Monday, October 21, 2013

What's wrong with where I live, post #1

I was all set to say, what's wrong with America, but the state I live in has some SERIOUS issues.  How so?  Maybe all states have the same issues and I'm just picking on mine, but I don't know.  It turns out mine is worse than some others, but it's bad everywhere.

The Drivers Privacy Protection Act is a federal law that makes it illegal for the DMV in your state to give out your information.  BUT!!!!! That information is available other ways.  Court records and voting records, in general are available.  It's appallingly easy to get all your information, right up to your address and birth date.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Google is crapping on us yet again

Claiming they're making it better they've tried to tie blogs to Google+.  Google+ is the worst idea they've tried to shove down my throat to date.  Oh, it's gotta be friendly for cell phones, and instant messenger.  Screw that!!  That's not why I blog.

Oh well, I guess I have an another huge argument for turning this blog into that book, and series of short stories sooner than later.  And believe it, good blogs do that before you get a chance to finish reading them.  The blog I liked was one by an American in Columbia, and one day it just wasn't there anymore.  Did I ever find the guy's book?  No.  I'll bet it's out there, but there are so many titles out there.

Advise to anybody out there who is blogging, NEVER touch anything you look at and say, "I wonder what that is and how it works?"  Rest assured it's some big brotherish crap dreamed up in some office cube in someplace like Sunnyvale, by some clueless ass hole who could give a shit about anything but paying his car payment.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Halloween at Xanadu

Xanadu was a co-op in Ann Arbor.  The best dance floor in the organization was the living room/dining room in Xanadu.  I recently ran into some Xanadu names on Facebook, who were at the great Halloween party.

My friend and I were wearing mostly greasepaint.  All she was wearing was a short pleated skirt with no under ware, I was wearing a Speedo tank suit.  Her torso was painted silver grease paint, she was a topless dancer.  When she twirled, that skirt went out horizontal.

Dave Stewart got the job of painting her, in the second floor bathroom.  She sat on a bar stool in front of the mirror and Wazoo (Stewart's nickname) was painting her.  In walked this really straight laced Chemistry major named Lisa.  Lisa has red hair, was painfully skinny, wore glass's, and looked the part of a Chemistry major in general.  Lisa went into a stall to relieve herself and Wazoo hollered, "Hey Lisa!!  Whacha wearing to the party?"

Lisa replied, "I don't have a costume yet."

Wazoo, "Why don't you go to the party wearing what Nell's wearing?"

"What's she wearing?"

"Greasepaint.  I've got plenty, I can paint you too."

She came out of the stall, looked at Nell, and said, "I don't know......"

But Stewart talked her into it, and she sat down on the bar stool, took her blouse and bra off, looked away, and let Wazoo begin to paint.  It didn't take very long to paint that skinny torso, but Wazoo smirked the entire time.  When he finished he told her to look.  She slowly turned and looked in the mirror.  There she was with her naked scrawny torso painted silver with greasepaint.

Without saying a word, she got up and went into a stall.  In the stall she washed the grease paint off with the water in the john.  Put her blouse back on, and with bra in hand stalked out of the bathroom back to her room.  Nobody saw her for 3 days.

Nell, on the other hand had the wildest party of her life.  She rubbed that greasepaint off on every guy on the dance floor.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Free advise

I got a lot of free advise yesterday.

A landlord told me in so many words that I came off as a scam artist.  Sweet.  How do I change that?  The truth doesn't work.  The "scam", letting people check with a good friend who convinced me he would help me find a place to live doesn't work.  What did I do that was so wrong?  It all started close to 10 years ago.

I moved into the place on Kent Lane so I could get a dog, and I adopted Gromit.  We lived there for about 5 years.  During the first year, there appeared a spot of mold on the ceiling above the windows in the living room.  I kept an aquarium right below that spot, and feared it was the result of the humidity from the aquarium.  It was much easier to look at it in fear than it was to do something about it, and I suppose in retrospect the smart thing to have done would have been to have scraped it off and painted over it.  Dunno.  Anyway over the course of 4 years it got to be about 24" in diameter.  It was caused by snow melt that formed something called an ice dam.  When the management finally got around to inspecting the apartment, which they should have been doing on an annual basis they told me I had to leave at the end of my lease.

Then I lived on HWY 19 between Marshall and Sun Prairie.  My landlord thought he was going to make a small profit off living there and renting the rooms out, but it was a real primitive place to live AND he was losing money on it.  My fault?  No, it was his fault, but he wanted to break the lease after about 7 months.  We didn't get along very well, he lied about the place when he rented it to me.  He finally said he was going to evict me.  So he filed an eviction action against me and thought I wouldn't find out about it.  I did, showed up in court with a lawyer, and it was dismissed.  Now, when people look me up on the internet one of yesterday's free advice people told me they don't bother to notice it was dismissed.  So, I now have a prior eviction when I never got evicted.  I just checked it, and sure enough, I react the same way when it's not me.  You have to press the "Court Record Events" button to see the dismissal.

Then I lived in a string of motels, and that was OK, but it's not the same as having a lease and considering the place home.  Then I lived in Orfordville and that was weird.  Then I lived in Lake Mills and that was totally off the wall.  Now I live.....

God, would I love a decent place to live.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

My new favorite quote.

"If you don't write the book, it ain't gonna get written."  Tom Clancy.

They had a bit on PBS about a New Deal program that sent a bunch of homesteaders from Michigan and Wisconsin  to  Alaska in the '30's.  Now I know why my grandmother always said she wanted to go to Alaska.  From the sound of it, it sounded like an experience into moving into Hell.

