Considering Holiday Spirits
The Daily Word: in Harmonious Pizza
honey, can you print me a pizza?
the wheels on the bus...are powered by WHAT?
the universe, or something like it
algorithmic nostaligia machine
pick a belief, any belief
the ancient wisdom of information technology
history as a two way mirror
the world as chorus, in harmony’s tune
you probably shouldn’t litter
The Daily Word in Lara Croft, Game of Thrones and bacon sundaes
Egypt's high court orders that its parliament be dissolved.
Officers stumble across starving horses while looking for a man with a gun.
APD used stun guns, bean bag rounds and a police dog in the arrest of a 60-year-old man. Judge says: Pay up.
"Game of Thrones" sorry about using President Bush's head in scene about heads on pikes.
When is it OK to shoot someone in Albuquerque?
Drake and Chris Brown maybe got in a fist fight at a NY club, say police.
State's paying too much in jail and prison contracts.
Lara Croft to be put through harrowing attempted gang rape in Tomb Raider reboot so male players will feel compelled to protect her.
After a series of workers who make Apple products committed suicide, the company attempted to improve conditions. Yesterday, another worker committed suicide.
We're going to spy on Africa more.
Wine glass chess set makes for classiest drinking game ever.
Movies for women turn huge profits. So why doesn't Hollywood want to make those films? asks Meryl Streep.
Burger King's bacon sundae.
Ditch your car, city-dweller, and buy this folding pod on wheels.
The Daily Word in Irene, space oddity, the children's book and Santa Fe manhole covers
Is it illegal to flash your headlights in order to warn other drivers of a speed trap? Not sure about NM, but this Wikipedia page has an interesting urban legend supposedly spread by the New Mexico State Police at one time.
List of nuclear power plants in Hurricane Irene's path.
Shark swimming down a flooded Puerto Rico street.
Man drops shorts while running behind weatherman who is reporting on how stupidly people behave during hurricanes.
The most boring live footage of a hurricane ever.
Pictures of past hurricanes and aftermath.
Moe Tucker singing her traditional version of Goodnight Irene.
The official image of Santa Fe in 2012 will be a depiction of manhole covers.
Ever wonder why manhole covers are round?
Dr. Who, a product of Singapore.
World's most accurate atomic clock might be off by a second 138 million years from now.
Download the new children's book Space Oddity. Yes, like the Bowie song.
Have archeologists in Scotland found King Arthur's Round Table?
It's time to watch John Lurie's Fishing With John again.
Track Marks: Make Yourself At Home
No, really, it’s totally cool
Because I like to allow my mind to wander into a world where I live in something that resembles an old movie scene, reality is often harsh when I come into contact with it. As in, when I’m forced to interact with strangers. Sometimes not even interact, just be near them.
I don’t mean to be judgmental but sometimes...well, we all are sometimes. This morning, while I tried to stick my head in my book and ignore people, I just couldn’t. The train smelled like makeup and hairspray. Across from me a young woman—a very pretty young woman—spent nearly an hour of the ride primping. How much makeup can one lady put on in an hour? A lot. Oh, and she can pluck her already thin eyebrows too.
To be sure that I wasn’t alone in being grossed out or the only one to find this totally inappropriate, I went to the most trusted source around, the internet. Turns out, not only am I not alone, I’m not the only one to think about makeup on public transportation this week!
I’m not a huge advice column reader, but Slate is pretty good so when I found the transcript of a Slate chat with its columnist Prudence I felt vindicated. Pretty much everyone agreed that there are bathrooms everywhere, so there’s no reason to put your makeup on in public.
So, to the lady on the train, let me say a few things. 1) You don’t need all that powder and whatever else you put on your face, you were pretty before. 2) Hairspray smells nasty, please don’t spray it in a confined space. 3) Two kinds of lip gloss? Seriously? 4) The part where you offered makeup to your daughter, who clearly wasn’t much older than five was really disturbing. 5) I’m sorry I kept looking, but I couldn’t help it (and I kept smelling different things that I—a mascara and not much else wearer—simply didn’t recognize).
Papers on a Train
In every major metropolitan center I've ever ridden public transportation, newspapers have always been available. Not so much on the Rail Runner though. At the Santa Fe Depot there's nary a newspaper stand to be found. At South Capitol you can buy the dailies but not get a copy of any free papers (cough, such as this one). Same for Downtown Albuquerque and, I think, Bernalillo.
While this makes life on Rail Runner workers easier--no newspapers to clean up after riders depart--it kinda takes away from the ambiance of the whole train thing. Also, as we all know, newspapers aren't doing so hot right now with the whole internet, news from around the world for free thing. Wouldn't it be nice to maybe support those things and make them easier to get ahold of?
Enter the Santa Fe New Mexican's Xpress, a quarterly publication that is chock full of absolutely no information whatsoever! Um, whee?
I first learned about this magazine on Tuesday night, while waiting outside of a liquor store (god, that makes me sound skeeeetchy, quick justification, I was waiting for someone to buy beer but was smoking a cigarette so I couldn't go in), reading the headlines through the box. (Second aside/justification: I am not a hypocrite. I read the paper, on paper, all the time.) Yesterday, when it was supposed to come out, I checked every copy of the New Mex I could find to see what it was. No dice. Not a single issue to be found.
That is, until today. I boarded the train, took my spot and there she was, on every seat. So, what do we have?
First thing that stood out was a table of contents. Except it wasn't, it was an ad for the upcoming SITE Santa Fe Biennial. Oops. Next page, toc. Schedules...um, I'm already on the train, and the schedules are also on the train, and easier to deal with because they're smaller, on better paper and can easily be folded and put in the pocket.
