Sunday, January 10, 2010

Transit Rate Hikes

Once again, Metro Transit, which provides public bus transportation to the greater King County area and a little bit further in the greater Seattle area, is raising rates. Once again, it also seems like a tough time to do this. The economy is still ailing throughout the country and the Seattle area is definitely feeling it. It seems like a tough blow falling mostly on those that are already hardest hit, those that are riding public transportation due to financial reasons. It is starting to get a lot more expensive to ride public transit and when it starts getting closer to the cost of driving a car, the convenience of driving a personal vehicle can easily offset the slightly lower costs of public transit for many.

Unfortunately, Community Transit, which provides service more to Snohomish County (north of King County) and into King County, is also talking about rate hikes. They are currently discussing a rate hike and also no service on Sundays. That seems like it could be a real deal breaker for some people who need to be somewhere on Sundays if there is no transit service on Sundays. I think this would be a worse idea than cutting other service a little deeper throughout the week. Also, Community Transit has started their Swift service, a faster commuter bus that stops at fewer stops between Shoreline/Edmonds and Everett. It doesn't seem to ever have much ridership and although it is a new program, perhaps cutting that down to fewer runs could allow for Sunday service for at least the most used Community Transit routes, if not more.

It seems like with joblessness at a higher level and less money all around, rate hikes are a terrible idea at this time. I'm sure that ridership is down due to less work commuters, as I know many people who are now out of work and not daily riding with me to work. Still, there seems that there must be ways to keep transit fares affordable for everybody while still making it feasible to maintain these services...

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Google has been coming out with some great offerings lately! I have been really impressed with a number of the free offerings, especially the fact that they are free!

Google Voice is probably my favorite application that Google has come out with. Google Voice allows you to connect all of your telephone numbers and have them ring to a single phone. It offers voicemail transcribing and sends the transcribed message to your email and/or via a text message, which is definitely a cool (and fun) option! It could use some work on recognition, but I don't expect it to pick up some of the messages I get, especially when I can barely understand them myself. Some people are just a little incomprehensible in general... You can send text messages from your Google Voice page online, through a Google Voice app that is offered for Android phones, and text to many places for free! You can also get great long-distance rates to many countries via Google Voice! You just add money to your account and use that already allocated money in the call, so you don't end up with crazy unexpected bills at the end, which can really ruin an otherwise great phone call!

Google Sky Map, which I have on my T-Mobile G1 cell phone, is an amazing app! It's another Android app by Google and it basically maps out the skies and can show you what stars you are seeing, just by pointing your phone towards the area of the sky you are seeing stars in. This is truly amazing, I think...

Google Maps, as another Android app, is also truly amazing! It was pretty cool before, but with directions, speech capabilities, and also the familiar street views, and other options, this program is loaded up and ready to guide you to victory! It's another one of my many-used Google apps that I've found invaluable!

Google Wave... Hmm, I just finally got my invite to Google Wave and haven't gotten a really good feel for it yet. I'm not 100% sure of all of the benefits of it, but I know many people have talked about how great it is. I just signed up for it, so I hope that it turns out to be pretty cool, as well as the rest.

Google is staying on a great path in leading the way, with their Gmail, Google Voice, Google Wave, and more to lead the market. Google's search engine has become the standard and people generically talk about "Googling" something to look something up, much like "Kleenex" has replaced "tissues" in many conversations as a generic term instead of a brand name. I hope they continue to keep developing such great (and free!!) applications in the future, as I'm definitely a believer in them as of now! I'm not really one to worry too much about all of my stored information out there that they may have, so that hasn't been a real issue for me, though I know people do talk about it. Keep up the good work, Google!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Swine Flu!!!

The Swine Flu, the H1N1 virus, is still keeping people talking. It has been one of the top topics of the news for quite some time, paralleling the economy for longevity. There is a vaccine out that is becoming more available that has also become a hot topic. This strain of influenza has not really proven to be more fatal than the typical annual flu viruses that come through, but it is seeming to be more infectious and spreading to healthy people more easily. It has been said that it is more dangerous to children and younger people and the H1N1 vaccine is being offered only to children and pregnant women in some areas. There are many who are also refusing the vaccine and decrying it as foul. People seem to mention Swine Flu each time someone mentions being sick, whether it's flu symptoms or something entirely different. Hospitals are limiting visitors in an attempt to slow or prevent spreading throughout their buildings. Well, the Swine Flu lingers on and will no doubt remain in the headlines for some time to come... Will you get the vaccination? For healthy people, there is a swab vaccine that is swabbed in the nose, else there is also the standard needle injected route. I've never gotten a flu shot before and so I don't really see a reason to do it now. I've had the flu maybe a couple times, but not very often. Ah, the fear continues as we move into the heart of flu season!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Summer's Over

I was terribly busy this Summer working crazy 12+ hour days at Fun Forest Amusements. I have been back to working as a carnie, supervising an Amusement Park and taking care of amusement park rides. It has been fun as always, but I knew that this would be the last Summer there, at least for the big rides.

