Another Departure

The day started out with a coffee and the sunrise throwing spindles of light out across the eastern horizon, through the houses. As always, as bright as it is all the houses on Phinney Ridge just look like silhouettes of dark shapes. Hiding their true array of colors that one sees clearly during a sunset.

I boarded King County Metro bus 17 toward downtown Ballard. I had one stop I’d need to make at my office before heading downtown to connect with the train. After departing, retrieving the items from the office, I boarded a downtown bound 40 route bus.

As I transferred to the LINK in downtown, I started chatting using Slack. A few business questions had popped up about the previous week’s interviews and questions. The connectivity however was spotty, but eventually the signal came through and the conversation continued. The nice thing about queue based communication like email, chat, and related things is that even though I have a message, I can respond as it is efficient to do so. It makes things dramatically easier than being interrupted by a brash phone call that would have required I step aside or even off of the train to even have the conversation. I’m thankful for a team also, that knows when and how to communicate, and works remote first. It makes us better, stronger, and more efficient than onsite teams that routinely just waste time plodding through verbal communications that should be quick, queued messages, or onsite meetings that don’t start and resolve as quickly as they should because “everybody’s here so…”. Onsite office culture is just kind of an efficient morass of communications.

For example, I’m on my way to the airport. Using Slack to communicate and working on some code at the same time. I’m queueing it so that I can finish these segments of code, an algorithm or refactoring at a time, then shifting back to the message queue to answer. It’s an extremely effective use of time, considering if I drove, I couldn’t get any of this done or effectively communicate since I wouldn’t be able to pull up an answer from documents while driving. This is the type of bike and transit lifestyle that only these options allow. I suppose one could do this in a Lyft or Taxi, if one is in that big of a hurry and has managed their time according to that narrow option, and price of course is no concern.

While moving along MLK Boulevard we pull through Othello. I see a sign for Armenian, Vietnamese, Mandarin, and Thai. An interesting mix of options. We roll onward, smoothly, and pass by cars stopped in traffic congestion. Toward the intersection two fire trucks, an ambulance, and some police have the section minimized while the work on getting cars past while handling the emergency, whatever it may have been, further up the street. Onward down the street and then the final strop of this section, the Rainier Beach Station. Seems an odd name to me, considering there isn’t any obvious beach or beach like area around the station. Of course, knowing the map I know it’s toward and over on Lake Washington.

Then we depart this neighborhood and urban area to cross the interstate, pass through an urban area, and on to Tukwilla Station. Basically a parking lot somewhat adjacent to the airport itself. Then, next stop is the airpot of SEATAC.

Another departure awaits.

Sounder Bike n’ Back to Ballard

This next week I’m going to line up a little bike and train adventure. The first segment I’m going to bike down from Ballard to King Street Station. I’ll then board at King Street Station on the 1702 Sounder at 4:33pm. The train then arrives at 5:00pm. From there I’ll then detrain at Edmonds and get some grub before departing.

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I’ll then leave sometime just before 6pm after finishing up eats and then onward to the ~20 kilometer ride back to Ballard.

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Now I just need to figure out what day would be good for this ride.

A Video in Video Trip to Golden Gardens

After moving to Ballard the first time in 2017, I decided I would take a ride down to Golden Gardens Park and use a couple of my GoPro Cameras to capture the ride. Here’s the video in video shot put together with some music.

If you’re curious, I mention the three GoPros, but I’ll elaborate on a few of the other tools I used post-ride. The editing software I used is Screenflow 7, however I’ll admit some future videos plus additional segments I’ll be putting together with Adobe Premier Pro in addition to Screenflow 7. All of this done on the latest MacOS running on one of the latest Mac Book Pro Laptops. If you’ve got any suggestions, questions, or otherwise, let me know in the comments and I’ll answer ASAP. Cheers, and happy trips!

Deadpool 2 Transit Adventure

Here I am en route out to check out Deadpool 2, or more specifically DP2 cuz… well, yeah. My trip consists of the 40, then the 550, then the 241 out to Factoria (don’t ask, free tickets and Deadpool make a long strange transit adventure totally worth it!). Needless to say, a lot of transfers and plenty of time to get some writing done!

I walked from home to the bus stop, and noticed almost immediately it looks like the 75th & 24th street crossing is going to get some improvements. The crossing really needs some love and care, as 24th is kind of a car sewer of motorists speeding at 75th threatening the lives of pedestrians and other auto users.

