Milk truck, stat!

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Ok, no one was hurt so I’m allowed to joke…

Crash strews Oreos over I-80.

First of all, who uses the word “strews” anymore?

That said, traffic in Chicago was stopped in a delicious way when a truck carrying 14 tons of double stuffed Oreos overturned, tossing deliciousness in “plastic sleeves…into the median and roadway.”

This is a tragedy.

First, gas prices go up. Due to transport costs, milk prices go up. And now this utter devastation means a shortage in the Oreo supply.

It ain’t right, folks. It just ain’t right.

Gotta have my Vitamin O.

Old habits die hard.

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Today as I meandered my way over to the shuttle bus to take me to the train, I picked my way through the parking lot at work. “Picked my way” because there is heavy construction going on at the building next door to mine.

Sitting there, by itself, in the lot, was an empty wooden wire spool. You know the type. Found at most construction areas.

Wanna know my first thought? “Man, should I take that?”

You know, it’s been some fifteen years since I graduated college. While I personally never had a wooden spool table, many friends did. I dated a few guys who did. I think the wooden spool furniture sensation is mainly a guy thing. Along with bookshelves made of cinder blocks and plywood.

It’s the same feeling I get when I see empty milk crates. I used many a purloined milk crate in my collegiate career. Good bookshelves, storage devices, and even a bedside table.

I think I still have some of those indestructible blue plastic things in my basement (all apologies to Price’s Dairy from, you know, fifteen years ago. What is the statute of limitations on absconding with a milk crate?).

Oh, is also happens when I see wooden pallets. Back then they were made from a pretty dense wood and if, say, a friend filled up the back of his pickup with a bunch of stolen pallets, piled them up by the river, poured diesel fuel on them and lit a match, you’d not only have a nice roaring fire, you’d have a long lasting warm, bright fire by which to socialize with friends.

For some reason, this old scrounging habit dies hard. The “making it work” when you have no money, and what little you do have must be saved to buy beer phenomenon still lives deep within me on a cellular level.

Despite the fact that I have a real job now and can buy beer, you know, pretty much whenever, I still have that moment of “I could take that…” and think about how it could be made useful.

I seriously considered how to get that spool out of there.

Then remembered a) I don’t need a table. I have one. A nice one. And 2) even if I didn’t have one, I could go to Ikea and buy a nice one. I don’t have to settle for a splintery wood spool.

So I’m still a scrounger from way back. But I refuse to eat Ramen noodles anymore.

Some habits you just gotta leave behind.

New kid on the bus

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So as documented here in these pages, I’m a commuter, taking a combo of CalTrain and shuttle bus to get to work each day.

With the move to the new office location this week, I’ve been driving. I’ve had to haul things back and forth and that made it necessary.

Today was my first go at taking CalTrain which meant I needed to ride a different shuttle bus to get to my new location in the Silicon Valley back forty.

I felt insecure last night knowing I had to learn a new route. I knew the kids on the old bus. We had our deal. We knew who sat where.

What would they be like on the new bus? Would they steal my lunch money? Would I have to sit next to nose picker guy (cuz no one else will)? Would I get beat up? Mocked? I just didn’t know what new challenges awaited me.

So my train arrived at the station this morning, I stumbled off, backpack hiked up on my shoulders, nervous. There are a LOT of buses there waiting on kids like me. All the local businesses are making it easier for employees to commute.

I wandered around, looking for not easy to read signs on the variety of buses, big and small. I did finally see the bus I needed, a little bitty bus (insert all short bus jokes here) and I climbed on. I did a quick survey of the crowd and realized most of the people on the bus were mainly the test engineers that moved over to the boondocks about three months ago.

Engineers! These are my people!!!

I wasn’t the nerdy kid, suddenly I was COOL! I stood a little taller and swaggered to the only open seat at the back of the bus and sat down confidently.

But…

Do you know what sucks? Sitting in the last seat at the back of the bus. It has the most sway. I was literally popped up out of my seat each time the driver hit a bump. I arrived at work a little green in the gills, but I arrived. Lunch money still in my pocket. Feeling a little more confident.

Ok. What’s next? I feel like I can take on the world today!

