zen quaker

A self quanitified zen quaker statistical programmer stumbles through a blog

Tag: commute

Micro OO

I’ve been thinking seriously about reactivating one of my twitter accounts or getting a new one. I keep having these short little bits that I want to share, but that don’t seem to be worth a blog post. They would fit right in on twitter, but it seems to me that an actual blog post requires more weight.

Read the rest of this entry »

Micro O

I’ll explain later.

I saw an ad riding home on the metro that the DC Rider app had an Android version. So I tried downloading it. I couldn’t get a connection. Oh, the irony is delicious.

Bicycle OOO

So today, like every other week day, I run down to the bus stop. You have to run to make sure you catch the bus. I’ve seen them go by the stop as much as six minutes early. My suspicion is that the drivers get to take a break if they get to the metro station early. I didn’t run too hard today, but I got at the stop just as the bus was coming up to the previous stop. Yes, you can see one bus stop from the next. It’s apparently a state law that you have to have a bus stop every block. Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is what I saw while I was on the bus.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fumble III

I know I implied there would be a lot more posts coming, but things did not work out as planned today. I had thought I had a number of issues resolved that would allow me to move forward with the next Statement post, but working on it both to and from work only convinced me I was wrong. Tomorrow I promised to attempt less intellectually challenging matters, such as my Conan the Barbarian review.

Venting III

Going back to work today was kind of stressful, although it started to lean toward the screwy. It took me three tries and over forty minutes to get my computer started today. Of course, when I finally got it started it told me I was ten minutes late for a meeting. It was one of those meetings that just sort of drones on. Then I went back on the panic treadmill. Tuesdays I have to run the Batch, which we weren’t sure was going to work because we weren’t sure we had any data (thankfully we did and it did). Then I had to modify another program to handle the fact that we were off Monday. Everyone was freaking that it was only returning two reports, even though it’s really an obsolete system (we’re just running it because we don’t trust the new system). I fixed it and got it to return 749 incidents, which pleased everyone except the guy whose turn it was to review them. Then I had to get the data from the old system combined and ready for upload into the new system. Of course, it was complicated by someone (again) checking out a document and then leaving. Our organization has been using SharePoint for over a year now, people, time to get the hang of it. All of the panic got interrupted by the mandatory ethics training. Normally they entice you to participate by handing out candy, but this year they seemed to be handing out candy to random people after someone participated. I got stiffed, but several others had their candy handed out to other people. It seems to me that there’s an ethics violation in there somewhere. 😉

It wasn’t all bad. I met my new supervisor today. He seems like a nice guy. I was going to say I had forgotten his name already but I remembered it before I finished typing the sentence. I pity him. He has to get up to speed on all our data systems, the different tasks of a dozen people, and do it all in the middle of switching over to a new system that is full of bugs. Maybe I’ll get donuts as a welcoming gift tomorrow. Or rather, maybe I’ll remember to do that.

Today was the first significant test of Log Life. I tracked my commute with it with only a few minor bobbles. Note to self: don’t walk across the street while logging your life into your phone, or you may end up logging your death. I was able to log every step of the commute easily:

  • 8:13 left the house.
  • 8:17 got to the bus stop
  • 8:22 got on bus #05 5943
  • 8:33 got to Shady Grove metro station
  • 8:36 Train car #2027 left the station
  • 8:54 got to Bethesda metro station
  • 9:00 got to the Safeway
  • 9:06 left the Safeway
  • 9:15 arrived at work

And similarly on the way home. As noted above it even let me easily note the numbers of the buses and train cars I ride, something I’ve always been curious about. There are a few details to work out. What do I want to count as arriving at work? Today it was getting in the building, but going forward I think it should be when I turn on my computer. I also need to figure out when exactly the time stamp occurs on a log entry. It can still take a little while to code things in, so there’s a lag between when I start and when I finish. If I want to time something accurately I need to know if the time stamp is made when I start entering or when I finish entering.

Today I finally got around to cleaning out my task tracking data at work for the start of the new fiscal year. The software I use (Task Coach) hasn’t had any problems with the data, but I don’t want to push it by filling it up with three years worth of Batch runs. I took the opportunity to a new category for “wasting time” and set up some “projects” under it to track things like chit chatting with co-workers and cleaning up my desk at the end of the day. That should allow me to track every minute of my work day, and then I can combine that data with the rest of the data I track on my phone.

Fair warning to everyone: I have lots of projects that show a lot of enthusiasm at the start like this one, and then crash and burn. I don’t know if that’s what will happen here, and I’m not going to worry about it. Right now I’m in test mode: try it out, see what the issues and consequences are, that sort of thing. But my priority right now is the habit forming course I’m taking, and if there is any conflict whatsoever, the personal informatics is going by the wayside.

Oh, and one last odd thing from the commute home. I’m in mindfulness mode as I try to be when walking places, and I’m coming down the six story escalator into Bethesda metro station. What do I see but a huge crowd at the bottom of the escalators. I was a bit nervous because that’s the sort of thing you see when they’re shutting down the station and your commute is about to take two hours. Both of the other escalators were fenced off and shut down, but people seemed to be expecting to be able to go up one of them soon. I’m not sure why they would need to shut them both off at the same time, but the metro station escalators are an enigma. My commute was fine, but not so for the orange line. Someone got hit by a train and they shut down a whole station, with bus service for a connector. Prayers out to the poor soul hit by the train, and here’s hoping my grand-supervisor didn’t get stuck in it.