I think I saw a solution to my housing problems the other day.  I'll see tomorrow.  Tomorrow I'll check it out real close.  The more I think about it, the more I begin to see ways to make it work.  It's a place I looked into once before and dismissed without a second thought because they don't allow dogs.  Well, Petie died of old age, Gromit got terminal cancer when he was close to 14 which is old age in a dog, his eyebrows were plenty grey.  When I got busted up in May, I went through some changes.  All of a sudden, I grew old.  All of a sudden I started looking at life in terms of worrying about even being able to take care of myself.  Maybe some day I'll be able to have a dog again, but that busted knee broke that marriage to a dog sleeping on the bed.

A story came to my imagination, modern, scary, and plausible.  The first paragraph can grab a reader by the throat.  The first page, and first chapter will also grab.  And it's so plausible it could be rejected by a publisher on the basis of it's too doable.  Something that terrorists have simply never thought of.

Terrorists?  Sure.  Clancy's first book was The Hunt For Red October.  The bad guys used to be the Soviet Union.  Supposedly they'd bury us Americans.  I read it a long time ago, and I've seen the movie.  Imagination candy, a good yarn that doesn't stick in your memory.  Good entertainment for a week reading it, or 2 hours watching it.  My yarn isn't about a Soviet boogie man.  My yarn will be about a bunch of young religious zealots (morons, but I'll be polite).  There are plenty of them out there.  The 9-11 attacks, which I remember pretty vividly, were done by such people, and we've still got them running around in the United States, and a lot of other places.  They're proud of hating America and Americans.  I wonder what they'd to give their lives meaning if American ceased to exist.  Those Imams would find someone new to hate, that's what they're basically about from what I've ever seen.

Speaking of Middle East American haters.......  All of a sudden Iran is back in the news.  Back in 1979 I had a good friend who was an illegal alien from Iran, his name was Whoshang Arrapour.  He had the rottenest teeth I've ever seen.  I remember another Iranian asking him about politics, and threatening him.  The same guy threatened me, and to this day I'd like to get a chance to discuss the matter with that f*cker man to man in a dark alley... Oh well....  Anyhow, I asked Who (Whoshang) what the Iranian equivalent of the American saying "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow I shall fear no evil for I am the baddest son of a bitch in the valley!" would be.  Who spoke very good English, he knew the saying and it's meaning immediately.  He replied, "I have taken 100 thirsty men past the well and returned them thirsty."

Why does that Iranian saying matter?  Why do I think of it now, all these years later.  Who went on to explain that in Iran being a real sneaky SOB is considered cool.  The guy who could lead 100 thirsty men past the well without them noticing the well and drinking must really be a big time leader.  So this new guy who says he's a reasonable Iranian leader, well I don't think he should be trusted.  But that can be the basis for yet another great yarn, how about a Tom Clancy style CIA guy looking into the dishonesty of Iran in modern times........  I must think about that, perhaps.....

Monday, September 30, 2013

One of the all time funniest (?) rides

One of the great things about a shared ride cab is, once in a while, you get a really great mix of people in the cab.  2 Hockey Hall of Fame members at once, for instance  (Richter and Chelios)  Yesterday I was waiting for someone and it dawned on me I was looking at where I'd been parked when I had one of my most memorable rides.  That ride will make a great short story.

The carload of people were all going north, all drunk, and all started out around State street.  There were 2 girls who were room mates going home to Westport, and a guy going to the Tip Top Tap for one or 2 more until bar time.  There were 2 more people I don't remember, but everyone can't be notorious can they?

We got to the Tip Top and the guy going there jumped out of the cab and said he had to go inside to get the money.  I always went in with people who pulled that because they NEVER come back.  We got inside, the bartender gave him a glass of beer and told him he'd put it on his tab.  I asked about the money and was told the bar never gave out money for cab rides.  I didn't argue it, but did tell the guy he'd be explaining it to the cops.  Out to the cab, tell dispatch I need the cops, and start to wait.  Hey!  Where did the lady who was in the back seat go?  Her room mate said she'd gone behind a building to pee.  MARVELOUS.....

The cops get there and I get them to collar the guy in the bar for stiffing me for the ride.  They had paper to take him in on, and while I'm talking to them the missing lady comes back.  They ask her if she'd had trouble with me.  No, she tells them she wasn't feeling well so she went behind the apartment building and barfed.  Now she feels much better and she's ready for the rest of the ride home.  Well I'm glad she didn't do it inside the cab.  Though, I always pull over real quick when asked to pull over before somebody gets sick.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, but a little fictionalizing can fill those details in.  It will be a great story.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Free lunch

That's right, free lunch.  5 days a week, they have free lunch at this place, AND a free computer room, AND  they have a printer (no more Fed Ex at $1.50/page).  Pretty cool!!  Today's free lunch was taco salad, and it was pretty good.

As time goes by, you find these little things that you can use to enhance your existence.   I can view you-tube video's here now too (my connection at home charges me for bandwidth), so now if there's a video I want to see (no, I don't look at that kind of crap, who'd want to look at naked people, certainly not me) I can come here and use their bandwidth.  For FREE!!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Thinking about it further.......

I think that young man was simply telling me what he figured I'd believe.  Telling me what I wanted to hear perhaps.  He didn't have any compelling reason to do that.  No reason I can see really.  I sure wish people would always be 100% candid.

We talked about that, remember? And the long walk across campus.

Last year I made a rather innocent decision that turned out to be the prelude to a period of personal disaster.  My life has changed more in the last 18 months than it had in the previous 18 years, and perhaps it would have changed that drastically if I'd done something different, but where would I have wound up?  Good question.