The 40 rode along it’s routinely torturously bumpy route. Almost throwing the phone from my hands several times as I attempted to read. Nothing new though, as Westlake & Leary both have some pretty wretched pavement and respectively evil pot holes! As we neared the intersection of Mercer we could see – as is always the case – the cluster fuck that is Mercer. The design on that street literally limits the movement of the greatest number of people in favor of the least number of people moving. In other words it expedites the few coming on and off the interstate while the pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. The non-Mercer street traffic number many times greater then the motorists funneling on and off the interstates via Mercer, and by proxy of this priority hinder the movement of local north south traffic.

Flip over to the specific bus issue, which has a partial fix in place. The 40 has a very small singular block slip lane in plane now but often can’t even get to it. The causes are numerous, from excess traffic in the turn lane, to people blocking the slip lane that turn around it for the general purpose lane, and other miscenllaneous idiocy.

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Basically the traffic usually backs up along Westlake in the turn lane, and what we ought to do – especially since there is almost zero direct south bound traffic in the straight general purpose travel lanes, add the first left hand turn lane as a “bus only” turn lane and stripe it back about 400 ft. Limit the right turning and south bound traffic to only the right most lane. The traffic isn’t so much that being down to one lane would even cause a problem. But by creating the second left hand turn lane for the bus it’d enable the 40 route buses to not clump and to more easily move through and not delay their thousands of daily riders!

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With that fixed, I kid you not it would knock of 4-12 minutes per trip during rush hour for the 40 route buses! A major improvement, and it would keep the buses out of the general purpose lane blocking up the single occupant vehicle drivers! Gasp, win for everybody!

The Sound Transit 550 Express

The next bus is the 550. The gooe ole’ 550, departing from the tunnel out over Interstate 90 and up through Bellevue. Albeit I’d get off at the southern park & ride in the Bellevue and board the 241 south bound to the theater. If that doesn’t work out on frequency at rush hour however I’ll just snag a lyft – maybe – considering rush hour maybe it’s just faster to walk! LOL ok, probably not walking but just saying. It’s a soup of car fumes over there at this hour.

The 550 overall just works seamlessly. The only way it’ll get better is when it becomes the LINK in ~3 years or so. Then it’ll be light rail and it’ll be faster, smoother, and generally all around more reliable and just better. In between that time, I suppose next year sometime the 550 will get pushed to the surface, or even just Pioneer Square are only which is gonna make it a serious pain in the ass until the LINK is in place. I’m still not real confident how well that will or won’t work shoveling all those riders onto the existing tunnel LINK from the south end like that. It might, or it might fail spectacularly.

Speaking of LINK

As we exited the Mercer Island Park & Ride one could see the LINK paved segments in the median under construction. It looks like things are moving forward well and as always I’ve got my fingers crossed that it’ll be done early or at least on time! With just a few minutes of departing Mercer we pulled into the Bellevue Park & Ride south of downtown Bellevue. Here one is at the foot of the giant supports for the coming light rail. It is rather impressive even without the tracks or guideway attached!

With that, I’d arrived to see my 249 just pass. I dread anyone trying to catch these infrequent east side buses without the ability to just hail a Lyft or something. At this point I didn’t have 15 or 30 minutes to wait for the next one so I surrendered to getting a Lyft. Fortunately it’s only a 5 minute drive from there. I did also learn, that Factoria has a totally poorly designed very *suburban* road design. It’s horrible. So few people moved, so few cars actually getting anywhere, but of course everything just looks congested. For instance, the movie, with 169 guests watching it let’s out and the roads are congested clear around to every corner of the parking lot as everyone tries to leave.

169 people is vastly less than one light rail train. It’s only 3 or 4 60 foot buses. Better yet, if the area was zoned appropriately and had reasonable biking infrastructure that’s 169 bikes that could literally leave the area at 10x the speed (based on a bike speed of about 20 mph) But instead Factoria has this soup of four wheel pollution makers puttering around at speeds averaging about 2 measly miles per hour trying to exit the parking lot to get to one of the streets light segments to try to get out of the parking lot.

It’ll be nice when the light rail is actually built up all over the place and we can get some of this trash fire zoning fixed and actually put things by transportation instead off centered around giant wasteful, rain water collecting, encroaching parking lots.

But I digress, the movie was great! Definitely go see Deadpool 2! Happy travels!

The Seattle Head Tax #WTF?

Holy shit y’all. So Seattle just passed the head tax. This is all fine and dandy and whatever, but between Sawant acting the bully and claiming Amazon was being a bully here’s my number one concern at this point.

