Stress free! Or not.


This morning, I woke up just much too much early to head to San Francisco for New Game Conference, which I'm expecting to be mostly about HTML5 games. I had checked the train schedule last night, and decided I needed to leave by 6:45 to make the 7:13 train without stress.

Because I can't really sleep when I'm worried I'll sleep through my alarm, I was awake too early and up too early and out of the house at 6:40, enough time to stop by Starbucks for breakfast, and still make the train. All part of my plan.

So, I arrived at the train station with what I thought was enough time to be okay. As I stepped out of my car, however, I saw all of these other people rushing out of the garage. Usually that happens when a train is approaching. I looked at my watch: no, still before 7:00, just before, but still before, I'm okay for the 7:13 train.

I walked my own pace, down the stairs and into the ticket line. As I am standing at the back of the line, watching other people also in line, all of us wondering about the second machine with no one in line for it, I hear a train appraoching.

No, no, I am okay, I tell myself. I am hear early enough, it must be the southbound train.

A few moments later, shoot, no, it is a northbound train. I am okay, I tell hmyself, it isn't my train, no worry, no worry. Without stressing, without trying to rush, I stayed in line without worry, bought my ticket, then walked over to the schedule. It is now 7:05, and reading the schedule in front of me, it says that the train that just went by me was the bullet train. It left at 7:03.

The train that just went by.


What. The. Heck?

I checked the schedule last night! I should be 8 minutes early right now! I planned this to be stress free!



The next train is leaving in 20 minutes, and arrives in San Francisco at 8:48, instead of 8:02.

After a few more *sobs* I realize, oh wait, I was looking at the San Jose time row.

My train is arriving in 7 minutes.

So much for planning things to be stress free.

Never a dull moment


Why is there never a dull moment with Caltrain? I swear, every time I head to any station, there's always some drama. Fortunately for me, it's not always bad drama.

This morning, I realized that the next available train that stopped at South San Francisco was leaving about thirty minutes after I had finished waking up, petting the Bella, and stumbling to my computer to check train times. About five minutes after that, I realized I wasn't going to find any parking at the Mountain View lot, I'd better head south to the Sunnyvale station where the parking structure means all-day parking.

The Sunnyvale station also meant I had five fewer minutes than originally thought I did. Five fewer minutes in this case, meant rush. So, rush I did. I left the house with a calculated 10 minutes until the train arrived, assuming the trains were departing 2 minutes early, as they had been last time I rode Caltrain. I arrived at the station with five minutes before the train was calculated to arrive, and turned into the parking structure.

Now, I hadn't expected to find parking on the first floor or the second floor. When I didn't find parking on the third or fourth floor, however, I started becoming nervous. Surely there would be roof parking right? I turned the corner for the top floor, into the bright sun of the roof, and found rows of cars. Crap!

No, no, wait, there was a space at the very end, right next to the pay machine. Hoorah! I parked quickly and hustled over to the pay machine, where a small Asian woman was all a flutter, waving her arms, asking "Help me, help me!" I went to the pay machine and looked at the screen. It was asking for $2.00 on the screen, but blaring out crazy instructions that made no sense if you didn't already have a ticket. She said, "Look!" and shoved a $5 bill into the money slot. The machine rejected it.

I looked again at the screen and down at the wad of money I had in my hands. I hadn't recalled how much the parking fees were, so I had grabbed four quarters, two dollar coins and five singles. I unfolded the singles and fed one to the machine. Almost as if the machine had been starving and was now pacified, the lights stopped flashing, the horns stopped blaring and the two of us heard a contented sigh from the machine, as the amount due dropped from $2.00 to $1.00.

I fed another dollar into the machine, waited a moment, pulled out the parking ticket, and handed it to her. I needed to make the same train, and I didn't have my retardo 8-but-really-4 ride ticket validated yet. I pushed the buy ticket button again, and shoved the two dollar coins into the parking pay machine. Grabbing my ticket, I noticed the woman was still standing there, once again, all a-flutter.

On, right. She wanted to pay for her parking ticket. I handed her my three singles, she handed me the five that the machine kept rejecting and asked the fastest way down. I pointed her to the right staircase, jogged back to my car, and started unloading my stuff. As I heard her clip clip clip away in her heels, I realized my watch said 10:26. My calculations had the train arriving at 10:27, and my ticket was validated. Crap.

Slinging my scooter over my shoulder, I ran for the stairs, ran down the stairs, and around the corner. Dropping everything and grabbing my wallet, I was thankful I had the multi-ride ticket, as the small Asian woman was at the ticket machine, heading the front of a long line of people wanting to purchase tickets at the machine she was using. Oh, goodness me.

