn me down. Soon I'll need hip waders in place of my festive rain boots.

At least it's not snow...yet.

329 & 326 - What I Really Need is a Kayak

Commuting last Friday and today has sparked my interest in acquiring this: http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/category/index.jsp?categoryId=2674153&sr=1&origkw=Kayak

Why drive when you can float!?!?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

330 – MARTA trains are a lot like Casinos…

…in that there are no clocks in plain sight.

Apparently neither entity ever wants you to know what time it is.

At least the casinos pump in fresh oxygen and offer free drinks.

Maybe MARTA should consider this…I’d imagine these perks would boost ridership.

Hey, couldn’t hurt, right?

331 – Have I mentioned I miss the drought?

Georgia has been in a drought the better part of this 21st century.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone that as soon as I get on the mass transit train (literally), the rain drops start falling like last year’s stock prices.

Yesterday was another gully washer full of calamity.

My bag broke on the way into the office…fortunately it wasn’t really raining at that point. And the lugging portion of the program was over by then…so really, no harm, no foul.

As the return trip home loomed, I decided to jerry rig said bag with a slip knot. I knew the bag was really a lost cause…truthfully I was just hoping to get to PT and home without further bag drama.

Well, I almost made it.

My PT wizard (hi Gayatree!) was kind enough to drop me off at MARTA following our session. Such a gracious offer..especially considering there were Class IV rapids on Peachtree at the time.

As I dashed out of her car my bag once again broke…this time for good. The shoulder strap came out of the bag at its stitching.

That loud splash you heard long about 7PM? Was my bag landing in the river running down Peachtree.

I snagged it before it traveled too far down the street and took quick shelter under the MARTA entry. I was able to get my phone, Ipod and copy of The Lost Symbol (http://www.thelostsymbol.com/) out before the water had a chance to compromise any of them.

As I triaged the contents of my bag, I also realized that I’d missed the last bus of the evening. This meant I’d be hoofing it in the rain back to Chez Cari. Truth be told, at that point I didn’t even mind the walk…I was already so soaked that another 10 minutes out there wasn’t going to make a difference.

For real, by the time I made it home my fingers were actually pruney. Like they used to get when I was a kid and spent too much time in the pool.

It could have been worse.

At least I had rain gear…unlike the dude I passed who was making his way to the train. He didn’t even have an umbrella.

I guess the upshot to that is he won’t have to shower for a few days? Way to conserve water, pal.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

332 – Saint Matthew the Bus Driver

This evening I bounded down the stairs and through the turnstile in a desperate attempt to catch my bus, which at that very moment was pulling out of the station.

My frantic shout of “WAIT!” , was heard by the driver, who promptly stopped the bus to allow me and several other passengers to climb aboard.

I immediately said, “Thank you so much, you are a saint!”

To which the driver said, “A saint? I hope that is a good thing. I mean, my name is Matthew but..”

I assured him, it was, a good thing.

Really, it never dawned on me that someone wouldn’t know that being called a saint is actually a compliment of sorts. I guess since I was born and raised Catholic I just assumed everyone knew that the comparison was a positive thing.

For those not in the know, a saint is defined as: a human being who is believed to have been 'called' to holiness or has, consciously or unconsciously, fulfilled the criteria set for sainthood by a religious institution. (Definition provided by Wikipedia)

A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, or person. Patron saints, because they have already transcended to the metaphysical, are able to intercede effectively for the needs of their special charges. Some consider it a special devotion to God by displaying humility in asking a saint for intercession rather than expecting to be answered themselves. (Definition provided by Wikipedia)

St Agatha, for example, is the patron saint of nurses. St. Jude is associated with lost or desperate causes (thus the name of St. Jude Hospital, which was started by Danny Thomas, who made a vow when he started his career: If he found success, he would open a hospital dedicated to the saint). John Baptist de la Salle is affiliated with teachers. Francis of Assisi loved nature and so he is patron of ecologists. Francis de Sales was a writer and he is, therefore, the patron of journalists and writers. The patron saint of bus drivers, transportation workers and the like is St. Christopher.

Saint Matthew is actually the to go-to guy for: accountants, bookkeepers, bankers, customs officers, financial officers, guards, money managers, security forces, security guards, stock brokers, and (get this) tax collectors.

And if you ask me, the evening route of the 105 bus too.

Monday, September 14, 2009

333 - A big FU to the Weather Report

If you happened to see a woman in a tie-dye shirt and plaid rain boots walking down Peachtree Street today, chances are it was me.

Once again, the weather report was wrong..and once I again I suffered the consequences of believing it was going to be accurate.

