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Archive for April, 2008

update: a tale of two bus stops

Posted by Ms. Herr on 04.24.2008

Because I know you’re all still sitting on the edge of your chairs wondering how this one turned out…

Monday, I was a bit perturbed by a inconsistent, and somewhat contradictory, information about the location of the bus stop at Kyrene and Bell de Mar. To recap, based on the equation: bench + blue sign + route schedule = bus stop, my dilemma was that within 30′ of each other were two stops, each with two of the three physical cues of a stop, but each also missing one vital cue, thus making the actual bus stop difficult to determine. I hypothesized that Valley Metro was shifting the stop southward.

As I left for work today (driving, not public transit-ing) I noticed that the blue bus stop sign that was previously located at the north stop had been moved to the south stop with the shaded bench and route schedules.

In other words, I was right!

Not that it makes my Monday experience any more or less dissatisfying now…


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untitled 02

Posted by Ms. Herr on 04.23.2008

soul’s vivid palette eclipsed by black sun
unexpectedly fleetingly
pursued by shade’s wake
you are stranger to me
foreignness originating within

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solamente el prólogo

Posted by Ms. Herr on 04.21.2008

I have written my first book review; it is of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

In the end, I found myself most moved by the prologue and a story of Narcissus…

…a youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning, he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born. which was called narcissus.

…when Narcissus died, the goddess of the forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears.

“Why do you weep?” the goddesses asked.

“I weep for Narcissus, “ the lake replied.

“Ah, it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus,” they said, “for thought we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand.”

“But … was Narcissus beautiful?” the lake asked.

“Who better than you to know that?” the goddesses said in wonder. “After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself?”

The lake was silent for some time. Finally it said:

“I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.”

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a tale of two bus stops

Posted by Ms. Herr on 04.21.2008

It’s been three weeks since I last rode the bus (and three weeks since I met Tweety Bird). In that time, indeed probably in the last few days, there have been some minor street improvements on Kyrene. So minor that I haven’t even noticed them despite driving on the street everyday. Until this morning, because this morning it affected me.

I catch either the 65 or the 62 to campus from Kyrene and Bell de Mar. My last time here, the stop consisted of a concrete bench with the city of Tempe logo imprinted on the ends, the standard blue bus stop sign, and the northbound route schedules.

Today, this stop still had the concrete bench and blue bus stop sign, but 30’ to the south was a new concrete pad with the typical brown bus stop shading structure, a green metal bench, and the northbound route schedules, obviously moved from their prior location.

Suddenly a dilemma: if bench + blue sign + route schedule = bus stop, then when faced with two stops, each with two of the three physical cues of a stop, but each also missing one vital cue, which is the actual bus stop and where do I stand if I want to catch it?

It’s all a bit confusing. My best guess is that Valley Metro is shifting the stop slightly to the south for business entry reasons, but there is no on site visual confirmation of if this change is occurring and when it goes into effect. In the meantime, I chose the new south stop. The bus driver saw me, and stopped, but at the original stop. Clearly I chose wrong. When boarding, I mentioned the confusion resulting from inconsistent information. His reply: “this is where the bus stops, and this is where I stop.”

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truth in advertising

Posted by Ms. Herr on 04.6.2008

Occasional Sundays find me veggin’ on the couch watching NASCAR on TV and the live leaderboard updating in a browser window on my MacBook. NASCAR is a sponsor heavy sport, so it’s only natural that some 80plus% (pure SWAG, as in the scientific wild-ass guessing type of SWAG) of the advertising spots are sponsor ads featuring the sport and the drivers. I usually watch these with mild interest and most I have seen several times. However, today marks the first time that I’ve seen the Chevrolet commercial featuring Jimmie Johnson’s achievement of back-to-back Nextel Cup Championships. Here is a version of the commercial:

I think it’s cool that the content reveals what goes into a making of a NASCAR season (or in this case, two seasons) happen, from car hardware (1,428 tires) to team personnel (98 guys from pit crew to back-of-house), but a single ‘stat’, the last ‘stat’, riled me: “one Chevy that’s built to last…built to love.”

Oh no, slow your roll! Jimmie Johnson did not win two back-to-back championships in a single, solitary Chevy car!

NASCAR drivers use multiple vehicles throughout a single season. They drive a different car on short tracks (less than 1 mile) than they do on longer tracks and superspeedways (at least 2 miles). These cars are designed to respond to the demands that the different track types place on the vehicle. Aerodynamics, engines, transmissions, and more can vary.  And because failures are inevitable, they have backup cars, backup engines, backup transmissions. It’s why you can go see an actual car raced by Jimmie, and not a life-size model, at a Lowe’s doing a special event leading up to a race.

The commercial’s desired message is that Chevrolet vehicles are reliabile and durable, that they can withstand rigorous driving conditions and still perform exceptionally. The desired message that you only need one car. Understandably, admitting that Jimmie drove multiple cars in the 2006 and 2007 seasons doesn’t sync with this message. But consider that he drove multiple models, Monte Carlo(s) in 2006 and both Monte Carlo(s) and Impala(s) in 2007*, the same Chevrolet models driven in NASCAR by any of the drivers in Chevrolets. He did drive only one brand of car, and maybe this is where Chevy gets away with taking advantage of a potentially unknowlegable public, with implying that one car is really all you need, and with bending (though I’d love to say blatently disregarding) standards designed to preserve truth in advertising.

*source: List of NASCAR Champions, Wikipedia.

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3 down, 40 to go…

Posted by Ms. Herr on 04.3.2008

So after citing it in expanding my library, I decided I should sign up for 43 Things and create my own list. I have identified 3 goals so far:

1) qualify for (& run) the Boston Marathon
2) build a personal library
3) watch every James Bond movie ever made

Now I’m a n00b on the site, but I’ve already formed a judgement about the quality of the site, or more accurately, the quality of the goals that are being set and shared by the site’s members. I don’t want to belittle any individual’s goal-setting and goal-achieving strategies, but I was immediately disappointed by how many I saw that were…well…half-ass. Check it out:


In the goal cloud above, (roughly) 21 of 213 goals contain the words more or less or some other similar modifier. In other words, they’re vague. How much is more? How much is less? And my favorite, how much is -er? I assume each individual has some criteria in mind that becomes their marker for success, but modifiers such as more, less, and -er require nothing more than incremental change. I’m a relatively thin gal with awesome DNA and an awesome metabolism to thank for my figure? Say I wanted to gain weight so that I am *gasp* heavier? I might gain 3 lbs in a day of mere water weight if I simply chose hydration over coffee, but I’m not producing any real significant lasting affect on my overall health.

Then there is the issue of time. By when does one want or need to be -er? A month? A year? 10 years? How about just sometime before death? Take the goal of stop waiting (2nd tag from left, one row above the black cat avatar). Clearly a goal set by a procrastinator. Maybe they’ll start to stop waiting tomorrow.

21 of 213 is only 10%. Not bad. But vague modifiers and truant timetables aren’t the only problem. One person wants to follow through. Another to levitate.

Talk about fail at goal-setting. 

Alas, there is hope yet. SMART goals to the rescue.

Specific  ◊  Measurable  ◊  Attainable  ◊  Realistic  ◊  Timeable  

Though by no means is the only strategy, SMART goals do provide a simple method for turning half-assedness into successful goal-setting and goal-achieving. And lest I be a pot among kettles, I shall first confess that I have not always been (OK, OK…make that never been) diligent about using the SMART methodology myself. But I do want to be more better at this whole goal thing-a-ma-jig and I’m going to start by making each one of my 43 Things SMART.

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