COTA Causes Creative Thinking

Statehouse Reflection #2

Originally uploaded by TimPerdue

I continue to take the COTA Challenge. I rode to and from work yesterday and am doing so today, plus the rest of the week. I’m finding that riding the bus in my situation has caused me to have to do some critical thinking and problem-solving.

For example, I share my car with my boyfriend, Grey. He usually works shorter days than me — he’s a waiter at Mad Mex in the South Campus Gateway. We also live at least a half mile from the nearest bus stop — with a walk that has no sidewalks and crossing a dangerous 4-lane, 45-MPH road. Soooo, we’ve developed this pattern: He takes me to the main bus stop and goes home to get ready to work. (4 miles total) When he goes to work, he drives to the bus stop and leaves the car in Giant Eagle parking lot. (2 miles) When he gets off work, he drives home and waits for time to pick me up OR he stops at the library and gets to the car and waits for me, depending on when he gets off work. (sometimes 2 miles) He takes me home from the bus stop (2 miles).

This works fine when he works day shift. Night shift has created a challenge, because my car has only one key and keyless remote. To get a second key will cost $35 (the key has a chip in it). Another keyless remote would cost about $50. We’re not getting a second key nor a remote at this time. So, how could we share the car if he goes to work and doesn’t get off until late? Our solution so far has been he takes me to work and goes home (13 miles), he drives to my work (6.5 miles) and I take him over to his workplace and go back to work (4 miles). I drive home after I get off work (6.5 miles) and then go get him when he’s done later that night (11 miles). That’s a whopping 41 miles!

I finally figured out a solution. It hopefully will work tonight. This morning, Grey took me to the bus stop (2 miles) and went home (2 miles). He drives to bus stop and parks, leaving the key only in the car, locking the doors using the automatic locks. I ride bus to stop, use the keyless remote to open the doors, retrieve the key, and take the car home (4 miles). I pick him up from work later that night (buses don’t run at that point) (11 miles).

One down side to this method is that using they key to open the doors of my car sets off a security alarm (short beeps of the horn) until the key is inserted in the ignition. This is a bother for Grey, but doesn’t affect me at all! hee hee I worried that some hidden security feature might prevent us from leaving the key in the car or separating it from the remote, but we ran a few highly scientific tests last night. (We ran the routine with the windows of the car rolled down in case alarms went off or it otherwise freaked out.) All seems well.

Leaving the key in the car may seem a little risky. However, this is why we park it in the very busy parking lot at the bus stop that is 2 miles away, rather than the one .5 miles away which is secluded and has almost no traffic. Crime is also low in the area where we leave the car. Finally, if someone breaks into the car and the key isn’t in there, they still have ways of starting it if they really want to (though I think starting it without the key with the chip causes it to eventually shut down). Either way, because the key does have a chip, it acts like some sort of lojack and would help us retrieve the car.

A side note on the “hidden benefits” of bus riding. I had a lovely conversation the other day while sitting on the low wall that surrounds the Statehouse. A woman and I struck up a conversation as we sat, facing east toward the older Huntington building. She pointed out that she loves to sit there every day just to admire the gorgeous ornate door on the building. It has beautiful brass carvings and is quite breathtaking. This image doesn’t quite do it justice, but I thank the photographer for having it on Flickr! There is much to see and appreciate in downtown Columbus!


LOL @ Jon Stewart

I don’t have cable. But I try to check out Jon Stewart online when I can. Thanks to Andrew for passing this along:

Issues with COTA

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I would also like to add that another reason the bus could have been late the other day was that it could have broken down. This happens a lot, according to the frequent riders I’ve talked to. I wonder if it would be possible to make that information available on the COTA information number. I called it and went through a series of menus, but could not get any information about the location of my bus at that time. I know the buses are GPS-connected because you can track them online. This, however, isn’t useful to those without a blackberry. So, could it be connected to an automated phone system? I don’t know the costs nor the logistics of this, just sayin. 🙂

TBDBITL Walks me to the bus

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I found out later that TBDBITL was playing in an athletic field for the tryouts for this year’s Drum Major. Congratulations to the winner!
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COTA Challenge