Summer of last year, I met this fellow who told he he couch surfed.  I ran into him yesterday, and it would seem he still does.  I didn't recall him well enough to be know who he was until someone called him by name.  He has a distinctive name, we talked.  He recalled different things from a long walk across campus than I did.  He asked me where the tulip trees are.  Off the top of my head, south side of Bascom hill, within 100 yards of the top, and after thinking about it, that is precisely where they are.  His memories of last years conversation, which lasted over an hour, were much more detailed than mine.  Is that a result of his youth?  The easiest way to find the tulip trees, after more thought, is not to look for the leaves, but to look for those smooth straight trunks with no branches and silver bark.  There are 3 of those trees planted in a row below the math building.

My conversation of yesterday with this fellow included him making the remark, "We talked about that, remember?", a number of times.  It's real hard to remember much of that conversation he never followed up on, when the follow up on my side worked out so poorly.  He is focused on doing something for somebody else and getting paid for it.  I was an am more focused on trying to do something where I work for me.  Writing is about the only prospect I have left in that direction.  He's young, and people like to by the labor of young people.  When I was his age I sold my labor in the same fashion.   Only now, I realize I could have gotten a lot more back then.

I found out who Wolfgang was.  He's a guy I knew from cab driving, and never knew he was a co-op type.  So, to the person who asked me if I knew him, yes I did.  I'd know him on sight probably, and if I ran into him we'd greet each other like old friends, ask how life was going, and move on in the direction we'd been going in before we bumped into each other.

The co-op continues to look different, as it empties out.  Most of it's contents are going into the drop box on the south side of the house (trash bin), and a huge amount is going into box's being staged to be put into storage into a roll off trailer body that will be put next to the building where the drop box is now.  I found out that the plan for the building is not known and there are a few proposals.  It will take a month's worth of meetings after the building is given over to the smoke and water abatement contractor for a final decision to be made.  Why a month's worth of meetings?  Well, maybe not a month, maybe 2 months.  That will mean that sometime in November or December they can begin contracting the job.  If the contractor is super fast and the job only takes a month, that would mean the house is out of business until Winter Semester of 2014.

Could the contractor fix the house in a month that time of year?  Unlikely.  The house is on a downward slope that is 20 or 30 yards long, in a real tight neighborhood.  Try to get a truck down that slope with materials in the winter?  If it's snowed or rained, or the neighbors are doing anything to block the way, it's going to be a real logistic headache.  I'd figure in an extra 6 weeks into any contract for that kind of headache during November and December, and January and February are nightmarish.  It's suddenly looking like Summer of 2014 is the earliest it could be finished.  Sigh.....

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I spent part of today packing up a house library

Many non residents went to Loth and helped today.  It would seem that's been happening for a week.  It was a good thing to do, even if all I did was mostly put books into box's.

Somebody asked me if I knew any people from the old days, and on Loth's facebook page is a comment by a girl named Alice Ogden-Nussbaum.  Her dad's name is Mitch, he lived in Loth in 1979, as did her mother, Genie.  I have not seen them since then, but I remember them being people who cared about the well being of the house.

The house has a huge collection of books, many of them being books that were simply left there when their previous owner's moved away.  Now I know why people get degree's in Library Science, a serious librarian would probably cull a lot of those books.  All those books have to go into box's and into storage while the house is rehabilitated.

There are a few things I can help them move, will help them move, and a couple of moving tools I own that will be very handy for doing it.  Experience really helps when moving a piano, and I've moved a number of them.

This fellow who was breaking up discarded furniture in the drop box outside borrowed my sledge hammer for a little while, and he broke it.  I told him how to put a new handle into it, but I will fix it myself.  If he gives me a new handle for it tomorrow, I'll use it, but I expect to buy one myself.  Fascinating fellow, he's a writer, he could teach me so much.  Many of the members are really interesting folks.  I wonder if they realize what an extraordinary group they are?  Probably not.  When I lived in Bag End none of us thought we were anything special, either individually, or as a group.  If I'm exceptionally fortunate, they'll let me share their company for a couple of years. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How long does such an investigation take?

The very first place I ever lived in Madison, is a place on Lake Mendota about 3 blocks from the Memorial Union.  It caught fire recently.  In order for the insurance company to proceed with fixing the damage, the fire department has to finish their investigation into the cause.  There are many things in life I've never cared about, such an investigation is on that list.  Since I'd like to live there again, all of a sudden it's interesting.  So far, as of mid day today, no public announcement.

My interest in this place started a couple of weeks ago.  For some odd reason, a thought flashed through my mind, I wonder if I could get into Loth?  So, I drove over to the neighborhood, parked, and rang the doorbell.  This kid came to the door and took me to the kitchen where I met about 4 people who said come to dinner on Thursday, so I did, and that started the process of coming to a total of 3 dinners.  After the 3 dinners they have a house meeting, and decide if somebody can live there or not.  I was all set to attend the 3rd dinner and got an email from the house saying they'd had a fire and to get back to them in 3 to 6 months.

The more I've thought of it, in spite of the changes I'd have to make to my life, the more attractive the idea of living there has become.  And the more attractive living within a few blocks of campus has become.  I'd REALLY love to walk down to the Union with this laptop in a bag, sit at a table in the 2nd floor reading room, plug it in, and write. 

What was Loth like when I lived there before?

There were a couple of Iranian's who lived there, a brother and sister.  They came from a privileged family, part of the Shah of Iran's aristocracy.  These days if you said Shah of Iran, most people would say, WHO?  Back then, there was this guy called the Shah who pretty much ran Iran, he was buddies with the American military, and the middle east was a fairly quiet place.  The sister attended East High School, I don't recall her name.  The brother was a Math major at the university who claimed he was a Marxist revolutionary.  He lead Marxist study groups, and went around the house demanding new people attend these study groups.  I told him I wasn't interested, and he told me he'd see to it that people wouldn't like me as a result of my refusal to attend.

