Public Transit

Twice in the past two weeks I’ve ended up taking the bus to and from work, because of car repairs/appointments. I’m not a big fan of the bus for the simple reason that on the way home, it doesn’t matter which line I take—it is always late. In the spring or the fall, this isn’t too bad; in the winter (which is when I had to take the bus back in 2005 while I was without a vehicle for about a month) it meant shivering as the freezing wind blows, and in the summer it potentially means sweltering in the lack of shade.

The 38BThe other thing I’m not a big fan of is the amount of time spent to take the bus to work. To get to my office in McLean, I need to hop the 38B to either Rosslyn or Ballston, then transfer to either the 15K (Rosslyn) or 23A (Ballston) to get to work. (I could take the metro from Court House to those stations, but the cost jumps up a great deal. And if it’s a really nice day I can snip the 38B out and walk, but that’s not going to change the amount of time spent for the better.) When I drive to or from work, barring accidents on the road my transit time is in the 15-20 minute range. With the bus, it’s a solid hour if the bus is on time.

But I do like the chance it gives me to read while going to work; between the bus home last night and to work this morning, plus a little bit of time at the car dealership, I read all of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, which has sat on my shelves for eight years waiting for this moment. (It was worth the wait. I’m looking forward to read Parable of the Talents in what will certainly be a less than an eight year wait.) And, perhaps most crucially, once someone suggested that I take the 38B over to my second bus of the morning (instead of the metro), it meant that the cost of the bus ride is now less than the cost of gas used to drive to work.

Yeah, that was an eye-opener. If I assume I’m getting 30mpg, it costs $1.53 to get to work, versus the $1.25 spent when I use my SmarTrip card, thanks to free bus-to-bus transfers. So now I’m considering the idea of trying to designate one day a week to take the bus to work. It’s certainly less convenient (no errands as part of the work transit) and it means I really need to make sure I’m out the door by a certain time in the morning or it’s another 20-30 minutes before I can get to the office. But I really like the idea of getting that reading time added to my day, and while the monetary savings are hardly a lot, it would also be good in general for the environment, right? So we’ll see.

Greg the Bartender

Last Friday I worked my last volunteer shift at Artomatic. My first two were a little lackluster; shift #1 was during set-up on a weekend when it was so gorgeous out that the volunteers outnumbered the artists actually setting up by over 2-to-1, and shift #2 was a very quiet 12-5pm shift manning an information booth (that only really picked up in the last hour or so). This time, though, Karon and I (who had unknown to each other ended up with the same final shift) were working a 5-10pm Friday night shift, and were assigned to run the bar on the 1st floor next to the Cabaret Stage.

Waterplanet's Millie LandrumNow, this was admittedly a very rudimentary bar. There were five types of beer, four types of wine, three types of soda, two types of Red Bull, and water. So I’m not talking about us mixing drinks and putting out the shot glasses with hard liquor. And early on it was a tiny bit slow, but that worked well because I got to take a few pictures of the first band to play on the stage that night. But with all of that in mind? We worked our butts off and had an absolute blast; when we left, I turned to Karon and said, “Wow, bartending is where it’s at.”

Part of it was that Karon and I had a pretty good system, coupled with a strong work ethic so that we did things quickly and smoothly; why have a medium-sized line for all eternity when you can work a little harder and end up with little breaks here and there, right? So we hustled to serve people, and rotate in new bottles of beer into the tubs (so that they could cool down), and occasionally restock from the secret beer closet. (In some ways it reminded me of being a cashier at Giant Food way back in the day; there were some who were content to poke through an 8-hour shift every day, but I always felt that I’d rather get people out the door quickly and efficiently.)

But there was more to it than that; there was something enjoyable about interacting with the customers, that shared experience of flashing a smile as you took their orders or popped the caps off of the bottles. They were there to have a good time, and just about everyone was chipper and polite. It helped that (especially once the two 9pm-2am people arrived in the last hour) I wasn’t afraid to go to one side and give the, “Who’s next?” call and wave, and you could tell that the people lining up for their booze were happy to be served quickly. (I will never understand why some bartenders seem content to just ignore half the customers. Great way to earn a tip.)

Alas, we weren’t working for tips, but the number of people who left money in the tip jar (which also went to Artomatic) was pretty darn high. I like to think it was because Karon and I dazzled them with our awesomeness. Or something.

One fun thing to note was that there was a real pecking order in beer selection. From most to least popular—and I won’t deny that I completely approve of this—was something like this:

  • Flying Dog White Belgian-Style
  • Flying Dog Pale Ale
  • Flying Dog Amber Lager
  • Yuengling
  • Miller Lite (of which we only sold one bottle the whole night)

Seriously, it warms my heart that Artomatic patrons don’t want Miller Lite.

So, just another fun, new experience. At the next Artomatic, I think I might try and get all bar shifts if possible. And down the line if I need a career change, well, something to think about.