Here I sort of agree with Sawant, but also very much with the reality of what just happened I’m concerned with what the hell the city is going to be held accountable to. They effectively just voted a big chunk of money into their coffers but I have seen very few things about where, when, or how they intend to build housing. I’m not even on to the topic of the travesty of housing that was built for people in St Louis, New Orleans, or hundreds of other locations throughout America. Heaven forbid we talk about the horrid conditions the Government(s) of America screwed minorities and others over with in building the housing. Is Seattle prepared to build housing through public means? How do we ensure fairness of this and actually ensure that people keep moving upwards from that system out of the future public housing to ensure people don’t get stuck at the bottom?

Does Seattle really even have a plan beyond, get more money and spend it somewhere? There’s been little on that matter and it’s very concerning. I want people to have a place to live, and to go, and to move up in the world – not just a slight displacement from campers and campsites to trash dump of poorly maintained public housing! Which honestly, is about what every public housing setup has become over time throughout the US (besides a racist cesspool to funnel minorities). I’m honestly not sure Seattle is prepared or ready for this, I hope and wish us well on the matter, but this I bet is going to get tricky and real soon, real dicey.

In addition, when we take the hit and companies start to skirt their ways out of this, when does that get remedied, and if the housing actually does get built one of these days how to do we ensure that sidewalks, trails, and public spaces stay clear then? Do we allow ourselves to enforce some law or rule around that?

Anyway, if you have more links, information, or other details, please leave a comment with info.

Carpinteria and Santa Barbara

After my arrival in Carpinteria I spent the week working on recording material. I’ve however talked about that elsewhere, since it’s well outside the scope of my transit sleuthing! But here’s a few of the day to day adventures and what not.

That First Commute

For the first trip to the office, I scoped out the transit agency for the area and found that there was a bus that would bring me from across the street of the nearby Starbucks directly to the front door of the office. All I needed was fare, and found online after checking out the MTD site for Santa Barbara’s Transit Agency, I could pick up a ten ride ticket at the Albertsons next door.

After I picked up the ticket, the first trip on the bus was a short sweet ride that took just 5 minutes. In the evening that first day I actually opted to take a walk back to the hotel. I wandered up through the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Reserve. It provides a beautiful place to walk out to and along the beach front. The subsequent day I rode the bus one more time, catching the 21x.

I used the MTD App to see when the bus was arriving this day, and gotta say it’s one of the more accurate I used. There were a few glitches in the app like needing to recenter on where the stop was after every few views of the arrivals. However, in spite of the glitches it still worked well in giving me arrivals so I’d know when to go board a bus.

Attaining a Bike

Carpinteria is very bike friendly. All the local roads are slow neighborhood style streets and one routinely sees the school kids to the beach bums to the retired folk biking around town. In the small little main street of Carpinteria there’s also some pretty top tier food options, again, easily able to swing between them via bike. With that in mind I set out to borrow a bike for the days I could from the office. On Wednesday I was able to pick up said bike, and I was super ecstatic that I though immediately, I’m going to go to town and get something tasty tonight!

So upon receiving the lock from security I was all set, and headed into town. That’s where I decided to get some grub at Sly’s. Let me tell you, this place was not messing around! The food was extremely good, and definitely doesn’t fall into the “small town” food category, but more into the big city batting 5 stars level food!

After that I rolled and picked up some things from the local grocery for my rocking steeds front basket. I just figured I ought to fully use the advantage of the bike to the max, so I sure did. Rolled back to the hotel watched a movie and passed out. A most excellent evening!

Bike Commute!

The next day I biked into the office through the park area again. Along through the trail I took a few photos and a short video. The congestion pictures however are of the inbound cars on 101 and on the side road. Every single day they were all backed up. The absolute worst way to commute.

That evening, on the way back to the hotel I took the long way home and snagged a few more photos of the bike trip around, along the coast, through the beach park and back up through Carpinteria and back to the hotel.

Oil rigs. I saw a number of them. If you drive, take a good look at the things you support out there seeping oil into the ocean every day. They’re some nasty shit and one can actually go down to the beach and see remnants of the rigs work coming to shore on a semi-regular basis. I found this kind of odd that they allowed this to occur this close to the shore. In Louisiana they have a lot of rigs offshore, but one can’t see them and rarely does one actually see the oil coming ashore. However, the other filth in the water of the Gulf of Mexico there in Louisiana may have just obfuscated the oil, I couldn’t verify. Either way, it was like a dystopian imagery seeing those offshore toiling away. They did make for an interesting view of lights off the coast too.

After that, I headed into town for dinner, but ate a bit lighter and spent some time working that evening. More on this trip in the next post, there is indeed more. Until then, cheers & happy travels!

