Category Archives: Uncategorized

ORCA eats my OWL

Sick of scrounging around for three quarters every time I want to ride the bus (and always interested in trying some newfangled thing), I went online and got a free ORCA card (as of Feb. 2010, they cost $5). At first, it seems like ORCA is going to make taking the bus just a little bit easier. But after a few uses, I realized that ORCA is chock full of hidden costs.

No OWL Changes

This is by far the worst and most expensive change. ORCA keeps track of your transfers, so when you get on a second bus within two hours of paying your fare, it will not charge you a second time. This is nice because you don’t end up with tons of little, nearly identical pieces of paper in all your pockets (well, maybe this is a just a problem for me).

However, ORCA does not give you an OWL. If you are paying cash after 8:30 p.m. or so, you are issued a full transfer ticket that is good for the rest of the night AND even the first bus in the morning (if I am reading the first bullet on the back correctly. I’ve never actually made it to a first bus). But when you pay with an ORCA card, it gives you the standard two-hour transfer period. So, basically, every night you go out, it is twice as expensive to use ORCA instead of cash because your card gets charged twice.

UPDATE: OK, it appears that somewhere around 9:30, your ORCA scan does operate as an OWL transfer. On my test runs, it must have been right before 9:30, so my friends got OWL paper transfers, but I have to pay again. So I guess the issue is more about how computers are cold and exact. It’s good to know that it does work, though, so long as you don’t get on right before the computer clicks over…

From Seattle Transit Blog

To do some quick math, if you go out four evenings a week, that’s an extra $28/month, or $336/year, versus paying cash. That’s a ridiculous amount of money for the convenience of just swiping your fare. It seems like this would be an incredibly easy software fix on ORCA’s part, but I think they would probably rather have my $336 instead.

Pay as you leave

Because of the free ride area in downtown Seattle, buses leaving downtown are typically pay-as-you-leave. Paper transfers state that they are good so long as you BOARD the bus before the time shown. If you pay with ORCA, however, it doesn’t matter when you got on. If you scan your card on the way out just 2:01 after you paid the first time, you get charged again. When it’s rush hour, that’s another $2 every time this happens. So there you sit, in traffic on Aurora, contemplating getting off early just so you don’t get charged again.

I am going to start asking for paper transfers when I pay with ORCA to see if any drivers are OK with it. I will report back in a bit with my results.

Cards cost $5

Starting in Feb, 2010, ORCA cards costs $5. They also cost $5 to replace if they are lost, as Erica at Publicola points out. Why they would charge $5 for a card that will make them more money the more people use it, I cannot understand.

I have also read that ORCA deactivates your card if you don’t use it for 30 days, though I have not yet gone that long to test it. In these cases, people had trouble getting their E-Purse money back, which sounds like a huge headache. I was planning on just keeping a little money on the card for cases where I can’t find change, but even that sounds like it might be trouble.

UPDATE: Oran from the Seattle Transit Blog has clarified the 30 days issue in the comments:

The tap within 30 days rule only applies to people who load their card online or over the phone. Due to the way the system works, which is now explained on the (crappy) ORCA website in the FAQ > ORCA Tips. Once you tap your card, the value is transferred to it and stays there forever. I got and put money (in person) on an ORCA card on the first day it came out. I’ve gone months without using it and my money is still there.

If you load your card in person, either at a ticket machine or service office, you don’t have the 30 day issue. So that’s the best way to get a card for infrequent use.

So, basically, ORCA has been a giant letdown and I am not going to use it regularly anymore. It will be there for when I can’t find change, and that’s it. They need to rewrite these rules and give some kind of financial incentive (or at least equal financial incentive to paying cash) if they want the system to take off.

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Earth 2100 – Believable until the end

Earth 2100 is a depressing and dark vision of the future of human civilization as we know it. Everyone should definitely watch it. I was particularly impressed by the fictional story’s means of addressing capitalist “green” technologies. We see a USA that has engaged in many large-scale sustainable energy concepts. They are magnificent and truly works of wonder.

However, I was pleased that, in the end, they acknowledged that this will really do very little to stop the impending doom of civilization. They (rightly) knew that human kind (in this case, mainly just Americans are addressed) just will not be receptive to changing their current ways of life. Instead, they wait for technology to come along and save them. They address Bush 1’s quote “The American way of life is not negotiable” to explain why we would drive the earth off a cliff.

