I have decided to be socially correct when I go to the grocery store and my new mask arrives tomorrow from Amazon. I'll slap my hat and shades over this beauty and should look pretty dapper.

Jacob and I went upstream this afternoon looking for our last tubers, a couple from Nashville with a cooler float. We were also on the lookout for the homeless midget who was rumored to be living under the bridge. I've seen him several times lately and I always wave to him but he never responds. A bare shirted man of short stature is not someone you encounter normally and I would love to hear his story.

Before Steph and I headed to Idaho fifteen years ago, I managed the Water Taxi bus service around Alki Beach in Seattle for King County Metro under contract to Hopelink. It was the coolest damned bus system in the world where the Water Taxi would shuttle people over to Alki on these sweet little ferries, then we picked them up at the pier and drove them to Alki beach and around, and then back to the pier for a return to Seattle.

Some days when a driver called off I had the pleasure of driving one of the routes. As I shuttle tubers around now on a little creek in southern Tennessee, memories of those days come rushing back.

Original photo: Here

This is how the Water Taxi looks now, same service, bigger boat:

These cliffs tower over our pickup spot on Shoal Creek and I don't think the photo does justice to how tall they really are. Come float with us and I'll show you.

My helper Jacob and I walked down under the bridge today looking for a group of tubers and came upon one of the many cool places along Shoal Creek.

I spotted something bright and orange down by the creek today from my office window. Just a flower...

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Some Steely Dan, an afternoon cocktail, the bongos and some moves.

I guess it's time to scrub down my table...

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Never did make it to Ricks ship. We immediately hit the highway and hitched our way home. I asked him what happened and all he was really willing to say about it was that the guy dropped him off on a beach somewhere in Southern CA. and that he had been walking and sleeping in phone booths those last few days. The only conclusion I was able to come up with was that he was probably raped.

I have a very strong belief in God, he spoke to me once and gave me some power that transformed my life at the time, and I pray to him every morning before I get up. This belief does not fit in with any organized religion, it's personal. But that day in the park changed Louie's life forever. He became a devout Christian which ultimately gave him the faith to recover from a devastating fall from a roof which put him in a body cast and paralyzed him. Shortly after they removed the cast in an Oroville hospital Louie got up and we hitched over to Chico and attended a party were he danced his ass off.

I ultimately moved away and we lost touch but if you're still out there old friend, God bless you and I'll see you on the other side.

I should first say a few things about Louie. He was affable, not very bright, socially inept and everybody loved him. I was the troubled anti-social track star outcast. Somehow we had a chemistry together and were best friends. I was devastated and worried about him as I stood on that hot Mexican sidewalk. He really didn't have the street savvy to be down here on his own, much less in the hands of a guy who had just kidnapped him.

I wandered around town all afternoon looking for them and finally realized they were long gone. I spent the next two days hitching out of Mexico and landed in downtown Long Beach, CA, my birthplace and the spot were my other good friend Rick was stationed on a Navy ship. He told me once that he could have guests on board and we could eat a meal there. I hadn't eaten or slept for three days so I was trying to make it to Ricks ship.

I came across a park, laid down on the grass and slept for a while. When I woke up the logical thing to do was continue on down the street to the Navy base, but I didn't and this is where the magic of fate, or whatever you want to call it, happened. I got up and walked into the middle of the park, and there sitting on a bench was Louie with his head in his hands, both of our suitcases, and an old man with a long beard was standing in front of him with his head bowed.

Louie looked up at me and we ran together and embraced. As we separated the old man was gone and I asked Louie who that was and he said the guy had just come up and asked if he was alright and Louie said, no, that he was lost, and the old man said "Lets pray together". That's what they were doing when I walked up, I swear to God.

In 1965 I was nineteen and living in a rundown little dive in Chico, CA with my best friend, Crazy Louie. We dumpster dived at night to furnish it and it's where I learned the pleasures of tomato sandwiches. One day we decided to hitch-hike to Mexico so we packed up a couple suitcases and headed south out of town with about $40 bucks between us.

In Tijuana we hit the bars and started drinking. When we ran out of money we sold our American made clothes from our suitcases to Mexicans on the street for pesos. In one bar we met an American who offered to drive us to Ensenada, so as the sun was rising, we took off. Along the way we picked up some Mexican hitch-hikers and we're all getting drunker on a bottle of something the stranger had in his car.

When we got to Ensenada, Louie was passed out and the stranger suggested he and I walk in opposite directions around the town square looking for the best bar, and meet on the other side. We took off and he never showed. I continued around the block and the stranger, the car, Louie and our suitcases, were gone. I was alone, broke, drunk and stranded in Ensenada, Mexico.

To be continued...

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I helped a young family member get a job the other day, questioned his integrity to the parents, and now I'm on their shitlist. Pulled the job offer...

My cat Piper is missing. She went out last night and she's always ready to come in when I get up but she wasn't there this morning, or all day. It's now evening, it's raining and she hates rain, but she still ain't home. She is my partner, I would be heartbroken to lose her.

Things are pretty fucked up at the moment.

There was actually a fine moment down on the creek today. We had a father and son hit the creek right at the end of our 1500 deadline. Stormy afternoon, they probably shouldn't have gone in, but what the hell. I'm down at the pickup spot anxious to get these boys home and it's raining hard. I did something I never do and walked down the creek toward the highway bridge and there they were, struggling but having fun. I called out and they made their way to the bank where a couple of rocks offered an exit from the creek. The good old boy tossed the tubes to me and I extended my hand to both of them as they exited the creek with gratitude.

They didn't know me, and when I put my arm out to pull them up a precarious embankment, it was a moment of blind trust in your fellow man to make it happen. I pulled both up strongly, with smiles on their faces.

