August 30th, 2009

krazy koati

Open the shutters on your windows

I had a frustrating commute home yesterday. I usually start out on the Interstate heading east, and Friday evenings in summer that's usually lousy because of the Shore traffic, but yesterday was one of those days where the rain starts at nagging and gets positively insistent so that shouldn't have been an issue. But there were multiple slowdowns and near-stops, right near the start, and a signal sign warning that there was an exit completely closed ... thirteen miles ahead. Fortunately, I have worked out a couple alternate routes that would let me bypass the first sixteen, or for that matter the entirety, of the Interstate part of my commute and I was near enough one exit to merge back into one of those.

Except that my alternate routes, on county roads, were also running pretty near capacity, probably from drivers who saw the same problem I did and had the same routes because there isn't a decent second eastward limited-access highway in this part of the state. And the intermittent rain meant there was a steady succession of sudden slowdowns. And something else brought out the people who set the cruise control to (2d4+2) miles per hour under the speed limit. So I was stuck in slow-to-stop traffic there, too.

And then I made it worse by trying to get back on the Interstate. Construction detoured my alternate route away from places I knew, so I thought maybe I could just get back on and I should be past the obstruction. Except that road was a complete parking lot, the sort where you can give up holding onto the steering wheel and give serious thought to turning the car off for the several minutes between motion. That stretch of road should take less than five miles from where I started to the Interstate; by the time I gave up, an hour later, I hadn't got halfway there. The opposite direction flowed a little better, but it still took nearly as long to get back to where I had started and plunge into an alternate alternate that I only had sketched out from my little map of the state's major roads.

I don't tend to lose my temper in traffic, but this had me making comical signs at whatever was going on to turn all Central New Jersey's roads into parking lots, and reinforced my resolve to either switch to a four-day schedule or quit altogether and get into the profitable business of making fun of Mark Trail for online forums. Anything to avoid Friday commutes. Eventually I got home, two and a half hours after I set out.

Saturday my mother told me the accident had been, actually, right about where the road I was completely stopped on met the Interstate, and passengers in two cars had died. I didn't really want perspective shed on the sulking of my petty inconveniences like that.

Trivia: The first successful launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-41-D, on 30 August 1984 took place after a last minute delay of six minutes 50 seconds caused by a private aircraft intruding into a warning area off the Kennedy Space Center coast. Source: Space Shuttle: The History of the National Space Transportation System: The First 100 Missions, Dennis R Jenkins.

Currently Reading: First Flight: The Wright Brothers And The Invention Of The Airplane, T A Heppenheimer.