This month, the COTA challenge takes off in full force in our household. Both Grey and I will be taking the bus to and from work as much as possible. We will buy only one monthly pass right now, because his schedule may not warrant using one at this point. Today he is having a second key made for my car and I’m picking up the monthly pass tonight. Then, we’re off on our plan:

1. Grey usually works a shorter shift than I do, during the day. So, he will take me to bus stop in the morning (.5 mile) and I will ride to work. When it’s time for him to go to work, he will park the car at Giant Eagle and ride to work. His ride is significantly shorter than mine — he takes the 5 east to High Street and then walks a few block up to the restaurant, where he works, in the South Campus Gateway. I, however, transfer to a second bus. It takes me about an hour. At night, he will go home on the bus and take the car home until time to meet me at the bus stop. If he gets off work at a time close to mine, he’ll hang out and wait for me at Giant Eagle. (he smokes. It’s all good.)

2. When Grey works nights (like tonight, for Cinco de Mayo), he will take me to bus stop in the morning, then park at Giant Eagle when he goes to work. I’ll pick up the car when I go home, and then drive to pick him up at work when he gets off. The bus usually isn’t running by the time he gets off work at night.

3. I will use the monthly bus pass, since I’ll be riding to work nearly every day. He will pay out of pocket this month, until we see how his usage averages out.

4. I also plan to work some grocery shopping and other errands into my trips home. I might possibly get myself up an hour early, too, so that I could do some shopping in the morning, when the grocery is less crowded.

5. I am now transferring at Broad and High. Not as scary as I thought it would be.

6. I have already caught up on half the trade magazines and newsletters that have been piled on my desk. They’ll be all gone by the end of this week. I also read an entire novel last week during the work week.

Forming Storming Norming Performing

Tuesday was the Columbus Social Media Cafe at OCLC in Dublin. This growing collaboration among WOSU, COSI, Internet bloggers, tech folks, friends, neighbors and citizens is becoming a group headed for good things for Columbus. My colleagues in the group are doing a good job of summarizing the upcoming work of the group, and its filtration into events like ComFest, PodCamp Ohio, Startup Weekend, etc. I would like to briefly offer observations of the group’s dynamic and what I see as its potential.

I’m going to drag out that master’s degree in communication and dust off a group dynamic called Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. The theory is that these are the stages of a group coming together. I think the first couple of CSMC meet-ups were the stage of Forming — gaining an identity and long -term buy-in from key players. There was a brief storming, maybe, at about the time I entered the group. That meet-up was more contentious, had low attendance, and seemed to operate as a struggle to answer, “What are we doing here?” Storming is good, by the way, according to the theory. It’s a way for the group to shake itself into place, so to speak.

Norming — the process of developing group rules and ways of doing things — is next. It’s followed by performing, an easy-to-understand concept. I think that the CSMC is in both of these stages, mostly norming. We’re talking names, maybe a mission, branding. We’ve identified a way to talk collectively online through a Google Group. We’re developing a group calendar.

I see glimpses of performing. Andrew‘s work with the ComFest Folks is great! This will result in (hopefully) CSMC members providing training onsite at the event, as well as involvement in the community that will surely net more participation and create more networks. Our interest in Startup Weekend and PodCamp will most likely increase the group’s effectiveness and develop a wider circle.

I also believe that the participation of very progressive and talented thinkers from OCLC, from the site is adding new life and creating new energy within the CSMC.

As I am watching this coalescence occur, I have just a couple of thoughts to consider:

1. Our original question contained the thought of “making Columbus better”. I think this is key to the role of the group and I hope we continue to keep it front-and-center, and avoid becoming a group that simply exists to engage in cool digital stuff. (I don’t think we’re doing that now at all; I only foresee it as a potential pitfall).

2. I believe that inherent in making Columbus better is making ourselves better — each constituent, each organization, each shareholder in the group. An example of this is the volunteerism of a couple of the group’s members, who answered phones during WOSU’s recent pledge drive. Each time our group, or its individual members, tries to help improve another member’s situation, the group as a whole benefits, as does the community.

That said, I have one idea to share and welcome discussion about: As we develop CSMC meetings in various neighborhoods around Columbus, can we possibly add a component of contributing to that neighborhood in some way. Could we, for example, commit to offering a workshop on internet homework help or photo editing and sharing if we met in the Franklinton library branch (even if we offer the workshop on a different day than our meeting)? Might we help the director of an agency create a blog if we met in that agency’s facilities? These are just ideas off the top of my head and I’m positive the group would come up with better ones. I am hoping, however, that the idea of improving any place, organization or neighborhood we touch is what really stands out.