My thinking then was their parents shipped them off to the United States, to prevent the Shah's secret police from making them disappear for being anti government.  I'll bet the guy is a big shot at an American insurance company or something like that these days.  He should be just getting ready to retire.  I wonder if he's ever told his colleges at work about his Marxist study groups?  Probably not.

I recall a little of a single Loth house meeting.  The primary issue was noise and partying.  There was this guy from up north someplace who was small, about 5' 5".  He liked playing the music loud and throwing parties that mostly only he came to, in the living room.  There was a guy who lived directly upstairs from the living room who was tall, well over 6', and he objected to the noise keeping him awake.  The little guy claimed that unless the music was obnoxiously loud he couldn't have a good time.  I don't recall a result. And this has brought back a number of Co-op memories that I haven't thought about in many many years.

The first time I ever seriously shared a room was in North Campus Co-ops, in a house called Bag End.  I shared a room with a fellow from St. Louis named Rob Tanaka for a year.  We were the odd couple for sure, he was a 4.0 student, and I had a job and wasn't a student.  He lived in the bottom bunk and I lived in the top, and we were pretty good friends.  The houses in North Campus were set up in 4 halls, each hall had 2 singles and 2 doubles, room selection was on the basis of seniority.  Now that I think of it, there were 2 housemates I should have married while I had the chance.  A lady from New Mexico named Sue, and a conducting major (music) named Doug.  All in all, the finest group of people it's ever been my privilege to share a building with.  The bathrobe Doug gave me for Christmas finally self destructed a couple of years ago, I failed to read the hint into the gift at the time.

Xanadu had a huge living room that adjoined a big dining room, and was a huge open dance floor when the ICC Halloween party was held there every year.  These were big parties, 100's of people would show up.  Not long after one Halloween a fellow showed up at a house meeting who wanted to throw for profit beer parties, he was a friend of somebody.  Steve Lurie spoke most eloquently and his words came back to me when I was remembering that Loth house meeting over the living room parties mentioned above.  Steve said, "This is my home!"  He went on to say a lot about he didn't want drunks doing what drunks do where ever in our house, but the "This is my home!" comes back to me over and over.  First, last, and always, it's home.  Needless to say, we did not approve those for profit beer parties.  And Xanadu was a home, 364 days of the year, with the exception of Halloween.  We had no choice about that either, it was decreed by the ICC (Inter-Cooperative Council).

I now feel remiss about that Loth house meeting of years ago, but it's consistent with me in a house meeting.  I should have stood up and been counted and sided with the tall fellow who wanted to be able to sleep.  At house meetings I usually avoid taking a side or a stand, as it's not worth somebody not liking me.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Is this the answer to my question of the last few posts?

13 or 14 years ago, I met an internet predator.  Yes, unfortunately I met this monster in person.  What was this person like, and what happened to him/her.  Him/her?  Yes.  On the internet and even here in person, this man claimed the identity of a woman.  A caricature for sure.  I'd be willing to bet that those silicon injection breasts are a real health hazard by now.

Now, after looking this he/she biker up on the internet I find he/she was the subject of a restraining order in 2001.  The petitioner was his/her (I don't want to get sued but look that person up and see what she does for a living).  He paid everybody who ever helped him out by crapping on them.

This guy was a biker, complete with biker ink.  He was a very small man, about 5'6".  The biker logo tattoo on his right shoulder was covered with white tattoo ink, but you could tell it was an over painting job.  When he came here, somebody he'd been staying with in Texas drove him here, and dropped him off at the door.  I suspect they were delighted to be rid of him, and since he was gone they were spared any further troubles from him.  He spent a lot of time on the internet looking for his next victim, but it was too close in time, he couldn't find anybody quickly enough to move directly on to a next victim from here.  Where was he, last I knew?  In Florida living with his mother.

Where was he a biker?  Miami, Florida so he claimed.  Did he speak of violence like you see on TV?  Yes, he spoke of beatings, crime, and all kinds of delightful stuff.  Was that a club you can't really quit?  Yes it was.  Where was he from originally?  Boston.  Was his name really Willow?  Nope.  He never changed his name.  On his drivers license it said William Richard X III.  X?  Yes, I'll leave it to anybody with enough ambition to fill in that X with the real last name, but given the modern internet it's an easy X to fill back in.  What was his relationship with his bike club?  I'm pretty sure they'd love to find him to this day, but I don't know and don't care.

All I know is here he took great delight in causing as much trouble as he could, all the time.  Once he was gone, I breathed a sigh of relief, and went on with my life, and mostly forgot about it.    I'm sure he was hoping a judge would award him possession of my apartment, with me responsible for the rent and utilities, it didn't work out that way.  The judge gave him a day to pick up his things, and he came and picked them up that day.  The end.  Until now.  If people want to discriminate against me in housing because of this, there is nothing I can do about it.  All I can do is say, I'd forgotten about the whole thing until I started researching me on the internet and it's one of the reasons I keep to myself and am VERY CAREFUL about who I accept as friends.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I wonder what the truth really is

That building really looks bad.  Once again I decided to ask Fast Eddie what he thought.  Should I simply forget that place or perhaps wait for something that's worth waiting for.

His brother Junior was there, so I got a chance to talk to him too.  Junior used to drive cab, that's where the name is from, he's only Junior in the context of cab driving.  He claimed that the building would get fixed in a few weeks unless the insurance company contests the claim.  How does he figure?  There are a lot of out of work people, a contractor will put as many as 20 people a day on the job, and it will finish fast.

The place continues to advertise for people, and the advertisement says fall semester which is consistent with what Junior was saying.  They told me to get back to them in 3 to 6 months, but that was really quickly after the fire.  So, I wonder.

