11 Feb. 2011
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A Wall of Snoulders

And I thought I had problems.  (And I do - see "Waiting at the Light").  But mine aren't likely to get me killed.  The snoulders below might do in some pedestrians.

Snow Boulders

Snow boulders I snapped these pictures two days ago when I just happened to see this wall of ice that had been dislodged from the shopping center parking lot.  The next day the (very) local "news"paper came in and the lead article was headlined "Snow piles make crossing Route 23 a real challenge."  Since I don't normally walk in that area and the shopping center driveway is clear, I didn't originally consider that.  But when I drove by later, I realized that the article is quite correct.  You literally can't cross the street without carrying climbing gear.
A wall of snow boulders

In the manner of newspapers everywhere, the article featured quotes from the extremes.  One police captain commented that even without the snow barrier, "there's not enough time" for all but the fittest to traverse the intersection before the traffic light changes.  Of course this is nonsense.  "The fittest" could be across the intersection in 1/4 of the traffic light interval or less.  Any one capable of volitional verticality who isn't on crutches or using a walker can make it easily unless they are doing detailed studies of striping paint.  Another woman, solving her daughter's "problem" once or twice a day wants to see a "ban on right-turns-on-red" for the remaining 23 hours 55 minutes.  Even so, it is a big intersection, and a "study commissioned by the NJ Department of Transportation was released with possible remedies..."  I would go on here, but very few of you who aren't out to get me for one reason or other are likely to experience this intersection, and those who are will likely not be walking.  Suffice it to say that the report suggested improvements that ranged from the almost-free to the hideously expensive.

Waiting at the Light

I have been complaining about another aspect of this intersection for years.  In addition to the potentially dangerous pedestrian portion, there is a nearby "jughandle" with a traffic light for left turns.  During the day there is heavy traffic and the light does its job admirably.  At night there is almost no traffic, but the light dutifully stands watch, inexorably and stupidly wasting the time of all those trying to turn left.  Although I don't believe it is trying to make a political statement by so doing, I will make one below, violating my resolution to "let it go for another year" in the process.


When I wrote this blogitem, I temporized:

"My diatribe in this space."  But I want to consider it more carefully.  Perhaps "tomorrow," perhaps later.  It's not likely to be an encomium.

I was planning a bit more of a screed than what appears below.  Maybe some other time.

When we think politics, we usually think "big" issues.  Gun control.  Taxation.   Abortion.  Immigration.  War.  These issues are endlessly discussed because there is no correct answer or solution to any of them, only arguments on both (or many) sides, all of which have some validity.  And yet there are politics in small things, too.  The Kinnelon Road jughandle traffic light is one of them.  I was attending the local fire department "pancake breakfast" one day when a guy looking much too alert for breakfast time came over to me and introduced himself.  "Aha" I accosted him.  "You must be a 'local politician'."  Asserting that he preferred not to be characterized in that exact manner, he nonetheless admitted he was a candidate for the local council.  We spoke briefly, and I told him about my irritation with the traffic light.  He ruefully acknowledged that it is difficult to get the attention of the highway department, but gave me the name of someone he thought might be helpful.  I told him I'd consider voting for him if the light were fixed.  His contact never responded, and I never voted.  The light, many years later, remains as obnoxious as it was then.

Most political solutions, in addition to being contentious, are expensive and taxing, both literally and figuratively.  The traffic light in question, confirmed by survey, is not contentious.  Everyone agrees that it is ridiculous and should be re-timed.  And it is taxing only in the sense that hundreds of people give up a few minutes of their time, unnecessarily, every day.  This could be easily remedied by setting it to blink red in one direction and yellow in the other during the low traffic hours.  Or, less easily, by some thoughtful adjustment.  But just as the almost-free suggestion regarding the pedestrian crossing remains unimplemented months after the "study," the traffic light continues to waste my time and that of others years after I tried to call it to the attention of the highway department. 

Politics gets little respect from a lot of people.  Political issues run the gamut from minor to life-and-death.  And yet it is the minor issues with which we citizens must cope on a continual basis.  For years I've wondered why the IRS, among its welter of forms and admonishments, has never bothered to send me a "thank-you" note.  For fewer years, I've wondered why the daily cost in time and gasoline of the evil jughandle traffic light is of so little interest to the NJ Highway Department that they ignore my uncontroversial and essentially no-cost plea to "do something." 

But I don't wonder why politics gets little respect from a lot of people.

Library of Congress Conversion Factor

This just in from Cisco, an authoritative source quoted in an equally authoritative Duane Morris bulletin: 

According to Cisco, North American wireless networks were used to transmit 17 petabytes per month in 2009, an amount equivalent to 1,700 Libraries of Congress.

This just in from Staples the office supply company:  2 Terabyte external disk drives on sale for $99 each.

If you're not working the problem along with me, 1 petabyte is 1000 terabytes, so the Library of Congress contains 10 terabytes.  At $99 for 2 terabytes, that comes out to $495 for one Library of Congress.  Don't pay more!

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