A group of EITMers, including me, went to the zoo on Wednesday, and I took about a bazillion photos. It was fun, although I’m not sure I’ve recovered yet from the 4+ miles of walking I did that day (the bulk of it to and from the zoo from the northwest corner of the WashU campus).
All of the snow around here is disappearing at a shockingly rapid rate. Not that I’m complaining, mind you; it’s just really freaky to see it all disappear in a matter of a few hours in what I’d hardly call balmy weather (although, I suppose by St. Louis standards 56 is balmy for mid-February).
Today’s USA Today reports on metropolitan St. Louis’ two biggest white elephants: Runway 11 at Lambert and the whole of MidAmerica. I’d find them more tolerable if the excess capacity translated into low airfares, but the discounters in St. Louis either have limited (Southwest, Midwest) or virtually nonexistent (Allegiant) networks—so unless the destination is Vegas or Orlando, most travelers would be better off at a real hub like Detroit or Memphis, instead of paying hub prices while living at the wrong end of a spoke.
A nice capper to a semi-miserable day: one of my upstairs neighbors informed me a couple of hours ago that we have no water in the building. At least the damn electricity is still on… for now, at least.
It would seem that the power is finally back on in my apartment after nearly four days (either that or someone has stolen all of my computer gear and hooked it up at their house... I can't really tell from work). Now I get to look forward to going home and throwing away the contents of my refrigerator.
Elsewhere: Mike Munger took notice of my plight.
One of the regulars at the St. Louis HDTV forums at AVSForum.com has put together a rather lengthy survey for HD viewers in the region, with the hopes of getting results from local broadcasters. So, if you have HD in St. Louis, go forth and help out.
Today I decided that wasting several hours downtown fighting my Metrolink fine to save $25 wasn’t going to be the best use of my time, particularly since my court date was scheduled for a day I either will teach or be out of town, so I paid my fine and court costs by mail like a man.
The moral of this whole story: make sure your monthly pass is in your wallet several times a day, even if that makes you look obsessive-compulsive to the rest of the universe.
After various and sundry experimentation, I have concluded that no matter what I do, it will take me about 12 minutes to get to my Metrolink train Tuesday and Thursday mornings when I have my classes:
- I can walk to the Richmond Heights station. This takes 10–12 minutes, depending on the signal phases along Brentwood Blvd.
- I can drive to the Brentwood station—this takes about 7 minutes, but it takes me 5 to get in the car, get out, and walk through the parking garage construction zone to the station.
- I can ride a bus (WashU Gold #1) along Brentwood to the Richmond Heights station. This takes less time, but to ensure I make the bus I have to leave the apartment 10–12 minutes before it would get to the station. And the bus only runs every 30 minutes, so unless I time things well I’ll get to the station faster if I walk.
The ideal solution to this dilemma, of course, would be if Metro had put a park-and-ride lot at Richmond Heights right next to I-170. Or if they’d stuck a station at Brentwood (or Clayton Rd) and I-170 or in Clayton Corporate Park.
I have also figured out that I can drive to the Forest Park station… but that doesn’t get me to work any sooner than the other options, and there’s the non-negligible risk of not finding parking when I get there.
So, the commute choice is basically driven by my level of laziness, how nasty the weather is, and whether or not I plan on doing any grocery shopping at Sam’s or Dierberg’s after work; if I do, then taking the car to Brentwood makes sense. But this also exposes me to the temptation of having dinner “out,” which makes the not walking worse.
Everyone’s favorite “do as we say, not as we do” left-wing advocacy group, ACORN, which is usually in the news for its shabby treatment of its own employees while advocating higher labor standards for everyone else, is in trouble here in St. Louis after around 1500 potentially fraudulent voter registration cards were discovered in recent weeks, many of which have been traced back to canvassers hired by the group.
It would figure that the one day that my monthly Metrolink pass wasn’t in my wallet (I’m 99.8% sure I left it in the pocket of the trousers I wore Tuesday, after I used it on the bus to save myself the uphill walk between the Grand station and Lindell) would be the day that I lucked into bumping into a fare inspector between CWE and Grand. I am now officially annoyed.
Now the only question is whether the time and hassle canceling class on my court date so I can go plead my case to a judge turns out to be worth avoiding the fine.
Last Thursday, I emailed the St. Louis County traffic division requesting a crosswalk signal be installed at a traffic light on Brentwood Blvd at the Galleria. Today, just six days later, it was installed and working, complete with buttons and everything. I have to say I’m most impressed.
Joy notes that Death Cab is on tour again this fall, including a stop in St. Louis. Très cool.
I’m now 2/3 of the way throgh my first day of classes; I have my American politics class in about 40 minutes. Except for overpaying for lunch, missing my Metrolink train by two minutes (which wouldn’t really be much of a problem, except for trying to catch SLU‘s infrequent twice-hourly shuttle along Grand), and ending up with a Cherry Coke at a vending machine, it’s been a pretty good day thus far.
Plus I get a real paycheck tomorrow for the first time in three months, which is a nice bonus.
For the morbidly curious, here’s my pathetic collection of Metrolink photos thus far. No jumpers, tunnel collapses, or broken train windows yet.