Then, at the very end, they give like 10 minutes of some bull about buying electric cars and how that is going to save us all. It felt like this was forced onto the end by NBC execs who didn’t want to scare people too much. When Bob Woodruff was on the Daily Show talking about the show, he seemed to steer clear of offering too much hope. I don’t think he believes any of the stuff they said in the last 10 minutes, and the hour and a half before that supports my theory.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

There is no capitalist solution to our global problems. Capitalist media might be afraid to show us that, though. I am glad this show aired on network TV. Skip the ending, and it really is the most radical thing I’ve seen on a network, maybe ever.

(full disclosure: I downloaded it and watched it at my leisure without commercials. I will not be sad to see ABC go under…)

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A long day of social networking

I spent today on the couch where I woke up creating Twitter accounts for The Wiki Fire, The Whateverist and The Knox Student. Then I used Twitterfeed to feed RSS feeds from each web site to automatically tweet.

As of 10:22 p.m., I am still in my pajamas. Yeah, it’s been that kind of day.

Anyway, I would love to introduce to all of you The Whateverist. It is a WordPress blog using the new Prologue theme, which is based on Twitter. Whateverist is the brain child of everyone’s best buddy, Jay over at fysigunk.us. As of this posting, there have been three different contributors. We don’t know what this thing is going to do, or who we want to invite to it or anything. So it’s kind of exciting. I’m sure Jay has a better idea than I do, since it is his thing.

the whateverist screen

Also, I am very excited about the Wiki Fire twitter account. I have it set right now so that any time a new article is created on the site (which is based on MediaWiki), it will tweet with the article title and the beginning of the body text. Pretty neat. This screen is of a Twitter article I wrote in order to test it …
the wiki fire tweet screen cap

In other news, my good friend Kelli Refer has started a cyberfeminist blog called Reviving Emma that should prove rather interesting. Cyberfeminism is an interesting, complicated series of ideas that I don’t think I know enough about. So teach me, hot stuff!

In other news, I installed Adobe CS3 today, and it is extremely fast on my MacBook. Like, it surprised me how fast it was. Photoshop flies around like I always wanted it to. It’s magic. I also figured I would take a look at the new stock photo search in Bridge, and searched for a picture of a gavel (research for a graphic I need to make for the paper). It returned tons and tons of images, so I click one, and here is what I got:

expensive photos

I had to look at this screen several times just to make sure it was, indeed, trying to sell me a boring photo of a gavel for, at the very cheapest, $100. I mean, really? $100? Will anyone ever buy that? Why does this exist in Adobe Bridge? It’s so strange. If these do sell, then I am quitting college right now and taking random photos of shit to sell on Adobe Bridge.

Anyway, in the AFK world, I spent all week working on a strange theater design project involving minimal lights and very loud, strange audio. It was really disorienting. I wish I could describe it better, but I don’t know how. Basically, the audience faces a short wall in a rectangular black box theater. The two walls on either side of the audience and the one in front of them have lights pointed towards them. We led them to their seats in absolute darkness, leading them with a flashlight so they could find their seats. Then we let them adjust to the darkness and the quiet. Then a conversation between my buddy Danny Fisher-Bruns and I started. That goes on for a while and is kind of existential and stuff. Then a smooth kind of feedback noise comes on while the sound of footsteps and shit being dragged around plays. At this point, the lights start, but very subtly. I’m talking 3% intensity, so you are not even sure they are on, but you know you’re getting dizzy. Then as things are dying down, a massive ridiculously loud noise wall comes at you and the two walls on either side of you start flashing back and forth in a very bright red that disorients you more and you can’t hear anything but crazy noise and then it ends. Total time, about 20 min counting silence at the start. I guess some things don’t translate into digital format very well, though. Sorry.

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Goodbye, Bank of America

So, the job of a bank is to hold my money until I want it, right? Well I just closed out my Bank of America checking account because every month they would find a new excuse to charge me $5-6. Then I would have to call them up (or go up to the bank) and bitch someone out until they gave me my money back.

The point of this post is not just to bitch about them, but also to point out that there is an entire Internet forum dedicated to how much Bank of America sucks that has about 5,000 threads (though I did not do enough poking around to see if any of it is spam). A Google search for the quoted phrase “Bank of America sucks” returns 522 results, while a search of “Bank of America blows” returns 568.

