Posts Tagged ‘traffic laws’

The internet turns people into monsters

Posted in Ridiculum on July 24th, 2011 by Nathan – 1 Comment

XKCD to the rescue again.Of course, the conclusion above is already well documented, and it was even a discussion in a class I took entitled “Computers and Ethics.” Because of its anonymity, the internet prevents the social filters that otherwise stop people from acting like complete jerks. Two recent stories:

1. My friend Lia just got two traffic tickets for running reds and being caught on tape. I commented that indeed, she broke the law, and it was only fair that she got caught. Others who commented quickly agreed, including one guy who decided to go anonymous. Anon, (which means ‘now,’ for the record, not anonymous) however did not leave it at that. When someone commented supporting Lia’s driving, Anon went crazy, saying that women are bad drivers and that this is indicative of that.

Of course, someone jumped in and the conversation began escalating toward Godwin’s Law, except that some (rare) restraint and a lack of response from anyone else ended the argument.

2. My past two blog posts involved two crazy baseball ideas, and both generated a fair number of comments, on- and off-blog. Because I posted the links on two Astros blogs I read, I was able to get comments there as well.

On my blog, comments were civil, people who knew me realized that I wasn’t under the illusions that these ideas were perfect and, far from it, knew that they were, as I titled the posts, ‘crazy.’

Off the blog, comments were more virulent. “That is the stupidest thing I’ve heard all day” was quickly followed by “Other ideas were probably the stupidest things ever, be more open-minded.”

I guess that a relatively good conclusion can be drawn from these examples: though there are monsters on the internet, there are as many, if not more, sane civilized people who rather than engage in an argument just back off or who are willing to refute the anger present in these anonymous monster types.

Me, I just thought it was too coincidental that these events happened basically at the same time.

Boston has the worst roads ever

Posted in Travel on March 18th, 2011 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

This sign is now my traffic enemy. And by association, I hate Citizens Bank. I don't know where that bank is, but if I see one, I know to hate it.I had hoped to go through my whole life without ever driving in New York City. Unfortunately, I failed to live up to that hope at the end of my road trip, when I had to return the car to LaGuardia airport, in Queens. However, as frightened as I was of driving in NYC, and as unhappy the idea made me, it was nothing compared to driving in Boston, a city with the worst roads ever.

Actually, the roads are well-kept, not full of potholes or other serious impediments to safe driving. However, they are not well planned by any measure. On the contrary, if an animal with no sense of driving, say, a shark, planned these roads, they would actually end up more sensibly placed.

Every road segment leads into another road, onto which you must turn to then immediately turn to continue your path ahead. In addition to that, the signage is terrible. Allow me to expound on this last point.

At one point, we found ourselves trying to get on I-90 (The “Mass Pike”) to get out of Boston. Instead, as we got on the freeway, we suddenly realized we were going into Boston (90E) rather than out (90W). This is because there is no proper signage. We realized a toll booth lay ahead and decided to get off at the nearest exit. Many signs told us to stay in the left lane for the upcoming exit. So, doing so, we realized at the last minute that there were no cash-only lanes anywhere near the left.

We were stuck, and had to go through the “Fast Pass” lane without said fast pass. The fine, if it is sent to us, will supposedly cost us fifty dollars. Ridiculous. Luckily there is an appeals process, with which we intend to follow through. All of this due entirely to bad signage.

The other problem is characteristic of Massachusetts as a whole, and not just Boston area. The highways are not lighted. Seriously, the tolls are quite expensive (tolls were a large part of our expenditures on this trip) but where does that money go? Not to lights, that’s for sure. Constantly we found ourselves remarking that the roads were too dark and that it was ridiculous that they couldn’t add a light every mile at least.

Boston roads are terrible. I suggest you avoid them, even more than I suggest against New York City roads. You’ve been warned.

The peril of blog updates

Posted in website on December 4th, 2009 by Nathan – 1 Comment

This marks the 105th post on my blog, which is pretty amazing when you think about it. Since I update five times a week, that means that this is the end of the twenty-first week. In that time, I’ve covered some ridiculous topics, and all along my reader-base has been growing. People I would never think would read this come up to me randomly and say something about it. And that thrills me.