Are they just putting me off?  In 3 to 6 months I will have moved somewhere, forgotten about them, and the problem of wanting somebody else, who ever comes along beside me, is solved. 

This entry, as the other housing entries will self destruct when I solve my housing issue.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Guess that housing option isn't going to work. Damn!

The Co-op I was looking at had a fire Tuesday night, and it really burned the building a lot.  The photos on the internet this morning are really grim.  The fire department is investigating, and until they're done the house is off limits to all the folks who lived there.  So, even if your room didn't get burned, in the short run, you've lost everything.  Tragedy!

This means I can't live there until the place is declared inhabitable by the city, and none of the others can either.  Declared inhabitable?  Yeah.  You think you can move back in and fix the place while you live there?  Nope, can't do that.  You need permits and contractors and inspections, and in the mean time you need a place to stay.  A nightmare for sure.

How did it happen?  The fire department is investigating that.  On the internet it says the fire started on an outdoor deck.  It says the fire started about an hour before bar time.  Surely an accident.  It also says the fire department had to go back twice to finish the job because it was a very persistent fire.

My heart goes out to all the folks who lived there, and the neighbors too.  The neighbors are going to suffer from the construction project to repair the place.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thanks - reflection - the last house meeting

There is an entry that speaks of Xanadu, and a house meeting, I'll fill in the details.  I also need to thank the people I'm writing this entry for, they've sparked some old memories that need to be remembered.  What happened at that last house meeting and why.

In the fall of 1978, about a month after contracts had been signed, the ICC (the central organization) announced a budget short fall, and told everyone they'd been forced to assess everyone some amount of money.  At our house, and every other no doubt, there were house meetings where the house treasurer explained this to the membership, and the membership got upset and said it wasn't fair.  It wasn't fair, and probably wasn't legal either, but legal didn't matter, it was co-op business and fair was the primary concern.

I got up and told everyone that what would happen was the ICC would get the money no matter what the people in the house voted, discussed, complained or did.  One day the house treasurer would announce that he'd been pressured by the division treasurer and the office people enough, and he just paid it.  That is in fact what ended up happening, a few months later, after I'd moved here to Madison.  The payment was retroactive, so everyone got tabbed how ever much it was, a few hundred bucks in a lump sum.  The house treasurer went back to the ICC and told them that the house was resisting, like every other other house treasurer.  Did I pay this assessment?  Yes I did.

The ICC head man, a fellow named Luther, came to the last house meeting I attended at Xanadu.  He wrung his hands, and pleaded, and the house was unmoved.  The biggest obstacle was this guy named Greg who was the editor of the Michigan Daily (I'll leave Greg's last name out of this).  Greg had a real sweet job lined up with the Detroit Free Press, or the Detroit News (I forget which), and he was as I was, leaving at the end of the semester.  Greg was graduating and getting a job, I was moving here to Madison.

Greg was overweight, and kind of reminded us all of the character Bluto in the movie, Animal House.  He danced out of the meeting, waiving his finger in the air and chanting, "I'm not gonna pay, I'm not gonna pay..."

I got up and tried to reason with the group, no dice.  Luther pleaded with the group, no dice.  Luther begged me to do something.  I asked him what I was supposed to do, and told him I just did everything I could do.

There was no love lost between Luther and I.  He liked nice placid students who didn't get involved much in the house, washed their dishes, graduated and moved on.  I wasn't a student, I took responsibility in the house, and cared deeply about the house.

Now?  It's someone else's turn to stand up and be counted at the house meetings.  It's my turn to fix the house, and clean the house.  Cooking?  There are usually people who want to do that.  If asked, I'd do what ever the group wanted.  Does it need to be my house job for me to scrub the floor in the dining room?  No, it needs to be a day when I don't have anything better to do for a couple of hours, which means I'd do it pretty quick if I was a member.  What co-op job would I want?  I don't care, they are all important and need to be done.

Why would I say 2 years of membership?  There are places with age requirements that are real nice, and subsidized, and I've got my eye on one such place.  In 2016 I'll be old enough to qualify.  At that time, I'd have to ask myself real seriously if my feelings had changed, I doubt they would.

Writing?  I've had writers block for a while.  This exercise in asking for membership has jogged me back into wanting to say things on paper.  Yea!!!!  I see some good stories coming out of my checkered past.  I'm not ashamed of my past, I've done a lot of really stupid things in my life, but it wasn't boring.  Writing is really hard work, if you don't think so, try it.

Thanks to my father for providing me the opportunity to be a writer.

Oh yeah, why didn't I rush back into a co-op after I left Loth?  Well, I did!  Back then there was a place next door to a bar now called Wando's (The 602 Club back then), called the Green Lantern Eating Co-op.  I joined that place, and was an influential member until I took a job working afternoons (3pm-11pm) and couldn't go there because of schedule conflict.  My room mate for a few years was a fellow I knew from there named Dave Alsberg who is the guy who showed me the back door into the Univ of Wisconsin which resulted in my college career.  What became of Dave?  He screwed around and never got his Phd, went back to suburban New York City, got married and went to work for an insurance company as an actuary.  What became of Dave after that?  I don't know for sure.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A new home

I'm looking at a new place to live, and they're looking at me.  What to say about it?  It's what I wanted when I moved here a long time ago.  I said in writing I was only interested in about 2 years.  Why would I want it now, and why only 2 years.

2 years first.  There are some very nice places to live in this town that have restrictions on how old you have to be to live in them.  I have the place I want picked out, and I'll be the right age in a couple of years.  Nicer as the place downtown is, the place I'm alluding to is really really nice.  Allows dogs.  Affordable.  Quiet.  Comfy.  It will be a long wait.