California Coastal Carpinteria Trip

Going back in time today, the story of my trip to Carpinteria, California for a week of work. I had some fun adventures and around about explorations while learning how to traverse the landscapes of Carpinteria on up to Santa Barbara. The trip, spoiler alert, was a most excellent and awesome trip! It all started on April 1st, but no fool’s day for me, with a bike ride.

Departure Bike

I left the house and walked a mere ~200 feet and there sat one of the new zippy e-bikes that LimeBike has in the city. I scanned it to unlock the bike, loaded up my luggage in the front rack and off I went to the bus stop. It wasn’t absolutely necessary to use the bike, but it would give me a few more minutes downtown if I wanted to grab a coffee or something. I often, since my trip is from Ballard to Seattle City core and then to the airport, stop and grab a coffee or eats downtown before leaving for the overpriced and routinely lackluster options at the airport.

Within just a few minutes I arrived at the bus stop and checked the arrival. The next King County Metro Route 40 bus arrived within just a few minutes. I boarded, plopped my luggage on the ground and sat back and enjoyed the ride into the city. We arrived downtown, I decided today to skip the downtown drink and grub and instead opted to board the LINK direct to the airport.

I boarded the LINK and in a short time I arrived at the airport. The regular security bullshit and TSA circus facade ensued and I already wished I had decided to take the Coast Starlight. Flying is the closest thing to the icky confines of a bus, one just gets to go 400+ mph and arrive faster, but the journey and the airports are such a mall bathroom style trash show. However, there was a silver lining, like so many of my flights these days, I was at least flying first class on Alaska Airlines.

As one does with the Alaska Airlines wing of SEATAC I rode the little underground subway bus train contraption.

First or Business Class

There’s so many blasted designations about first class or business class, this status or that status, upgraded, or bobbityboopity status. One just doesn’t know what entitles one to what when it comes to the airline flight experience. As anyone would, I long to just be rich and be ushered to my plane with my closest of friends, family, and comrades only! But I digress, this business or first class thing I had purchased wasn’t so shabby!

The flight was smooth, except for a little bumpy coming out of the low lying clouds in Santa Barbara. Walking off the plane I noticed two things about the airport that I immediately fell in love with. The first thing is that they have a patio you can sit on that is effectively on the tarmac where you can watch planes taking off and landing. The second thing is that it is a small, super chill, single food establishment type of airport. None of that crazy big airport cruft!

Upon arriving, I of course, now needed to get from Santa Barbara to Carpinteria. That’s where things were sort of tricky. I’d done exactly zero research on how to get from there from here. I checked Google Maps and it gave me a transit ride that would take about an hour, I checked Lyft, it would take about 35 minutes, and there was also a possibility, if I wanted to, that I could go to Goleta and take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner into Carpinteria via the ~27 minutes trip along the coastline.

I did the dumb thing and took a Lyft, albeit he conversation was fun, friendly, and rather heart warming. My drive was a guy originally from Ethiopia, who had come to America about 15 years ago. He told me how he’d come here, worked construction for a number of years. He had a great boss that even during the downturn helped all his crew out by letting everybody stay at his house. He had then gotten married, and now his wife and him live with their two children there in between Santa Barbara and Carpinteria. He drives Lyft now and it gives him the freedom to work when he needs to, take her to work and immediately start getting pickups, and even pick up the kids and have all that flexibility one needs as a parent. He loves it!

We also talked cars and Lyft costs, and the related economic impact of that. He knew it was closer to the loss and profit line then a lot of drivers seem to realize. It was refreshing to talk with such an optimistic guy in light of today’s political nightmare we have.

That was the last car I’d get in for the trip however, and even though I had a great conversation with the driver, I was glad to be out of that traffic mess and on to other things. I arrived at the Motel 6, which seemed immediately I’d made a slight mistake, as a a much nicer hotel was next door. But it turns out, after check in, the room wasn’t half bad. Very 60’s era retro, clean, and very egalitarian. It appeared it would work out perfectly, as I only needed the room for the very functional purpose of sleeping. I’d otherwise be in the office or around exploring the whole time anyway.

That Oddball City Limits

One thing I noted, as I’d mentioned I could catch the train at Goleta, is that Santa Barbara’s Airport is effectively in Goleta, not in Santa Barbara. But zoning and city limits and all that fun stuff put things where they are. Here’s a map of the city limits of Santa Barbara outlined in red.

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…having arrived, I unpacked, and immediately went about getting some work done and then caught some sleep ready for the week of teaching & recording! But alas, I’ve got more about that coming, so stay tuned!