Tucson, Arizona

  I worked twice in Tucson, Arizona. The first time I worked way down on the south side at the IBM plant at Rita Road and I-10. The second time I worked up north on Ina Road and Oracle.

Both times I lived near the University of Arizona. The first time I rented a house near Tucson Blvd and Mable Street which is just north of Speedway and about a half mile from the University of Arizona. I didnít know it at the time but it is also about a half a mile from two homes the famous mafia dude Joseph Bonanno owned. In fact I used to ride my bike past Joes final home on an almost daily basis.

Both times I stayed at motels near downtown Tucson along I-10, and in run down dumpy hotels along Oracle Road and on Stone which both are near the University of Arizona and near a Pima Community College which is on Stone and Speedway.

Tucson has a number of Oriental and Indian Grocery stores where you can buy hot spicy oriental food. Not nearly as many as Phoenix though. They also have a lot of Oriental and Indian Restaurants, again not nearly as many as in Phoenix. And you canít buy a masala dosa in Tucson. If you want a masala dosa you have to go to Phoenix or Tempe.

What the hell is a masala dosa? A masala dosa is an 18 inch burrito that is stuffed with spicy potatoes. Only the middle third is stuffed and the ends are both empty. They give you a bowl of soup to dip it in. And if youíre like me you ask for a bowl of tomato chutney to put on the masala dosa. It is a dish from southern India. When they serve it to you they will bring it to you on an 18 inch stainless steel dinner plate which Indians use to eat on.

I would usually hang out at the U of A. They have lots of computers there that they l et the public use. I would also hang out on Fourth Avenue which is kind of like Mill Avenue in Tempe. I would also hang out in Downtown Tucson. It is kind of sort of linked to the University of Arizona scene. And of course there is always Access Tucson. One more place to hang out is on University Blvd which would be Third Street it had a number. It is just south of Speedway and runs between the U. of A. and Fourth Avenue where there are a number of cool restaurants, and shops.

You can walk or take the cable car from the U. of A. down University to Fourth Avenue. The cable car goes almost to Broadway on Fourth Avenue. From there you walk under the railroad tracks and your on Congress Street which I consider to be part of the downtown area. There are a bunch of funky shops in this area which cater to hippies and students. Walk a couple blocks west to Stone Avenue and one block south to Broadway and youíre in the heart of Downtown Tucson. Stone Avenue and Broadway Blvd are the zero, zero point of Tucson which would be like Central Avenue and Washington in Phoenix.

I would also hang out with the folks at Brassroots. Thatís brass like in gun cartridges. They are a gun group that used to meet at a lodge on Golf Links Road and Craycroft Road next to Davis-Monthan Air Force base. Ainít nothing like these people in Phoenix.

Who ever designed the numbered streets and avenues in Tucson most likely was on drugs. Zero Street if one existed would be Speedway. First street is south of Speedway and the numbered streets get higher as you go south.

If a Zero Avenue existed it would be on Euclid Avenue which is the first street west of the University of Arizona. First Avenue is one block west of Euclid, and the numbers get bigger as you go west.

The numbered streets and avenues have absolutely no relationship whatsoever with the zero, zero center street of Broadway and Stone in downtown Tucson. First Street is about a mile north of that zero point. And First Avenue is about a mile west of that zero point.

The neighborhood where Joseph Bonannoís home is located also uses a different numbering system then the rest of Tucson. His home is between Campbell and Tucson Blvd and Speedway and Grant. His address is 255 Sierra Vista Drive. If that were a normal Tucson address it would be located just north of Broadway, which is about a mile and half south of where it actually is.

His first home no longer exists. It was raised and they built part of the University Medical Center over it. I think it is now a parking lot. It was just west of Campbell and just north of Speedway. I think it was on Drachman, just west of Campbell

Tucson is OK. It is pretty much like Phoenix, but it gets a lot more rain. It is also about 10°F cooler. Oddly it is also much more humid then Phoenix. I was there in Aug and Sept and with the despite the fact that Tucson was about 10 degrees cooler then Phoenix, with the humidity in Tucson it seemed just as warm as Phoenix.

