Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A scam, a ticket and a tow from the department of corruption

Gotta love the DCR. There's no sign of any "no stopping" sign on google maps. Thus, for months, I've parked in one of the two spots on Park Drive, just south of the yellow-painted sidewalk at the corner of Beacon... Never got a ticket because they're both legal spots... well, they used to be.

Apparently DCR officials decided revenues weren't great, so at some point last week, they threw up another pole with a "snow emergency" sign, a "street cleaning" sign (both of these types of signs are common on that street... so most likely, you wouldn't even notice new ones)... but at the top of this one, there was also a rather inconspicuous "no stopping" sign... the old "yellow-painted sidewalk" is still there and clear as day... no additional paint, nothing... But there are two spots in front of the non-painted sidewalk that are all-of-a-sudden no longer legal spots.

We were out of town all weekend and noticed monday while walking home - we got towed... tow and "storage" - $200, ticket $30. Travel time to the tow lot in JP (without the luxury of a car) - 1 hour. Fantastic!

I talked to the woman at the tow lot. she says the sign is brand new and they towed something like 20 cars on one day this weekend, probably Saturday. While we were there, the tow operator came over the nextel... "Towing two cars at the corner of Park and Beacon"... two more suckers.

The worst part is, despite the rather inconspicuous placement of these new signs, I'm pretty sure there's no way to fight it.

It'd be nice to get a warning "hey, we've recently decided you can't park here anymore even though you've been doing it for quite some time. Do it again and we'll tow you".... and while you could probably recoup the $30 ticket, the $200 from the tow lot is as good as gone.

What a scam!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Please, Ken... no more!!

Just fix the damn thing already... How hard is it to pave something?
It's July 21st... and nearly 2 months ago, I wrote a blurb about how it was a good idea to tear up the road at Kenmore Square on Memorial Day Weekend while the Red Sox were on the road and work commuters had an extra day off... I quickly took it back... Fast forward to now. The roads in the square remain a disaster. I don't so much mind the construction, but at least pave the roads evenly enough that you don't need a Pinzgauer to get from one side to the other. They have paved the roads, but considering the job that was done, i think the guy driving the paving machine was on meth... So, for the most part, I've been avoiding Kenmore by travelling up Boylston Street instead.

My concern is for this coming Friday. I, along with dozens of other cyclists - will have to face the beast... Bikers from the outskirts of the city will descend on the square on their way to work as part of Bike to Work Friday. The sense of unity with other cyclists is an enjoyable feeling, which is why I very much want to be a part of this event. What is not an enjoyable feeling is battling the giant potholes and large chunks of debris strewn about the roadway.

I will wait at the checkpoint that is Kenmore Square... but I wish the city would move a little faster in taking care of major project, as it has become a major project getting through kenmore square...


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Not so Fast: maybe you should shower

Last year, I'd cycle to work every day - rain, shine or even snow. As the summer
months came, one or two other bikes began to inhabit the rack in front of the
JFK Federal Building on Cambridge Street. And on days when rain
threatened, there were always a few spaces under the overhang at City Hall as
well.

Fast forward to this past week. Unless I missed something, it's not National Bike to Work Week.
Yet, on the way in, I'm passing 15 or 20 bikers each morning, the City Hall rack is full and the JFK Building is teetering on overflowing. Come 9:15am, I have to settle for a spot tucked somewhere in the middle of the rack.

So, who's to blame (or thank) for this increase in ridership? Perhaps it's the oil companies with their skyrocketing prices... perhaps it's our wounded Mayor Tom Menino and his new found passion for biking... perhaps there are other factors that i'm missing.

No matter the cause, there are concerns. It's not just the safety of the increasing amount of riders... It's their work colleagues whom I worry for.

Here's the thing: my riding clothes consist of shorts and a t-shirt and a backpack full of work clothes... and conveniently, my health club (gym) is located approximately one block from work. I always shower there on my way into work. But i'm sure not all riders have that luxury. And along with an increase in riders, I've noticed an increase in riders who are wearing pants/work clothes. Does this mean they are skipping the shower?