Today’s Post-Dispatch has almost all the information you need to know about the grand opening of Metrolink’s Cross-County Extension next Saturday.
My new neighbor notes a poster from the St. Louis Public Schools that makes me seriously wonder where my 1% city payroll tax dollars are going.
Which reminds me, I think I can finally go on a “taxation without representation” rant for the first time in my adult life…
After spending the best part of 3 hours on hold today, I finally found someone who could activate my cable modem in St. Louis.
I know I’m going to just love Charter Communications.
There’s something vaguely cool (in a dorky way) about the decision by the cities of Clayton and Richmond Heights to use a blog as the public face of their study exploring a possible merger between the two municipalities, even if my mostly-regressive civics teacher gene would like to see more comments by residents.
If nothing else, I learned from the maps that most (but not all) of the Washington University campus is an unincorporated area of land in St. Louis County wedged between University City, Clayton, and the city of St. Louis. Not sure when knowing that might come in handy, but you never know…
I’ve decided to list my return address on job applications as “St. Louis” rather than “Clayton,” since the USPS says either is acceptable, and the six people who know the difference might think I was some sort of rich snob otherwise.
I freely admit to snobbery (I do put "Dr." on my frequent flyer accounts and hotel reservations, after all), but I’m afraid I’m not rich—else I’d be living in the Central West End or the Washington Avenue loft district.
I think I found an apartment today; the price is a little more than I wanted to pay, but after spending a year underpaying for an apartment in Durham I suppose it all evens out. And I get a garage, storage space, dishwasher, disposal, breakfast nook, ceiling fans in the bedrooms, and cable outlets in the living room and bedrooms… all of which are upgrades from my existing apartment. And it's like a stone’s throw from the Galleria, where Brian seems to think I need to hang out. (Actually, I got some cheap T-shirts there at Champs Sports, but somehow I think Brian was referring to the Apple Store.)
Now if I could just figure out if it’s in Clayton, Richmond Heights, or Ladue, so I know which division of The Man to tithe to, I’ll be set.
The only real down side (other than the rent) is that MoDOT is planning on spending the next 3 years destroying the freeway between my apartment and work. But that’s what MetroLink is for, right?
Today’s apartment search went a little better than yesterday’s efforts; I looked around a few reasonably nice (and more realistically priced) apartments in the Soulard neighborhood near the Anheuser-Busch brewery south of downtown. I’ll probably look at a few other possibilities tomorrow in some other neighborhoods, which means I probably won’t actually escape town until Thursday morning.
For the most part, I’ve been finding the St. Louis area easy to get around and with a lot of nice neighborhoods—granted, those neighborhoods would be a teeny bit more affordable if I weren’t taking a $10k pay cut for this job, but no matter.
I’ve also arrived at the conclusion that I’m not going to find an affordable apartment that will be available in mid-to-late July in the middle of May. I sense another road trip in my future…
My brief return to Durham to administer some finals and pack for my big trip has been a tad hectic—I’m currently in the calm between finishing up the grading for my southern politics class (who produced almost uniformly excellent final examinations) and having to assess 60 methods exams that I will administer tomorrow and Friday.
I mostly enjoyed my visit to Saint Louis University—the travel was about as painless as air travel can be, and my soon-to-be-colleagues were uniformly pleasant and supportive. I remain somewhat unentralled with the prospect of spending a year under the microscope as an internal candidate for a potential tenure-track position, although perhaps at least I am two years wiser than my previous time doing that and also have quite a bit less invested in the idea of staying, at least at present. Nonetheless I bought some SLU swag: a hat (black), a refrigerator magnet, a window decal, and a lapel pin, as well as suitable gifts for the parental units.
Perhaps slightly more importantly, now I have feedback from two audiences on the strategic voting paper I’ll have the opportunity to work on some revisions before sending it out again. Alas, I’ve gotten no real advice on a venue—it’s already been rejected at APR, and I think even with some revisions (primarily in terms of the battleground/non-battleground dichotomy and possibly the sophistication measure) it isn’t a Top 3 piece, which probably leaves the options looking like Electoral Studies, Political Behaviour, PRQ (although I already have a manuscript there), or maybe QJPS. I hate worrying about these things.
Life otherwise goes on. I got CC’d on a report on the Next Big Thing for the Duke undergraduate political science program—it still seems awfully unstructured to me, but then again, who cares what I think? They are going to require a stats class of students, but it will be a general ed stats class so I’m not at all convinced it will be particularly worthwhile unless followed up or accompanied by a scope-and-methods class in the discipline proper. Really getting how to use stats to analyze substantive questions in politics is a hard thing, and I don’t think stats classes aimed toward a broad range of majors really accomplish much beyond annoying students with what will seem to them like a “useless” math requirement.
Outside the academic realm, I watched Shopgirl after getting back Tuesday and quite enjoyed it. I do agree with critics who say that a different actor from Steve Martin should have done the narration, but it was only a minor issue. Jason Schwartzmann definitely made the Jeremy character work; I think the early encounters between Mirabelle and Jeremy are even more satisfyingly (and hilariously) disastrous on film than they were in book form. Dropping the Vietnam subplot was fine, as was ditching the shift in venue from LA to San Francisco late in the book; neither did that much for the original narrative.