Category Archives: traffic

My Bad

I jammed up the elementary school’s traffic circle this morning.  And I’m not sure, but I think the traffic circle parent police and the vice-principal may have taken down my license number.  So I expect a call sometime later today, if not an actual visit from the crossing guard and a real state policeman, possibly banning me from the circle forever.  They can do that you know.

But it’s not my fault.  Not really.  I mean, normally I walk Snags to school each morning.  The cold front that the weatherman was calling for was supposed to move through over night and dump all its marble size raindrops then.  And it did, at least some of it.  I mean, I heard the thunder and the rain last night.  It started right when I started watching The Office, and at the exact moment when Snags got out of bed crying that he’d hurt himself, scratched his eye. 

That turned out to be his eye lid, but one look at his claw like fingernails convinced me he’d be a bloody mess by morning if I didn’t do something right then.  So I trimmed his nails, cleaned off his eyelid scratch, and sent him back to bed amid the rain and thunder and my trying to catch all of the funniness that is The Office.

This morning was supposed to dawn clear and bright and chilly, but I take it the weather Gods didn’t get that notice from the weather man at our local television station.  Because instead, the sky was that odd blue color, the one somewhere between an enthusiastic cobalt and a depressing gray, the one that means it might be getting ready to rain, hard.  Or it might simply be the old rain burning away from the sun behind it.  And only a little more time will reveal what is to be…

I kept looking out the window, and as luck would have it, everything was fine until the very. last. second.  And then the sky split open. 

But I’m flexible, so I said to Snags, “Get in the car.  I’m driving you to school.”  And Snags complained.  He wanted to walk.  I would have walked, really, I would have.  But I promised a neighbor friend who is out of town on a cruise vacation, that I would walk her son to school each morning, leaving her mother-in-law babysitter to tend to my friend’s young twins in the morning without having to cart them up to school and back like my friend usually does.

I figured two small boys with backpacks, lunch bags, and umbrellas might not be the thing to mix with a downpour and a deadline.  School has a definite starting time, and puddles are the devils snare to that. 

So I picked my neighbor’s son up and in less than 2 minutes we had pulled into the school’s traffic circle.  I followed the rules, I followed the cars and stopped where I was supposed to.  But then I had to get out of my car to help the boys out.  The doors have to be opened by hand, they don’t glide away like those on all the minivans that were surrounding me. One door has a child lock on it so Snags couldn’t open it even if he wanted to.  The other, well, that door would have opened into the traffic.  So I got out and opened Snags’ door to let the boys out onto the sidewalk. 

Only they are five, in Kindergarten, and not fast.  Not fast like the 3rd and 4th graders hopping out of the cars in front of us.  So by the time I got them out of the car and back into their backpacks and put their umbrellas up and gave Snags a kiss, and hopped back into my car, I was the ONLY car left in the circle.  All the cars that had been in front of me had vanished.  But all the world was behind me waiting, waiting, waiting to pull in.

That’s when I noticed the looks.  The disdain.  The shaking of heads.  You’d have thought I was sitting there reading a map for 20 minutes, or talking on my cell phone and had missed the green light.  But honestly, when I got home and looked at the clock, I had been gone for a grand total of 6 minutes.  So I couldn’t have jammed up the traffic circle for too long.  But apparently, jamming it up at all is a CRIME. 

So I am off to dig out the TRAFFIC CIRCLE RULES paper.  The one I didn’t fully read when it came home because I didn’t expect to be driving Snags to school.  It’s not MY fault it started raining this morning. And I can tell you one thing…  If I end up going to jail for this, the weather man, he’s going down with me.

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Filed under humor, life, school, traffic, weather

Race Report

13:22. That’s how many minutes FASTER I ran the Philadelphia Distance Run on Sunday over my previous ½ marathon, which was back in the Spring.  And just between you and me, the 13:22 shaved off my time means I set a personal record for speed on Sunday.  So congratulations to me!

They call Philadelphia The City of Brotherly Love.  I don’t know about the brotherly part except to say my brother is here visiting on his vacation from where he lives kind of far away and he ran the Philadelphia Distance Run yesterday too.  So I was in Philadelphia with my brother if that counts.  And I think it counts because he volunteered to drive us there in the first place.

Now the love part, I get that.  Because having set my personal best ½ marathon time ever in that city, I love Philadelphia now too!!!
 
But let’s back up a bit, shall we?

It took us a little longer to get to Philly than we had anticipated because somewhere along the way we hit some serious traffic that appeared, like traffic often does, out of nowhere and for no good reason.  The closest hint we got for the traffic being so heavy was when we finally, after about an hour, inched our way 15 miles up the road and saw one lone police car at the side of the highway and everyone slowing down to look at it.  I guess maybe it was a novelty, like some strange and beautiful bird you might want to watch, or like some sort of dangerous animal you’d creep slowly and silently by, hoping not to attract it’s attention so that it won’t jump out and attack you write you a ticket.