While I’m at it, prayers out to a family member as well. You know who you are.

Commute I

I could vent some more today. Work was insane. We found more things wrong. I had more of my emails responded to without being read. We got more non-answers from IT and the contractors. But the commute home was much more interesting.

I slept a little late. Normally I try to catch the 7:55 bus. That usually gets me to work about 8:40. I have to be at work at 9:00, so the extra 20 minutes works as a cushion for commute problems. If I sleep a little later, I have to catch the 8:15 bus. That gets me to work right at 9:00, but any little delay gets me there late. This is not a big deal. My boss is mellow about it as long as I get my eight hours of work in. However, it cramps my evening, so I don’t like to do it.

As it turns, a bad previous day at work seems to be a pretty good indicator that I will sleep later. So I slept in late and caught the 8:15 bus today. Knowing that my evening would be cramped, I decided to meditate on the train coming home. I generally think of that as the back-up form of meditation that doesn’t work as well, but it ensures I actually meditate rather than skipping it to make sure I get dinner on time. Today it was actually very good, and better than much of the on the cushion meditation that I’ve been doing lately. Maybe that has to do with the fact that my condo is damn cold because DMV is in the middle of a cold snap and they haven’t turned on the heat yet.

Now, the stretch between Grosvenor and the tunnel to Medical Center is my favorite stretch of the commute. The train is elevated above the interchange between 270 and 495. On one side you have all these great views of different levels of traffic cruising in different directions. On the other side (the side coming home) you have some of that, plus a really good view down into some forested medians, one of which is half covered in ivy. Making sure I have a good view of all this is often a consideration when picking a seat on the train.

So as we left the tunnel from Medical Center today I could feel the urge to watch. Thinking about it, I decided what the hell, it’s not like staring out the window is going to be much worse than staring at the door light. It was the usual nice view, plus a family of deer. We cruised to a stop south of the platform and next to an apartment complex because there was another train unloading on the platform. Normally I don’t pay much attention to the apartments, but today I was in a meditative frame of mind. I was just looking out the window taking in whatever was out there. So for the first time in seven years of taking that train I got a good view of where the parking garage connects to the apartments. There’s this square little park area. Two sides are apartments, with limited windows because who wants to look at a Metro station? One side is the parking garage, with a meter high concrete wall. The fourth side is a walkway connecting the garage to the apartments with a metal railing on each side. The point is, there is a square grassy area with some trees and bushes that is completely surrounded with no way to walk onto it. You could easily hop over the pole or the concrete wall, but I didn’t see any gate in either one to access the area. And there in the middle of it, attached to a pole stuck in the ground, was a garbage can. Why have a garbage can were people aren’t supposed to go? I mean, it’s not like they even use the ones in the areas where they are supposed to go. I don’t know, and I didn’t really worry about it too much, since I was meditating.

As I turned my view back into the train, I realized someone else on the train was meditating. There was a guy in a blue jacket and baseball cap who had taken off his sneakers and was sitting lotus style on the train bench. His hands were on his knees and his eyes were closed (I generally meditate with my eyes open, but to each his own). He seemed to be having some trouble with it. He kept shifting around, shrugging his shoulders, readjusting his legs, and taking deep breaths. He got up and moved to the door closer to the escalator as we pulled into the station, and I always (when meditating) sit there until the train stops, so I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. But it was interesting. I’ve meditated on the train many a time, especially during periods of intensive meditation. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone else meditating on the train. Of course, I can’t due lotus due to knee pain, so I just sit there normally. I don’t think anyone realizes I’m meditating.

The rest of the commute was pretty uneventful except that the driver was one of the fast ones that makes you think the bus is going to tip over when he goes around curves. For a while I was so obsessed with the idea of the bus rolling over that I would sit on the side that would be uphill on most of the turns. That way I would fall on someone else, rather than the other way around. The bus didn’t roll over, thankfully. But he hit the first speed bump on Girard St. so hard that I (in the far back) was literally knocked a foot out of my seat.

Now, I have set up the categories on this blog for different kinds of posts. The Log category is for what happened today type stuff, and toys from Blammo. The Spirit category is for thoughts on Zen and Quakerism. But here, I’ve been talking about both: my daily commute and my meditation. Should I choose only Log for the category, since that is the style of this post? Or should I choose both Log and Spirit, so that the spirit related discussion here can easily be found? And it only gets worse, since this paragraph here really belongs to the Meta category, which is posts about how this blog works.

I have thought of a compromise, and I’m going to go with it for now. I will only use the Log category, since that is the style of this post. But to catch the Spirit and Meta content I will use those as tags. We’ll see how that works. Me and the Thai woman who liked one of my blog posts and is apparently my only reader so far. I tried to read her blog, but it’s all in Thai (or something else I neither recognize nor understand).

Some of you (I’m not sure who beyond me and the Thai woman) are probably thinking, “Craig, you are over analyzing this way too much.” To such I would respond that not only are “over” and “way too much” redundant, but also just deal with it. I analyze. It’s what I do. It’s why I’m a statistician. If you really have a problem with it, I’m sure we could sit down and have a conversation about your problems, after which I could dissect them into discrete chunks and demonstrate their interactions. 8)