Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Person of the Year

I just saw the over of Time Magazine. The cover story is the Person of the Year, which is pretty much everyone this year. Specifically, it seems to be about everyone that contributed to the Web. I find a certain irony in being named Person of the Year.

Groucho Marx once said something to the effect of "I wouldn't want to be a part of any club that would have me as a member." From what I understand, the actual quote is much longer, but I still find myself thinking along the same lines. How the heck did I get to be Person of the Year?

It seems like a bit of a cop out to me. Time’s managing editor, Richard Stengel, even admitted as much. He said that he didn’t feel the need to justify the decision. (Note the second paragraph in this article. That still doesn’t answer why, really.

The thing I’m left to wonder is how many people are going to put this in their résumés. I know that someone is going to go in for a job and say (quite honestly) that they were named Time’s 2006 Person of the Year. How many people are going to talk to someone on the phone and, when the person at the other end says something they don’t like, will say, “Hey! This is the Person of the Year you’re talking to!”

I’m not trying to detract from the honor. I’m just trying to figure out how to get a handle on it. Is this for real? Can I actually tell people that I’m really the Person of the Year? Could I seriously put it on my résumé and get away with it? I’m actually tempted to try.

Monday, December 18, 2006


I went out last night to Denny’s with my brother and a couple of friends. I remember now why it is I don’t eat there often. The food wasn’t particularly that good and the service was about as bad. The thing that got us was that we drove away three other parties. Four sets of people were seated at the booth next to us and three times, they moved. I don’t think anyone complained about us. Maybe they just didn’t want a window seat. At least I got a chance to use several marked bills there.

Speaking of which, my brother and friends went to some thrift stores the other day. Because of circumstances I won’t go into, they all had a lot of bills that I had marked. On one occasion, someone at one of the thrift stores had to ask a manager if they could accept the bills. That has happened to me on at least one occasion. I don’t mind because I’m the one marking the bills, but my brother didn’t seem that thrilled about it.

I’m hoping that everyone goes back to their respective cities (Tempe, AZ; Seattle, WA and Gainesville, FL) and spend the money there. Granted, I already have lots of hits in AZ and FL, but new counties are always good and I only have one hit in WA.

My number of international hits has gone up recently. I actually have one bill that’s given me a hit in two foreign cities. The bill started out in Miami on November 20; 15 days later, it found it’s way to Lima, Peru. A week later, it ended up in Sydney, Australia.

There are two things I find interesting. One is that it found its way back to Los Angeles before heading to Australia. (Notice the comment on the second entry.) The other is that both times, the bill was found at a Starbucks. I have to wonder if the bill ever left the airport while it was in the United States. I also have to wonder where the next hit will come from if, indeed, there is one.

I’ve actually reached the top 100 Where’s George users in the state of Florida. It’s something that I’ve been working towards for a while now. I spent a lot of time between 101 and 110 before obtaining the number 99 spot and I’ve slipped back below it a few times.

I’m wondering how hard it will be to make the top spot in the state. The score is based in part on the number of hits you get and how many bills you enter. There are probably a few people at the top that enter a lot of bills and, as a result, get a lot of hits.

If I ever make it to number one, I’ll be sure to post it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What does it mean to win?

Normally, when I find a survey with a cash prize, I rarely think about completing it. True, this one has a prize of $2,500 awarded every month, but I would have passed it up had it not been for something odd. On the receipt, it says “No purchase necessary.” This is a pretty standard condition for most contests.

I wouldn’t have bothered, except that you have get a receipt ID number and a customer number. My first thought is that you do have to make a purchase to get a receipt and, therefore, a receipt ID number. Granted, you could be making a return, but it does seem rather odd.

I decided to call to see what the survey was like. After all, there may be an option to bypass the entry of the two numbers. It turns out that there wasn’t. Not only that, it turns out that some of the questions were about making the purchase. For instance, they wanted to know how many people were ahead of me on line and if anyone opened a new register.