Why do I want it now?  Right now I need to simplify my life.  I've got too much crap, and I do mean crap.  AND I really need to write this blog up in book form.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I saw Bobbie at the grocery store today

He was the trainer when I started.  He looked real good, and he didn't remember me.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blog referer spam

Interesting.  I'd never heard of this before this morning.

You think people are willingly viewing your web pages, but they are not.  They are being redirected to your website by a virus toolbar, or your traffic is simply something similar to a virus checking your website on a daily basis.  It's automated, so it looks like you're getting hits, but you're not.  It explains all the traffic to this blog from the Soviet Union.  It explains all the views of the very first entry in the blog.

This has nothing to do with cab driving, but everything to do with the internet.  And blogging.  And scams.  So, it should be of interest to a wide spectrum of people.  I'll read up on it, and post some entries addressing it, and after they've been up long enough for my legitimate readers to read them, if they want to read them, I'll take them down.

Certain subjects are like a magnet for these web traffic fraud people.  They love guns.  They love violence.  I'll add crime in the labels, and let all of you know how this works out.  This is a distinctly uninteresting blog post, it shouldn't attract ANY interest, what so ever.

Monday, July 29, 2013

An absolutely PRICELESS link to another cab drivers comments!!

This link belongs to a driver in Las Vegas.  It's a question and answer thing.

His answers are VERY TRUTHFUL.  I found this thing while tracing some traffic to this blog.  It seems that a whole lot of people on the web want to know if cabbies carry guns.  My most recent post, posted just a few hours ago, gives my opinion about this matter.  The answer is, yes some carry them, and if they ever use it, they will regret carrying it for the rest of their life.

My dad's sister was married to a fellow who shot some people who held up his liquor store.  They tied him up, he got lose, and he killed a couple of them.  Their families harassed him for the rest of their lives.  Anonymous threats, but it was obvious where they were coming from.  Is that worth a couple of hundred dollars?  No.

Some people point to murders, and say, if the victim had a gun, it might have been different.  I read that in New Orleans a lot of cab drivers have been murdered.  It wouldn't be different unless the people doing it are morons, and they're not, they're criminals.  Why do I say that?

A guy came up behind me once with a big shiny impressive looking hunting knife and demanded money.  I thought to myself, if he was going to cut me, I'd be cut.  Obviously he doesn't intend on using that thing.  I walked away from him, he was shocked, and he didn't cut me.  Moral?  If somebody is going to kill you, they won't give you a chance to resist.  They might go through the, where is the rest of the money routine, but you're dead either way.  Giving them the extra money might buy you 90 seconds of extra terror, but you're dead either way.

The carrying guns post.

For some strange reason there have been over 1,000 views of a post I did quite a while back, which says carrying a weapon is a real bad idea.  It specifically says, carrying a gun is a bad idea, but carrying any weapon is bad.

Have I known guys who carried guns?  Yes.  Knives?  Yes.  Clubs?  Yes.  Fools.  Do you need a weapon?  Aren't you driving a rather large one?  It's the best bet you've got, the only one you can defend using.  Defend using?  Sure.  The cops assume ALL participants are the bad guy, do you want to be an armed bad guy?

Consider:  Somebody tries to rob you, they get hurt, and they file assault charges.  Now what happens?  They are going to ditch their weapon before they talk to the cops, unless they're dead or close to it, and even then, can you prove it was their weapon and not one you planted in their hand?  If you were armed, and you hurt them with that weapon, the cops could very well take you to jail.  This happened recently in Florida.  Some neighborhood watch guy killed some kid, claimed it was self defense, and the trial was the biggest news event in the United States for how long?  A week?  A month?  It's ongoing.  The current result is, the guy was acquitted, and there are huge demonstrations going on all over the country.  Thousands of people want the guy in prison.  Do you want thousands of enemies, for any reason?  Probably not.

What happens if they take a cab driver to jail for the injury of a passenger.  Is the cab company going to bail you out of jail?  Unlikely.  Do you have a permit to carry that thing?  Unlikely.  Is that weapon consistent with cab company policy?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!  Will they let you out of jail on a signature bond?  Unlikely.  If they did let you out of jail on a signature bond would the company let you go back to driving before the issue Is resolved in court?  Unlikely.

How much money did you stand to lose?  $100?  A little more?  The most cost effective thing to have done would have been to have given the bad guy(s) the money.  You are at work to make money, from a risk perspective, it's the most cost effective course of action.  All this said..............

Some number of drivers have to resist having their money forcibly taken from them.  This is necessary for the safety of ALL DRIVERS.  Was I one of those drivers?  Yes I was.  Would I be one of those drivers in the future, if someone lets me drive again?  No.  It's no longer my turn.  You are at work to make money.  The most cost effective course of action is to go back to work right away.  The cops are a dead loss of at least an hour of your time and they will make no effort to catch the guy(s) anyway, so why even tell them about it?  It's not profitable.   

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Will a cab company allow their drivers to rip off passengers?

Does the company exercise much oversight over what the drivers are doing?  Usually, in my experience, the company doesn't want to know what any individual driver is doing.  If they have to know what a driver is doing, usually that driver has gotten the wrong kind of attention.  The drivers are supposed to be anonymous, running around all over the place, giving people rides.

Can the dispatchers tell you which drivers rip people off?  Yes.  Can the lower level management, the dispatchers superiors, tell you which drivers rip people off?  Sure.  Are they going to make much effort to do anything about any particular drivers behavior?  No.  If the only complaints that come in about Joe Doaks are over being over charged, Joe Doaks will probably drive for many years.  Why?  It's just a misunderstanding, and the customer is exaggerating.  Did the customer get a receipt, and did that receipt make it into the office for evaluation?  It didn't?  Of course it didn't, it doesn't exist!!

