Bus rage

If you have 400 miles to travel and your options are Greyhound bus or a skateboard, choose the skateboard. You’ll get there faster and in greater comfort.

I left the house at 2 a.m. a week ago Sunday and arrived at the Wichita bus station shortly thereafter. I sat down with a book to wait for the 3 a.m. bus. And waited. And waited. And waited.

Evidentally Greyhound assumes that nobody reads any more, because there was a television up on the wall, tuned to CNN, the volume set to Very Loud. It was hard to read with the nattering voices. Nobody watched the television.

The stairway to the men’s room at the bus station was dark. It was not pleasant walking up them and, with my recent orthopedic problems, it was no fun at all making my way back down. Two of the four stalls were out of order, as were three of the five urinals. At the sink where I rinsed my hands, water flowed down the drain and onto the floor. There was no soap in the dispenser.

At 4 a.m., CNN repeated Larry King’s 2 a.m. interview with Colin Powell. Neither Powell nor King said anything worth hearing once, let alone twice.

At 5 a.m., just as CNN began repeating their 3 a.m. news report, the 3 a.m. bus arrived. It left the station shortly before 5:30, about two-and-a-half hours late.

My 7:15 a.m. connection east was long gone by the time the bus rolled into the Kansas City station, so I had the privilege of spending the rest of the morning there. At least the fixtures in the men’s room worked, and I was able to purchase a small hamburger that merely cost three times what it was worth. However, there were, not just one, but two televisions blaring, and none of the seats were comfortable. There were occasional announcements on the loudspeakers, but they were unintelligible with all the noise. I saw no chart listing which bus was boarded from which door. Fortunately, I correctly guessed which line was for the bus I needed in time to catch it.

The second bus left only about twenty minutes late, and I eventually arrived at my destination, about six hours late. ((Let me note for the record that all the Greyhound staff I talked to were courteous and apologetic. I’m not angry at them.))

Never again.

This was not my worst experience with Greyhound. Some years back, during a complicated journey, one of the bus drivers didn’t bother to go to work that day. I eventually reached my destination, exhausted and furious, in the middle of the night rather than the scheduled mid-afternoon.

It wasn’t always like this. Years ago, busses ran on time. You could even check in your luggage as you do at an airport rather than lug it from bus to bus, and you didn’t have to pay $10 for a second suitcase. I could buy a two-week pass for a very reasonable price, visit friends and family in several states out east and spend a few days at the Pennsic War on the way home. I used to entrust my hammered dulcimer to a friend with a car and take the bus to Winfield, arriving in time to set up my tent before the fingerpicking championship.

But not any more. Fewer busses run these days, seldom at reasonable times, almost never on time, and they don’t stop at Winfield.

Update: Maybe Greyhound executives should visit Japan.

Are you a twit?

Do you tweet? Are your thoughts expressible in no more than 140 characters? Perhaps you should reconsider. Here are a variety of philosophical arguments against using Twitter. For instance:

Natural Law Argument
(1) It is wrong to do what is not natural.
(2) There is nothing remotely natural about broadcasting the minutiae of your life to all and sundry whenever it takes your fancy.
(3) Therefore, Twittering is wrong.

(Via First Things.)

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A useful term:

A related concept is heiwa-boke (hei-WA boh-keh), literally meaning “numbed from too much peace,” which describes the state of literally being made stupid by living in a country that’s overly harmonious, like the Japanese who traveled to Iraq in 2004 to help rebuild the country only to be promptly kidnapped because, well, they were in friggin’ Iraq.

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A piece on the Montreaux jazz festival included this note about an unlikely pairing:

The pair [Lang Lang and Herbie Hancock] ended with Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 — which Lang Lang says inspired him when he heard it in a Tom & Jerry cartoon at 2 years old.

Here’s that cartoon, a classic combination of music and violence. The pianist you hear is likely Shura Cherkassky.

