austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Out on the street they ride --- the mongoose flies on by

On Monday I enjoyed a rare treat of actually doing something other than freezing in the cold snap, and I met up with chefmongoose. I believe this was the first time we've met since before I got my degree and moved to Singapore as a full-time thing, although I'm not positive and have to wait for the Bill James Statistical Abstract Of My Whole Life before making a definitive statement. He was in the area because he was driving from his home down to meet a mysterious fellow in Maryland whose identity you might know. I grant this is not a unique description. Actually, I'm trying to remember if he's already friended and I forgot the name he uses for Livejournal.

Our meeting spot was, in principle, pretty good: near enough the Turnpike and my natural route home that they could intersect with almost no inconvenience to anyone. What I had forgotten was the jughandle, the standard New Jersey way of turning left or most any other direction besides right. chefmongoose was able to just barely come to understand this and escape alive, although what I had forgotten is that this particular spot, fed as it is by a Turnpike, an Interstate, and two US Routes in the area has a heavy traffic volume and therefore a jughandle loop that's about twelve miles in radius and bumper-to-bumper the entire time. There's more to the going on; I just realized I had a paragraph's worth of blather about my reading to get to first.

Trivia: In its first week of carrying passenger traffic from Sacramento, California, to Roseville, the Central Pacific carried 298 passengers and earned $354.25. Source: Empire Express: Building The First Transcontinental Railroad, David Haward Bain.

Currently Reading: The Last Three Miles: Politics, Murder, and the Construction Of America's First Superhighway, Steven Hart. I have to rate this, ultimately, a disappointing book about the building of the Pulaski Skyway. I was hoping for more explicit discussion of the quirky design choices on the Skyway which would get a modern road engineer shot, then hanged, then shot and hanged again, then kicked around some just to be sure. The book starts talking about some of them, such as the Skyway's habit of having incoming traffic merge into the left-hand lane, but pretty much excuses everything under the (valid) argument that nobody had designed a limited-access highway like this before (even the Autobahn hadn't been built when the Skyway was designed) and the only vaguely relevant experience was from railroad construction, where the approach direction for merging traffic isn't all that important. All right, but the designers had been on a road before, hadn't they? Maybe the critical decisions were made in honest ignorance, but I'd have liked to know more about the decision-making process.


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