Monday, September 8, 2008

Revealing More of my Own Stupidity, or, We Already Knew We Were Getting Screwed

Sudoku hit its pinnacle of student fervency just as I entered my introduction to education-based apathy. As such, I should have fallen into the crowd and joined the craze for numbers-based insanity, but as it stands, I’m not fond of math unless it’s a sizeable direct deposit into my checking account. In fact, that’s the only math I take seriously: my money. I care about the adding and subtracting from my financial funds but not much more. I checked the 401(k) deposit on my last pay stub (it was my first paycheck that included the contribution) and tried to find the amount per year I was getting and after trying to decide how much I’d have at thirty made me nauseous and woozy, I decided I’d rather not know so much. Sorry, Mom, I didn’t want you to find out this way, that when it comes to my financial future I’m apathetic when it involves a calculator. My ignorance starts just after I calculate how much I’m really paying for my car and student loans. And when I’ve multiplied and subtracted the initial total, I vow never to remember the Real Price because, other than whiskey, it’s the most efficient coping mechanism. So, barring necessary mathematics, I think I’m making a point here: I am not keen on math, and therefore, did not catch the Sudoku fever.

Instead I caught the Crossword fever. As a woman of words, I found I really enjoyed folding my newspaper just so during a particuarly boring film editing class and going at it. Thirtheenth President? Fillmore. Seattle genre? Grunge. I picked up the habit again at home as an excuse to watch reality-based programming after work. No, it’s okay to watch this trash, I argue with myself, because I am working my brain in other areas. (To be fair, those are nights I don’t pick up Legend of Zelda on the DS and curse my way through Molida Island.) I’m usually pretty okay, and having resigned that I won’t finish a whole puzzle—because I don’t really want to—I am prone to write in a wrong answer that fits for my own entertainment.

Still, I was stumped at this weekend’s 41 Across: Name the Secretary of Transportation. Jesus, who can name the Secretary of Transportation? I called out in vain.

Apparently my mother can, because she spit out several name, runing my whine fest. Well I bet no one else can (and blogging this will prove me wrong)! And I bet they didn’t do anything!

Oh, they did. Well, then. They set the speed limit of highways to 65 mph. (Thanks! Now I can get to work on time!) The department has also been very involved in railroads, which is all I recognize from high school history.

More importantly, they’re related (or as I think, “in charge”) of the FTA, who is “in charge” of the Urban Mass Transit Acts (this article from the feds shows in interesting history). They decide, after having started the debate and great question, who funds public transit and how much responsibility falls on the state (if any at all). At this point I think it’s clear that little federal funding is trickled into the system as many cities have been struggling for funds long before the economy took a nosedive. They also control how much federal funding goes to the highway, which has long been an appalling disbalance compared to transit. (50/50 versus 80/20! We’re getting screwed!)

And though we have much pain at the hands of these groups, we wouldn’t have FTA without Kennedy. Because he was assassinated, I always felt like the projects he began have largely been attributed to (blamed) his successor. Oh, sorry you’re dead, sir, but what did you do other than start some stuff and have some involvement in some major global crises? Oh, you demanded for the installation of FTA? Okay, well, thanks! (Johnson “signed it into law.”) So because we have it, some money is legally required to aid city transit. Rising fares and dwindling resources are making it seem paltry but I think we’d be lost without it.

Lately it seems the work from the feds seems to be all about terrorism first and highways second, but maybe as the people move to public transit the cities’ demands for funding will be answered. Or maybe we’re not writing enough letters. Now that we (or maybe just me, maybe you knew!) know who the Secretary of Transportation is, Mary Peters, we’ll get more done. And if a new president bring in a new face we’ll request it from him or her as well. Peters is a personal fan of tolls and highways (and without knowing her I knew that) so there probably isn’t much we can do between now and November but it can’t hurt to start, can it?

*If you followed that link, I’ll clear a few things:

1) I really did drink the whiskey during the debates. There’s no way for an educated woman to withstand the stupidity and lies propogated for a full week. In fact, merely thinking about the whiskey-based tincture calms the anxiety post-RNC from headlines like, “NEW WAVE OF FEMINISM” and “PALIN’S FEMNISM.” I’m sorry, what? Palin’s just fine with making 73% of what her predecssor made. It was three straight-nights of high class alcohol dependency. I thought going to the gym would make it better—the running tactic did in college—but all eight screens were that damn woman’s smiling face and long, pointy finger and I couldn’t take it. This week I’m going to chocolate milk and saving the whiskey for the end of the week when these publishing deadlines make their move to destroy me.

2) I think the ladies met wine in a box without me, and though I’m honored to take the credit (even if I’ve never actually had wine in a box!), I introduced them to champagne in a can. It wasn’t big hit. Despite the previous statement, I did try to make a pinhole camera out of a Franzia box. (It did not work.) Maybe their reluctance to bubbly in a can points not to my bad taste but their refusal to embrace California’s industry? I can get behind that rebellion because I feel the same way. Down with the wine valley!

3) I usually allude to my whiskey-based coping mechanisms instead of actually relying on coping methods. I talk about drinking far more than I drink, and because I am a poser, there is, good reason, to doubt my claims. Especially if you met my mother, a mild mannered, no-nonsense yet fun-loving midwesterner.


Becki Lee said...

I will be 100% honest: I had no idea who the Secretary of Transportation was either until you pointed it out. So thank you for that!

(ps: I did not know you like crosswords! Would you like me to mail you some freebies from work? :D)

Katherine said...

that is a HUGE RELIEF!

yes! if it doesn't get you in trouble. :) i try to save the ones i do (especially if the answers are wrong) for my art project (making another like this one and this one. i said that like i'd look less crazy, but no, it didn't work.)

Charlotte said...

But I am sure that you were drinking whiskey mixed into a delicious sour in the ways of your ancestors (unless you are trying to maintain a reputation as the type of woman who drinks her whiskey neat).

I had no idea who the Secretary of Transportation was either, but I was pretty sure of her policy.

As for "Sarah Joy" Palin, I guess that we have always been at war with Eastasia. These people really will stop at nothing. There's not enough whiskey in the world.

Katherine said...

Yeah, my historical background drops off after the rails are established and that's the last the federal government involvement is heard in terms of transportation. (Which is unfortunate now that I know more about highways and their architecture!) It seems like Metro's budget has struggled my whole life so it's not surprising.

Mom said if I should explain the joys of a Hill Sour instead of constantly allude to my drinking. It's something I'll work on for Food Blog. (I might sneak this YouTube clip, is that okay?) I'm generally happier when it involves a straw.

The less she points at me, the better. (I've resigned that I'll watch the interview, no matter the pain it causes.) Should we turn to absinthe?