May 11th, 2004

The Local Driving Style, Gardening and a few other comments

First, New England drivers (it isn't just Boston, at least not any more). I think I've ranted already about how people tailgate around here. I have a couple new theories about the local driving style. First, on the winding roads (more about those in a minute), people want to drive 45 mph everywhere. They don't care if the school light is flashing, it's signed 25, it's signed 30, 35 or even 50. They're going to drive 45 regardless. Which is why people get away with zipping through the school zones when the lights are flashing. All available law enforcement is already busy ticketing the people who were speeding through a moment before.

When it's signed 50, the few people who pay attention to the posted limit (and those who chronically go even faster) tailgate everyone who is going 45. When it's posted anything below 45, everyone is tailgating the few people who pay attention to the posted limit (I haven't yet spotted anyone who chronically goes below the speed limit when it is posted less than 45). My theory is the simplest one that appears to cover the behavior as observed so far, apply Occam's Razor, voila.

About those winding roads. No grid system out here, which means if you haven't been on a road often enough to have memorized it, and on its intersecting roads ditto, you cannot predict how to undo a driving error other than a U- or Y-turn. So if you miss your turn or turn the wrong direction, you cannot "drive around the block". This explains other mysterious New England driving behavior. On winding roads, backing up to get the turn one missed may make some sense (the roads are narrow enough to make a U- or Y- dodgy in many places, and driveways can be few and far between). But people get in the habit of doing this, and they KEEP DOING IT ON THE LIMITED ACCESS HIGHWAYS like route 3, for example, but I've seen the same behavior on the interstates. Countless people, every day, overshoot an exit, pull off to the breakdown lane or even narrow shoulder and reverse to get to the exit. Occasionally, they'll back up the exit lane to get back on the highway. Absent the windy road phenomenon, these people look like maniacs (okay, they still look like maniacs incapable of contextualizing lessons appropriately, and no wonder insurance rates around here are regulated). With the windy road phenomenon, one can at least understand what the maniacs are thinking.

Some months ago, we murdered an ash, because it was assaulting the garden, and we valued the garden a lot more than the ash. Currently, we're digging up the raised beds, preparing to transplant starters. That ash was a mean beggar, leaving thick roots laced through the beds that are really freaking hard to cut through and remove. I'm good for no more than a half an hour with a shovel in the sun, and then I have to take a break. Possibly for the rest of the day. I am such a wuss.
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