After we arrived in Philly we debated which to undertake first: should we check into our hotel or go to the race expo to pick up our race packets?  We attempted the first and got a little lost, so we settled on the second.  The lost part wasn’t our fault though.  I attribute it to the map that came in the mail as part of our final set of race instructions.  The map showed our hotel on 8th street, only it wasn’t on 8th, it was on 4th street.  I suspect that in the interest of space and saving paper, the map maker simply ended the map at 8th street and stuck little hotel dots along the edges to indicate that they were “near” the borders of the page and if only you drove around and around in ever increasing circles you’d eventually find your way and be so relived to have finally done so that you wouldn’t dare complain or blog about it to the world. 

And yet, I also suspect the map maker didn’t attend all of his  requisite cartography courses during college because a little thing called scale would have helped immensely and also, the map maker didn’t count on a geographer (ahem, that’s me) trying to follow the map worthless piece of paper.

Now, in case you aren’t a runner or a person who likes to hang out at race expos, I’ll tell you that the expos are place where you go the day or two before the actual race to pick up your race packet which includes your race bib (no it’s not a bib for eating, it’s simply a sheet with a number on it that you pin to your shirt so they can identify you as runner number some-thetty-something), your timing chip, your free race t-shirt, and other goodies.  Then there are vendors who set up booths to try and sell you stuff: running shoes and shorts, socks, energy bars, hats, sunglasses, key chains, spinal adjustments, muscle creams, etc…  You get lots of free handouts from the vendors too, like band aids and safety pins, notepads and tote bags, packs of oatmeal, and energy drinks.

I enjoy wandering around the expos and collecting all the free goodies and then parting with some of my money when I see something I really need.  Like the pink running shirt I bought that says, on the front: This seemed like a good idea 3 months ago, and on the back: Race Official, Do Not Pass.  It’s a lovely shirt but none of the other racers seemed to heed the warning on the back because plenty of them were passing me right on by during the actual event on Sunday.  Personally, I think they just didn’t know how to read.

After we collected our race packets and parted with some hard earned cash at the expo, my brother and I waited in line to check into our hotel.  While there we witnessed a hotel employee standing guard over an adolescent boy in a wet t-shirt and wet shorts and the hotel employee was saying something to the boy’s mother about two chairs and a life preserver.  I was enthralled by the scene but before I could learn any more I was called to the front desk to get my room key.

My hotel room had 3 pillows on the bed and a small card with “pillow menu” printed on it, describing the varieties of pillow firmness that were available depending on how you liked to sleep: on your side, on your back, or even both ways, like a flopping fish.  I played Goldilocks and tried all three pillows before picking my favorite and falling into a deep slumber.

And then it happened.  I had a nightmare!  I woke with a start at 4:00 a.m., having dreamt that we had already run the ½ marathon but that I hadn’t gotten my finisher’s medal because they weren’t giving them to you for crossing the finish line.  Rather, I dreamt they were passing them out down a dark alley near the entrance to a different hotel.  Only I hadn’t known that and so I didn’t venture down that alley and didn’t get my hard earned medal.  I tried to go back to sleep because technically, I had one hour until my alarm was set to go off, but I was rattled, my heart was pounding, and sleep didn’t come easy.

In the darkness that is 5:00 a.m. in mid-September, my brother and I debated driving to the race start or taking a cab.  Driving would mean getting the car out of the hotel’s parking garage and finding a garage closer to the race start where we would probably have to fork over an additional $20 in parking fees, so we decided on a cab.

When we stepped outside the hotel door we were accosted by a woman demanding to know how we were getting to the race.  And in case you are wondering how she knew that’s where we were headed, well, it’s a pretty easy guess when you have a large race number pinned to your shirt.  We told her we were going to take a cab and she asked if we’d like to share a cab with her.  Of course we said yes because the more people in a cab, the less any one person’s fare will be if you split the cost, right?  That’s what sharing a cab means, right?  Share a cab = split the cost.  Well, that’s what I thought it meant, but apparently I was wrong.

The cab fare came to $9.60.  I had two five dollar bills at the ready.  The man in the front seat who at the last minute decided to share the cab along with us, actually turned to us in the back and said, after the cab driver announced his dues, “Can you guys spot me a couple of dollars?” as if we would ever find him again in the crowd of 12,000 runners.  As if he ever really inteded to pay us back.  The woman who had the bright idea to share the cab in the first place had a whopping $2 at the ready.  Sensing this wasn’t going to be an even split, I handed the cab drive all of  my $10 and the woman handed me her $2 and said, “No that’s for YOU, not the cab driver!” and she stepped out of the cab.  I thought about this for a split second.  My $10 left the cab driver with a tip of $0.40.  I felt that was inadequate even for the short ride.  So when big spender lady wasn’t looking I handed her $2 over to the cab driver and told him “Here, here’s $2 more for your tip.  Thanks for the ride!”  And he said thank you and  waited for me to exit the cab before driving off.