This morning before I darted off to work the report said that heavy rain was in the forecast for this evening. So erring on the side of caution (see post from day 350 for more deets), I wore my new super cute rain boots.

You guessed it...nary a raindrop fell.

I am less than pleased.

Besides the fact that my boots clashed with my outfit, they are one pair of hot mothers. In the temperature sense, not in the fashion sense. They are rubber and don't breathe..for if they did they'd not protect my tootsies from the flash flood like conditions that occur in Midtown when the rain finally does come down.

To make matters worse, there was a cute guy in an Alabama hat on the platform waiting for the Doraville train. Figures....the one day I see someone who catches my eye I look like a kid who got her Garanimals outfit mixed up.

Hopefully he's into plaid...and tie dye.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

337 & 336 - Two for the Price of One

No adventures on 337...do to an early meeting and a late football game I didn't use mass transit. I did walk about 8 miles, which is no fun considering the ongoing leg issues. Oh how I longed for a Vespa to ferry myself over to GT for the game.

336 - Friday ridership was very light both going to and from work. As I wandered to my office I noticed the flags were at half mast/half staff (whatever it's called). This perplexed me for a minute...then I remembered the date. And then I sighed, thought of my friends and family, and walked into the building to start my day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

338 - I do not Subscribe to the "Better Late than Never" Theory

After a full day of work followed by PT for my ongoing arm issues, I made my way homeward bound.

Not to actually go to home, but to get to kickball practice.

Got to the bus with time to spare…departure time was in about 10 minutes so I was able to sit down for a nice spell without having to dart hither and yon. A refreshing change indeed.

Departure time came and went….driver nowhere to be seen.

Those of you that know me know how I loathe being late. I am nothing if not punctual. Stems from having to spend the better part of my youth waiting on others to get ready…but I digress.

Now if I was just heading home I wouldn’t have minded the wait. (Or so I tell myself.) Or the lack of a driver.

But I wasn’t going home…I had to meet my kickball team. For practice. We had limited field time. We had limited daylight. In other words, we needed to get the show on the road…or rather the bus on the street.

Finally the driver shows up and we take off.

And what I realize is this: If MARTA is late, you are at their mercy. They have no compunction about leaving the station later than scheduled. This is all well and good saving the fact that their function is to transport people in a timely fashion! On a schedule THEY dictate. And many times fail to follow.

Maybe I am just bitter because this isn’t my normal bus, not my usual driver. (Don’t you love how I can rationalize anything?)

I know my AM driver is super kind and will wait for folks that he sees approaching the bus stop if he beats them there. Bless his heart, he is a good soul.

This guy, not so much.

I get the feeling he’d snicker and grin while leaving a dust cloud reminiscent of Pigpen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig-Pen as he sailed past weary walkers making their way to the Promised Land of the bus stop.

A when you are the one doing the walking there is nothing funny about that scenario. At all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

339 - An (almost) Britney Spears Moment

Well, today's AM commute seemed rather mundane.

Until I got to the Buckhead Station.

Nothing of note happened until a guy gets on the train. He turned to the right to take a seat, then changed his mind and went to the left. Where he sat next to me.

Didn't think too much of it until I noticed he got out his camera phone and stealthily tried to take a photo.

Without letting on I was in the know about what he was doing, I casually followed the path of his phone to see what the subject matter was.

And there was our ALMOST Britney Spears moment.

A 40-something lady was sitting there wearing a rather short skirt. Sadly, she had not crossed her legs. And so our freaky dude with the camera phone took the opportunity to capture a picture of this lady...and her leopard print panties.

As soon as I realized what he was shooting I turned away.

I thought perhaps I should inform this woman that she was out in all her glory. But then I thought, "How do I broach this subject with a stranger?".

Instead, I reassessed and figured she was wearing a leotard as she had a leopard type top on too.

It wasn't until she exited the train that I realized the the leopard top was a sweater...and thus it was in fact her undergarment that had been on display.

While the flashing is a bit disturbing the bigger question is why on earth would a random guy feel the need to snap a photo?!

I swear..the more people I encounter, the more normal I seem!

Friday, September 4, 2009

343 - Look, I'm Zippy Longstockings.

Wonder of wonders, I was able to use ZipCar today!

Found it, got in, got to the dentist...got back. No problems.

I did struggle because these new fangled gas gauges trip me up. I couldn't tell exactly where the 1/4 tank mark was...so I just went ahead and filled it up before I returned it.

Today's Zip Car was a Honda Civic four door. Found this to be a lot roomier than I had imagined and it had some get up to it too.

I hope to try the Prius next.

