Saturday, August 27, 2016

How I spent my Saturday

ABQ Ride Customer Service
Alvarado Transportation Center
100 1st SW
Albuquerque NM 87102

To whom it may concern,

Saturday morning, I went to Kirtland AFB to get some work done on my car. Not a real problem, nothing to worry about, but since I didn't particularly want to wait around in the mechanic's waiting room, I checked the schedule and noted that Route 157 was running on Saturday morning.

This is where the problem comes in.

I ride your buses just about every weekday to get to work. I don't tend to ride them to the base a lot, so I'm not entirely familiar with your routes in that area. So I checked your app, and the "Plan My Ride" feature told me that I needed to get to Building 800.

(As a side note, one of the alternate routes that it planned for me involved me walking up Wyoming Boulevard, and climbing the eight foot tall, locked steel gate that doesn't happen to be open on a Saturday morning, and catch a bus that way. Which isn't quite as helpful as you might think.)

Now, I retired a little over ten years ago, and "Building 800" wasn't a particularly descriptive term (another side note: you could mark it as "377 ABW Headquarters," which might be a little more helpful), but I remembered that there was a bus stop right by Gibson Gate on the way out, so I walked that way.

Arriving at the bus stop, I noticed that the sign didn't list Route 157 as one of the buses that stopped here. This seemed odd, since the stop was blatantly on the bus' route. But while I was considering my options, I happened to glance up and notice that the bus I wanted was entering the base. This coincidence made me reasonably happy.

I crossed the road and, when the bus stopped to let the guard on to check ID on the passengers (standard practice when entering the base), I walked up to the open door and said "Mind if I get on here? I'm really not sure where your stop is."

The driver glared at me and said "No. The stop is Building 800."

Considering that I had my bus pass in my hand, the bus was already stopped and the door was open, I have to ask what kind of sense that made? Do you even consider training your drivers in the concept of "customer service," or is yours the only section in the Transit Department who are tasked with that?

The two guards at the gate didn't know where Building 800 was, either, so I felt a little better about my confusion (as I said, consider labeling it differently), but the one in the Visitor's Center was able to make a call and learn that it was at 8th and K, right off Wyoming Blvd, which was helpful. Eight blocks east, ten blocks south. I had a little over 20 minutes, so I made it in plenty of time.

At which point the driver glared at me again and said "We aren't boarding yet."

I asked him to please explain how that made any sense, but he didn't reply. So I got the opportunity to stand around, outside an idling bus, for about 10 minutes before the driver could be bothered to allow me to enter.

And incidentally, on the ride, I discovered that there was, in fact, one more stop on base: outside the gym, at G Street and Texas. Which would have been a short walk (two, maybe three blocks) from the gate. This would have been useful information the driver could have, for example, passed along when denying me entrance at the gate.

So, what we're left with is three suggestions:

1. A more descriptive listing for "Building 800" would be helpful.
2. Somewhere in your app, a listing of the minor stops that the schedule itself omits.
3. Perhaps a remedial class in Customer Service for at least one of your drivers. Maybe make it an annual thing.

Just a thought from one of your customers.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hillary Clinton and the press

The press has an interesting complaint about Hillary Clinton: not that she doesn't talk to them - she does. She gives hundreds of interviews, she has about one press gaggle every two weeks, she literally talks to everyone who comes near. But just like Trump, she hasn't set up a press pool. And more importantly to them, she hasn't held a formal press conference since last year, and this makes them pissy.

Now, let's be clear on this. They want to spin those last two points into "she doesn't talk to the press!" But that's obviously a lie. Their problem isn't that she's not talking to the press, but that she isn't doing it like they want her to do it. She doesn't duct-tape reporters to her ass and drag them behind her in a mewling mass. She doesn't charter a plane for them, serve them meals and charge their phones when their batteries are getting low.

Really, this is more of a reflection on the state of our media than Hillary Clinton. They're lazy; they just want to be handed entire stories that they can file without doing any actual work. And Hillary Clinton doesn't do their jobs for them, and this makes them unhappy.

At last estimate, in May, she had given 300 interviews, so it's clear that she's obviously not avoiding the press. So what's their problem?

Really, there are three factors at play here. First, the press is in an abusive relationship with Donald Trump: he holds "press conferences" where he openly lies to them, and they report it without question. Admittedly, there's a good reason for that: anytime they point out the actual facts, he insults them, calls them dishonest, or actually bans them from events. (Admittedly, by banning the Washington Post, they've started to do actual reporting, and point out what a lying bag of ass the cheddar-colored fuckweasel actually is.)

Second, there's a little bit of a history between the Clintons and the press. There is a well-documented right-wing movement to try to paint the Clintons in the worst light possible, and the media has been complicit in this conspiracy in their refusal to actually do their jobs: they'll unquestioningly reprint press releases, and always accept the sordid insinuation over actual consideration of facts, if the insinuation will get noticed.

News, after all, is a business: it's long been a maxim that "if it bleeds, it leads." The stories that sell papers (or that more people will click on) have to have priority if they want to make any money. They don't have time for nuanced reflection on complex topics: they have to appeal to the base instincts of an audience with an eighth-grade education at best. The business isn't journalism any more; it's more accurate to call it scandalism. And the anti-Clinton forces have cheerfully used that preference for the sordid and the shocking over actual facts for the last 35 years. There are conspiracy theories about the Clintons murdering hundreds of people, or that no woman is safe near Bill Clinton.

(Quick side note: Bill Clinton did, in fact, have sex with Monica Lewinsky. A consensual affair with an adult woman. He also faced impeachment over that affair, which was pressed by several Congressmen who were worse sexual predators than Bill Clinton ever was. And, although the Right hates to admit it, Bill Clinton was also acquitted, but only after months of intense scrutiny, and press coverage that focused on Bill Clinton's penis. Or as it came to be called, the Clenis.)

Oddly, despite years of allegations of rape, murder and thievery, not a single one of these despicable acts has ever been been proven to have actually happened (which, of course, the right wing spins to mean that they're obviously all true).

So perhaps it's understandable that Hillary Clinton isn't a huge fan of the media.

But finally, there's a third aspect to Hillary Clinton's actions that really need to be considered: the best advocate for a Clinton presidency these days is Donald Trump himself. His rolling dumpster-fire of a campaign is proving that the only possible worse choice for president than Donald Trump would be Charles Manson on crack, or possibly a rabid badger with a flamethrower.

Her résumé and accomplishments are already a matter of public record. In the bigger picture, why should she do anything but stand back and let us all watch him implode?

We're ba-a-ack

It's been about 8 months since I posted anything here, and with the election coming, it's damned well time I got back into it. I discovered Twitter a while back, and I'm fairly active there, but some thoughts deserve more consideration than 140 characters. So let's do this.

I can't promise anything on a regular basis, but let's see what happens.