Wednesday, October 17, 2007

God Ween Cheney

Today Chicago's forecast is for a high of 75 degrees and storms. Tomorrow calls for a high of 79 and strong thunderstorms. The date is October 16. I'm no Steve Baskerville, but that's not a good sign.

A minor rant: the good people at ETS (Remember that company? The one that administers all those annoying standardized tests you take before going to college?) are either incredibly fiscally irresponsible or are brilliantly running a huge money laundering operation. It costs $15 for them to send a print-out of your test scores to any institution. So, for them to print out 4 pieces of paper (they are nice enough to TRY to get it done within 2 weeks of receiving your request) for me, it costs $60. Score reports are free if you order them the same day you take the test, but I thought the whole point of standardized tests was to take them BEFORE you apply to schools. Test fees ain't cheap either, but that didn't stop them from not having any AC on the hot-ass day I was lucky enough to be taking my test. If these things are so important, you'd think they'd find a way to make the temperature less than 90 degrees during the 3+ excruciating hours they make you stare at a computer screen.

A major rant: Chicago public transit is in store for another "Doomsday". Literally, they are calling November 4 a doomsday, right after we had a potential doomsday a couple months ago. The best part? The real doomsday hits in January. By that time, they are threatening to eliminate 82 of the city's already shitty bus routes, leaving only 72 routes remaining, including practically zero anywhere near my apartment. Seriously, look at this shit. For those of you non-math wizards out there, that's 53.2% of the bus routes that will be eliminated.

The best part about all of these doomsdays is that the handling of the first one demonstrates how shittily government is run in these here parts. Back in August the CTA was begging for extra money but didn't get it. Instead, they decided to BORROW money out of the 2008 budget to postpone any of the hardships. Brilliant. Rather than institute what seemed like some necessary cuts and fare hikes, they instead chose to dig themselves an even deeper hole.

Now there are posters and CTA employees everywhere telling us poor souls to contact our local government officials to save Chicago transit. My question is where the hell did all these people come from? The only CTA employees I ever see are the lazy-ass ladies sitting at the station near my apartment who don't give change and eat more fried food than anyone I have ever seen (in fairness, though, yesterday I did see one of them eating an orange). Are these people really necessary? As far as I can tell they serve no customer service purpose, and I estimate that there's a 0% chance they could ever prevent any sort of crime on the platform that can't easily be seen from their booth. My station serves one train line and 2 buses, which doesn't exactly make these employees an indispensable source for transit information, not that they'd necessarily help anyone out anyway.

Ergo, when you connect the dots you realize that this agency, like all Chicago government entities, is bloated with people who probably make way too much money and who receive benefits that are vastly more generous than those received by the general population. And they don't really do anything except put up posters when doomsdays roll around. Also, it's not like our fares are so high that they can't be raised. It costs me $1.75 a ride, but because I pay online I get a 10% discount, knocking the fare somewhere around the $1.55 range. I also pay with pre-tax dollars, so I end up getting something like a 25-30% discount there as well. My lady friend, a student, pays somewhere in the neighborhood of $80 per semester for her unlimited pass.

What I'm getting at is that I think most of us doomsday sufferers would be better at running the CTA's finances than the cronies who have been fucking things up all these years. Perhaps what the CTA really needs is Charles Grodin's character from the movie Dave, an accountant who comes to the White House one night to help his buddy balance the federal budget. I mean, seriously, I'm pretty sure that Charles Grodin passed away, but can't we get some sort of Grodin surrogate to come and save the day?

If you ask me, all these doomsdays are a bunch of bullshit. The CTA is just trying to make people scared so that they can find a way to get enough cash to eke out their shitty status quo. I'll probably end up eating my words here and be forced to rollerblade to work [shirtless and wearing big headphones], but that's what's running thru my noggin.

OK, long rant over. Did you know that Al Sharpton is my uncle? Actually, there's a 99.999% chance that statement is total bullshit, but Barack Obama IS related to Dick Cheney, so you never know. Those family reunions must be a barrel o' laughs...

Ween comes to the Windy City this Saturday, playing at a venue with questionable acoustics and even more questionable on-sale policies that all but require you to use the evil demon Ticketmaster. Rock on.


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