succumbing to peer pressure

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

To car or not to car?

I have at least until the end of the summer to actually decide, but I've been flip-flopping on whether or not to replace the intrepid snowflake, who (which?) I sold back in atl. Getting around the city without a car is pretty manageable, but getting to and from work without one is a challenge. When I first moved out here a month ago I lived within a couple of miles of three coworkers who all had cars and all drove to work, with whom I could carpool. By September I'll be down to one (boss just moved across the bay and one coworker is leaving at the end of the summer to go back to school). So initially I was thinking, ok, buy a car as soon as I have the capital set aside, goal Sept. 1. But then I sort of stopped missing having a car. And this week I have the luxury of borrowing my intern's car while she's out of the country for ten days, and frankly I haven't really had the impulse to drive it much. I drove to work yesterday, and found the commute way more exhausting than when I'm a passive (but, hopefully, entertaining) passenger. Sure, it would probably be less exhausting if I was driving my own car instead of having the added stress of worrying about someone else's car and not really being sure where the edges of it are for things like passing and parking, but still.

It takes a lot longer to ride the bus-train combo to work, but I'm thinking it still might be preferable. Plus, I could technically start my work day on the train, as it would be easy enough to start work while still en route.

And there's not much besides driving to work and road trips out of the city for which I think I would want a car. Most of the places, at least so far, that I've been interested in exploring would be a huge hassle to drive to but are readily accessible via public transit or my own two feet. And given that I only go in to the office two or three times a week, and already plan to be out of town for at least 3.5 of the next 7 weeks, how much should I really allow my work commute to dictate my transportation choices?

I hammered out a very rough estimate of the cost of a car, and I'm guessing that with renting out the parking space in my building and insurance and a monthly car payment, I'm looking at at least $700-$800 a month (and that's not including gas or other maintenance).

A similarly rough budget estimate for zipcar membership, five round trip bus rides a week, two round trips to work a week, with the help of my company's public transit subsidy still leaves me with an extra $500 a month for taxi rides and car rentals before I start to hit similar numbers to the car budget. So public transit is looking more and more appealing.

On the other hand, maybe a 90 minute commute (minimum, probably often closer to two hours) on bus and train would slowly make me crazy, something I can't really assign a dollar amount to. And there are some neighborhoods in the city that aren't really accessible without a car, so my priorities may change if/when it comes time to move.

So those are my thoughts so far. Thoughts from the peanut gallery?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Free ain't Free!
(aka: one of the many reasons why CA is going broke)

Dear CA,

I know I'm new here, but a few things are already pretty obvious to me, which seem to be somewhat less obvious to you. For example, things cost money! Exhibit A - the recent battle over charging admission to the Botanical Gardens. Yes, of course, beautiful, cultural things should be accessible to everyone. But you guys know you're going broke, right?

You know how all those museums and gardens and the zoo are free in Washington DC? You know how they do that? Incredibly high taxes (without representation, I might add, but that's whole different rant) levied on those who live in the district! You know how you guys are paying for free stuff? By going into debt! You know why? You capped property taxes, and through some fancy language in the bill, made it nearly impossible to raise income taxes too, in 1978! Are you insane?!

Now I know, it's easy for me to say. I just started making money, I feel like I've got a lot of it to spread around, and even before then I was pretty in favor of taxes. But the tough news is you've got to pay for things one way or another. Either raise the revenue in taxes or charge the people who use the stuff. But do something!

hugs and kisses,
your newest resident

Note to self

Although gym is conveniently located half a mile away, resist urge to jog there, uphill, before first fitness class in years. Ouchie. the First Amendment guarantees my right to what the DoD is calling 'low-level terrorism'? Neat!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I wonder how often the google map streetview brigade take pictures of homeless people? (then the geek in me wonders, could this be used to supplement the census's attempt to estimate the number of homeless?)