Skip to main content

What year is it?

Today there is a story in the Seattle times about how the reversible carpool lanes that run through downtown Seattle on I-5 work. Did you know that they switch them by hand? Twice a day? It takes 2 poor bastards almost an hour, in traffic, in all weather, to go out there and reverse the direction of the gates and signs. I am astounded. We have some crusty old roads around here, sure, but I had no idea that guys had to go stand in traffic twice a day to reverse those gates. The story says that they do it the same way as when the lanes were put in 40 years ago. Some rocket scientist is just now writing a proposal to remote control the gates. I may be mistaken, but I think that, even 40 years ago, they had really long wires. Why didn't they run wires out to those gates when they put them in? Why put the switches in control boxes on the freeway? On the freeway!? Who's idea was that? "Say, Joe, shall we put the gate switches here in the metro control?" "Nah, just put them out there in traffic. I am sure that it will be fine to have the boys go stand out in traffic in the dark and the rain to throw the switches. They won't mind." You know, I have worked on some pretty messed up systems, but this one has to be right up there in the top 10. It is now going to cost $10 million to retro-fit remote controls. What would it have cost 40 years ago when they were building the express lanes? An extra buck fifty for wire? How much have we taxpayers been paying to have workers stand in traffic twice a day to switch those lanes? What is the salary for that? Do they get danger pay, or really cheap life insurance? I wonder how the job description reads? "Must be quick on your feet. Very quick. Cheetah quick. No, really." Seattle is the home of Boeing, Microsoft, and countless other high-tech companies and just now, in 2008, someone has just come up with the idea of running a wire out to the switches on the freeway? Unbelievable.


Popular posts from this blog

How To Make School Lunches More Nutritious: Re-Define Words

If you are a parent of a child who attends public school in Washington, and if you have even a vague recollection of the food pyramid , you probably will have noticed that the lunches that are served in school cafeterias are frequently at odds with the rules of good nutrition. The school is not wrong, however. They have just re-defined words and you are not keeping up. Pop quiz:  Cheese belongs to what food group? *bzzz* - wrong. You said that cheese was in the diary food group , right? No! Pbth! How boringly accurate of you. Cheese magically transforms into a protein when it is served on pizza or in a bread stick! I know that you may be dubious, but I contacted Wendy Barkley, RD,  who is the Acting Supervisor of School Nutrition Programs in the State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and she assured me that it is so. To quote her email to me: " Pizza remains an option for schools for their menus.  The cheese on pizza is counted as a protein in t

Global Entry - The TSA Trusted Traveler Program - or - How to Go In The Short Line At The Airport Security

Ever since September 11th, 2001, flying has been a hassle. With each failed attempt to smuggle explosives on an airplane, the TSA makes us get more undressed at airport security. In fact, for really early morning flights, we should probably all just show up in our jammies and then get dressed once we are through the scanner because currently we get up, get dressed, go to the airport, get half undressed, go through security, and then get dressed again. For quite some time, people have been asking the TSA so implement some kind of pre-screening program where travelers could have a background check in advance, and then be allowed to go in a shorter line. That day is finally here, and the TSA is now rolling out a Trusted Traveler Program known as Global Entry . In a nutshell, you pay $100, fill out some online forms, go in for an interview, present your proof of ID, and get fingerprinted and photographed. Yes, it sounds like some red tape, but then, every time you make an airline reser

Rooftop Playgrounds

This week I have had some meetings in a tall building in downtown Seattle, and when I took a moment to look around and enjoy the view I have noticed playgrounds on rooftops. I saw this daycare playground: and this playground on top of a school: I think that this is a really cool use of space. A friend that grew up in NYC said that her school had a rooftop playground, too. The delinquent in me wonders how many toys and balls go over the side, but I bet the teachers are pretty strict about that. Downtown Seattle has always seemed a little unfriendly towards kids and it is neat to see spaces being carved out.