Thursday, February 24, 2005

My Drive Home Yesterday

Going nowhere.As I headed home from my real job yesterday afternoon, I encountered something rather out of the ordinary compared to my usual commute: massive traffic. A sea of cars, barely crawling forward. Now, I want to be clear: I hate traffic. I loathe sitting in a waste-of-space four-wheeled hunk of metal, going nowhere and getting exactly zero miles per gallon. It totally bites, and I am hard pressed to think of anything that I really abhor more greatly than traffic.

That said, it's not as though there's really anything I can do about it once I'm stuck in it. I mean, aside from jumping out of my car and running across the rooftops of all the other stopped vehicles. However, I try to reserve that course of action for the times when I have to flee from impending doom. So, I pulled out my camera and shot a few "I'm totally bored" pictures. Let's talk about those pictures for a few minutes.

Some stupid overpassFirst up, we've got this lovely underbelly of an overpass (at right). Notice the finely detailed steel beam, providing the drivers above with a firm support, while also providing the drivers below with a pleasant sight to behold. Also note the dual-purpose nature of this overpass, with the tube attached to the side offering transportation for all nature of fluids, from point A to point B. Note the ingenious color scheme chosen for this overpass: gray tones, so as to seamlessly blend in with the surrounding Seattle sky. There are so many other things I could say about this marvel of modern civil engineering and modern art, but alas the time and space here are limited. Look for my upcoming book on the subject. It will be titled "Look Up: Isn't That Overpass Neat?"

road stripesNext, we have what at first glance appears to be nothing more than a simple picture of the yellow stripes in the center of the roadway. In fact, that is exactly what it is. Two yellow lines painted on the road, with two of those yellow bumps planted along the line. This is what being bored in traffic does to a person. It makes things like the yellow lines on the road seem like the most interesting thing on the planet. It is kindof a cool picture though, isn't it? I'm actually using it as my computer desktop background right now. If you want it for your desktop background (and who wouldn't?), shoot me an email and I can send you a copy of the full-sized picture. Serious interest only, please.

zooming past meAfter about twenty tries, I finally was able to capture this picture (at right) of one of the many, many dozens of cars that were zipping past me in the opposite direction. You can see that the picture is rather blurry. This is due to the incredibly high relative rate of speed at which the other cars were going past my car. Zoom! Whiz! Zip! Those are the sounds they made.

Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored! Boy, was I bored. And at this point I had only been sitting there for about five minutes. How much longer would this go on? I only had about three miles between me and my home, but at the rate I was going, it would have taken about ten hours, give or take thirty minutes.

brake lightsWhen I noticed that the sun was starting to set, I decided it was time to take action. I was really tired of seeing the sight pictured on the left. No, not Honda Civics... brake lights. Taking decisive action, I turned my car around and began the perilous trek through the unsuspecting neighborhood roads. Unfortunately, it turned out that the roads weren't so unsuspecting after all. Probably because about a hundred bazillion people before me had decided to do exactly the same thing. So now, instead of barely crawling through traffic on a major thoroughfare, I was putting along slightly faster in traffic on tiny neighborhood roads. Fortunately it was slightly faster, and I finally arrived home about twenty minutes later.

When I got home, I was terribly curious to discover what roadway calamity gave me this unscheduled opportunity to appreciate the scenery around me and to count the number of stuffed toys staring out the rear window of the car in front of me (twelve). Pulling up the local traffic page on the internets, I soon discovered the location of the "BLOCKING INCIDENT," which was just a few blocks from my humble abode. Hopping onto my trusty traffic circumvention device, I headed to the scene. When I arrived, this is what I saw:
the accident scene
Click for a larger version
holy crapHoly crap, that's a motorcycle in the middle of the street... and a car with a motorcycle-shaped indentation in its side... and a pair of shoes on the ground about ten feet from the motorcycle, next to those clothes and that motorcycle helmet. Holy crap. As I waited to cross the street, the officer directing traffic informed me that the driver of the motorcycle, though he did not die at the scene, was pretty badly injured, and might not make it.

The wreck happened around 4:00 (two and a half hours earlier), according to the officer. He was doing his best to deal with impatient motorists; like the lady who was upset about not being able to turn right and didn't even seem to even notice or care about the grim scene splayed out on the pavement in front of her. There was a detective there, measuring this and that, recording every detail of the scene with a variety of sophisticated instruments. He gave me permission to take these pictures. I don't think I actually needed permission to shoot pictures of an accident scene, but I thought it better to ask, just in case.

I once was considering buying a motorcycle. You may have caught the anti-car overtones in some previous posts of mine. It's not that I don't appreciate the convenience of cars, it just seems like such a waste to lug around these huge steel boxes just to transport one or two people. A motorcycle is so much more sensible... and so much more dangerous, as I was reminded yet again yesterday. Which, in the end, was why I decided not to buy one.

I realize that this unusually long post started out funny, and suddenly ended up gruesome and sad, but I thought it fitting to paint an accurate picture of my drive home yesterday. I suppose it shows that I have depth, or something.
Categories: Local, Personal, Serious


Blogger DaButtminster said...

Dang. We were caught in that too. Took 1 hour and 20 freaking minutes to get home, instead of just 30. We also saw the bike and the mess around it.

Hey - that means we take the same road home, you and I. Strange coincidence for two random strangers on the internet, don't you think?

12:21 PM, February 24, 2005  
Anonymous mystery man said...

woah, I as well saw that accident. Amazing that three such strangers could have such similar lives. Who knows, I could even work with one of you. That's the great thing about these anonymous internets.

Pretty crazy though.

1:03 PM, February 24, 2005  
Blogger Skor Grimm said...

I am not surprised to find two completely random, total strangers who were also stuck in the traffic mess. I imagine 25% of commuters in the greater Seattle area were there. It seemed like it anyway.

6:15 PM, February 24, 2005  
Blogger LotharBot said...

You may also be seeing an "ascertainment effect". By pointing out the fact that you were on that road, you increase the likelyhood that people who were also on that road will respond. So, if you tried to do any sort of statistical test, you'd have to account for that bias somehow.

For the record, I was not on that road.

9:17 PM, February 24, 2005  
Blogger Nathan said...

I also was not on that road, which means that as of this moment 50% of Skor's commenters were on that road, stuck in traffic. What will the final result be? Cast your vote today.

9:40 AM, February 25, 2005  
Blogger LotharBot said...

Nathan, that would be 75% of his commenters, not counting himself.

But you're within engineering tolerances...

9:49 AM, February 25, 2005  
Blogger Skor Grimm said...

lotharbot, how do you figure? The stats so far, as I see them:

DaButtminster: in the traffic
mystery man: in the traffic
LotharBot: spared
Nathan: spared

Looks like 50% to me...

Perhaps you're using some overly complicated math or something.

9:56 AM, February 25, 2005  
Blogger LotharBot said...

Like I said: engineering tolerances

7:51 PM, February 25, 2005  

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