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The Joisey Turnpike Authority (Motto: “Pump Your Own Gas? Fuggedaboudit!“) must be sporting some serious scorch-marks on their jeans pockets:

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority said it hopes to begin alerting motorists to traffic jams — 10 minutes before they occur.

The agency, which manages the two main toll roads in the most densely populated U.S. state, approved the awarding of a $652,000 contract to En Pointe Technologies Inc.

The El Segundo, California-based company has a computer system that is designed to give drivers an early heads-up on developing traffic jams, to allow them more time to detour away from congestion, Brian Gorman, director of technology, told members of the authority’s board at their regular meeting today.

The system was tested on the 148-mile (238-kilometer) New Jersey Turnpike and the 173-mile Garden State Parkway, which stretches from Cape May to the New York state line. It predicted traffic with at least 90 percent accuracy, Gorman said. Motorists will be alerted to potential problems through electronic signage on the highways.

“We do have the ability to prevent congestion disruption,” Gorman said.

I can only imagine that the system is meant to be primarily of use in the very northern part of the state, since south of Brunswick all the exits on the Turnpike and the Garden State are a good 20 miles apart and ten minutes’ extra notice of a snarl wouldn’t be worth a load of fetid dingo’s kidneys.

On the other hand, if you are the average out-of-stater like me (and a lot of the traffic on those roads is out of state), the idea of bailing on the turnpike around Newark in order to avoid congestion would be positively terrifying and you wouldn’t be likely to do it no matter how much warning you got.

So in the end, $652K seems like a lot of dosh to be blowing on bells and whistles of minimal utility.

SNAKE! Oh, wait….SQUIRREL!

Squirrels douse themselves with rattlesnake scent as a safety measure, scientists suggest, and likely have done so for at least 18 million years.

“Recently, two squirrel species were discovered to anoint their bodies with rattlesnake scent as a means of concealing their odour from these chemosensory predators,” begins the study in the current Journal of Evolutionary Biology. It was written by a team led by Barbara Clucas of the University of Washington in Seattle.

The two ground squirrel species chew up shed snake skins and lick their fur to acquire the scent of their predators.

Yes, I should think the scent of chewed up snakeskin and squirrel slobber would deter a predator.  Puts the kybosh on my appetite at any rate.

I really dislike Tuesdays.  Far, far more than any other day of the week.  They’re just so…..characterless.

– As regular port-swillers may know, I have taken to dropping off the eldest gel at St. Rita of the Misunderstood Adolescence in the mornings.  The drop zone is managed by 5th graders (I believe), complete with those orange belts and sashes.  Not only do they direct traffic, open doors and assist kids getting their backpacks out, they also pointedly make eye contact with the driver, smile and say, “Have a great day.”  I love that.

– There is talk of the 10 year old’s class at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method going up to Noo Yawk next spring to participate in a mock U.N. assembly.  The gel is so excited at the prospect that I don’t yet have the heart to tell her what I think of the real U.N.

–  I am currently reading Hilaire Belloc’s Essays of a Catholic.  I must say that while they are both interesting and informative, I find myself starting to feel that I should see the book through more out of a sense of duty than anything else.  Belloc seems a bit too cranky-pantsed about things for my taste, self preferring something more along the lines of the big, joyous energy of a Chesterton or the cozy warmth of a Lewis.   I simply don’t know that much about Belloc’s writing.  Would there be something else of his I ought to be reading instead? (And don’t cite his Cautionary Tales for Children.)

– Dude! What are you putting in my Rainforest Crunch?  Hippy pretentions take a hit.

The stink bug plague proceeds apace.  I must admit that it is sometimes soothing to go about knocking them on the head with a quick flick of the thumb and forefinger. (We average maybe half a dozen of them in the kitchen and library at any one time.  Apparently, some other folks get them far worse.)

A lexicon of ancient Greek names.  Well worth a read.  The article speaks not just of ancient Greek, but also of Anglo-Saxon and other naming traditions.  And speaking of the Saxons, today is the anniversary of the landing of William the Conqueror and his Normans in England in 1066.  (The Battle of Hastings would be fought a couple weeks later.  At this point, poor old Harold Godwinson was still in the north, where he had just defeated the Vikings at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, but exhausted his army doing it.)

– Since I mentioned the other two gels, it’s only fair to brief you on the eight year old as well.  Her latest trick is to insist on getting into and out of my Jeep by climbing over the back end.  Honestly, if every there was anyone who could out-Harpo Harpo Marx, it’s this kid.

Well, that’s about it.

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