There was nothing to press if I hadn’t been on line. How is it that no purchase is necessary if I have to answer questions about being on line as if I were there? Do they think I’d stand on line just to get a receipt so that I could enter their survey?

This reminds me of a promotion that one of the major credit cards ran several years ago. You may remember it. The deal was that as you did your Christmas shopping, you were entered into a drawing. I don’t remember the date range for the qualifying purchases, but if you won, you got all of your purchases for November and December paid for. Again, part of the small print read, “No purchase necessary.”

If I recall correctly, there was an address to write to as an alternate means of entry. It occurred to me that if you made no purchases during those two months and won, you’d essentially win nothing, as you would have spent noting. I can only assume that there must have been some minimum dollar amount that you’d win. It would suck to make one purchase for $2 and end up winning.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Next Day...

Well, the projector didn’t break yesterday. I ended up seeing The Fountain. It wasn’t as strange as I thought, but I still don’t think that my parents would have liked it. It was a little hard to follow the story at first.

As for Where’s George, I was actually in the top 100 for my state for a few days, but I’ve fallen back down to 102 as of yesterday. I haven’t refreshed today because I haven’t had any hits, nor have I entered any new bills as of my last refresh, so I doubt that I’ve passed anyone. (Of 49,298 total active users on the site, I’m number 2,503.)

The one thing that I still can’t get is that, despite having over 400 hits, I’ve only hit 11 bills from other people. Among those in the chat room, results seem to be similar. You’d think that they’d average out, since every time someone hits a bill, someone else gets a hit. Granted, I’m dealing with a small population, but why such a discrepancy?

My theory is that there are a lot of unregistered users that hit bills. Most of the hits I get have no link to a profile or anonymous email. (That could mean that they’re either unregistered or that they just don’t have a profile.) I do know that there are a few people out there that only enter bills that are already marked, which leaves me to wonder if there’s someone out there with 500 bills that they’ve hit and only 20 bits of their own.

Monday, November 27, 2006

All the twos are gone

I finally spent all of the two-dollar bills that I entered and marked. (I actually got through with them a few weeks ago, but I haven’t gotten around to writing about it.) I’m not sure if I’m going to get more any time soon. That’s not to say that I won’t do it again ever. It’s just that it was kind of hard for me to spend them.

When I spend money, I usually spend under ten dollars. When I spend such a small amount of money, I like to spend singles because that maximizes the number of hits I can get. If I spend a $10 bill, that means only one hit I might get. If I spend ten singles, that means I have a potential for ten hits.

Even if I spend twos, that reduces the number of hits I might get to five. That’s not even considering the fact that most people will hold on to the twos and not probably not even enter them. I haven’t gotten any hits on the twos yet, despite having entered quite a few of them. I’m not sure if I should expect any soon.

I’ll be going out to the movies today to see a movie I had wanted to see Wednesday. I had gone to see Déjà Vu, but the projector broke. Everyone got a pass to see another movie. I’ll either be seeing Déjà Vu or The Fountain, depending on when I get to the theater.

You don’t really hear about that happening too much. In fact, in all the years I’ve been seeing movies, this is the first time that I’ve had it happen to me. Everyone I tell this to seem to have never had it happen to them. Granted, I don’t see movies in the theater much, but you’d think it would be a bit more common. (Not that I’m complaining…)

Oh, well. Here’s to hoping that the projector works this time…

Friday, October 20, 2006

It's all about the Toms

I can start spending the $2 bills. I finally got that $2 stamp from Stamp Connection. No one has commented on it, yet. I’m just waiting, though.

I’ve noticed that when I spend the $2 bills, they get put under the cash tray. This has happened twice with my current batch of bills. Once was at Publix and again at McDonalds.

I think this for two reasons. First, there’s no place for it in the cash tray. $2 bills seem to be used so infrequently, why bother? Second, many people probably want the bills for themselves. I actually had this happen tonight at a convenience store. As I was leaving, I saw the guy behind the counter reaching for his wallet, presumably to put some singles in the register.