In these twenty-one weeks, there have been some good posts and some bad ones. Some of the good ones stand out because of comments people have left, while others, posts of which I am particularly proud, go uncommented, with few views. I added a neat feature on the right of my blog that displays the four “Most Popular Posts.” Right now, on top is my analogy explaining Traffic Laws and relationship miscommunication. It’s also very heavily commented, with ten comments.

On the other hand, my post on first impressions, which has four comments, is one of the least viewed posts, possibly because it was written early in my blog. Either way though, it all comes down to this: I have written five days a week, appreciated or not, for about five months.

I’ve been carrying around a little notebook, writing down my thoughts, and the pages are now covered in words, some scratched off because I’ve used them, others still waiting to make their way into a post on the pages of L’histoire de sa vie. But there is a problem, which I call the peril of blog updates.

I’ve noticed this effect in other blogs, especially from some of my friends. As life gets busier, there are things you want to say, things you want to share, but you suddenly don’t have the time, simply because those things are taking up more of your life. Posts become shorter, or less frequent. Or, in my case, sometimes the quality drops. While I’ve stuck to my 5-a-week schedule, it seems like this is now emphasizing quantity over quality. And that’s not acceptable.

So I’m reaching out to you, my readers. What do you think: should I stick to 5-a-week or should I write less frequent but more qualitative posts? Let me know. I welcome your feedback.

Confession: My obsession with traffic signs

Posted in Confessions on November 4th, 2009 by Nathan – 1 Comment

A continuation of my “Confessions” series, modeled after Alana’s “Sunday Confessional”

So if you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning (it feels like so long ago!) then you’ve probably noticed that quite often, I have posts that concern traffic signs. In fact, the tag “traffic-laws” returns three other posts that concern traffic signs at least to some small extent, which seems like more than should be reasonable for one website.

But the truth is, I’m obsessed with traffic signs. No joke. I love them. My absolute favorite section of the Texas Drivers Handbook, which I had to read thoroughly when learning to drive, consists of fourteen pages of traffic signs, each organized into different sections by color and purpose. Whenever I see a new sign I’ve never seen before, I ooh and aah and sometimes even take pictures. A new and interesting street sign can provide me with hours of thought. Here are some stories of the extent of my traffic sign obsession:

When I first visited New York state, I was amazed to find that there aren’t just Speed Limit signs, but Speed Limit signs organized by purpose. In addition to “Village Speed Limit,” I have also seen “Area Speed Limit, “City Speed Limit” and even “Mall Speed Limit.”

Also in New York, specifically in the city, there are a lot of signs that forbid honking or “blocking the box.” In addition to forbidding these actions, they come with strong corollaries, namely “Fine +2 points,” as though blocking the box is a game, and you get +2 points (“Fine!”) if you succeed in avoiding gridlock. [Superb +10 points! Great Job +20 points!]

When I went to Poland in 2004, I fell in love with all the crazy Eastern European street signs. On day one, I asked our bus driver what a bunch of signs meant. He explained a sign to me each day, and I then imparted the knowledge over the PA system on the bus to the rest of my group. I still remember what every sign means, but my favorite was the one that he never had to explain to me (yet everyone else wanted me to explain it to them…?)

Just look at that lollipop! It’s actually larger than the little girl’s head! [There was a disagreement on the trip as to whether it was a lollipop or a balloon. After extensive Googling when I returned from the trip, I was able to determine that it is in fact candy.] As an aside, this lollipop reminds me of another sign, though not a traffic sign, that always cracked me up when I was younger. It was on the Shell Auto Care center near my house. The fact that this man can hold such a large wrench is mindboggling.

Finally, a story featuring the wit of my brother: in high school, I used to drive often to my friend Daniel’s house. Right across the street from his house is a “Road Humps” sign. I asked aloud, “Road humps what?” to which my brother immediately responded: “The asphalt.”

