Monday, August 15, 2011

A Statistic -- Oh, and license plates

Well, I was bold enough in my last post to observe about the number of cars on the side of the road. Last Friday night, I became one of them.

For a couple weeks, off and on, the tire pressure warning light would come on in my car. One tire seemed to lose air (rear, passenger side). I'd fill it up and it would be good for a week or more. I had done this the weekend before, and on Friday morning, the light came on. I didn't think too much, and after work headed out to the Interstate (about 1/2 mile). As I accelerated up the ramp, the car sounded different. But with sort of heavy traffic, it was hard to pull over. About a mile and a half, there was a safe spot, on the side of the road, and it was even in the shade. I pulled out the car battery-powered tire pump and plugged it in.

After about 10 minutes, nothing had changed, and I decided it was time to pull out the spare. First I had to grab the book and see where the jack went, and had to get some of the items stored in the trunk into the back seat. Other than a moment of panic when I could not find the special nut for the "anti-theft" device on the tire, it went smoothly. Of course, I had just lowered the car, and was getting ready to do the final tightening of the nuts when the Motorist Assistance Patrol van arrived. So, about 45 minutes later, I was back on the road.

Only to get to LaPlace, where despite the lack of warning on the traffic signs, traffic was backed up all along the 12 mile bridge. I don't know what the problem was, but after a long, hard, stop-and-go drive, I got off as soon as I could. It was traffic for the Saints game.

Oh, one thing I have noticed is that you can see a large variety of license plates here. In addition to the usual neighboring states (Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi), and other nearby states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia), I recently passed a car with plates from Alaska. It is not uncommon to see other Midwest/Mississippi River state plates (Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota). I think that it is the schools (universities) that attract folks from New York, Connecticut, Washington, California, Colorado, New Jersey. Some day I'll get ambitious (organized?) and track them.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reflections on Driving

With the Library Day in the Life project over, perhaps I have been in a more reflective mood than I have been in a while.

Perhaps too, for those who actually look at the sidebar to this, and not just the feed, I have been listening more to the radio (generally NPR) as I commute to and from work.

I have been reflecting on some of the similarities and differences in my drive now, and drives I have done in the past. The beginning and end of each drive is city driving. Not much to say about that, it is what it is. In Baton Rouge they are doing a project to widen parts of I-10 between the I-10/I-12 split and the edge of the city. It seems to me that it is being done in a somewhat haphazard way, with some parts having work completed, but not being able to be connected to other parts. And, frankly, there is a stretch where the new road surface is a foot or more above the currently used surface, and I wonder how that will be resolved.

The parts between the cities vary between suburban and very rural. Some of the drive is literally swamp (Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area).

One thing I noticed some time ago, I don't see much roadkill along the highway. Once in a while there is a dead armadillo. In a huge change from both Wisconsin and Connecticut, I have never seen a dead deer by the side of the road. On the other hand, "dead" vehicles are there all the time. In the 80 mile trip, there are an average of about 8 vehicles on the side of the road. Most have one tire off. Some remain there for extended periods of time (as in, more than a week).

One thing I know from experience, in Connecticut, they don't let cars sit there very long. Deer can be there for a while, but cars no. I don't have a strong recollection of vehicles along the road in the Upper Midwest where I lived, but there were often deer, turkeys, even the odd coyote or wolf.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Panama Vaction Pics I am a month late...but I finally got approval from "she who must be obeyed" and there are now pictures from our vacation in Panama which have been posted here, on Flickr.

Because I am now used to getting up very 5 am, there are a whole series of sunrise photos. The fact that our room faced the mountains to the East is another factor.

So here they are (including the coffee plantation tour).

I am disappointed at the lack of granularity for the mapping of places outside the US in Flickr. For US locations you can get to the street level. For Panama, at least, at best you could get city areas...roughly. Mind you, Rancho de Caldera is out in the boonies, but even the level of detail for Boquete is fairly "gross."