7.19.2006

The bus lane

Twice as I was writing that title, I mistyped it as "The bug lane." This may be a Freudian typo (is there such a thing?) because I am about to write a bitter rant about another of San Francisco's public transportation abominations, the diamond lanes devoted exclusively to buses. Now, I've heard the Muni representatives complain about how there are always cars in these lanes, and how if they're going to be expected to run their buses on time, then SFPD needs to step up its enforcement of people driving and double-parking in the bus lane. With which I'm wholly in agreement, in a strictly technical sense.

Unfortunately, as any SF denizen knows, nothing in this city works in the strictly technical sense! And in my opinion as both a driver and experienced public transport passenger (in cities across the world), here in San Francisco, the problem begins with the buses, with their dangerous and unpredictable swerving out into traffic (and I'm talking about the driving lane) after picking up passengers; their slow driving so they block not just the bus lane but the driving lane too; their slowing down at green lights about to turn yellow (because hey, we all know they're not in a rush); and their erratic schedules, which mean the dedicated bus lanes are often completely underutilized for spans of 45 minutes at a time.

I'll be honest, in my four years of commuting down Mission Street (the SOMA portion of which has a dedicated bus lane), there really aren't all that many citizen automobiles double-parked there during rush hour. I'm not sure why this is, but, while I'm perfectly ready to complain about inconsiderate jerks double parking on Valencia or Haight (and I'd be more than happy to share my compassion with the bus drivers who have to contend with that nuisance on a daily basis), I can't give them that on Mission, and yet the buses still run erratically and obstruct traffic horribly. This leads me to believe that the erratic, traffic-obstructing Muni driving is due to something other than bus-lane violations, and the Muni guy should STFU when he's using this as an excuse. It's feeble!

7.10.2006

On Zizou and being good

OK, first I want to say the random: Zinédine Zidane is a COOL name. I love it. Knowing little to nothing about the sports figure to whom it is attached, I can only say to his parents, Bravo! (I hope I can channel a touch of that élan in naming my own child....)

In reading here and there about the big ol' controversy from this weekend's World Cup finale, I didn't find what I really wanted to know (what on Earth did Materazzi say to Zidane to elicit that response?), but I did find an interesting commentary from the San Francisco Chronicle's C.W. Nevius, who said this:

It is much tougher to live as a shining example, than to be known as a temperamental superstar. Bad actors get a free pass when they do something classless and bone-headed. We don't expect any more from a known jerk.

This is what I've come to love about sports—their ability to (Cliché alert! Warning: cliché ahead!) illuminate the human condition. Even if you don't care about the sport itself, watching sports, and the passions they elicit in their players and fans, teaches you so much about how people tick.

Now, I don't know much about Zidane—he was no hero or inspirational idol to me. I wasn't terribly attached to the outcome of the World Cup finals. I think professional soccer seems to be a systematically flawed game. But watching other people's reactions to his "inappropriate," "shameful," "disappointing," "[call-it-what-you-like]" behavior on the pitch has made Nevius's words resonate all the more. People so desperately want "shining examples," heros and idols, leaders who seem much holier than ourselves, and our modern media culture gives us easy access to a vast batch of candidates. We find the good ones, and we're quick to elevate them, sparing no energy in their exaltation. But when they falter, oh do we punish and judge! I remember Meg Ryan saying something to that effect when she was getting all that bad press about her marriage breaking up and her affair with Russell Crowe—something along the lines of, "I had no idea how ready people were to hate me."

It makes me realize how terribly double-edged the sword of being adored—even being perceived as "good"—is. You have to make extra effort to behave, you worry all the time about pleasing people, and yet you get harsher judgment when you fall from grace. You're almost better off being a jerk or a diva. When they misbehave, everybody basically excuses it. "What do you expect from someone like that?" they ask.

The whole thing is simply a further reminder that you have to do things because they make you feel better, and what other people think is pretty much a lot of rot, whether you're in the spotlight or not. So to M. Zinédine Zidane, I say simply this: your name is COOL!

7.01.2006

Organization can happen

I'm a believer! When my mom was visiting, she helped me get motivated to clean out the closet in our home office (and soon-to-be guest room). This was what I call a Poltergeist closet—the vortex that sucks in all earthly possessions, the black hole into which everything and anything can be jettisoned, the tornado that bleeds disorder into the areas immediately surrounding it:


Poltergeist closets are scary, and this one was causing the rest of the room to idle in chaos. See, I couldn't organize other parts until I knew what that closet was really capable of holding in a logical, reasonable manner.

We'd long known what had to be done but had had such a tough time getting started on our own. This is where Tutu came to the rescue, as she's known to do. She helped measure the closet, accompanied me to the Container Store, helped make the nitty-gritty shelving decisions, and encouraged me to pull the trigger and spend the money (which is always my biggest stumbling block). She then cleared out the existing crap while I was at work one day, and she even found our hacksaw to remove the bar that had been there. She probably would have finished the job herself except for these pesky wood panels that had to be removed first. She wisely recognized that, as the job involved pulling plaster off walls, it was one that only the man of the house should do...


...and though Nick makes it look easy, it was actually a lot of work, as it involved consulting our contractor neighbor for tips, ripping out chunks of wall, re-plastering them, drying/sanding, etc. But once that wood came off and the walls were smooth, the installation of the Elfa shelves was truly as simple as it was touted to be. And, seemingly "like that!", the Poltergeist closet has been quieted, replaced by this lovely safe harbor of labelled, organized office-supply tranquility.


Before and After pictures are so satisfying!