Foot Traffic in NYC

Posted in Ridiculum on November 2nd, 2009 by Nathan – 7 Comments

First of all: yesterday 696 people visited my blog, including 443 just through StumbleUpon to view my post, Some bad ideas I've had lately. So apparently, StumbleUpon is really good at bringing traffic – if you use it, be sure to give me a thumbs-up on posts you like!

Pedestrian Crossing The other day I was walking along the street and noticed my shoe was untied. This is not uncommon – my shoes are constantly getting untied. It’s pretty much an unending part of my life. Anyway, I signaled and pulled over to tie my shoe on a step.

That’s right, I signaled and pulled over. See, in New York, walking along the street is much like driving in other places. There is serious traffic. There are lanes, and some are dangerous drivers (weaving in and out of lanes when in a hurry) while others are safer (following from a distance, avoiding tailgating or abrupt lane changes or turns). And when I need to tie my shoe, I find myself signaling to the oncoming traffic via eye contact that I will be pulling over to the left or right.

Pulling over is a traffic ordeal in and of itself. When I walk in a non-NYC environment, it’s easy to just stop in place and tie a shoe or mail a letter or anything else. But in New York, if one simply stops in place, there is a traffic jam, and more often than not, a collision. And since Geico doesn’t cover foot traffic collisions (and few in NYC have liability insurance for the sidewalks), the damage can be even worse than when automobiles collide. There is frustration, annoyance, and mental anguish.

In the last few years, the sum total of my driving has been done in Wisconsin and Illinois, in the summer. I am a particularly safe driver, and I understand not only the major traffic laws but also minor things such as that the left lane is to be used for passing, not for coasting. Each of these driving standards also exists in NYC foot traffic. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • The left lane is indeed for passing. It is not only incorrect to pass on the right, it’s pretty much forbidden. On narrow sidewalks, one must often converge into the oncoming lane to pass a slow walker.
  • Rolling stops are common at intersections, just like at stop signs while driving. I usually walk a few feet into the street (thanks to parked or even double-parked vehicles) before making the decision to stop fully or keep going.
  • The shoulder is used on sidewalks where scaffolding is present. Because the sidewalk is narrowed, there are many more collisions or bottlenecks, and thus I have to pull to the shoulder to gain a normal speed.
  • Speed limits are in effect but rarely enforced. It is in poor form to run in a “school zone,” just as it is wrong to clog areas by walking too slowly on a “highway.”
  • Times Square is always a traffic jam. Without exception. Avoid at all costs.

Finally, just like in real traffic, there are tons of people who I don’t think should be allowed on the sidewalk. “How did this person pass his/her walking test?” Inevitably there are traffic jams, bottlenecks, rubberneckers, and just plain old bad walking.

Traffic Laws and Stupid Boys: Why men don’t understand women

Posted in Ridiculum on October 20th, 2009 by Nathan – 13 Comments

[Adir complained to me that my posts are often too short and leave him wanting more. As a response, this post is a little longer than usual. Give me feedback! Do you prefer the shorter or longer format? Comment below.]

via: Flickr user billaday

Recently, I discussed the issue of miscommunication between the sexes with my friend Lia. She said that “boys are stupid,” a common complaint I’ve heard from women, pretty much throughout my life. And being that I am a member of the male gender, I can say that, yes, for the most part, we are pretty stupid. But miscommunication is not entirely our fault.

The problem lies somewhere between our stupidity and the fact that women tend to be confusing, impossible to read, and generally inconsistent among their gender. The analogy I gave Lia is as follows:

Each of the fifty states has completely different traffic laws. Some only allow U-turns at intersections, some allow them anywhere, some anywhere except intersections. So we grow up and we learn the traffic laws of one particular area, then one day, enter a new state, and get a ticket for breaking the law.

