Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Traffic fix

March 26, 2009

People see traffic congestion as a “problem” that needs to get “fixed” – but fixed is defined in the narrowest of terms. In other words, for too many people, the only way congestion can be appropriately corrected is if everyone can still live in the suburbs, can still commute 20 miles each way to work, can cruise down freeways at 60 mph at any hour of the day, and not have to pay a dime to do it. It’s that attitude that puts so much pressure on government to resist implementing solutions like smart tolls and congestion pricing. It’s that attitude that pressures politicians to vote against gasoline tax hikes. Vote for a higher gasoline tax and you might be able to fill in pot-holes or vote to toll the local highway and you might be able to slash traffic congestion, but you’ll probably get tossed out of office. Resist the change and people will whine and complain and demand action but at least you’ll get to keep your job.

Rob Pitingolo


Killing crossing guards not a crime?

March 2, 2009


Apparently, running over a 70-year-old middle school crossing guard isn’t a crime in Kentucky.

Reflective vest or not, there’s no excuse for not seeing someone in a crosswalk that doesn’t involve speeding, not paying attention, talking on a cell phone or some combination of behavior that every driver’s manual in the U.S. teaches will likely result in a moving violation.

Rest in peace, Elaine Elgie.

Hopefully the pick-up truck driver that hit her will learn that preserving a life is a heck of a lot more important than getting to work half a minute sooner.

When in doubt, blame a Democrat

January 21, 2009

Playmobil reviewers vent on airport security

January 16, 2009

The customer review section of probably isn’t the first place you would think to look for witty and insightful commentary on the post-9/11 air travel security nonsense The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg has appropriatelyy dubbed “security theater.” 

But that’s the kind of feedback the Playmobil Security Check Point set has inspired.

For example:

I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger’s shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger’s scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said “that’s the worst security ever!”. But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital.


This toy would be a lot more realistic with about 350 people standing in line for an average of an hour.

There’s plenty more customer review hilarity HERE.

(Hat Tip: Varied Varacities)

No pants on the Subway

January 14, 2009

Improv Everywhere’s latest scene.

Before shopping malls

January 2, 2009

Elderly woman at the bus stop: “Young people often ask me, ‘what did you do before we had malls?’ I tell them we played cards, played ball, that sort of thing.”

Middle-aged man with really bad teeth sitting next to her: “Didn’t you have soda fountains?”

Elderly woman: “Yeah, we had those too.”

2008 in review: Matt Ralph’s best/worst

January 1, 2009

The Best

1. Honeymooning in Montreal. As unforgettable as my wedding was, spending a week in Montreal with my best friend was even more memorable. Chocolate croissants served at our door every morning, afternoon hikes, delectable meals and long walks around downtown and along the water at night. Not to mention, no computers, cell phones, work or other outside distractions for an entire week.  

2. Holding my niece for the first time. I have a really small family so the birth of my first niece/nephew and my parents’ first grandchild was a really big deal. Loudon Wainwright, Sigur Ros and Mojave 3 provided the soundtrack for this unforgettable moment in a Lexington, Ky., hospital in May.

3. Sherron Collins’ steal/three-point combo. Mario Chalmers’ shot will be remembered 100 years from now, but it was Sherron Collins’ acrobatic steal and subsequent three-pointer that gave Jayhawk fans everywhere hope, setting up Mario’s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing shot for the ages.

4. The Wire. Access to HBO for the first time in my life during the first part of the year led to my prompt addiction to the final season of a show deserving of the endless praise lavished upon it over the last five years. I’ve since gotten my fix watching 30 additional hours of the show’s earlier episodes and read a significant chunk of The Corner before I ran out of renewals at my local library.

5. The Phillies winning it all. Mike Schmidt was still roaming the hot corner when I last considered the Philies a rooting interest (I was rooting for a Blue Jays win from the upper deck of the Vet in the ’93 series), but by the time the reality of the Cubs’ latest failure had sunk in I was excited to see the Fightins’ end that silly William Penn curse. Better the Phillies than the E-A-G-L-E-S and all of their annoying fans.

6. Finally finishing the book “Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? The Carter Family and Their Legacy in American Music” by Mark Zwonitzer and Charles Hirshberg. One of the best books about music I’ve ever encountered, this meticulously researched, insightful and heartbreaking book took me a while to get through, but it was well worth the time investment.  

7. Parking the car and riding the TARC bus instead. Rising gas prices convinced me that I needed to figure out my local bus system back in April. A September wind-storm wiped out one of our cars, but we didn’t even blink at being a one-car family thanks to the monthly bus pass I managed to get my work to subsidize in place of a parking space in a nearby garage. My bus riding also helped me win $200 in a TARC contest and read a lot of books that had been collecting dust on my shelves.