As we got in line for the race, I spotted two of the women I’d spent much of my summer training with.  I inched my way over to them and asked if they were running together for part of the race.  Usually people train together and then on race day it’s “everyone runs their own race” meaning if, during the race, you have to stop and tie your shoe, your friends run on.  They don’t stop with you. Likewise, if your running mate falls and breaks an ankle during the race, you wish them well and continue on.  It sounds harsh, but honestly, an ambulance will come along and pick your friend up so they’ll be okay. You know, eventually.  Like once the cast comes off and they’re finished with physical therapy and all that.

My training partners, however, said they were running together the whole way and I was free to join them.  Since my brother had predicted a faster finishing time than I had, he was positioned closer to the starting line of the race and I was alone back in the crowd.  I thought it would be nice to have some company along the way so I eagerly agreed to run with my old training pals.  We ran together until mile 8 or so where my friends pulled over to grab some Gu (an energy gel that many runners like but which I can’t stomach) and I kept going.  I figured they’d meet up with me again so I kept trucking trudging along.  With only 1/10th of a mile to go, my friends caught up with me and we ran it in. 

I collected my race medal, dug out my cell phone, called my brother to find out where he was in the sea of race finishers, and then called my husband to tell him I’d finished the race with a pretty good time.  Then my brother and I, not ones to be lazy after all that running, walked the 2 miles back to our hotel so we could shower and change before heading home.

And there you have it, my race report. 

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Filed under 1/2 marathon, freeloaders, life, Philadelphia, running, taxicab, traffic

Somebody Please Build This

Have you ever watched Star Trek?  Not the original series where they all looked funny and dressed poorly.  I’m talking Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager.  The only two of the Star Trek series I could stomach.  Mostly because Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard was pretty cool for an old guy.  And Data (played by Brent Spiner) was incredibly HOT! HOT! HOT! for an artificial human.  And before you get all “Oh. My. God!  Are you sick or something?” on me, you should know that I am not the ONLY one to ever think Data was hot.  My friend Erika thought so too.  She admitted it once, and I have at least 2 witnesses to her saying so.  You know, just in case she reads this and calls me up and tries to claim she never said that.

Anyway, they had this thing, the holodeck, onboard the ship in The Next Generation series.  The holodeck was an enclosed room where those aboard the starship could go and simulate reality.  They could, if they so desired, simulate a vacation at the beach, or a romantic evening in a hotel suite (oh, Data! where are you now?) , or even a shoot out at a wild west saloon.  Really, it was a pretty cool idea.

And I want someone to make it real.  I want somebody out there to invent a real, but portable holodeck machine.  I want it so badly that if you take my idea and go forward with it, I probably won’t even come after you for some of your windfall once it starts selling.  Seriously, somebody please build one that can used by police everywhere to simulate a normal side of the road.  One where the shoulder is free of busted up cars and flashing headlights.  That way, nobody would ever have to slow down while driving to gawk and gape at an accident.  If the police had a portable holodeck machine, they could pull up at the scene of an accident, project a “normal” view of the roadway along the side, and take care of the ticket writing and ambulance calling behind the screen.  And all us motorists?  We’d never have to know they were there because we wouldn’t even see them.

See, I’m tired of the traffic jams created simply because somebody got a flat and is changing their tire on the shoulder of the road, but for some reason, EVERYONE has to take a look.  And not just a peek.  It’s more like they have to take inventory.  Like maybe later somebody at a party will ask them, did you see that guy changing his tire today?  And they want to be able to respond, “You mean the guy wearing the Corona t-shirt and denim shorts with that tiny shaving nick on the edge of his chin? Yeah, I saw him.  He was wearing size 10 New Balances and he had a band aid on his pinky.”

The police could also use the holodeck machine to hide themselves at speed traps.  Not that I want to get caught in a speed trap, but they might have better luck catching folks that way.  Because come on fellow drivers… if you are bold enough to drive at 75 or 80 miles an hour with me, have some cajones and drive that fast in front of the cop car.  You know he’s partially hidden around the bend.  Do you think the cops don’t notice that all the cars SLAM on the brakes and reduce their speed from 80 to a polite 55 miles per hour just seconds before they round the bend?  The cops know it.  But here’s the thing:  if the front of the police cruiser is pointed toward the southbound lanes, they aren’t going to turn around and come after you in the northbound lanes.  If you are flying by doing 85, by the time they make that 3 point turn, and merge into the traffic, you’ll be long gone.  So really, please, just keep driving.  Slow down just a touch, if you must, but don’t stop for crying out loud.  And put away your cell phone and your razor and your lipstick and DRIVE dammit!  I’ve got places to go too you know.

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Filed under Brent Spiner, Captain Picard, Data, holodeck, Patrick Stewart, speeding, Star Trek, The Next Generation, traffic, Voyager