I haven’t been spending a lot of the bills at once and I’ve been selective about where I spend them. People get freaked out when I spend it and I can’t be sure most people will know that they’re real. I’ve heard rumors of people refusing them, but most of the people I’ve given them to seem to be fine with them. They’re more surprised that I’m so willing to give them up. (The guy at the convenience store even asked if I had more.)

In any event, I have yet to get a hit on a $2 bill. I wonder how long it will be…

Monday, October 09, 2006

Of ones and twos...

It’s odd how $2 bills seem to be rare, but really aren’t. At least, I don’t think they’re as rare as everyone seems to think. It’s just that people seem to hoard them and banks rarely have them. I actually managed to get about 35 of them, mostly from a Bank of America. I’m saving the four of them that are series 1976. I actually entered them all in Where’s George and plan on spending the ones from later series.

It’s funny the responses I get when I spend them. I had the chance to spend two at a local McDonald’s. The guy behind the counter thought I was crazy because they were so rare. I told them that you could walk into any bank and ask for them, as evidenced by the fact that I was carrying so many. They’ll probably have one or two if any, but I do occasionally get luck and find a bunch of them. (I’d say that this happens around five per cent of the time.)

I actually just ordered a stamp from Stamp Connection for $2 bills. I’m holding off on spending the rest of the bills until it arrives. I do feel a little bad about marking and spending the bills, but I can always get more and I believe that they’re still being printed.

left side right side

In other bill news, I found a $1 bill with the serial number printed off center. It’s not as obvious on the right side, but you really notice it on the left, where the district number overlaps with the signature of the Treasurer of the United States. The bill was entered, but not marked. From what I’m told, it’s not worth much above face value, but I think it’s interesting.

If I find any more, I’ll post pictures. That’s all for now.

Monday, October 02, 2006

I’ve been without a convenient library branch for a while. Prior to Hurricane Wilma, I used to go to the branch by Aventura Mall. Sure, I had the one downtown, but there’s not much for me to do downtown now that I’m no longer going to Miami-Dade College’s downtown campus. The only other county library branch accessible to me was the one by the mall.

Since the hurricane, the county had a bookmobile (basically, a small library on wheels) parked in front of the building. I actually never went in there because it looked way too cramped and consolidated. I was also told that it was basically to reserve books and to pick up those books once they came in. (Since I never went in there, I can’t say if this is true.)

A week or two ago, the branch was relocated to Aventura City Hall. (You can see the article here.) If you drive, this isn’t a big deal. However, I don’t drive. I had a sense of where the city hall is in relationship to the mall. All I had to do was figure out how to get there.

One day, while going to the mall with my mother, I saw that there was a road going under the causeway that separated the mall from the city hall. There was a sidewalk going under the bridge; the only question was whether or not it went by the city hall. Today, I found out.

The good news is that it does. The bad news is that I first have to check in to the city hall before I can get to the library. This meant giving a security guard my photo ID and waiting for him to take a picture of me so he could print out a pass. When I went up to the library, they only had 1,200 square feet available to them. The books were limited, but they did have available a larger than usual selection of DVDs. (I managed to walk past the CDs twice.)

I asked, and it turns out that the library will reopen in about two years. They have to tear down the existing structure (which hasn’t been done yet) so that they can build a new structure. It was about time to redo the library, anyway. I think the old building is older than I am. It’s been there for as long as I can remember.

In any event, I’ve got pictures of another glow-in-the-dark jellybean. This time, it’s not as transparent. Above are pictures of the bean, both on and off the mouse. Apparently, this isn’t something reserved for the lemon-lime flavor of the bean. I’m curious to see more. (I still haven’t gotten a mixed-flavor bag yet.)

I also decided to try something with some old boxes of Ice Breakers Ice Cubes gum. I call it “Gumhenge”. I’ve been thinking of things to do that look like Stonehenge. This is one of the things I’ve thought of. More ideas may be forthcoming as I both think of them and find the means by which to do and photograph them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Frankly, I'm quite amused

It’s funny how I went from one entry a month to my third in under a week. However, I’ve got something else Where’s George-related to put in. I went to Panera Bread today for lunch. (For those that have never been there, they sell mostly bread, sandwiches, and other things like that. You can check out the menu on their web site.)