Miscellany

loindhana01

My sister sent me a link to an “identify the album” quiz. The page is no longer maintained — the link to the answers returns a 404 — and at least one of the identifications is wrong, but you might find it amusing anyway.

The above is one of my favorite covers, though the album, a collection of medieval dances, is too obscure to be fair game for such a quiz. Here it is in higher resolution.

loindhana02

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Is there a superhero in your neighborhood? Check the registry. (Via Ken the Brickmuppet.)

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Introducing Edward, the Veggie-Vampire.

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I’m an embarrassment to Barack!

I only scored 14 on the Obama Test

(Via John Salmon.)

… no thumbs will be broken this month

Consider the Harding/Agnew ticket:

Remember when you vote that the Fringe Party, in matters of economics as in every other matter, stands in favor of good things and against bad things. No other political party can say that with a straight face.

(Via Erik and Mark.)

The advantage of dead guys in office: they might smell a bit, but they won’t screw things up any worse than they already are.

Update: Big steps require big feet: Bigfoot/Nessie ’08

(Via Dustbury.)

Ack

Right now I’m playing loud music to drown out today’s treat: a bunch of no-longer-young drag queens lipsyncing to mediocre music down at the corner. No pictures; I want to forget the images, not share them with unwary visitors. There’s also an ice cream vendor playing tinny banjo recordings of teevee themes in the parking lot across the alley.

Dear State of Kansas Department of Revenue

You would like me to submit my tax return electronically. I would myself prefer to do my taxes online. Every year I visit your website and try to log on, and every year I end up yelling at the computer monitor. This time, I got this message after filling out several screens of forms:

You are not currently logged in. Please go to the WebFile Home page to login.

On the next screen, I get this:

You appear to be already logged in.

It’s been at least four years now, and you still can’t tell if I’m logged in. The hell with it. You’re getting a paper return yet again, and you will always get a paper return from me until you fix your !@#$ %^&* web site.

Memo to Senator Pat Roberts

When the phone rings these days, I awkwardly rise out of my chair, lumber across the room with the walker and, struggling to not lose my balance, pick up the phone. It is a nuisance. I don’t mind making the efforts for friends and colleagues. However, when I put the receiver to my ear and hear a recording of a politician, I regret that I don’t know more maledictions. If you want to guarantee that I’ll never vote for you or any of your causes again, this is the way to do it.

Dance and more

Let’s take a break from ballet and look at some other kinds of dance. Via Mark Sullivan comes this example of dance as a martial art:

Bonus points if you can identify the pianist.

Via Robert the LLama Butcher, an outstanding canine performer.

And there’s the dancing stormtrooper of Akihabara.

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One more reason why I intend to remain the last person in North America without a cell phone.

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If three women together mean “mischief,” what would, say, three geeks mean?

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An epic win for the Japanese: the Gurren-Lagaan Jack. 

gurrenjack.png
 Via Will.

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Let’s get into the Olympic spirit: 

chinaolympic.jpg
 Via the Rat

Further evidence of the decline of civilization

I rode out to the gigantic shopping mall on the east side of town for the first time in over a year this afternoon. There used to be two bookstores there. Today I found none. There were plenty of shoe stores, though. One of my ideas of Hell is a huge, crowded, noisy mall without a bookstore, and there it is. I doubt that I’ll ever go there again. (There is a Barnes & Noble nearby, but because of road destruction it is inaccessible to bicycles.)

Too damn many words?

Lexicon Lost:

Last spring, Gilles de Robien, France’s Education Minister, declared that schools in suburban Paris would teach more grammar and vocabulary to integrate immigrants and prevent future riots. The British Minister of State for Schools, Jim Knight, immediately called this Frenchie rot. He insisted that grammar and vocabulary are elitist, and therefore are what cause youth riots.

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Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivivic
Would I could fathom thy matter specific
Lustily proud in the ether capacious
Strongly resembling a gem carbonaceous.

(Via a pretentious windbag.)