If every girl had the same traffic laws, or better communication about their laws, boys wouldn’t be under the speed limit in some cases and running reds in others. But this is not the case. It’s unrealistic to suggest that drivers memorize the traffic laws of every state; even if one learns all about U-turns, there’s plenty of other laws that will surprise any driver. That is, we don’t know what girls want and they don’t communicate with us. (i.e. there’s no sign in Wisconsin that says “U-turns illegal at intersections in this state.” Had there been, I would have avoided a traffic warning.)

This definitely applies in the real world, especially in the dating world of young twenty-somethings such as myself. In discussions with my male friends, I find that no man is really aware of the proper etiquette before or after a date, and even though we try our best to do the right thing, inevitably we make mistakes.

A common example comes in the manners I display as a Southern gentleman. Thanks to conditioning by my mother from a very young age, I always hold doors open for women, allowing them to go in before I do so. However, though most women enjoy this treatment, I have noticed that some (let’s call them ultra-liberal New York types) find this to be offensive or even chauvinistic. Frankly I find this ridiculous, but nonetheless, it is the case.

More importantly, I have heard from many female friends that the post-date call is a serious point of stress. Some men call too early and sound too eager, but most men don’t call until much too late, causing their dates to think they are disinterested. This seems to be a major point of miscommunication, but really it all stems from the problem that different women have different windows of when the call should come, yet very few communicate what that window is.

Because there was no feedback in these and other situations, that is, no traffic signs or flashing lights from a cop car, men are often left in the oblivion of the murky inter-gender pit of miscommunication usually described in books with titles suggesting interstellar origins of the sexes.

Ultimately, I don’t think the onus is on men to become smarter or on women to become more consistent. But I do think it would be nice if the female highway patrol would let men off with a few more warnings before making arrests or issuing fines.

Illegal U-Turn

Posted in Ridiculum on July 24th, 2009 by Nathan – 6 Comments

The Warning

On Wednesday, I was driving around Minocqua/Woodruff area looking for a bowling alley. Linda’s car has OnStar, so we asked for the nearest bowling alley and received directions to the Woodruff Lanes. I began driving according to the directions that OnStar gave us, when suddenly, I realized we had passed the turn required. So at the next intersection, I pulled into the left-turn lane and made a U-turn to try again.

I got to where the road should have been and noticed no road, so I pulled into a parking lot. Behind me were flashing lights. I pulled over in the parking lot. So did the state trooper car.

Well, the trooper, Officer Bedish, immediately explained that “it’s illegal to make a U-turn at a controlled intersection.” He asked for my license and asked me to confirm that everything on there was current. I didn’t tell him that I don’t weight 150 pounds anymore; other than that, everything is indeed current.

After about ten minutes, he came back to the window and gave me my license and a sheet of paper. He explained: “This is a copy of your traffic warning.”

Violation: 346.33(1)(a): Unlawful U/Y Turn – Control.Intersection

The Research

This shocked me. I was certain that in Texas, no such law existed. In fact, it seemed to me that I had seen “No U-Turn” signs often enough to know that when it wasn’t allowed, a sign would be posted. I consulted with others from other states, and all agreed that such a law seemed ridiculous.

So I got online and did some research. Sure enough, it is illegal to make a U-turn at an intersection controlled by light or officer in the state of Wisconsin. But is this true in other states? I decided to check it out, and after consulting the traffic laws of all fifty states, here’s what I’ve found:

  • An overwhelming 47 states allow U-turns at traffic lights, except when otherwise signed.
  • Only three states declare this illegal: Wisconsin, Missouri, and Oregon, although Oregon’s statutes allow such turns when otherwise signed. [There is a sign that allows a U-turn.]
  • In Virginia towns, cities, and business districts of counties, it is illegal to make a U-turn at any place except an intersection.
  • U-turns are so common in Texas that the U-turn lane found under freeways before the traffic light is called the “Texas turnaround” even when it’s found in other states.

Clearly, Wisconsin is ridiculous. Not allowing U-turns at intersections, when nearly every other state does (and when Virginia doesn’t allow an alternative!) is ludicrous. Nonetheless, I now have a traffic warning. Thank you, Wisconsin.