There was one guy at the register who I’ve seen there before. When I paid with my marked bills, he seemed happy to see them. I have no idea if he knows about the site or if he was just a happy sort of guy. Either way, when I left to wait for my food, I realized two things. First, I was supposed to get a buzzer similar to the ones that many restaurants hand out while you’re waiting for a table. The second was that he hadn’t taken my name, which they put into the register so that the people serving up the food have something to call out if the customer isn’t there.

When I looked down, I noticed that he had put “WHERE GEORGE” as my name. The buzzer thing wasn’t a big deal, since the food was there by the time I got to the other counter. For some reason, though, the guy that handed me my food apologized. I don’t know if it was because I didn’t have a buzzer or because of the name. Personally, I thought the whole name thing was funny.

Panera is a bit unusual. The first few times I went, they spelled my name Bryan instead of Brian. (Brian is how I spell my name.) That, I don’t mind so much since it’s not really appearing on an official document. What I find odd is that they always give me these Krunchers potato chips. I know they have Lays and they never really ask for my preference. I could ask them, but it’s not really worth the effort. It’s not a particularly big deal.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

It Ain't Easy Being Green

It’s not easy being a Georger. I know I just posted on this, but something happened to me today that I just had to comment on. I went to the dollar store today and bought several items. The bill came to $5.30, which was paid with six singles. I can’t be sure, but I think the cashier put the bills underneath her cash tray. I may be paranoid here, but this isn’t the first time something like this has happened. (My mother said that she may have wanted to save them to enter when she gets home. Since the store closes at nine, we’ll find out soon enough.)

I’m including a picture of how I stamp in this post, just to show you how I do it. The idea of stamping in the margins is simple. First off, it gets noticed. (Think about how you count bills.) Secondly, it doesn’t interfere with the design of the bill. This is useful not only in a legal sense, but also in terms of putting the bills in machines.

On at least three occasions, I’ve seen cashiers use the counterfeit detection pen to see if my singles were real or fake. I can sort of understand this. It catches people off guard. I’ve even had two people ask me if this was a new feature that the government was introducing. I said that it wasn’t. I have to wonder why someone would set aside the bills like that. As I said, maybe I’m just imagining things.

I think that some of the most frustrating instances are when my bills get set aside for routine things. Yesterday, I went to McDonalds. I paid using eight singles only to have the cash trays switched out before the next customer paid. I’d imagine that the singles eventually ended up in a new tray. It’s rare that a business will deposit a lot of singles since they’re so often needed for change. However, I don’t like the idea of my bills sitting around in a bank.

Anyway, I’m done ranting.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Glow-in-the-dark Jelly Bean

I did something interesting here. I turned my optical mouse upside down and put a jelly bean on it. It started glowing red. I thought it looked interesting, so here it is. I have to wonder what it is that makes it glow like that. I mean, I know there's some sort of red lazer or something coming out of it, but why does the whole thing look red?

Here's a closer look. Look at how red that thing is. Is the optical mouse really that powerful that it can generate something that strong? I'm sure I'll get a comment or two about how the mouse works. (I'm probably more likely to get a post telling me to get a life, though.)

This is what the jelly bean looks like without the mouse's influence. I was considering it for my mutant jelly bean project, considering that it is of below-average size, but I almost threw it out. I've been looking for beans that look interesting on their own, but this doesn't really do much without another jelly bean to compare it to.

I actually got six hits on Where's George today, but they were all local. The best that I got was a direct hit at a McDonald's where I spent the bill. I think I may have even seen the guy checking out the bill. Come to think of it, he may have gotten two or three.

Two people today got the bills, saw the "track this bill" stamp I use, and thought it was a new feature on the bills. I have to wonder if people know that there's a new series coming out or if it's just people asking a random question. The marks are too haphazard to be a feature on the bill.