It just seems odd that this bank has gotten so large and so complicated that it cannot even function as an establishment that holds my money without stealing it. I guess that’s the way things go with big companies. I don’t take it personally. I’ll just pull down my pants and dream about the revolution …

ripoff

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Booty Booty Booty Booty! Rock-Afire Explosion

I read an article in the Chicago Tribune in September that really got me interested in the animatronic band from Showbiz Pizza, The Rock-A-Fire Explosion. Apparently there is an underground trade of sorts of the different pieces of the band, and collectors will put up some fairly big bucks to get their collections closer to completion.

Even cooler than that, though, is that people are still programming shows for the washed-up band, the best by far being “Ms. New Booty” by Bubba Sparxxx.

However, Aaron Fechter, one of the original creators of the Rock-Afire Explosion (and voice of several of them) wants all videos of the characters run by him before being uploaded to video sharing sites. The Youtube video of Ms. New Booty has been made private. Fechter apparently wants to make sure the “family friendly” image of the band is maintained …

This video has gotten all around the Internet and has restarted interest in the RAE (as they call it in the Showbiz Pizza forums). Anyone who would care about these machines is older than 18 by now. Does Mr. Fechter really think kids now-a-days would seek out Rock-Afire Explosion videos?

Anyway, I say we need to free the Explosion. Make it all public. It can become a medium in it’s own (it already is).

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I’m back … so long it’s been

OK, so I have realized that I have neglected you, Cheeto Fingers. I used you while I was in Spain and thought I had a lot to say, but the second I get back to the states I drop you. That wasn’t fair, I see that now, and I’m sorry.

I mean, I did kind of find someone new …

Don’t freak out, you can both have me, I feel. It’s my Twitter, but you two can work together. I mean, Twitter is good for quick 160-character go, but sometimes a guy is looking for a little more than that, you know? Sometimes guys want to cuddle. Sometimes I want to be cuddled.

Anyway, let’s get caught up as quickly as possible so we can get to the good stuff …

wiki_fire_dec_07

So I started a wiki at Knox College at TheWikiFire.org in April, and it has done pretty well for itself. As you can see, it is getting close to the 1,500 article mark. That’s not too shabby for a school of 1,351. Many of the pages are long and interesting, too.

The site is based on the MediaWiki application that the WikiMedia Foundation maintains (the same base application that Wikipedia uses).

There has not been as much action this year as there was the couple months after it started, which I suppose makes sense. Either way, I am going to have some kind of event next term to get people interested in it again. I may also incorporate it in the state of Missouri (since it’s way cheaper and I have an address there). But we’ll see how practical that becomes.

bella in a dress

OK, so my sister bought a boxer puppy and named her Bella. It was OK at first because the puppy was cute and had energy and all that. And my sister or mother would clean up the puddles in the house.

But then my sister dressed her up in a dress and took pictures of her. Ever since then, I think she just lost the will to live. She craps wherever she wants and … well I guess that’s the worst part. Anyway, she doesn’t have a uterus anymore, so there!

In other news, I am the editor of The Knox Student now, which is pretty neat. We are going to be online by the end of the year, which is a giant step for us. I am really excited about it.

Also, I did the sound design and wrote and played the music (with my band, The Danny Fisher-Bruns Carpentry Guild) for a play this fall called Vinegar Tom by Caryl Churchill. It was the best play I have ever worked on, I feel. People really walked out of the building upset and unsure of themselves. It was very powerful.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Peace.

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Lindbergh School District hates black people

So now that our country has reversed desegregation in our public schools, my attention has been drawn to a recent decision made by my local school district to end the volunteer transfer program. This program used to bring students from failing inner city schools to our rich suburban oasis of education while making a small gesture towards mixing the diverse cultures of this Greater St. Louis Area.

What the fuck is Lindbergh thinking? The said they don’t have enough space and that there is enough diversity within their district. This has to be some kind of joke. My neighbor’s house was for sale a few years back, and a black couple came to look at it. Immediately afterwards, a bunch of my other neighbors threatened to move out if they moved in. Yeah, our area would not possibly use more exposure to diverse people.

The Lindbergh school board should be fired.

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