I welcome any and all discussion. My disclaimer: the ideas offered here are my own, and don’t represent the CSMC, WOSU or any other entity. Just little old me!

Here is a link for the Forming Storming Norming Performing theory

Words to Live By

I’m not religious, so please don’t read these as some sort of Christian crusade. Rather, I find it helpful to seek the wisdom behind them — spoken like a true spiritual generalist, eh? Anyway, I wanted to start the week out right — and with something I could cut and paste!

1. Faith is the ability to not panic.

2. If you worry, you didn’t pray. If you prayed, don’t worry.

3. As a child of God, prayer is kind of like calling home every day.

4. Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.

5. When we get tangled up in our problems, be still. God wants us to be still so He can untangle the knot.

6. Do the math. Count your blessings.

7. God wants spiritual fruit, not religious nuts.

8. Dear God: I have a problem. It’s me.

9. Silence is often misinterpreted, but never misquoted.

10. Laugh every day – it’s like inner jogging.

11. The most important things in your home are the people.

12. Growing old is inevitable, growing up is optional.

13. There is no key to happiness. The door is always open. Come on in.

14. A grudge is a heavy thing to carry.

15. He who dies with the most toys is still dead.

16. We do not remember days but moments. Life moves too fast so enjoy your precious moments.

17. Nothing is real to you until you experience it; otherwise it’s just hearsay.

18. It’s all right to sit on your pity pot every now and again. Just be sure to flush when you are done.

19. Surviving and living your life successfully requires courage. The goals and dreams you’re seeking require courage and risk-taking. Learn from the turtle, it only makes progress when it sticks out its neck.

20. Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. No matter the storm, when you are with God , there’s always a rainbow waiting.

Climbing climbing

Today was the fourth time that Dee and I have climbed to the 12th floor of the Fawcett Center. We did it in about 6 minutes going up, and about 4 minutes coming down. We go slowly, too. I can’t imagine how quickly we could do it when we get better. Either way, I am burning a couple hundred calories every time I do it. I hate knowing that, in a way, because I am then tempted to eat that many calories for “free”. Silly girl.

I already notice that I’m sleeping a little better, and feeling more able to wake up in the morning. Yaaaay!

Exercise: Day 2

All 12 floors climbed today, which killed my already aching legs! I know this exercise thing gets better with time. Meanwhile, Dee and I are keeping at it.

We are trying to figure out how much good this will do us. My research of the internet shows that we can burn various numbers of calories by climbing stairs. I think the most scientific approach is at this site. According to How Stuff Works, it’s a matter of horsepower.

We counted the steps today: 237. Tomorrow we begin accurately timing ourselves so that we can get a calorie count. Either way, I can definitely FEEL it working.

10th … Actually 12th Floor Challenge

I don’t exercise. I’m out of shape, lazy, and overweight.

I will, however, exercise if I have a buddy to do it with me. That’s why I’m excited that Dee, who works in my building, and I are going to start the 10th Floor Challenge today. The Fawcett Center has 10 floors in its tower. Our challenge is to work up to climbing the stairs all the way from the basement to the 10th floor every day. (One of my coworkers does this twice a day. Show off.) Anyway, we start today, our mission to climb as many floors as we can until we’re winded.

This is all part of my money saving efforts, too. With OSU health plans, there is an incentive program in which you get points for various health activities, such as regular physicals, eye doctor, dentist, health workshops, and, of course, exercise. To get points each month, you have to have at least 12 exercise sessions.

I’m keeping my log here, so I’ll update this post after we’re done later this morning. 10th floor, here I come! (Well, not really, but soon.)

UPDATE: Okay, so there are 12 floors not 10. I’m renaming this the 12th Floor Challenge! Dee and I just finished. We actually did all 12 floors, but very slowly. I still had a racing heart and was breaking a sweat halfway through! Yay!

Oh yeah, I also wanted to clarify the health/fitness points thing. Each point is a dollar and I can earn a max of $125 for the year. They give it to me in my paycheck and I can earn it at four different times during the year, depending on when I reach my points limit.

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