8. Turning 30 and going on a surprise scavenger hunt set up by my wife where I serenaded a TGI Friday’s hostess with the song “I Believe I Can Fly,” asked a couple of bikers to hug said wife and arm wrestled a guy who kept telling me the bottle he was carrying was filled with iced tea.

9. Slumdog Millionaire. I know the movie doesn’t completely hold up to critical analysis and that parts of it resemble a music video. I know it’s probably one of the most overrated and overhyped films of the year. I know the dance during the credits is hokey and that some of the graphic design of the promotional pieces is gawdy. I don’t care. I loved every minute watching what I would consider my most enjoyable cinematic experience of 2008 (Young @ Heart takes a close second).

10. Damien Jurado’s “Caught In Trees.” It wasn’t what I’d consider the best album of 2008 and it isn’t even Damien Jurado’s best album to date, but “Caught In Trees” received more rotation on my iPod than any of the other dozens of albums I purchased, downloaded or received in the mail in 2008.

The Worst

1. The presidential campaign. Simply put, the campaign brought out the worst in almost everyone involved either directly or indirectly…on both sides of the aisle. Inane conspiracy theory, anti-Muslim rhetoric and blatant racism from the right. Vile hatred, equally as ridiculous conspiracy theory and sexism on the left.

2. Libby Dole. Her campaign released an attack aid against her Sunday School teaching opponent trying to link her to an atheist group. Fortunately, the sleazy ad, which featured an off-camera voice yelling “there is no God” in the finale, back-fired.

3. Manny Ramirez. Though I’m still not sure what is more annoying, Manny Ramirez or the endless media coverage that has elevated Manny to the Britney Spears of baseball status. Fortunately, the Phillies put an abrupt end to the inane chattering and speculation of a possible Dodgers/Red Sox match-up.

4. Philadelphia sports fans. Whether it was booing vice presidential candidates or flipping over cars celebrating the end of a long championship drought, the bad apple Philadelphia fans gave some backing to the claim that the city of brotherly love has the worst fans west of New York City.

5. Kosuke Fukodome. “America, Fuk yeah,” was the way one clever Cubs fan put it when news spread of the Japananese star signing with the Cubs. His three-run, bottom-of-the-ninth homerun to tie the game on Opening Day only added to the endearingly clever word play, but unfortunately for Cubs fans that was the highlight of an otherwise frustrating and annoying rookie season.

6. Hallelujah. Just when you thought one of the most covered songs of our time couldn’t get any more ubiquitous, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” was featured on the British reality show X-Factor. The song has topped the UK charts and propelled Cohen’s original and Jeff Buckley’s rendition into UK’s top 40.

7. Astroland closing. Another thing that made Coney Island a colorful, kitschy tourist attraction has apparently bit the dust. Astroland closed its doors supposedly for the final time in September, but fortunately landmark wood coaster The Cyclone is going to be sticking around. 

8. The New York Yankees. It wasn’t enough that they signed CC Sabathia or A.J. Burnett. Oh no. They had to go and dump a wheelbarrow full of greenbacks on Mark Texeira too.

9. AIG executives. You know who I’m talking about. The ones that took a reported $440,000 spa trip a week after the company received an $85 billion bailout from taxpayers.

10. Josef Fritzl. The Austrian sicko who, we learned back in April, had sexually abused, raped and physically assaulted his daughter for three decades, holding her captive in a small cellar.

Mega-church, heli-port

December 30, 2008

Apparently, an hour drive is sometimes just too far for a couple of mega-church pastors in Washington State to make.

According to an article in the Tacoma News-Tribune, the Christian Faith Center in Federal Way recently received approval to construct a helicopter landing pad.

The landing pad is reportedly needed for ego-inflated co-pastors Casey and Wendy Treat (check out the church’s Web site address – it’s to fly back and forth from the church’s two campuses in Federal Way and Everett, Wash.

The helicopter, according to a church spokesman, will only be used on major religious holidays, for guest speakers and on special occasions. One of the special occasions cited as an example: Wendy Treat’s birthday.

Want to lose weight? Park your car.

December 24, 2008

True story. I’ve lost 28 pounds over the last 12 months, in part because I decided to park my car and seek out alternative modes of transportation.

I didn’t exchange my parking pass at work for a bus pass necessarily to lose weight — financial, environmental and reading interests were higher on my list — but the walks to and from the bus stop and the longer walks home on good days have had a serious and unexpected impact on my waistline. Of course, running, basketball, tennis and a healthy diet have also contributed.

But a recent study does show that if “losing weight” is one of your resolutions for 2009 so too should “keeping my car parked.”