“Negotiate in Good Faith”

Seeing as I am employed by BART, I must tread very careful when it comes to voicing MY opinion on MY web site. Years ago I wrote myself in trouble while at the airlines over MY opinion regarding some specific flights and the reasons they were usually late. Of course this did not go over well with management, even if it was the truth. As they say, the truth CAN hurt.

This is my first time at BART that I have had to go through contract negotiations. Let me preface this by saying, I am not privy to the actual meetings between management and the unions, but hear though a few mouthpieces of our union how things are proceeding. If you believe the media, then nothing is going right. Then again, who actually gives a shit what local media says? I for one, don’t.

I do recall four years ago when I was still a BART patron, employed by the airlines and I say the strike looming and suddenly another fare increase. It pissed me off! Unlike this go around, the economy was a bit stronger 4 years ago and while raises were included in the new contract for employees, this time around is different.

I make no bones about it, I am paid well for what I do. I have big responsibilities as a Train Controller, as I have been well trained (13 months of training), take my job serious, work safe and hopefully make a difference in how the system runs when I am working on shift. All that said, patrons seem to have an entirely different take of the situation.

To their credit I understand where they are coming from. As a patron I would observe the “front line employees” I interacted with on a daily basis, from train operator to station agent and formed opinions. These were the main employees I dealt with. Much like the airlines, you form opinions based on the experiences you have. It’s no wonder so many people I talked to hated United Airlines, because the front line employees didn’t give shit about who or what paid their salary.

I have spent too much time reading some of the rider web sites, BART Rage and BART Musings and while these are but a small cross section of the ridership, some are armed with incorrect information, others make compelling arguments but everyone wants to resolve the situation.

What does not help the matter is our the salaries of BART employees are available for everyone to see since we are subsidized by the government. As I understand it, management figures were released a week or so ago to the media and now the rest of the salaries for BART employees are viewable online (ah yes, isn’t America great?). Looking at the salaries of the different groups does not help the unions case, especially in these struggling economic times. Yet, as has been brought up many times before the pay and decisions by the BART Board of Directors has also been called into question by the public.

My hope is these negotiations are finalized and do not drag on because the last thing I want to think of doing is going on strike and taking time off from work. I have no desire to “walk the line” as they say. So please both sides lets get a contract done and continue to work.

Standing Room Only

In my days at United Airlines, I would post blog updates under the Aviation inSecurity heading. Well, since I no longer give a rat’s ass about the nation’s airlines or their security, I have taken on a new rage, in the newly created Standing Room Only.

News or shall I say opinions under this heading will deal with your typical asshat who rides public transportation, but treats it like their own car. I have made it known in the past I am now employed at BART in the Oakland/S.F. area, as of October. But I have rode the system for more than 2 years prior to hiring on. So I have seen and experienced quite a bit, being he first time I have used public transportation on a regular basis. With gas at $3.00+ per gallon (yeah, I know Euros pay more per liter) and a “free ride” on the train, I think the choice is a simple one.

From behind my sunglasses I would people watch. That always makes the trip interesting. So these columns will focus on those sorts of events that transpire. Now this is nowhere as critical about BART as BART Rage, some of those “people” are just downright obnoxious. I would consider Standing Room Only more along the lines of BART Musings, which is described as, “People watching, eavesdropping, and more on the Bay Area Rapid Transit.”

Today we start off with the mid-30s Mexican fella who was sitting across from the seat I normally take on a daily basis. Well, as the doors slide open, the smell of a taqueria hits you. I walk in, sit down and start surfing on my Blackberry. I notice his 10-speed bike leaning against two unoccupied seats and he is occupy two more, with his feet up he takes two more for a total of six seats!

This Mexican (I don’t have to be politically correct either.) must think he is at home, as he is shoving fork loads of food into his mouth, with little regard to the red and black sign over his head that reads, ‘No food or drink.’

