The Price of Freedom [en]

[fr] J'ai une voiture. Le prix de la voiture c'est pas juste le prix de la voiture, c'est aussi le prix de la liberté de monter au chalet quand je veux avec mes chats sans avoir besoin d'organiser tout ça à l'avance. Mon monde vient de s'agrandir d'un coup.

Last week, I bought a car.


I’ve been car-less since spring 2007. Freelance, I didn’t need it anymore to go to work each day, and 500CHF a month that I wasn’t spending on a car I didn’t use was 500CHF I didn’t need to earn.

My life has changed quite a bit now. My family seem to have all chosen to live in places that are hard to get to with public transport. My brother has children. I have two cats that I want to drag to the chalet more often.

But I was reluctant. My life is simpler without a car. I just take public transport. I don’t wonder whether it makes sense to take the car or not. That’s a decision I’m spared. When I had a car previously, I used it all the time, even to go to the shop 2 minutes away. I don’t want to start doing that again.

I also wondered if it was worth the expense. Would I really use it that much?

But by having a car, I’m not just paying to have a car. I’m paying to have the freedom to go to the chalet with my cats without having to organize transport beforehand. I’m paying to have the freedom to go and see my nephew and niece without having to ask my brother to pick me up and bring me back to the train. Same for eating at my Dad’s. I don’t have to worry about when the last train runs.

It’s like people who buy the “abonnement général” — a yearly pass for public transport. They might not actually travel that much, but it gives them the freedom to hop on the train whenever they feel like it. Like I do with my bus pass, actually. I’m sure there are months where I don’t do 70CHF worth of bus travel. But I like not wondering if it’s worth buying a bus ticket.

My Trick for Paris Metro Tickets [en]

If you’re traveling to Paris, you probably have to deal with those pesky metro tickets. Here’s what I do to stay sane.

  • I buy 10 tickets at a time. They’ll still work next time I come if I don’t use them all.
  • I hold them together with a paper-clip.

I store my current metro ticket on top of the stack with the same paper-clip. No drama if I bump into a ticket check, because I know where to find it.

Tickets de métro

This means that each time I go through the ticket doors, I:

  1. take the stack of tickets out of my bag (!)
  2. remove the ticket from the last trip and throw it in a bin (or in my pocket so I’m ready for the next bin
  3. take a new ticket from the stack and use it to go through the door
  4. immediately place that new-used-ticket on the stack with the others, and back in my bag

You can identify a used ticket because it has something printed on it (often illegible, but still). With this technique finding my “last used one” is easy, as it’s either the top or the bottom one. And I avoid the drama of stray tickets in my bag or pockets, used or not.

#buspeople and #trainpeople: Annoying People in Public Transport [en]

[fr] Un tumblr pour collecter automatiquement les commentaires sarcastiques au sujet de nos covoyageurs des transports publics, publiés sur Twitter avec les hashtags #buspeople ou #trainpeople.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter (I’m @stephtara) know that I regularly make snarky comments about annoying or irritating (or sometimes simply very weird) people encountered while using public transportation.

It smells like spring this morning, and I was up late last night putting together the little project that has been trotting around in my head: a tumblr blog, Annoying People in Public Transport, which collects tweets containing the #buspeople and #trainpeople hashtags.

Setting up a tumblr to capture hashtagged tweets is dead simple with ifttt — here is the recipe for the tasks I used.

So, next time you’re tempted to make a snarky comment on Twitter about a co-passenger, don’t forget your hashtag!