I took about 18 months off, drove a big truck, and came back to town.  The first thing that happened was another guy who'd taken off and been gone for a while forced me off the road in McFarland, and insisted I give him a delivery I had in my cab going to Stoughton.  Why?  He was going to Stoughton.  He was BEHIND me, passing me wasn't ok for him to do.  There was a regular time call coming up in Stoughton he wanted, and why shouldn't I give him $25.  We'd never met before, and it was an occasion for him to make a permanent enemy.  The point of mentioning this is, PC (his initials) was known to everybody in the company to be a rip off driver, and on this day I came to know it too.  He tipped the dispatchers every day, and that made it ok.

Bottom line?  Call and complain about a driver who tips the guy who's talking to you on the phone, and that complaint goes NO PLACE!  Call the next day during business hours, the big boss asks the guy you talked to last night about it, and the complaint goes NO PLACE.  Get the idea?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Standing your ground, defending yourself, and Eddies spin yet again

Trayvon Martin is a pretty famous name right now.  If anyone would have told him how famous he would become, a week before he died, he never would have believed it.  Like many Americans, Eddie and I discussed his death.  As usual, we didn't agree.

My best friend and I usually don't agree?  That's right.  Oddly enough, I finally discovered a subject where Eddie is much more cynical than I am.  Usually he's the shining voice of reason, but he's also human enough to have a pet peeve.

My spin on what happened to Trayvon Martin is as follows.  A moron got out of a car carrying a gun in his hand.  What are you going to do with that thing, you fool?  Get yourself in a hell of a lot of trouble!!!  If he had it to do over again, I'm sure he would have stayed in his car, as the cops suggested.  Once he got out of that car, was he totally responsible for any and all further wrong?

My best friend thinks so, I don't agree.  I forget what movie the line is out of, but I recall some Sargent telling a group of Marine recruits that, 'the worst sad sac Marine, is better than a dead hero'.  Is Martin even a hero?  No, he's generally accepted as a victim, not a hero.  A dead victim.  Did that have to happen?  I don't think so.

What do I think happened?  I think an idiot got out of his car and confronted a kid who could have torn him to shreds in an unarmed fair fight.  I think the kid reacted to seeing that weapon, the same way I react to seeing somebody brandishing a knife.  That fool won't use it.  Martin could have given him the finger, called him as many names as he wanted, then turned his back on the fool, and walked away.  If he would have done that I think he'd still be alive.

He could have gone into a rage, and told that pudgy white middle aged fool he was going to shove that gun up his................  And followed that up with trying to do just what he said he ought to do.  Then he was dead.  EVERY BODY LOST.  The kid lost, the moron lost, the community lost, America lost; we all lost.  Was the kid partially responsible?  I have to say yes.  The worst sad sac Marine is better than a dead hero, and nobody is elevating the kid to the status of hero.  He's simply a victim, and with better judgement, he could have walked away.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sharing a cab, from the passengers perspective

You just landed in Albany, New York.  You're there to visit your son who is a sophomore at the local university, so you've been there before.  Once you're downtown, you'll meet your son for dinner, and walk to your hotel.  The problem is, when the plane lands there are only 3 cabs out there.  You and 6 other people want a ride downtown.  Do you share a cab?  Call a cab on the phone.  Patiently wait for more cabs to come to the airport?  What?

You try to get one or 2 of the other passengers together in a ride to the same destination downtown.  Then you take local cabs from the lobby of that hotel, to your actual final destinations.  It's the fastest way for everybody to get into town.  It's the cheapest way, the person who gets the receipt gets cash from the other passenger or 2.  You don't get a receipt?  You're there to visit a relative, right?  Why do you need one?  If you're the  business man, you can make it sound like you're being a real great guy, offering to share  your cab with somebody who has 2 suitcases.  It's a very easy deal to make.

Can the cab driver say no?  Not really, not if he values his job.  He can not only get fired for refusing, he can get his cab permit revoked, which is worse than fired.  You might talk the company into giving you a break, you will not talk the permitting people into reconsidering.

Should the cab driver refuse this arrangement, take a photo of his face with your phone.  Also take a photo of the number on his cab, and his license plate.  Make a note of the time.  Forward this documentation to the customer relations people at the airport.  He's looking for a new job, real fast.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

There are not enough cabs at the airport. Why?

Usually, this is a consequence of flight scheduling.  3 planes come down within 10 minutes of each other, and as fast as people get their luggage, they're in a cab headed for their hotel.

Do most people take cabs?  No.  Most people have a car in long term parking, a family member picking them up, or are renting a car.  If every passenger got in a cab, the airport could tell the cab company they have a certain number of people needing rides next Friday at noon, and the cab company would find a way to have the cabs there to do it.  In fact, if it were done that way, all those people would probably be loaded in a bus and taken to a central point downtown, like the train station in Albany, New York, for instance.

How it works is, this time there are 10 cabs at the airport and only 5 people want rides.  No more flights for 90 minutes.  Do the other 5 cabs wait for 90 minutes?  They might, but they are not making any money.  You go to work to make money, and you can't afford to spend the majority of your time reading the Times Union newspaper.  If there is something else to do, more than half of all drivers will leave the airport empty.

Sometimes, there are 10 people wanting a cab ride and only 5 cabs.  What happens then?  The cabs will load 2 or 3 of them, until they are all in a cab.  That 5th cab might get nobody, and when that happens, that driver is not real happy.