I validated my ticket, packed up the keys and books I had run down the stairs carrying and turned to walk to the far platform. "Is this correct?" I heard the woman ask again. I looked down to see her ticket, and asked, "Are you going to San Francisco?"


"Then your ticket is correct." Relief flooded her whole body. "But you need to be on the other side of the tracks," I continued.

"The other side!" She took off running. I hadn't heard the train, so I knew that both the train hadn't arrived and wasn't approaching. Once it approaches, if the train hasn't screwed you over by stopping across the tracks, you can cross the tracks behind it and still make the train. The woman hadn't realized any of this and by the time I had blinked twice and started moving, she was already on the other side, waving happily at me.

I don't recall if I had had such a hard time the first time I rode a Caltrain ride. I do know that I much prefer to train up than drive up, if the timing is convient. Maybe one of these times won't have the drama and suspense.

Hot chocolate comets


Although Mom is on a different time than I am, and managed to get up early to come visit me, she was game for heading over to Keith and Katie's house tonight for some possible comet viewing. Comet Lulin isn't at its closest, but it's certainly close, and I wanted to see it, presumably through Keith's telescope.

The weather didn't cooperate.

We did, however, have hot chocolate and play games. To my surprise, Mom was willing to play, too. We played the train game that Vinny, Heather, Keith and Martha had all played before. I think Mom and I did pretty well: we learned the game.


Full train


Hmmmmm... train riding is certainly up these days. This morning, on the train into the City, we had standing room only for a good portion of the ride, with a bunch of people exiting at Millbrae. When I boarded at the 7:23 train at Mountain View, there were only three rows unoccupied. I wisely sat at the window seat sensing the train was going to fill.

It did, and by Menlo Park, the car had no seats left. Interesting. I wonder how many people sleep and how many people actually get work done.

I also wonder what the guy sitting next to me in thinking, as I take pictures of the car. Maybe I should take a picture of him and really freak him out.


Gah, his breath stinks.

Can't see!


I went up to the City for lunch with a friend yesterday. I took the train up, as, well, the cost of a round trip train ticket is $11.50 and cheaper than the $15 for gas to drive up. I guess I could pay $5 in gas and drive Kris' car, but then I'd have to worry about the MPG in the car. And drive 50 MPH. So slow. And on the freeway. You know, the roads built to drive a million miles an hour on?

Of course, if I drove, I'd have to pay attention. Better to take the train and spend the two travel hours being at least somewhat productive.

My productivity was increased by the crappy view.

The train was covered by a large advertising sticker for the "real" Yellow Pages. To see out, there were little holes. Not big enough for much other than impressions of the outside.

I hate that train


I'm officially a real Caltrain rider! Check me out: I have bought my very first 10 ride ticket today. This is a major commitment, let me tell you. Almost as big as that 6 month contract I signed with Velocity Sports.

Because I'm exiting the train at San Carlos, I'm limited to what trains I can take north. Limited in the sense that I don't want to stand around picking my nose at VS, and I doubt they really want me setting up shop in their office by arriving an hour early every day. Of course, it might be they don't care at all, but that would change my story.

The train at Sunnyvale (Sunnyvale being yet another limiting factor in this whole train thing) that I take is preceded by another train by five minutes. This preceding train is an express train that doesn't stop at Sunnyvale, but rather flies by at an uncomfortable speed on its way to Mountain View.

I hate that train.

That train rolls by, without slowing, at a blurred speed, a rush of air ahead of it that swirls everything in its path into a tangled bird's nest mess. I don't mind that so much as the large objects zooming by me, not much but 10 feet of air between me and it. And that makes me nervous.

Many years ago, maybe twenty or so, I was on a road trip with my family: my mom, my brothers, an aunt, her children, my best friend, her sister and her father. We stopped by some canyon in Arizona, it might have been a shallow part of the Grand Canyon, but I don't think it was. My cousin, who was five, maybe six years older than I, jumped the railing, walked out to the edge of the canyon, and sat down. After what seemed like a long time, he came back, and we all piled into the cars and continued driving. My cousin later talked about the experience with my mom. I overhead his commenting that the song of the canyon was great, and the urge to jump was surprisingly strong.

Oddly enough, I think of this memory when the train comes flying by. I often wonder if the fear of being struck by that train is as strong as my cousin's urge to jump.

Screen glare


On the train right up to the City today, I sat backwards (seated south), which I almost never do, and on the second level, which I'm growing quite fond of. I've also
learned to sit on the shadow side, as it's much cooler (temperature-wise, possibly even socially).

What I couldn't figure out, sitting up there, looking down, is how the guy on the sunny, bottom side managed to get any work done with the glare on his screen.