Category Archives: In Transit

Life onboard San Francisco’s public transit system.

Plane Travel: Kinky Sex, But With Neither Kink Nor Sex.

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Good Evening:

I’ve had it with flying.

I have reached the point where almost nothing can justify paying airlines vast sums of money in order to let them punish you to their hearts’ content. With the sole exception of family emergencies, this car-less traveller will stick to the railroad–an odd experience that offers its own intriguing strengths and weaknesses (and will become the focus of my next post). But tonight I vent. If you want rants, congratulations, you have reached the right blog post!

Although flying to Connecticut was agony, once I arrived, the trip became total enjoyment.  Presenting photographs of the beautiful town of Essex looking its best.

Although flying to Connecticut was agony, once I arrived, the trip became total enjoyment. Presenting photographs of the beautiful town of Essex looking its best.

My summer trip to Connecticut drove me past the breaking point.

Sold-out flights take forever to board and sure enough, this was another one. Stuck on board one of the newer models of jets does not make life better, it makes life worse. First, as usual, the seats shrunk again. I know they shrunk again; I lost weight over the course of 2015, and yet we had more tightly packed seats than ever, less leg room than ever, and less elbow room than ever.

20 Main Street, Essex, CT 21 June 2015

Combine the smaller with seat widths with seat belts that have not shrunk with them and you have serious bondage. Unfortunately, I do not like B&D. Even if I did, the airlines’ notion of kinky hijinks at 30,000 feet tying up people would not feel the least bit–ahem–“interesting,” for the lack of a better euphemism. As you might have guessed, the airline also stuck me in the middle seat.

Great fun. Especially with the overweight gentleman on my right.

Who was the lesser problem.

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The other one was the bigger problem. He should have considered himself fortunate, standing at most five foot, six inches tall, of average build and sitting in the aisle seat. But when he arrived at our row, he drew himself up to full height, inflating himself with the sense that my sheer existence presented the most offensively existential effrontery of his entire life. He adjusted the sleeves of his expensive-looking silver silk suit as if preparing for conflict. Given his 50-ish appearance and salt-and-pepper goatee, I pegged him as a super-rich executive and wondered what he was even doing in the Economy (hah!) section.

“You’re in my seat.”

“What?”

“Get out of my seat.”

“No this is my seat, the aisle seat must be yours.”

“Stewardess, get this man out of my seat!”

“Here’s my ticket-”

“Get him out of my seat!”

“-I have the middle seat-”

“Stewardess!”

“-you must have the aisle seat.”

He glared at me as if no one had talked back to him since the previous dot-com crash.

“I. Purchased. BOTH. Seats!”

What on earth?!

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The stewardess examined our tickets, and sure enough, the airline had sold the same seat twice. Policy dictated that she could not throw me off the plane, so she made arrangements for Mr. Glare (my nickname) to get a refund on his second seat. Mr. Glare, partially reimbursed, stood by his aisle seat one more time, glared at the human who had the offensively existential effrontery to sit next to him, and sat down, squeezing his five foot six frame against me as much as the armrest between us could allow.

He sat like that for the entire trip.

Except when he moved.

And when he moved, he always accidentally on purpose dug his elbow into various parts of my body.

But nowhere where I might have had him arrested for groping.

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So I sat squashed between an overweight gentleman on my right (who slept for the entire flight and how did he manage that?) and Mr. Glare on my left. As usual, the airline food was overpriced, undersized, and pretty bad, but I had already brought my own meal with me. Sadly, so had Mr. Glare, and lifting his sandwich to his mouth gave him many opportunities to accidentally on purpose lift his right elbow almost to the left side of my face.

After a while, I needed a break from this incredibly important and great human being to whom I should have offered profuse apologies for my puny existence. Made my way to the back of the plane and suddenly suffered a grave and saddening epiphany.

I could never join The Mile High Club.

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Sex on airplanes has never appealed to me because far too many things can go far too wrong, and today far too many things go far too wrong in front of far too many iPhones, but now you can’t do it even if you want lifelong Twitter humiliation. First of all, planes have fewer and fewer and fewer restrooms–this jet only had two. So you won’t have time because someone will soon knock on your door. Second, on this jet they were located inside the attendants’ work station, so you cannot sneak inside. Finally, in order to make more space to cram in ever smaller seats, the restrooms have also shrunk. I do not know how an obese person can fit inside one of these, let alone use them. How can two people get wild and woolly inside such a restroom?

Let’s sum up. No free food. Tiny amounts of overpriced bad food. No room. Plenty of unpleasant travelers. Smaller and smaller seats. The unkinkiest of kinky bondage for people who don’t like that at all. No sex even you’re foolish enough to want it. Fewer and fewer restrooms with longer and longer waits in line.

And you have to spend how much money to pay people to abuse you?

And you have to spend how much money not to enjoy any of what you bought??

How much money???

So I’ve switched to trains. Plenty of idiosyncrasies, but overall an experience with which I can live.

As you will see in my next post.

Vonn Scott Bair

8th & Harrison, San Francisco, CA. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Transition)

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Good Afternoon:

The old bus depot at 8th & Harrison in San Francisco as it appeared on 1 December 2012. An open space so vast that these pictures fail to capture the acreage of asphalt.

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8th & Harrison as it appeared yesterday, 27 November 2015.

