September 8th, 2004

Tom Lehrer is Smug


So the Boston Globe is reporting that the MBTA is looking into going all Smart Card by 2006. That means getting rid of our old pals, the golden (formerly silver) T tokens and switching completely to those crazy space-age automated fare Metrocard-like things that other modern light transit systems use. This also means, as slyly noted in one line of the article, that they plan on going to a structured fare system and raising the fare during rush hour periods. It'd be a dream of mine that all proceeds from the higher fares would go towards developing a cure for the overpowering stench of urine which can be enjoyed at certain spots in certain T stations (Nature's Miracle for people?) or perhaps finding a way to put more than two trains on the Orange Line on a Sunday of a holiday weekend. Maybe they can even put some of this extra money towards developing artificial intelligence which will be able to override human judgement -- the human judgement that scheduled Red Line track repair on the aforementioned holiday weekend, for one.

Oh, but I snark. What got me most about the article was the fact that they need a name for these smart cards. The article mentions what other cities have done for their card systems -- given them a simple, catchy name that reflects the region or at least gives the card character. Seattle and Puget Sound will get the "Orca", Hong Kong has the Octopus, and London has the Oyster (I'm guessing the slogan there is "the city is your..." ?)

And what did the inventive geniuses of Dinkus, Dorkus and Malorkus come up with for Boston? Check out these winners, which were bandied about in a focus group:
  • T Liberty
  • T Hub
  • T Zap
  • T Go
  • T Vantage
  • T Plus
Oh, wait, wait, here, let me add a suggestion of my own:
  • T These Names All Suck
I realize this joke would've been 100% better had the letter been G instead of T, but I guess they really really really really like that T motif.

However, the best suggestion so far came almost as an ad-lib from a MBTA board member: The Charlie Card. That's as in Charlie on the MTA. One of my favorite songs ever, but that's beside the point -- this name comes complete with its own ready-to-sing jingle and, in some cases, accurately describes the T to a, well, tee. (O ye citizens of Boston, don't you think it's a scandal / How the people have to pay and pay?)

Of course, being a town of stubborn Yankees and almost-stubborn transplants, I predict everybody'll just be calling them "T cahds" no matter what. Now there's a good idea -- why not call it the Cod? Excellent pun and we get that seafaring creature angle that the other cities seem to like. And it pays homage to the fish that kept this state solvent during the lean years. Don't believe me? Visit the Massachusetts State House sometime and check out the Sacred Cod in the representatives' chambers. They open their sessions by pledging allegiance to the Sacred Cod, I kid you not.

Ah well. The T is the transit system I love to hate, and I eagerly look forward to having more reasons to do so.
Tom Lehrer is Smug


I bought new shoes today. You probably don't understand what a big thing in life it is for me to buy new shoes. The only thing I buy with less frequency is, uh. Probably furniture. I never buy furniture. And I rarely buy shoes. I usually only get new shoes if the old pair has worn out beyond the point of usefulness. Yes, I said "old pair" and by "old pair" I mean "Hello I have one pair of shoes." (Actually, I have two; my everyday shoes and a pair of dress shoes that I rarely use because it means I have to polish them and find the black socks which I think the cats threw under the dresser because they looked like black mice or something.)

Apparently this one-pair phenomenon is a "guy" thing. But I hate "guy" things. I'd rather just call it a "crazy person" thing. I don't like people who automatically and with great polarity categorize everyday personality traits by gender simply because of the "AM I RITE GALS OR AM I RITE" mentality normally associated with stand-up comedians or the authors of those horrible Mars-And-Venus books. Although I have a Y chromosome and the appropriate dangly bits that go with it, I ask for directions if lost and I put the toilet seat down after using the bathroom and if you want the remote control, go right ahead and use it, but if I see something on I'll ask to go back so we can see what's up. At any rate, I think it's useless to perpetuate a gender rift that way. I'd rather there not be a gender rift. We're much cooler to each other without one.

Oh, yes. Footwear. I bought a new pair tonight because my old pair of boots were going right out. They were winter boots but Mom had given them to me as a Christmas present last year when I was broke and so poor that I dreamed about eating ramen, so I as a thrifty Yankee wore them all throughout this year. As a result I walked three winters' worth of walking in nine months, so they had cracked and split and the heels wore down due to the way I walk and by the end of it I was hobbling around with almost reverse arch support. The lining in the boots had gone and they ate up all my socks. I had holes in every pair. It was embarassing and uncomfortable and on bad days, every step was pain. I got used to it, though. I had to. I had no other choice.

Until tonight when I realized OH HEY NO WAIT when I was at the shoe store. Kristen and Lynn were running pell-mell inside, Lynn trying on orange Chucks and truly hideous Dutch clog shoes, and I was over in the Manly Men Shoes For Men Who Are Manly section and I saw a nice pair of New Balance walkers. And they were on sale. And they had 'em in my size. And they were in black. I don't like white sneakers. And since I bought a pair, Lynn's hideous Dutch cloggy things were half-price, so we all won.

And oh lordy are them shoes comfortable. There's still a bit of breaking-in pain and I haven't worn anything but high-tops for a long time so the feeling of nothing around the ankles is kinda weird but let me tell you it is so worth it to not have a nice stabbing pain in the heel every time I take a step. I'll see how they hold up tomorrow during my usual walking rounds. I think they're gonna do just fine. The best part was I had this incredible back-to-school rush, as I used to associate new pairs of shoes with a new school year. Oh how we could dash up them junior high steps in comfortable new PF Flyers! You really could run a mile in under a minute with those beauties and their new soles and cushions and stuff. Sure, by the end of next summer they'd be beat and dead and more than likely covered in grass clippings from the lawnmowing summer job, but that was OK cause you'd get brand-new ones just in time for the first homeroom bell of the year.

Actually, the best part of this purchase was that I also bought new socks because who wants to wear ratty old socks in new shoes, and -- and this is the most important part -- to purge myself of the object empathy I knew would hold me back, I deposited both the old socks and old boots in garbage bins before making my way back home. Now all I have are the new shoes and that's the way it should be.

I realize this might very well be one of the most mundane posts I've written here, but I'm psyched. New shoes, goddammit! New shoes!