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Archive for February, 2008

Constant Cheering

Normally I’d drive to work when the schedule calls for me to be there at 0630 but when I noticed there were no appointments until eight o’clock and my car was entombed by ice, I opted for the first bus of the morning. Yes, it was early but I figured it was easier to take the bus than spend a half hour chipping away at the car.

Crunch, crunch, crunch as I walked the two blocks to the bus stop. The neighborhood was silent otherwise. Smoke from chimneys rose vertically in complete stillness. Overestimating the time it takes to walk there I typically wait five or ten minutes, looking south once I arrive, for signs that the bus is on it’s way. When it finally turns the corner several blocks down I can see the orange sign above the windshield.

As the bus arrived I opened my wallet and brought forth my commuter pass. When it stopped and the doors opened I heard cheering. Not an individual cheer or the cheering of two or three people, but the sound of an entire stadium cheering. It was an unexpected sound at six in the morning.

Most of COTA’s busses now announce their route number and destination when stopping to pick up riders. On weekday mornings the words “Route 8 Hamilton Avenue” drift into my dreams at precisely 7:34 if I happen to have the windows open. Announcing this information is designed to help the visually impaired, which is exactly the case when I’m sleeping.

The bus I took to work yesterday morning had a problem with the speakers that produce these announcements. Electrical impulses were sent but the speakers didn’t convey the words. It only made the sounds of electrical impulses and those impulses sounded like an stadium filled with cheering fans.

Once to my seat I undid by scarf and hat, unzipped my jacket and began reading. It’s the best part of taking the bus outside of not having to deal with traffic or icy roads. Each time we stopped to acquire passengers or to let someone off, I heard the cheering. By the fifth or sixth time I found myself smiling and breaking into a muffled laugh, which happened then every time the bus stopped.

Yes it was a malfunction, but I enjoyed the social reinforcement that should be apart of everyones commute while using public transportation.

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Columbus Start-up D’Ira Goes Live

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Columbus’ reputation as a design center might take a back seat to New York’s SoHo, but a local start up could begin to change that. Enter D’Ira Clothing.

Mississippi native Brian McDowell moved to Columbus in 2002 and began work then designing mens clothing. McDowell says that the Columbus’ diverse population has been a strong point as a test market for his line.

The current line includes a beautiful collection of hand-made silk ties in rich colors and deep textures as well as a collection of machine washable cotton sweaters.
Set to launch this summer is line of mens jeans and graphic T’s.

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Vision

Imagine when Port Columbus resembles this.

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Eight

All right Tim Eby, here we go…

Eight Random Facts:

1. I lived in an Orlando suburb for 365 days which I consider to be 362 days too long.
2. I’m fascinated by the 700 Club as well as QVC.
3. Many years ago a friend and I went into the Minneapolis Gucci store to ask for change for a dollar. We giggled about that for days.
4. I enjoy drinking a PBR after doing yard work. I contemplate how this might evolve should I sell the house and move into a building downtown.
5. Summer visits to Palm Springs and winter visits to Finland are both remarkably refreshing to my inner being.
6. I dislike textured ceilings.
7. While on vacations I prefer to settle into a specific neighborhood pretending as if I Iive there rather than experiencing tourist things. (A friend of mine will think I’ve stolen his thoughts on this. It’s just that he stated it, publicly, first).
8. Getting paid to write and drink coffee all day is one of my motivations. The current benefit to readers is that it’s currently being offered at no cost.

I’m supposed to tag eight additional folks to partake in this same exercise. Those I’d consider tagging have already accomplished this task.

If there were space for a 9th item, it would be that I’ve always wanted to live above a storefront on a busy street.

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Perspective and Cupcakes

Back in Ohio, I realize that there’s something wonderful about getting away from time to time. Perspective. One gains tremendous perspective about one’s own place in the world simply by being exposed to more of it. There’s also the part about being off the earth, kind of like what the astronauts express about seeing the blue planet below them, just not as far up. Despite the current hassles with air-travel, I like being off the earth.

The thing about airports is that they’re still the one place where everyone has to maintain a certain level of decorum. One off color remark or slip of the tongue, and you’re out. There could be nothing worse than being the poster boy for Homeland Security simply because you’ve told the stewardess that the $6 sandwich contained too much sodium. Rather, you choke it down, both literally and figuratively.

Most people in airports attempt to put their best social graces on display. Generally speaking, the words “Better Sportswear” could be hung on the back side of the signs pointing to baggage claim. Being seen in less than Better Sportswear might signify that Greyhound had less than perfect connections.

There’s even a place for a quick shoeshine and manicure. Now that says something. Its especially true if the people on your plane didn’t see you having it done in the airport. They’re likely to make the assumption that not only you, but your home, is in perfect order.

Passing the Duty Free Shop, its possible to peek in and see all luxurious items that only those leaving the country may obtain. Or so they’d like you to think. Cigarettes are the only real bargain, unless you happen to live near a reservation. Everything else will eventually end up at Big Lots. Still, one can aspire to tax-free shopping, at least for the sake of appearances.

On the plane the golden age of air-travel is portrayed as something that still exists. The employees have stripes of some sort somewhere on their uniform. Four for the captain. Three for the first officer. Two or three for the cabin crew, but not of a contrasting color. Delta stewardess once again have the option to wear a hat, a red hat, referring to a happier time. Maybe its a reference to the fuel surcharge

Knowing that those who bring absolutely everything with them within their two-piece carry-on allotment will eventually say “excuse me” after slamming the overhead shut several times until it stays shut, as they ask to enter the row where you’re seated.

This is also the time where one sizes up with whom you might be seated. When I was commuting to New York, I used to spend hours practicing not speaking English, just in case. I’d carry the most obscure newspaper I could find, and in the event that I found myself seated next to someone who wanted to ask the “so what do you do?” questions, (which by the way, is in very poor taste), I’d concoct the most poorly constructed sentence I could muster up, stopping and starting with the slightest of stutter, smile inappropriately, nod my head in the affirmative, and fein interest in reading a paper which I could certainly not understand.

Before I’d perfected this act, I once told a laptop-toting, wing-tipped wearing, Brooks Brothers-buttoned seat mate that I was an Amway distributor. I enjoyed the rest of the flight in question-less silence, reading books in English.

Once above the winter clouds of Central Ohio, one could be just about anywhere. Moments after take off the sun is shining and beneath them could easily be Stockholm, London or the rural reaches of Alaska. There’s time to imagine. A sip of off brand champaign helps and the plastic cup is as easily disposed of, as are the wishes.

My editor and I were discussing these things this evening over Turkish coffee and cinnamon-raisin toast. Yes, it’s nice to finally say “my editor”, and since so much of my book is about what occurred on either side of nearly two decades of flying, these topics were mostly certainly in order. On a side note, we also discussed how we might convince Amy Sedaris to deliver cupcakes to us.

I recalled to him what I’d witnessed while passing through Cincinnati’s airport last night. At the gate from which the Washington/Reagan flight was being dispatched, complete chaos ensued. Hoards of people crowding the door, left behind newspapers littering the floor and general dismay. Similar were the areas for the flights to Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore.

At the gates for the flights to Paris and London, terribly chic skinny people waited patiently, and in the case of those waiting for the London departure, skinny and pale, and it may have been that the muted levels of British excitement were over having just been to the dentist while on holiday. The pound is very strong right now, making American dentistry even more affordable.

Then of course, there’s the departure gate for Columbus where good people with good posture sit and eat Cinnabons. Could it be that Columbus is just simply America’s favorite suburb? Frankly, it was the nicest place to find a seat.

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