Hurricane Greg

I was originally going to start this post by saying that there is no actual Hurricane Greg of note, because my name is trapped on the Pacific Ocean list of names for hurricanes, and as we all know hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean usually don’t hit anything. (Not to be confused with typhoons, of course, smashing into parts of Asia.) But I was wrong! Hurricane Greg in 1999 actually hit the Baja Penninsula in Mexico. So yay for Hurricane Greg!

Anyway, Hurricane Greg seems to finally be slowing down. Several weeks of super-busy stuff at work has kept me plowing through all sorts of graphics and storyboards and other such exciting things (ironicaly, some of the photos were of hurricanes), plus already-determined-in-advance commitments plugged in there as well, but things are a little more sedate right now. I knew things were getting better when earlier in the week I went home and the top of my list was “go through the stack of mail from the past two weeks” and “vacuum.” (The latter of which really couldn’t be achieved until the former had gotten rid of all the piles of mail scattered around my living room.)

I actually hate being overly busy; it gets me tired and a little stressed out the longer that it happens. And once it’s over, I usually end up veering sharply in the other direction so that people ask me if I want to do things and my answer is, “No.” I’m too busy recharging my batteries.

Meanwhile, I have two races coming up and they’re 8 and 16 days away. I’m honestly not convinced that I’m 100% prepared for either of them. I’ve got enough mileage under my belt that a half-marathon and a 10-miler shouldn’t kill me, but I don’t think at the same time that I will do as well as I could. We’ll see what happens. I’m absolutely running the half-marathon no matter what, but I can play it by ear on the latter. (And of course, Charlie is running his very first marathon as I run my half-marathon! He is quite well prepared and I expect him to rock it out, and probably beat my personal record to boot.)

Other than that, things are going normal as per usual. Charlie and I hit our one year mark next month, which is a little hard to believe that it’s already been that long. It honestly feels like it was just a couple of months ago that we met. We were talking about going away for the weekend, but prior commitments mean that it almost certainly won’t happen, unfortunately. Oh well. We actually have (through sheer luck) tickets to see Tamerlano performed by the DC Opera on the actual day, so that’ll do for a celebration.

I’m still trying to decide if I will renew my Shakespeare Theatre subscription for next season, or just pick-and-choose plays. The selection (and pricing) isn’t quite as top-notch as this season’s, although three of the seven are must-sees for me. (King Lear, Ion, and Twelfth Night.) The nice things about a subscription, though, include the ease in swapping out to a different night as necessary, the fact that it gets me out to see things I wouldn’t otherwise, and better seats. We’ll see, I have a week and a half to decide and I keep flip-flopping back and forth.

Now all I need is the temperature to go up just a wee bit and stay there and I will be one happy camper. Hurrah for the return of spring!

(And hopefully more regular updates from now on.)

It’s Already February?

Yeah, I know. Time flies and such similar phrases. But I can honestly say that I feel like I haven’t come up for air all year, and I don’t have much to show for it. Sure, earlier in January was when we saw Tamburlaine, and my friend Rob had hosted the videogame bonanza a few weekends ago, which was a lot of fun.

But since then? It’s funny because it’s hard to articulate what I’ve done but every day has just felt really busy. Some time was spent getting the reviews up and running again, and a bunch of time was spent working on different projects for the day job. (Plus one Sunday working at Big Planet, which was enjoyable but busy busy busy in terms of selling things all day long.)

This afternoon my plan was to go running, but after errands were finally finished, I had about enough energy left to… well, not run. (Stomach problems finally sealed the day on not going running after all. Bah.) So instead it was more sorting through things, some writing, more errands, getting ready for a business trip that I leave for shortly, plus knowing as soon as I get back from that trip I’ll be turning back around and heading out on another trip two days later.

On the bright side, at least one thing is in order—reviews are now “banked” all the way through February 18th, when I get back. So that’s a nice feeling to have all of that taken care of in advance, and looking at the display in WordPress actually let me give off a little sigh of relief. But while my boss very kindly gave us all Monday off as a “mental health day” (I think she knows how much we all need it!), I’m going to probably end up going in for at least part of the day so I can box up all the materials for the pilot test that I have to go run elsewhere in the country, and get that sent off. I don’t want to leave it until Tuesday because I suspect it’s going to be a busy day as is.

(Really, I wanted to get that trip to the office taken care of today… but it’s now 9:40pm and I’m just now coming up for air. Yeesh.)

Once all of this is over, hopefully a social life will start getting rebuilt. I had dinner with Butch on Thursday night and the last time I actually saw him was in November. And sadly I think that’s not even the worst “how long has it been since you’ve seen…?” but I shudder to think what the longest time gap is. Clearly, I need to win that lottery soon so I can finally get that life of leisure.

On the bright side, at least I’ve never been a football fan, so that means I didn’t have to worry about missing the Superbowl. (I’m ambivalent about it, but glad that it wasn’t a priority because it certainly wouldn’t have happened at this end today.)

Ok! A tiny bit of cleaning, maybe a tiny bit of television, but I think the real order of business right now? Just go to bed, and deal with everything else that needs to be taken care of tomorrow.