Tucson can get really hot weather like Phoenix, I think their record is 118°F. But they donít get as much of it as we do in Phoenix. When I was there in August it pretty much stayed between 100°F and 105°F compared to Phoenix which at the time was almost everyday above 110°F. That was nice cool weather for someone from Phoenix.

They do get much better monsoons then Phoenix. Tucson gets almost twice as much rain as Phoenix. They get something like 14 inches compared to the seven inches Phoenix gets. There monsoons almost always come in the daytime and are gone and done with by 6 p.m. I guess that is because the monsoons donít get to Phoenix until a few hours after they hit Tucson and travel thru 100 miles of desert north to Phoenix. The lightning also seems cooler. And because of all this rain their desert seems much more growth then the Phoenix desert.

IBM pretty much sucked. It was a big bureaucracy. They seemed like they needed a consultant to hire, and then fire so they could blame their problems on the consultant.

They hired me without even interviewing me. They had maybe 50 C functions which each had been 10 percent written. None of the routines had ever been tested or even finished for that matter. If the job shop had told me that I would have refused to take the job. The guy who wrote all the code split and went back to Washington State where he came from. Last just to make things interesting none of the functions had been fully specíed out. Just a vague reference as to what each function was to do. Nothing cast in stone. So it was a disaster waiting to happen.

They told me I was supposed to fix all this code. I told them it needed to be rewritten. I should have quit on the spot. But I didnít. To make things worse my boss left for a long period of time. So I didnít have anyone to talk to except his boss who knew next to nothing about what I was supposed to do.

The IBM plant is kind of cool though. It is about a mile square chunk of desert in the very south part of Tucson. It has a number of real nice buildings. And a pretty good cafeteria. In the old days I think they made disk drives here. But the market went south and IBM fired almost everyone in the plant. It was turned into a research center and IBM stopped making disk drives here and I think just did research.

A number of other companies leased space at this location. I think it is some type of corporate welfare program put on by Pima County or the City of Tucson where the government bought the plant and leased it back to businesses in the Tucson area.

On one trip to Phoenix my car blew up outside of the Saguaro power plant that is just north of Tucson. I used the phone there to call a tow truck. I told them I was an engineer and interested in the plant and asked if they gave tours of the plant.

While I was waiting for the tow truck to come from Tucson they gave me a grand tour of the plant. It is used to produce peak load power. It doesnít run all the time. It only runs when everybody and his brother needs power.

I think it runs on both oil and gas. All the generators can use either. Well something like that. I may have got it mixed up. Also the power they make is very expensive. It costs 7 cents a kilowatt hour to produce it. Hell at my home in Tempe I was only paying APS about 7 cents a kilowatt hour. But since it is peak load power they can sell it at much higher rates. Now this was in 1999 so rates may have changed a lot since that was almost 8 years ago.

The second time I worked in Tucson it was way north on Ina Road and Oracle. I wrote a bunch of korn shell or bash shell scripts and a bunch of perl cgi programs on a Unix computer. I donít remember the name of the place I worked at but it was a very small company. The initial contract was for something like two months but they ran out of money after a month. But it was fun working there.

Because I was only there a month I didnít rent a home in Tucson the second time. I just stayed in motels mostly on Oracle Road. The second time I didnít have a car so I took the bus everywhere. And the Tucson bus system sucks just as bad as the Phoenix bus system. Probably worse, because the Phoenix buses run much later then the Tucson buses.

When I worked in Tucson the first time it was reversed. Back then the Phoenix buses didnít run on Sunday while the Tucson buses ran seven days a week. I didnít start using the Tucson buses until my car blew up.

At the time Tucson had one of the best public access TV stations in the country which is ACCESS Tucson. I took all the courses and learned how to operate everything in the TV station. I helped a few people produce public access TV shows. That was a lot of fun.

ACCESS Phoenix sucks compared to ACCESS Tucson. But as of now both stations are having hard times. I think ACCESS Phoenix died because the City of Phoenix didnít want to waste tax dollars funding it. ACCESS Tucson took a big hit in financing too. I donít remember the reasons but they lost a huge amount of their funding. But when I last worked in Tucson they were still open.

From a government point of view it seems Pima County and Tucson City governments work in lockstep. They always do the same thing. While in Maricopa County event though Phoenix is the biggest city it doesnít dominate things because there are so many other large cities in Maricopa County.