Update: Piper is home!

I added a line of code to my Place app today and then killed it. It reads: This app has had 624,023 hits and not one person has sent a thanks or dropped a dime in my PayPal, so I'm shutting it down. Have a nice day.

I also hauled a bunch of falling down drunks off the creek last night at 1815 after eating a beany weany from my truck for dinner. I also killed my Facebook this morning. Hello world...

Update: I'm also considering not renewing my top-level domain which is the mother from which all of my apps exist. It costs around $150 a year to keep it going and I have countless domains and code projects flowing from it, which cost $15 each. Letting it die would negate all of the code I have written for the last fifteen years. I have to look myself in my minds eye and ask myself what fucking difference would it make.

Excuse me while I do that...

Ok. Nothing... I never get feedback from anything. I have no idea how people out there are using my stuff, and without feedback, it's empty.

Killing the top-level domain would bring both busdriverjim.com and oldmanjim.com to a screeching halt, along with every app I've ever written. My presence on the internet would cease to exist.

Anyone reading this right now specifically came here to my blog, as there is no Facebook click bait to get you here otherwise, so I ask you: Stay or Die?

email me: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The new drop spot works well:

Here's the pickup spot:

Here's our flags at the pickup spot along with my new landmark, the stack of trees:

My boss Ricky dropped by the house last night to tell me about the new route, starting today. The drop spot is still a little unclear, I need to check it out, but the pickup spot looks workable.

From the base (red dot) I'll hang a right out onto the highway, take another right past the water tank and swing around towards the creek. If I'm on a drop run I'll inform my tubers that this is the spot to get out at, continue on to the highway, take a left and on to the drop. Otherwise I'll enter the little round-about, load them up, proceed around the loop, hang a left, back to the highway and on to base.

Update: Ricky read this and added: You can also point out the alley way up to the store by our base in case they would like to walk back with the tubes if you get busy and take longer than they want to wait. Or you can tell them they are welcome to play in the creek till you get back to pick them up.

I installed an app called Walk to my phone today and then took a short stroll down along the creek to check it out.

I love this thing!

My down home born and raised Tennessee neighbor Daniel was explaining to me what a Cracker was. It was a white slave owner who cracked the whip over his slaves. Wow, I'd heard the phrase before but never knew the origin. I was called a Honky a lot back in my Oakland, CA days but I still don't know what that means.

I have also determined that I can completely remove the EGR valve from my Weber carb converted truck engine, slap a plate over the hole, and complete the total removal of all evil emission controls. I think this makes me a Whacker.

The exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve recirculates a portion of your exhaust back into the combustion process. How sick is that?

When I tell people where to get out after a float I tell them to look for the rocky beach and our flags up in a tree. Sometimes the people in the back are so engaged in their own loud conversation that they don't hear me.

In which case they end up floating right on by into the dark hole of Shoal Creek and like that Kingston Trio song M.T.A. they never return...

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I've been creating a flyer for my employer this morning and just got an IM from Melissa with a shot of this weeks front page of our local newspaper.

I am a camera snob and I've always snickered at people taking pictures with their cell phones. I have a beautiful Sony camera rig that has taken some great shots but carrying it with me out on the job is inappropriate. Now I have this new Samsung s20+ and I have to admit, it's pretty damned good, and interesting.

I've played with the various modes but I'm settling in on 4/3. It matches up with my blog and everything I do. Here's some shots I took today down at our pickup spot:

Yep, that's my finger :-)

The tubing business is booming! Yesterday we launched over 200 folks down Shoal Creek (a company record) with just a basic crew. I drove non-stop and my young helper Jacob and I handled every tube. The bosses were shocked and some much needed support people showed up today.

There was one group in particular today that stressed the limits of my little bus and trailer. I decided to take their picture with my new phone, standing by the passenger door up on the hill. To my surprise they spotted me, and posed! How cool is that?

As I was planning out a westward road trip recently, having the title Staff never crossed my mind, much less driving a bus and getting a lot of exercise. Yet here I am and I must say the transition has been very positive. I've started working out again, eating insanely healthy and envisioning the abs I had before I went on that decadent cruise last year. My goal now is to have a rock-hard body when I turn 74 in July, and some extra cash in the bank for a road trip late August.

I finally got my butt out of lazy mode today. I've been eating oatmeal for breakfast for months now and I've missed my vegetables so I made some up. I run red beets with the stalks and leaves, red cabbage, kale and garlic through my food processor and freeze them in baggies. Every night I bring one down before I go to bed and cook it for breakfast like oatmeal.

Then I made a raw vegetable smoothie from the leftovers.

I stepped outside this afternoon and found Piper flat on her back in the clover. It's a dead-end street with very little traffic, I havn't seen any dogs around for days, and she just feels comfortable here.

Some folks say I got a problem. I just say I'm prepared.

Many years ago I had the honor to hang out with my son Riley and my grandson Chris in my place down on Lake Merritt in Oakland, CA. As the years evolved I still maintain a loving relationship with my boy, but somehow I have lost it with Chris. Maybe someday we will reconnect...

Here Chris is all grown up with a child of his own.

Here's my new routine: I bust my ass Friday through Monday driving a bus, (again!). I wake up and get my coffee on at 0300, let Piper out, do my computer thing until 0430, put Pipers fresh food down, let her back in and carry her from the door to her food (she loves the routine), eat my oatmeal at 0600, nap for an hour at 0700, eat my eggs and blender fruit smoothie at 0800, shower at 0900, arrive at work at 0945, drive non-stop with no break and no food (my choice), arrive back home around 1730, let Piper out, eat dinner, watch Netflix, Piper back in, bed by 2030.

So much for retirement :-)