Oh, well. I'm off to spend more bills and find more jelly beans...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The trouble with money...

I’m approaching the $10,000 mark on WheresGeorge.com. I’ve entered 2,820 bills worth a total of $9,665. I have hits in Florida, Arizona, Texas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico and California.

Florida has the most hits, mostly because that’s where I live. Arizona is next because I went to visit my brother there and had a chance to spend a lot of bills there. Most of the rest of the states have only one hit. (Texas has three, two of which are in the same county. Go figure.)

Today, I spent my first marked $2 bill at the grocery store. I’m curious to see how long it takes to get a hit. I have to figure that $2 bills are enough of a curiosity that someone will notice the markings. The markings might even motivate them spend it rather than add it to a collection. We’ll see what happens.

I was reading Time while I was out in Arizona; they had a story that there’s pending legislation that would do away with the penny. This has been a proposition several times already because pennies are considered a nuisance. This is the first time it has been taken seriously because of the rising cost of metal.

Not many people realize that it costs money to physically produce money. Paper money is cheap in relation to the face value. However, it doesn’t take much to make a penny not worth the penny being created. (I think it costs somewhere around two cents to make the one-cent piece.)

Personally, I happen to like the penny. I like the exactness with which I can pay my bill. In fact, I’d like to see the half-cent coin brought back. (Don’t worry; I’m not holding my breath.) To be forced to round to the nearest nickel just wouldn’t cut it for me. I want my penny and I want to be able to pay with one.

Yes, I know what a hassle it can be. I work in retail. I usually count those pennies in the morning when I open the store and at night when I close the store. The difference is that I don’t usually carry that many on me. When I get them, I’m quick to spend them.

I don’t stockpile them like most people, and that’s where most people run into trouble. Most people end up with hundreds of them in their cars and at home in jars. It’s money. I say spend it.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Construction and WG

We finally got our washer and dryer back a few days ago. We’ve had to use the coin laundry for so long that it doesn’t seem real. From what I’m told, the construction is almost done. I think a lot of it is the details, like pouring cement and putting in some of the fixtures.

I finally broke down and got myself a stamp for Where’s George. Normally, I write the site by hand on all of my bills. Recently, I’ve been getting fifty singles at a time, and I usually write the URL four times on each bill. That means that I have to write the URL 200 times. It’s a lot easier to have a stamp.

I’m going to be visiting my brother in Arizona in just under three weeks. I’ve wanted to do this for a while. I’ve just recently gotten around to being able to make the arrangements.

I don’t have much else to post right now. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to post more often.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Maybe once a year is more accurate

I need to get back into this. I was trying to write more often, but I’ve been writing less often. I’ve been busy with work, but not that busy. I have been writing, but when I do write, it’s usually for Epinions.

I’ve been entering a lot of bills on Where’s George. I’ve entered almost 1500 bills since February, totaling $5,843. I actually broke down and decided to get fifty singles. Entering them into the system wasn’t so bad. The hard part was marking them all. Imagine trying to write a URL 50 times in a really confined space. My handwriting isn’t that good to start with. (The backs aren’t so bad because there’s at least a wider margin.)

I’ve had only 22 hits, which means that 22 people have found and entered the bills since I entered them. (I’ve entered four other bills that others have entered.) Most of the hits have been in Florida, but I’ve had one each in Texas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. I’m hoping to get at least one from each state, known as a fifty-state bingo.

I think this would be a good class project. I’m not exactly sure how it would work, but imagine looking up each city as the bills were entered. The only real problem is that hits tend to be few and far between. Fewer than two percent of my bills have hits, and I’ve been doing this for several months. Between twenty or thirty people, that could amount to a lot over a year, but there’s no promise of anyone getting anything.

