Dallas ISD to worsen bus service and fix no problems

I have monitored Dallas County Schools’s and DISD Student Transportation Systems’s failures to provide effective transportation services, and I was an activist in the DCS shut-down effort. I have been interviewed by the Dallas Morning News (link) and NBC 5 (link).

Regrettably, dissolving DCS has not improved bus service. DISD STS continues to provide shoddy service to students and parents.

Instead of fixing its problems, STS now wants to make things worse by regurgitating its failed hub proposal from last year. A school’s SBDM exposed this by sharing that DISD STS wants to “streamline” service. This simply means they will reduce service quality by having fewer stops. In other words, STS wants to make their poor service even worse!

It appears that DISD STS is using its on-time record to say it’s doing a good job. While an important figure, two things to understand: 1. Even if it’s on-time, DISD STS is failing in equally important areas. They are at the bottom of this post. 2. It is easy to manipulate the on-time figure. In the NBC video linked above, DCS is cited as having a 98% on-time record, but it is exposed as fudging that figure. Due to persistently poor performance, DISD STS has not earned my trust, so I want to understand more about DISD’s on-time performance before I can accept it.

Instead of making things worse, I want DISD STS to improve: I have created an improvement plan for DISD STS.

USPS quadruple fail

USPS screwed up part of my son’s birthday. My mother sent him an overnight package, but USPS failed four times:

  1. Took 3 days to deliver the overnight package.
  2. Demanded a signature even though my mother marked the “WAIVER OF SIGNATURE” box and signed appropriately.
  3. Claimed to have left a notice (that I needed to pick up the package personally), but in fact declined to do so.
  4. Never re-notified me that the package was waiting. I finally found out because my mother asked me about it. I was able to call the local post office 2 hours before they would have returned it as undeliverable.

Go to http://usps.gov and check on package EH45 2451 528U S if you want to see this incompetence for yourself.

I say privatize and de-unionize the USPS and let it sink under its own massive debt. And deregulate first class mail delivery. Of course, Democrats will oppose this because government largesse and union intransigence are their job security.

In case you think I’m being vindictive, de-unionization would be the biggest gift we could give the USPS as it would create a competitive advantage over heavily unionized UPS and FedEx.

Party gift bags: who invented that crap?

Every time my son particpates in a birthday party for a daycare classmate, he gets a party bag. Invariably it contains a #2 pencil, erasers, a piece of candy or two, and cheap, plastic junk.

Summary of inevitable outcome:

  • Plastic junk goes in the trash.
  • Bag goes in the trash.
  • We don’t have a pencil sharpener, so pencil goes in the trash.
  • The kid doesn’t use pencils. So we don’t use erasers. So they wander around his room for a couple of days before hitting the trash.
  • Most the time, the candy is nasty and gets trashed.

What purpose do gift bags serve?

So much for “it just works”

I was issued an Apple MacBook Pro at work today. We are about to deploy some Apple servers, and apparently server administration works better if done from a Mac OS X client.

Construction, aesthetics, fit and finish, and design seem more refined than typical PC laptops.

However, after I installed an AirPort update, I ran Safari and then installed iTunes. Safari crashed HARD. I couldn’t even force quit it. Because of that, I couldn’t even restart the computer. It just refused to close out the OS.

So I had to power the thing off by holding down the power button for 5 seconds.

Powering back on, I get this nasty error:

Yeah, that’s right, kernel panic! As in, “you’re gonna reinstall from scratch.”

One hour later I’m back up–after reinstalling from scratch! With some help, I learned how to hold down Option to force the equivalent of pressing F8 in Windows. I erased the old image and installed a whole new OS.

For all of Windows’s faults, Vista has never left me this stranded!

Greenwashing the Green Spot

A nearby gas station called the Green Spot recently opened. The prior owners (when it was a Mobil) had gas prices well above market, so I appreciate that the new owners charge the same for gas as everyone else.

But I had to suspend my gag reflex after reading greenwashing in my local community magazine (pages 24 and 25 of this 19MB PDF–yikes!). According to a quote they got from co-owner Alvaro Garza, “our mission is to reduce our carbon footprint by offering an alternative lifestyle…”

Specific examples of where carbon footprints aren’t being lowered:

  • They sell biodiesel gas, which has several flaws. Even if you could argue that these flaws could someday be resolved, the fact remains that current consumption of biofuels almost certainly causes more harm than good. For example:
    • Several studies show that production and use of biofuels produces more carbon emissions than just burning plain gas. (link)
    • It takes more energy to produce biofuels than they save, which in turn increases carbon emissions, oil importation, and our trade deficit. (link)
    • Biofuel production increases prices of food, starving the poor. (link)
  • They sell organic goods, production of which require more energy (carbon!) and land than conventional foods. (link)
  • The article’s feature picture depicts a Jeep Liberty SUV. In addition to being an iconic member of a gas guzzling class of vehicles, it has the worst or 2nd worst fuel economy in recent Consumer Reports small SUV comparisons. (The diesel raised it from worst to 2nd worst; several gas-engined SUVs with higher overall ratings got better mileage.)

    (This image stolen from Advocate Publishing.)

And it sounds like a lot of what they sell are carb-loaded snacky foods. Ladies and gentlemen, refined carbs are refined carbs. The refined carbs from organic sugar cane and fresh fruit juices make you just as fat and unhealthy (and ultimately requiring more carbon-intensive health care services) as the corn syrup in Coke.

You may think I hate the Green Spot. I don’t. It’s convenient, gas prices are finally fair at that location, and they have neat stuff inside. I want them to succeed.

However, I was brought up in a home where the breadwinner toiled for and was employed by a nonprofit. I work with a couple of nonprofits. I value nonprofits. They deserve our charity; supporting them achieves a higher moral purpose.

I resent when for-profits steal altruism for their own personal gain, and that’s what’s going on with greenwashing the Green Spot. Support the Green Spot where they provide a value to you, but don’t do it because you think you’re fulfilling some higher purpose. You’re not.