As the train departs the station he continues eating. Prior to the next station he finishes his meal, wraps up the Styrofoam packaging in a white, plastic bags and toss it on the floor of the car. I watch him through this entire process. He then gets on his cell phone and starts talking away. About 5 minutes later, he concludes his call and falls asleep, still occupying six seats.

I was not able to follow this through to the end, as I transferred prior to his stop. Eating on the train, while not “legal” pe say, is a very common occurrence. I don’t think BART Police will arrest anyone for it, or even blink an eye. I’ll admit, prior to coming to work for BART, I too would munch on something, out of a bag, like chips or beef jerky. But not a god damn full blown meal.

What’s worse, the fact that one of the biggest complaints about BART is how dirty the cars/seats are. Well no shit, when riders think they can leave their empty containers and papers in the car when they leave. You aren’t at home and you are not in your car, take your damn trash and throw it away. This is not the first, nor will it be the last time I see this on a train, but it is one of those things that really is offensive.

Far Too Long

*sigh* It seems I go through extended periods where time seems to be against me. Unlike that money tree planted in my backyard, I cannot buy an extra hour or two during the day. There are only 24 hours in a day and I seem to have none…well, very little left for myself. It also means I have too many of those hobbies that continue to draw zero attention. Of course my wife and son are the two most important things in my life, so I guess everything else ends up being secondary, right?

So the resolutions were on the final day of 2006 and this is actually my first post of the new year. As you can tell it has taken me nearly 3 weeks to finally get a few minutes to sit down and dust this place off and drop a few thoughts.

First, the job at BART. I love the company, although it’s rather hilarious over at BARTrage.com to read the complaints from an ill informed traveling public who use the transportation system daily. I’ll admit it, I had never used public transportation until I moved to NoCal and my only complaint when I used BART was the high fare to get me to and from work, which was about $15.45 a day!

As for training, and I think I speak for the three of us, Train Controllers that we cannot wait until February 9 until we are done with the first phase of our training. We have gained an extensive knowledge, but as our instructor said, “once you leave, you will forget everything you learned.” You know what, she is right. We have so much more information to learn and absorb that phase of training is like a warm up. Not to sound negative, because I am not, I am so thrilled to be one of the few who were selected to be a Train Controller, but we have A LOT of training to get through and this is just the beginning.

After numerous complaints (I love you wife!) from Hottlipz, we finally got a new SUV. We traded in 2002 Mazda Tribute ES for a new 2007 Mazda CX-7. Now I hate, just hate dealing with car salesmen. They are snakes. ALL of them. But I will consider myself lucky this go around. A buddy of mine who works at Mazda in Walnut Creek recommended a salesman to me, so I ended up buying from him. Good guy, gave us a great deal on a Chystal White Pearl Mica CX-7 off the showroom floor. It was my intention to get a more fuel efficient vehicle, but I do believe I failed in that attempt. This is a 244-hp turbocharged engine, which require 91 octane fuel, so I loose out there. Also, the estimated MPG was 18 city, 24 highway, I fear we will never see anything close to 24 on the highway. But, the wife is happy. Isn’t that all that matters?

The gaming scene continue to roll on in the life of Urban Terror. I know very few community goers actually visit my site any longer since I changed the format, but there are still a dedicated few. The new version is awesome, we feel it is our best work (okay, so I didn’t actually work on it) to date. The improvements on a very aged engine are amazing and there is actually more we could do. But overall the team is feeling very confident about announcing an upcoming release date.

We continue to support a QA Team…quick aside, its amazing some just want to bitch and complain when on the QA Team, thinking they are a gaming gods, guess they don’t understand some things, like you don’t make the game, we do. Anyways, big props to many of the testers who have put in a lot of time and effort, providing their time, input and expertise when it comes to a game they enjoy.

We are still a few levels short of a release, I can think of two, well now one level that is outstanding that RabidCow is still working on. Great looking level too. INVIS just dropped a near final version of Crenshaw on the FTP for the testers, you can see the new shots at the Urban Terror website. And yes, I am still working on getting an Urban Radio Show together for a pre-release and one on release day.

That’s all for now, my son is crying, need to check into that…