Anyway, I’m thinking of posting some pictures of deformed jellybeans. I have to take some pictures and see how they come out. If any come out decent, I’ll, post them,

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I think I may have a new direction for this blog and I have Where’s George to thank for it. I was thinking about how the currency circulates and the exact nature of getting change. For those that don’t know, Where’s George is a Web site where people enter dollar bills that they get. The idea is to hope that someone else gets the same bill and enters it into the site, thus allowing both users to see where the bill has been and how far it has traveled.

I began thinking about how I have so many bills and how easy it really is to accumulate bills. Take, for instance, a $20 bill. If I enter that on the site, I have $20 listed. Now, take that twenty and use it to buy a lottery ticket for $1. That gives me $19 in change. Most likely, I’ll get a $10 bill, a $5 bill and four $1 bills. If I add those to the original $20, I get $39. The cumulative dollar value of what I have entered has almost doubled.

At this point, the $1 bills are useless in terms of my demonstration. The $10 and $5 bills, however, will get me another $5 bill and eight more $1 bills. (The ten is broken into a five and four ones and the five is simply broken into four ones.) That’s another $13. Added to the running total, that’s $52. After spending the remaining five on another lottery ticket, I get another $4, bringing me up to $56 off of the original twenty. Assuming I withdraw only twenties, my potential is almost three times whatever I withdraw.

This got me thinking. What if I were to do some sort of math-related blog? I suppose I could think up some strange mathematical curiosity to work out or something. It’s better than just sitting around waiting for something to happen. Comments? Suggestions?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Another post

I know that I said that I was going to post something by my birthday, but I’m lazy. Besides, I’ve been busy writing for a contest on Epinions. I’m working hard to get to 2,000, which is a long way off considering that I’ve written only 18 reviews this calendar year and that I hit 1,000 reviews on December 11th of last year. (I now have 1,022 reviews.)

inside shot
The construction is still going on. There are few major problems aside from still not having a working clothes washer. One is that the phone seems to go out every so often. This has to do with the fact that the wire going out has fallen down. We can get it back after messing with it a little, but it’s still an inconvenience. I guess it could have been worse. At first, I was expecting it to be hell with all of the noise and dust. I’ve been out of the house during most of the construction and the dust has been contained to the kitchen, leaving a small area to be cleaned up.

outside photo
I’m posting two pictures of the construction. One is from the inside showing a window looking out of what will become my room. The other is on the outside looking at that same window. The windows were put in a few days ago. However, as you can see from the interior shot, a lot still has to be done. I knew that it was going to take a long time, but I had no idea that it was going to take this long.

Part of it is that we’re still ordering stuff, like locks, and we’re waiting on things, like tiles and stuff. There are also a lot of schedules to coordinate and many changes to the plans have to be reflected on the permits. I’m eager for it to be over just so I can get back to a normal routine.

Speaking of a normal routine, I’m still getting over a reformat that I did to my computer several months ago. I jut got around to putting GTA 2 back on my computer. I had lost the saved game I had, which means that I’ll have to beat the first level over again. I’ll probably do a lot of side missions and stuff just to get to the $1,000,000 necessary to get to the second area.

I’ve been looking for some other games to buy. I don’t really need anything fancy. I just want something to pass the time. Some of the games that I’ve found are too much for my computer. Others don’t look that involved. I may end up buying one just to get a review out of it. Worst-case scenario, I could bring it in to EB Games or something.

I suppose that’s all for now. I really will try to keep up.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Where's George?

Valentine’s Day can be a tough day if you have to spend it alone. It’s not that I haven’t tried to date or anything. It’s just that it’s hard to meet someone. Most of my life is spent either at work or at home. When I do go out, it’s not usually doing things that are geared towards meeting people. I don’t like bars or clubs and I don’t know anyone that’s willing to set me up with someone.

Dating sites are a joke. You have to admit that any site that charges by the month and has a 3-month deal is a bit pessimistic. If I’m going to pay money for a matchmaking service, I want some measure of success within a few weeks. At the very least, I should see some responses, even if they’re negative, within a few days. I shouldn’t have to send several messages and not get so much as a quick “no”.