The articles are pretty cheerleader-y, including one about the expansion of mass transit along the i-25 corridor. Interesting, since just last week the New Mexican reported ridership on the Rail Runner dropping.
Not that I expected news out of this thing, but maybe not pretend news that contradicted reporting by the same publication.
Here's the thing, I have beef with this new magazine for a couple of reasons. 1) It purports to write "about how the Rail Runner is changing lives up and down the Interstate 25 commuter corridor," but really doesn't focus on anything except how awesome the train is. 2) Albuquerque barely exists as far as Xpress is concerned. So, it's not really about commuters as it's focused on tourists.
So, New Mexican. You get an editorial fail, but an advertising A+. This 42 page glossy covered, newsprint publication is packed with ads. If you guys figure out that there are businesses in Albuquerque who might want to advertise, you'll go glossy in no time.
Adventures in urban commuting
I am a train addict.
As a kid I wanted nothing more, during a family trip to Washington DC, than to ride the subway. Sure, there was history and pandas at the zoo and, well, whatever. I’d never been on a subway before and that was what I wanted to do.
Last spring I took a trip to Europe, the progressive continent filled, at least in the American mind, with trains. I rode from Oxford to London, London to Paris (first class—a meal, white and red wine, plus champagne!), regular class on the way back and up the coast of Ireland after an all-night ferry across the sea. I’ve got stubs from the urban trains in Dublin, London, Paris, New York, Chicago and St. Louis, all from the last 13 months.
I feel like I could ride the train forever, but I live in Santa Fe. Aside from an occasional day trip to Albuquerque, there’s not much reason to ride the train, until now. Now that I’ll be commuting to Albuquerque a few days a week, I’ve got my monthly pass, figured out how to load my bike onto the Rail Runner and have even tweeted using the WiFi.
It just so happens that today is “Take the Bus or Train Day,” according to the City of Albuquerque web site. I’ve been a bike commuter for years and was disappointed I wouldn’t be able to take part in Bike to Work Week—which ABQ has modified into “Strive Not to Drive”—because of the commute. Instead, I’ve now got the best of both worlds. I’m a super commuter, biking to the train station, riding between two distant cities, and again hopping on my bike to do errands around the city.
In the coming weeks and months, as I transition to from Santa Fe village life to that of a full blown Albuquerque city girl, I want to break the unspoken cardinal rule of public transport: Mind your own business. I know why I’m here, but I want to know who else is on the train, why they want to ride the rails between the two cities, and what they do to keep occupied during the hour and a half-long ride.
In Santa Fe, if we have to drive more than 15 minutes, we consider it a road trip, complete with drinks and snacks. When my friends found out I’d be riding the train they thought I was crazy, “all the way to Albuquerque!?” several have gasped.
“It’s better than driving,” I always respond. (Plus, some local businesses in both cities offer riders discounts! w00t!)
Coincidentally, I just finished Haruki Murakami’s Underground, a fascinating look at the victims of the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attacks. Nearly everyone Murakami interviewed had a commute between one and two hours each way. It’s an everyday part of city life, but instead of being stuck in a tunnel, I get glorious views. Of course, I also get [ahem, hint, hint] a fairly inconvenient train schedule that either forces me to leave Albuquerque by 6:30 pm, stay the night or drive.
It’s easy to understand why the train isn’t part of everyday life for people in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Though trains in the West have a romantic history, the Southwest is a car culture. No one thinks about Route 66 and imagines a train, we think of fenders and the open road, of roadside diners and rattlesnakes. Trains here are for freight, or tourists. But in a world where it’s cheaper to send plastic bottles all the way to China for recycling, it’s also time to connect distant cities without ruining the landscape that sits between them.
That’s especially important for us in New Mexico. We stay here because of the mountains and open space, we don’t want our cities to sprawl and connect the way Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs have done in the last 30 years, but we also don’t want to be completely isolated from one another either.
Can’t Stop the Weekend Rail Runner
I’m taking the Rail Runner up to Santa Fe to live-blog the legislative session with the New Mexico Independent (just like I did last Wednesday). You can find that live-blog on our homepage tomorrow morning.
The state just announced that it found money to keep the Rail Runner operating on the weekends. Service to Belen and Santa Fe was scheduled to stop Feb. 15. The Department of Transportation was staring down the barrel of a $1 million budget shortfall.
The state found the money by shuffling $750,000 from one federal fund (surface transportation) to an air quality fund. Rail Runner can use air quality money because it takes cars off the road. Weekend fares may get more expensive, though.
“The Rail Runner has boosted tourism and helped generate business for the state at a time when we need it most,” Governor Bill Richardson said in a news release. “Now is not the time to cut services.”
Remember Jessica Cassyle Carr’s photo essay? She shot it through the window of the train.
Transportation Infrastructure Gross Receipts Tax
It would be crazy not to vote for this tax. The money from this tax goes directly to road maintenance, public transit, trails and bike paths. And we’re talking about 25 cents for every $100 spent. It’s been in place since 2000 and is set to expire at the end of this year. And just to set citizens’ minds further at ease, this gem of a sentence was added: “No portion of the revenue generated by the transportation infrastructure gross receipts tax shall be used to build or operate any rail transportation system until such a system is approved at a separate election by the voters.” Got it? No light-rail. No modern streetcar. No trolley. Well, they won’t be funded by this tax, anyway—not unless in some future election you call for them.
Breaking Out of the Bus Trap
On June 22, the City Council passed the extension of our famous Transportation Tax along to the voters for consideration in October; a reasonable and public-minded course of action, unless you count the arbitrary anti-rail preconditions and exclusions offered by a couple of councilors. But with these “amendments” or without, rail transit is in trouble in Albuquerque.