The City of Seattle has been moving to eliminate the Fun Forest for some time and it has looked like this would definitely be the last Summer for the whole park to remain intact. The big rides, such as the large roller coaster (the Windstorm), the water ride, the Galleon, and Orbiter are no longer going to remain at the park. That part of the park is going to be changed and apparently taken away from the Fun Forest. In the city's "plans" for the Seattle Center, it looks like most of the whole area occupied by the Fun Forest is intended to be redeveloped into park area and some of it given to the Space Needle. The amusement park area seems to be intended to go away, which is unfortunate since it has been present since the 1962 World's Fair, when the Space Needle was built. The other unfortunate thing about this is the loss of jobs. There are many Summer and part-time positions that are offered by the Fun Forest that are now no longer going to be available because of the city's redeveloping of the Seattle Center. These positions were also often positions that required little experience, so they were good for unskilled workers and high school students and were available to almost anybody. It's tough to think about job losses, especially when the Seattle Times just ran a cover last week that claimed that 1 in 20 jobs were gone in the Seattle area. I guess this either helped contribute to that or it will for next year's statistics, since that will be when jobs will no longer be available. Aside from that, people are already losing jobs due to this.

One thing I don't understand, is where the city is getting money to redevelop something like the Seattle Center when there are such budget shortfalls. It seems that money coming in would have been better for the city than to have a project waiting for money to be infused into, that I can only imagine will sit by the wayside for some time. It seems that with libraries running short on money, schools closing due to similar issues, and economic problems that are spanning across the board, Seattle cannot afford to get into this "project".

As of yet, the fate of the Fun Forest still seems a bit unsure, though the skill-based games booths have been mostly stripped clean and dismantled and rides have been sold or are on the market. Still, will the city continue with this plan? Will a new Mayor change things at all? Will money go to this developing park project as other parks are forced to shut down? It's all a waiting game at this point, I guess...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Beautiful Summer

This has been a beautiful Summer so far in the Seattle area! There has been practically no rain at all, aside from maybe 3-4 days, since May! The beautiful weather has really been getting more people outside! While I can't say that it's been getting more people out of their cars, it has been getting more people onto bikes and out walking, jogging, running, and such! It's been pretty great!

There hasn't really been a massive increase in bus ridership, but it is pretty hot on a lot of the buses and many Metro buses do not seem to have a/c, so it's not the biggest pleasure ALL the time! Aside from the ORCA card coming out for public transit in the Seattle area (one card that holds data about your account and any money you put on it for all Greater Seattle area transit systems), Sound Transit finally opened up the light rail system and it is up and running! I know that more than a few people are excited about the system, especially people who regularly commute from the southend into downtown Seattle. It is apparently much faster than the quickest bus routes into town.

One night, about a week ago, I was around Denny Way where it crosses over Aurora, waiting for a bus. It was a pleasantly warm night at 10:30ish in the evening and people were passing by with their car windows open. One minivan, which looked like a Honda Oddessey perhaps, that had the Washington state license plate "102-UAL" was approaching the bus stop that I was waiting at with about 3-5 other people and threw what looked like a can or bottle right out the passenger window onto the sidewalk. I sat there staring at the van, dumbfounded (although I apparently gathered my wits enough to look at the car), as it kept on rolling by, but was slowed down by a red light. It pulled up near to where all the "bus waiters" were standing and both seemed to be looking the other way. It was some preppy looking white guy and a blonde-haired woman and they didn't want to check out the crowd after they were stuck stopped next to them. I don't know why I didn't go up and talk to them before they drove off, but I didn't, so I figured I would at least tell the tale. I wanted to go see for sure what had been thrown, but the bus was only a few cars behind and I didn't get the chance. Lousy litterers ruin my relaxed Summer evenings some days...

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Coming from a place like Seattle, where recycling is pretty much ingrained into most everyone nowadays, it's hard to deal with people who think completely different about waste. It's even hard to imagine, when going to other places, how little gets recycled and how much less is offered in the way of recycling in other cities/states/countries.

In some places I've been, it's just terrible. Some places have practically no recycling, or at the least, no consumers with a mind towards recycling. I can look a little crazy digging through the garbage to pull out what seems to be garbage and I'm not very fond of doing that, per se, haha...

I have recently started working at Seattle Center, where recycling was never very big in the sense that there has not been a whole lot of recycling receptacles around the park grounds. There was mostly cardboard and garbage and recycling bins would come out during festivals to collect cans and bottles. People have apparently grown accustomed to this (mostly employees and people who frequent the grounds) and much goes unrecycled. Now, there are numerous receptacles for cans and bottles, plastic, glass and aluminum! I was excited to see this upon starting to work back at the amusement park, as I always wanted this to happen! I was a little sad at the little usage these bins get. People are still just used to taking the easy way and throwing everything in the garbage, it seems, unless it is just as convenient with a recycling bin equally as close or closer. So many cans and bottles are just thrown into the garbage and it always pains me just a little bit to see it. I AM now getting paid to hang around the grounds of the Seattle Center all day long again, so I figure that I am a little more justified in digging through the trash or at the very least, picking up the recyclables before the street sweepers come through in the morning and just sweep them into the trash.

I was/am working on trying to get a bill for a water bottle deposit for Seattle, so that people would be paying an upfront added deposit on water bottles and that deposit would be returnable on recycling the bottle. I think it might be a better idea to try to push with a deposit on all cans and bottles. This ensures much higher recycling rates in states where this deposit is in place. It creates jobs and reduces waste and energy usage. While I keep working on this bill writing very slowly, I think I'm hoping that someone else with more and/or better experience will jump in, haha! I do need to start pushing harder at at least writing up the stuff necessary to possibly put it together enough to put on the desks of local politicians!