Is there something that I’m missing? Advice seems to be contradictory. Some people have told me that you have to relax and let it happen while others say that I have to get out there and be aggressive. Which is it? I don’t see how I can do both.

I’ve got my birthday coming up in one week. I’m turning 30 and I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I don’t see why people make such a big fuss about the milestone birthdays. I could see if it was 100 or something, but it’s only 30. Get over it.

In more exciting news, I found a site called Where’s George, located at http://www.wheresgeorge.com. The George is as in George Washington, a reference to the fact that the site is used to track money. There’s nothing technical about it. There are no GPS locators or anything. It operates on a catch-and-release system.

You enter the serial number off of the bill and hope that someone has entered it before. If so, you get to see the bill’s history as told by those few who have encountered the bill prior to you. If you’re the first to enter the bill into the site, you get to originate said history. The next chance you get, you spend as many bills as you see fit.

Once a bill gets multiple hits, you get to see how far and how fast the bill is traveling. So far, I’ve hit two bills that were already in the system. Both have been from the Miami area. I’m the first entry for all of the other bills that I’ve entered. I’ve sent many of them back into circulation, but I’ve only been doing this for a few days, so nothing yet.

I’d really like to make a habit of writing here. Posting once a month doesn’t really count. I’m going to set a goal of writing another entry by my birthday. Maybe I’ll have a hit on Where’s George by then.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Driving Force

I have to make a resolution to post here at least once a week. (At the very least, twice a month.) Things have been pretty boring. Most of my time is taken up with work, which leaves me with little time to do anything else. The big problem that I have is that I don’t drive.

It’s not that I hate taking the bus. It’s that having a car would be so much easier. Not having a car limits what I can do and where I can go. I would not be able to go south of the Miami downtown area and get back before the buses stopped running. I also can’t make any physically big purchases since I have to bring them back with me. The nearest bus stop is a quarter of a mile away, which means that I’d have to drag or carry something a quarter of a mile.

It’s also difficult being a pedestrian. The greater Miami area isn’t really a region that’s set up for pedestrians. You don’t really feel compelled to leave your car behind if you have one. When I go down to Dadeland Mall, I have to walk a good distance from the Metrorail station to the mall and there aren’t a lot of sidewalks. It’s not a lot of fun to walk through a parking lot that isn’t pedestrian friendly.

At the intersection by where I work, one of the buttons that you press for the crosswalk is broken. I’ve already reported it, but it’s not like anyone respects a pedestrian’s right of way anyway. Whenever I cross with the light, several drivers try to make a turn, even though they’re supposed to yield to me. I’ve even gotten dirty looks from drivers.

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been pedestrians at some point. What is it about being a driver that causes us to lose perspective? I think that part of it is that being a driver in Miami causes people to think little of others. Miami arguably has some of the worst drivers and some of the worst driving conditions in the country. If I recall, Broward County (the county to the north of us) has the most dangerous intersection in the nation.

We also have a pathetic transit system. Miami-Dade County has a rail system that’s just one line. Granted, the county is working on several other lines, but those aren’t due to open for a while. Even then, I’m not sure that anything will come of the proposed line near my house. In order for me to use rail, it has to be accessible.

The same could be said of the buses. There’s one line that runs within a mile of my house. That’s fine if I want to go south. If I want to go north, I either have to transfer (which costs an additional 50¢) or walk a mile to the next-nearest line. The cost of the transfer is on top of a $1.50 fare. I don’t feel like paying $4 round trip if I can avoid it and get some exercise at the same time.

I find it hard to believe that the fare was raised last year after the county voted for a half-cent sales tax to support mass transit. I’ve actually started using the bus less, preferring to do stuff closer to my house if I can. That’s three dollars to go to the library to get a book and another three dollars to return it, assuming that I don’t use a transfer. It would actually be about as expensive for me to go to the dollar store and buy six books. (I’d actually be better off because I could keep the books.)

What am I going to do? I’m going to have to buy a car and start driving. First, I have to get my license.