Inauspicious start to the week

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As mentioned before in these pages before, I have become a full blown commuter, taking a train and shuttle bus to get to and from work.

It’s one of those “when it works, it works great” type of deals. To be honest, the whole thing usually just works. Easy. Since my company subsidizes the cost of using commute alternatives, I can ease my pocketbook from the pinch of $4 gas.

However, this morning was one of those days where it didn’t work. Oh, all seemed fine. I walked to the station. The train arrived on time. I climbed on. Hey, I even got a good seat!

Then I overhead the conductor on his cell phone. “Hit, huh? At Menlo Park? Ok. Delays of up to an hour. Ok, I’ll make the announcement.”

Ruh rho.

Yup. The train in front of us hit a pedestrian. And since dancing with a train never goes well, the whole operation had to come to a halt.

My train stopped at a station that was just far enough from both home and work as to be troubling. The conductor told us to get off and figure out what bus to use or whatever. Ugh.

With a cell phone on the last vapors of battery charge, I called a cab and paid an inordinate amount of cash to make it in to work about an hour late.

*sigh* All’s well that ends well.

In other, better, news, I’m happy to see in the ABQjournal that it’s official as of today, the New Mexico quarter is OUT. If you are in Santa Fe, there’s even a little ceremony.

Yay! I can hardly wait to have one in my hand! W00t!

We’re going big time, Oh Fair New Mexico!

Head out for the highway

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Yes, Monday finds me back at my same gray walled office. Back to work, slogging through emails and working up my expense report.

All in all, the trip to Florida was a good one.

I’m glad to be home. It was a long haul on Saturday, hopping a couple planes and ultimately arriving almost two hours later than I was supposed to. But I made it and a really cute boy was waiting for me when I came down the stairs to baggage claim.

I didn’t sleep well on the trip, so was glad to sleep in my own little bed, and sleep I did. Woke up Sunday morning MUCH refreshed. The Good Man fussed over me and that helped get me right, too.

Back to “regular” work today. While making the drive in this morning, I was thinking about what made the Florida trip fun, and I hit on a thought.

I got to drive.

Now, don’t gave me that doggy head tilt look. Let me explain.

“Back in the day” living in New Mexico, one of my best stress relievers was to get in the car and drive. Not always with a destination, sometimes just driving, watching the white lines roll by.

Since I went to school in Las Cruces and my folks lived in Carlsbad, I had a LOT of hours in the middle of NOWHERE, hum of the tires as my companion.

I got a LOT of good thinking done during those drives.

Meditation. That’s really what it is.

Well now living here in a densely populated area, just getting in the car and going isn’t all that meditative. With all the traffic, it is stress inducing.

When I lived in Albuquerque, I could drive for a half hour in pretty much any direction and be OUT of the city, humming along at 75 mph, and letting the stress float away.

Here, I can drive a half hour and be ever more mired in humanity.

So I enjoyed the fact that, last week, I got some road time. The ride on I-4W to Clearwater Beach took about two and a half hours all in. It was a little densely populated around Tampa Bay and that stressed me, but had moments of a peaceful ride. It got really good when I got off I-4 and into the small roads winding through Clearwater and over all the causeways.

The trip to Cocoa Beach was only about an hour and was PERFECT for highway meditation. (see, I still can find NOTHING wrong with Cocoa Beach). SR-528E is pretty rural, away from people, not heavily trafficked on a weekday. The tolls do take a bit away from that trip, but even they are manageable. You get a rhythm of hitting the various toll plazas and you know they’ll be there (kind of like having to stop at a Border Patrol station…so it’s all good).

And during those two drives a lot of thinking got done. Some useful (i.e. where should I emphasize success criteria for my team this year), some not (i.e. why do so called “80’s” radio stations only play the cheesy “hits” like “Jump” (both Van Halen and Pointer sisters), and not the deeper cuts from bands like Depeche Mode or The Cure?).

Getting all that thinking done is healing. I find I’m in a better mood today than when I left. Like I’ve grown from my journey.

I sure wish I could more easily hit the open road from where I live to think things out.

Oh well, just another reason to miss my fair New Mexico.