One cool thing about Zip Car is that I get to drive all sorts of vehicles. Perhaps having experiences with such a wide car variety before I am in the market for one will cut down on the decision/purchase time when I finally decide to pull the trigger.

As we head into the long weekend, I wish all of you a safe and happy Labor Day weekend. Be safe on the roads!

344 - Props to the Driver

A special thank you to my bus driver this AM.

I cut it WAY to close getting to the bus stop this morning...but fortunately you had waited for another late comer at the previous stop...so I was able to make it before you arrived.

Thanks for watching for your riders...we appreciate the consideration.

And we'll try to be better about getting to the stop in a timely fashion.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

345 – Forget “Man is in the forest…” cuz Bambi's in Suburbia

When I started this experiment I imagined I’d see all sorts of things on mass transit. Drunks; commuting school kids going to their fancy school on the South Side; tourists looking a little bewildered; averages Joes and Janes heading to work.

And I’ve seen all of that.

But today, I saw something more.

Today, as we ambled along on the bus we stopped to let some folks off at the UPS headquarters. And there, we saw a baby deer and his mama out in the early morning dew eating their breakfast.

Both were startled and quickly darted into the thicket. Who knows if we’ll ever see them again.

This sighting, of course, brought on my natural inclination to worry almost immediately. How will they survive in such a high traffic area? With such a limited food supply? If the cars don’t get them I begin to fear that hunger will.

And then I just stopped projecting the "end of their world" scenario. I just said no.

Because I realized that just the sight of these two creatures, just a glimpse really, brought a smile to my face that I hadn’t shown in a long time. And I’ve found Bambi and Mama have had such a sweet affect on my disposition that all day I’ve been chirping around the office like a canary.

First butterflies, now Bambi.

I think I am going to like mass transit after all.

346 – Just a reminder… three strikes- you’re out!

If you’ve read previous posts you know I have signed up for Zip Car, a car sharing service here in Atlanta.

I gotta say, so far I am not impressed with their level of service. And I haven’t even driven a car yet.

Strike #1 – I requested my membership card be mailed to me. After two weeks of waiting I finally trekked down to their local office to get the materials myself. This takes all of 5 minutes once I GET to the office…travel time was the killer. It wasn’t a big deal but still, it was unnecessary had they just mailed it as I had requested.

So, you can then imagine my surprise when three days later the materials show up in my mailbox at home…postmarked the same day I picked my stuff in person. Fuming might be a good word to describe me at this point.

It gets better. Or, should I say, worse.

Strike #2 – Cut to Tuesday. 40 minutes before a meeting north of town I get a call stating the car I reserved isn’t going to be available at the requested time. Apparently the person who had it before me is running late. Hey, this is Atlanta…it happens. No biggie.

I don’t think too much about it…figure they’ll assign me another car at the same pick up location.

I am jovially informed by the Zip Car rep that another vehicle has been secured for my use. Except it isn’t across the street from my office. It’s about 8 blocks away. (Sure, she’s happy…she doesn’t have to make the walk.)

In the words of the Air Boss Johnson, “Negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.” Meaning – This ain’t flying with me sister.

There are many things I’ll do but I will not:
a) Walk 8 blocks in 3 inch heels
b) Walk 8 blocks when it is evident the sky is going to open up any minute
(see post 350 for more detail about the dangers of rain in Atlanta); and
c) Show up at a client meeting a sweaty mess because I had to walk 8 blocks in 3 inch heels and rain to get a vehicle

And so, I canceled the reservation.

I expressed my displeasure and was given a $10 credit. I’d imagine this will come in handy should I ever actually get to use the service.

I’m trying again Friday…so keep your fingers crossed for me.

(Editor’s note: For those concerned, I did make it to the client meeting. I borrowed the Boss’s F150 King Cab and made it with time to spare. It was a bit scary at first to drive this monster but I survived..and so did his vehicle.)

347 (PM) – Homeward bound

Dude, did they give away free trips on Route 87 this evening? Because it was standing room only on there. Given the size of the crowd, you’ve thought gas was $4 per gallon again.

In other news, I met someone who can out-smack me when it comes to chewing gum. (This is no joke, during my youth my brother used to moo at me when I’d chew gum.)

I guess I technically didn’t meet her as she was across the aisle from me but I heard her.

As stated above, I am not unfamiliar with gum smacking…and I can crack it with the best of them, but let me tell you this: When you can be heard over the strains of Yellow by Coldplay playing on an IPod with ear buds from across the aisle on a loud city bus that is some serious smackin’.

Honestly, I am not sure if I am horrified or a little bit jealous.