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Quite a transition, isn’t it?

At least four apartment buildings or condos will rise on the old lot, but that might represent an undercount as the lot was surrounded by a chainlink fence with locks everywhere. If any major city in the United States is transitioning as fast as my home town, I would feel extremely surprised indeed.

Vonn Scott Bair

Does Your City… (Weekly Photo Challenge: [Extra]ordinary)

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Good Evening:

Does your city…have a bench like this?

DSCN2669Actually, probably yes; lots of cities like to convert mundane civic objects into objets d’arte. I happen to like this bench because it pivots 360 degrees. The bench represents part of a combination sidewalk park/recreation area called Outpost, and you will find it on Market Street near Sixth Street. These two gentlemen got a kick out of playing with the bench.

Version 2Outpost includes an unusual type of swing…

DSCN2673…and a highly decorated ping-pong table…

DSCN2671…and a place to ask questions and solicit opinions.

DSCN2672Here is the main structure, complete with schedule of events.

DSCN2674All in all, another example of how San Francisco does things just like everyone else, only differently.

Vonn Scott Bair

Dancing Real Good For Free.

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Good Evening:

At first, I thought she had fallen in the middle of a group of UC Berkeley students at the Downtown Berkeley BART station as she thrashed on one bench. Then I thought she was tripping on bad drugs when she sprang to her feet and ran all the down to the east end of the platform. Then I thought she was just plain bat-bleep crazy when she sat on another concrete bench and tied herself into one odd contortion after another.

Then she stood, lifted one foot over her head in a stretch, and practiced some soft shoe steps.

So I was wrong three times. This young woman was an aspiring dancer, practicing and performing, and to paraphrase Joni Mitchell, “dancing real good for free.”

No editing at all–BART stations have weird light that makes pictures hard without expensive equipment or time to prepare or experience in bad lighting conditions.

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And when she finished her performance-slash-practice, she ran all the way to the other end of the platform to catch the Fremont train home.

Vonn Scott Bair

San Francisco Al Fresco, 24 September 2015.

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Good Evening:

Well, on Thursday I had to delay the midday repast and work during the standard lunch hour, but most San Franciscans did not, and many took advantage of fine weather to eat and relax outdoors.

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Yes, that was a good day to enjoy a good day.

Vonn Scott Bair

Orange, Yellow & White. (Weekly Photo Challenge: Monochromatic)

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Good Evening:

Saw this new item in the Market & Van Ness station:

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…and had another idea for this week’s Challenge–using transit as an inspiration.

So here is a closeup of the door.

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This is a doohickey on the side of the vintage Los Angeles street car that runs up and down Market.

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Vintage street cars have lots of strange doohickeys on their sides. Here’s a yellow one.

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Finishing with something in white, a car door handle.

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I think I’m having too much fun.

Vonn Scott Bair

I Hope He Tinders Because He Fails Reality.

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Good Afternoon:

If you don’t time it right, waiting for the 24-Divisadero at Geary can take quite a bit of time. I had not, and had to wait. After luckily securing a bench seat and checking the college football scores (Northwestern defeated Stanford in a mild upset), I put the iPhone away to study the scene.

Two seats to my left sat a Caucasian male in his early 20s with tasteless camouflage cargo shorts and a short-sleeved Henley shirt of a sickly beige color. I did not recognize that hair style but then again, I am old. He buried his face into his Samsung cell phone, no doubt unaware that he was giving himself a future case of “phone neck,” and yes, this is true–that is a brand-new physical ailment (sometimes called text neck).

He had no idea that she even existed.

She was an Asian woman with long hair who stood about five feet tall (much too short for me), and seemed less than 25 years old (much too young for me). However, if you prefer very short women with long black hair, you would have felt very much interested in her.

And she was interested in him.

When she arrived at the bus stop, she just happened to stop four feet in front of the young man with bad taste in clothes and hair. After a moment, she just happened to look over her shoulder and spotted him, did a double-take, then turned around and faced him directly.

He kept giving himself a future case of phone neck.

She looked to see if the bus was coming (nope, not even close), then took another step toward the young man. She now stood three feet from him, facing him directly.

He kept giving himself a future case of phone neck.

She looked to see if the bus was coming (nope, not even close), then took another step toward the young man. She now stood two feet from him, facing him directly.

He kept giving himself a future case of phone neck.

One more chance. She looked to see if the bus was coming (nope, not even close), then took another step toward the young man. She now stood one foot from him, perhaps only ten inches away from him. She and faced him directly, toe to toe, focusing on his eyelids because she could not see his eyes..

He kept–oh heck, you know what he kept doing.

She stepped back to her original spot, four feet in front of the young man of dubious clothing and hair, turned her back to him, and fixed her eyes upon Divisadero, looking for and awaiting the 24 bus.

He looked up from his cell phone. He looked at her oblivious back.

She fixed her eyes upon Divisadero, looking for and awaiting the 24 bus.

He leaned way over to his left, perhaps trying to see her face, perhaps trying to catch her eye.

She fixed her eyes upon Divisadero, looking for and awaiting the 24 bus.

He returned to his phone, giving himself a future–oh heck, you know what he was giving himself.

I thought, I hope he Tinders, because he fails IRL. I might be old, but even I know that IRL stands for In Real Life.

Vonn Scott Bair