Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ignorance (of bus arrival times) is Bliss

A couple of years back when the CTA rolled out the bus tracker I was ecstatic. I thought it was the greatest invention since the beer coozie. Remember back in the day when you would just stand at a bus stop for hours on end hoping that the bus wasn't done for the day? While the buses have a fixed schedule that they follow on a day to day basis for some perverse reason the CTA has to be vague as hell about when service ends for the day. The Irving Park bus runs until "Mid-Evening." WHEN THE HELL IS THAT? I could make a valid argument for mid evening being any time between 7 and 11. Why not just have each sign say when the last bus will be by? It was an incredibly frustrating system and I was filled with hope when I heard that Bus Tracker was coming along to save the day. All of my bus related problems would be solved by this glorious little invention, right?

Wrong. In fact the knowledge of when buses are expected has actually ratcheted up my stress level exponentially. I'm willing to say that we were far better off without it. We like lists on this here corner of the interwebs so allow me to list every way that the CTA Bus Tracker has made me want to cover myself in honey and lay at the base of a hill of fireants. 

  • I live 4 minutes away from my bus stop, 3 if my fat ass hustles. I cannot tell you how many times I have left the house with 5 minutes left on the bus tracker only to see the Irving bus fly by seconds into my walk.
  • Whenever the above happens it is at least 18 minutes until another bus comes by. Although I have to admit sometimes this is a good thing, if I'm going out for the night it gives me time to stop at Merica's favorite dive bar, The Peek Inn.
  • Every time I impatiently refresh the page on Bus Tracker it actually delays the bus by an extra minute. I do not know how I obtained this power but I apologize to everyone I have inconvenienced because of it.
  • Once in a while there is a phantom bus. I'll watch the countdown until I'm told the bus is approaching. As I stare down the street there will be no bus in sight. It will have vanished in thin air never to appear again.
  • On Sundays and Holidays Bus Tracker give you cold hard evidence of how shitty CTA service is by letting you know that there isn't another bus expected for 40 minutes after you have failed to run down the one you were trying to catch.
  • Bus Tracker also gives you evidence as to how bunched up buses get. Today while waiting for the Western bus I was informed that there would be a bus coming in 27 minutes. And then another in 28 minutes. Followed by 2 more buses expected in 31 minutes.
The last two on the list are what drives me absolutely bonkers. There is nothing more disheartening than waiting a lengthy time for a bus only to see one or more buses directly behind it. I can't understate how furious I get when I witness this. If I had the power to do so I would get on the bus and force the driver to go 55 mph and not make any stops for a couple of miles just to even things out, I could care less if we fly by my stop, I'm doing this for the good of mankind.

The only thing that makes me angrier than seeing a bunch of buses bunched up is having an entire half hour to sit and brood about the fact that all the goddamn buses are bunched together as I breathe in the fumes of Western Ave. I was frothing at the mouth with anger by the time the first of the four buses finally showed up. Back in the day I wouldn't have been able to work up to that rage. No, it was a more innocent time before Bus Tracker. I would just stare down the street and quietly hope for a bus to how up sometime before the ice cream I bought melted. Yet Bus Tracker has taken the hope that used to sustain me and smashed it into oblivion. 

The only solution is to erase it from my phone. Well, I guess the CTA could start running their buses in an efficient manner so as to alleviate my problems. . . HAHAHAHAHA. I'm not insane, this is Chicago. We have 8 dollars in the budget and it's going to an Alderman's son's stay at home job instead of something useful. Yep, I'm going to have to erase it from my phone and willingly go back to the old days. 

Oh wait, hold on, Bus Tracker just told me a bus is coming in 5 minutes followed by 7 buses in a day and a half, I gotta run!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Serious Moment

Hey friends. I haven't posted on the blog for a long time for a myriad of reasons, the strongest being extreme laziness. I actually wrote a post about this earlier this morning but I'm not going to post it until tomorrow (or more than likely Monday) because I really want to discuss the events of the last 24 hours. Also, consider this your warning that this post is going to be a bit more serious and a lot more political than my usual "WHY CAN'T I GET TACOS AT 7 AM?!!!" style rants.

By now everyone has heard about the tragedy that happened in Aurora, Colorado. During a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises a lunatic walked in and started shooting people indiscriminately with a shotgun, an assault rifle and some pistols. 12 people were killed and 59 were injured as of the last time I looked at the news, the actual numbers have been fluctuating all day long. It is horrifying to think about.

In this day and age the first thing anybody does when they hear news is to head to their Facebook, blog, Twitter, MyFace or whatever the hell they use for social media and weigh in on the issue. Obviously I am doing this so I don't want to cast too much aspersion on people for doing so. That being said I have no trouble taking down people based on their opinion. There was one opinion that I saw expressed multiple places that infuriates me so much that it makes me see red and want to hulk out. People are arguing that if people were allowed to carry concealed firearms tragedies like this would not happen.

I'm going to repeat it one more time so that you can think about it for a second and let it sink in:  People are arguing that if people were allowed to carry concealed firearms tragedies like this would not happen.

Allow me to retort with a counter point: FUCK YOU.

How is making that argument any different than arguing that a woman got raped because she "was asking for it" by the way she was dressed? It's not. Bringing up the issue of concealed weapons in a situation such as this is basically stating that if you get shot it's your fault for not arming yourself. Who the hell would want to live in a society like that? Isn't basic safety and escaping a life based on violence the reason that people got together and created governments and society?

I understand that gun control is always a hot topic and people like to take any incident they can to argue their point but give me a fucking break. To politicize the issue hours after such a tragedy is remarkably classless in itself. Yet there is something even more revolting about taking a tragedy caused by guns and using it to argue for the further proliferation of guns. 

I don't want to get on my soapbox and argue against guns, that's not the point I'm trying to make. Sure, I believe that we should have insanely tight gun control laws and that the most important part of the Second Amendment is the first part stating that guns are necessary in order to maintain a well regulated militia (a notion that is past it's time since we have a full time military). The point I am trying to make is that it is callous and inhumane to take a tragedy like what happened in Aurora and to boil it down to a talking point in arguing for the legality of concealed firearms. It comes across as blaming every victim for failing to defend themselves. It's easy to blame a whole spectrum of things for the tragedy: lax gun laws on assault weapons, a society that glorifies violence, poor parenting, a failure to identify mental issues and provide treatment for them, etc. I have already read all of those today and I'm sure that I will read many more over the coming weeks and I'm willing to have a thoughtful discussion about each and every one of them. 

The one group that I absolutely will not blame are the victims for failing to have their own guns to defend themselves. If we have reached a point in this society where you should be expected to be packing heat to attend a movie then we have truly lost everything and should just give up.

My thoughts go out to all of the victims in Aurora and all of their family and friends.