The other main cause is weather, and usually that weather event is snow.  If the snow is going full blast, people will beg you for rides everywhere.  There won't be enough cabs at the airport.  People will walk out into the middle of the street and block your way, to make you stop, so they can demand a ride.  It's crazy.  It doesn't happen often, but it's crazy.  Snow doesn't give you a right to overcharge people.  If you're running a meter, the cost will go higher because it will take longer, but snow doesn't justify taking the scenic route or charging a snow surcharge, you just pay the meter rate.  The point A to point B rate in a non metered cab, is the normal charge.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fast Eddie's spin

Fast Eddie remembers the gate at the airport that was operated by quarters.  That gate was before my time.  The idea was, you needed to give the airport $0.50, every time you took passengers out of the cab stand; the gate took quarters, and you needed to plug the little box with 2 quarters to raise the gate.

There were problems with this system.  The one I always hear, or heard about, was that the coin box on that thing wasn't big enough and it would get jammed.  He also mentioned, who got the money?  Who cares.  The passenger is ultimately going to pay it.  No matter how you slice it, or describe it, the Dane County Airport was attempting to control or regulate the cab business on it's property.  Which is OK, the goal is good service for the passengers, right?

The airport also has concerns about security.  They don't want to be the subject of a front page article in the New York Times, describing something bad that happened there.  Unfortunately, in the modern world, we have weirdo's who do bad things.  But I ask myself, what makes the airport any different than anyplace else where a lot of people are congregated in a small area.  Not much difference.  And do I want to be protected, for my own good?  I haven't liked being protected since my earliest recollection of it at 4 or 5 years of age.  Do other people feel the same?  I think most do.  But I was going to discuss the Albany, New York airport for a few blog entries, wasn't I?

They've chosen to deal with a single cab company, and the complaints I've read about recently tell me the cab drivers at that company draw complaints that are hard to dismiss as fiction.  Are those drivers any different than the drivers here?  I doubt it.  Are they different than the drivers at the other area cab companies?  I doubt it.  Is the current system in Albany working?  Doesn't sound like it.  What do you do when the system doesn't work?  Usually, you try something else.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Metered vrs. unmetered cabs. Not all cabs use meters.

I've never driven a metered cab, and I drove cab for 21 years.  Do I know how they work?  Yes.  When I was first learning the business, did I think it would be much easier to drive a metered cab?  Yes.

Driving a metered cab should be easy.  You turn on the meter, put the cab in drive, and away you go.  When more than one passenger is in the cab, it gets complicated for the passengers and the driver.

Meters assume a single passenger.  Ban the practice of taking multiple passengers, and you will go a long way to insuring nobody ever gets ripped off.  A meter can't prevent the driver from taking the scenic route, but getting a receipt for the ride allows the passenger to call the company and see if the fare was reasonable.  The company will tell you the truth, they don't want their drivers ripping off the public, and they will fire a driver for doing it.

How does a non metered cab work?  Simple, you pay for the ride from point A to point B, no matter what route is taken.

How does it work when a metered cab takes multiple passengers?  Good question.  There is going to be a policy that will cover that, but it's open a lot of abuse.  The Albany, New York area airport has a policy to cover that, but is it followed, so the customers get charged fairly?  Probably not.  Why?  Airport people are frequently visitors.  The cab driver casually asks the 2 passengers going to different locations if it is their first time visiting Albany, New York.  They say yes.  They just told that cab driver he can rip them off for as much as he thinks he can get away with, if he's a crook.

If those passengers ask for separate receipts, which they need for their expenses, they are going to get charged for the maximum amount of money the driver can rationalize.  They wanted receipts, and they got them, and those little pieces of paper cost them a small fortune.  The most honest, god fearing driver I've ever met, considers receipts the threshold, if you need a receipt, you pay full fare.  He drives a metered cab, so that full fare receipt is an expensive full fare.  Will his company back him up?  Yes.  Technically, he's done nothing wrong.  Moral of the story?  If you are sharing a ride with another business man, flip a coin to decide who pays and gets the receipt.  Let the other fellow give you a 10 spot out of his petty cash.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Albany, New York

The capital of New York is Albany.  The capital of Wisconsin is here, Madison.  So what?

I read some blog posts in the Albany, New York area, specifically about cab rides to and from the airport.  WOW.  New material to cover, not because it's new to me, it isn't.  It's part of the cab business, but it might be new to them.

They speak of passengers getting ripped off, and ripped off in a big way.  If we were standing around the cab stand at the air port, gossiping about it, we'd be laughing, it's that extreme.  It would seem, it's time to explain how the ride should be billed, and what to do about it if the passenger feels he's being ripped off.  It's also time to discuss what to do, if you the driver feel you're being ripped off.

If I have this correct........  In Albany, the airport contracts with a single cab company to work the cab stand.  If you take a passenger to the airport, and you're not driving one of those cabs, you leave the airport empty, even if there are people standing there begging you to take them.  The reason they do this is to prevent passengers from getting ripped off by some random driver from some random company.  Still they get complaints from passengers, some complaints about huge amounts of money.  They've even tried using investigators posing as passengers, and it hasn't gotten them results.  Let's start with what's wrong with this policy.

Why do I want to take somebody to the airport, if I'm going to drive out of the airport empty, every time?  Can I charge that passenger an extra fee?  Probably not.  The way to make money in a cab is to keep it full as much as possible, and the airport is an out of town ride.  Going there is one of the last things I want to do, all other things being equal.  Let that CHOSEN cab company provide the rides out there, and I'll stay here in town making some money.  That doesn't work, because the passenger calls on the phone, asks for service, and the guy on the radio says if somebody doesn't take the ride, he's going to stop dispatching, so somebody is going to get stuck with that ride to the airport, and let's say it's me.  What fun.  An unprofitable hour.

So, the first thing wrong with this policy, is it negatively effects service GOING TO THE AIRPORT.

There's too much to say about this in a single post, so it will be a series of posts, here ends the first of the series.