It's been 70-80 degrees each morning, and you may not break a sweat with a manufactured 15 mile-per-hour breeze in your face... but, unless you're cold-blooded, when you come to a stop, the increase in "feels-like" temperature is enough to cause anyone to break a sweat.

So, while drinking and driving don't go together, biking and showering do...
You may be "saving the environment and money," but at what cost? A better world for everyone includes an odorless you.

So please, for the love of your colleagues, take a shower. Otherwise, consider another means of transportation like driving or taking the T...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

to the guy on the moped... and to the people who hate bicyclists

guy on the moped: um... sorry about that one. I know I cut you off at Park Drive today just as the light turned green. Thanks for yielding to me, and not cursing me out even though you had the right of way. I truly do appreciate it.

Some insight for people who hate bicyclists, particularly the part where we run red lights:
It's easy to notice a lot of animosity between the drivers of the two different types of vehicles.
And while this won't make things all better, but it will at least lay out the thought process of one cyclist who doesn't always follow the LAWS of the road. Hopefully this will help create more of an understanding with the drivers who get upset at cyclists.

~ pedestrian crossing (the unwritten rules)~
It's that old saying "No harm, No Foul"... An unwritten rule I strongly believe in... In Boston, hoards of pedestrians participate in the illegal activity of jaywalking... including me. I cross when the hand signal is red and I cross when there's no crosswalk.... that is, as long as there are no cars coming. While I occasionally fail, I make every effort to avoid slowing or blocking traffic.

Other than the fact it's technically illegal, if crossing does not inconvenience or threaten to injure anyone (including the pedestrian), there really shouldn't be a problem. Laws are meant to outline a societal standard and protect people... but if a law is not enforced, often a different unwritten standard forms from the masses. I know BPD isn't going to ticket me, (I often cross along with several officers on my way to work), so i, along with many others in the city choose to follow the basic human rules of safety and convenience.

Of course, there will always be people who abuse the unwritten rules and cross when there's traffic coming. It strikes me as selfish that someone would make a conscious decision to inconvenience someone else so they can save a few seconds. I don't condone it.

~cyclists and red lights~
A common gripe among drivers - is over bicyclists who run red lights. I'm one of them.
On my bicycle, I follow a similar pedestrian-like thinking when it comes to red lights... If there's no traffic coming and no peds crossing, I'm going through the red light (cautiously). Why? the PD doesn't bother to enforce the law, so there's no risk to me... i instead choose to follow the basic societal rules of safety and convenience for all. No traffic, no harm. I know it bothers some drivers sitting at the red light, but it doesn't hurt them and it doesn't inconvenience them. If there's traffic coming, I'll stop. If not, what's the problem?

Late at night, I sometimes see automobile drivers (particularly on beacon street in the back bay) creep through red lights when there's no traffic coming... Fine by me... You aren't endangering anyone, you aren't inconveniencing anyone... I personally wouldn't do it because I believe there is the slight risk of a ticket involved... but some people are more risk-takers than I...

For those who argue "technically illegal" is still illegal, and thus wrong (and everyone should follow the laws), I point out this example: sometimes drivers speed. 26mph in a 25mph zone is technically illegal. Find me a driver who believes there's something wrong with going 26 in a 25 and I will consider changing my attitude...

Finally, when I'm riding, I CAN take a whole lane. It's legal, and if you've ever crashed full speed into the opening door of parked car on the side of the road, you understand why i'm out as far as I am. I try to avoid inconveniencing motorists, but when it comes to safety, I believe safety is more important than convenience. My life and well-being is worth a lot more than the few extra seconds you'd save by barrelling through...

Plus, on a gruesome note, if i was close enough to the side of the road and got hit by an opening door, fell into traffic and landed under your tire, you'd have to wait for the police and fill out an accident report and you'd wind up being REALLY late to wherever it was you were in such a rush to get to. You might even have to spend a day in court clearing things up... Hitting me would inconvenience you, as well as my employer, who would have to find a replacement for me. My friends and family would be inconvenienced, having to reschedule their week in order to attend a wake and a funeral... I'm not willing to risk inconveniencing all those people just so you can save a few seconds.

Please, next time you have to go around a stupid cyclist, instead of getting mad, just think of how much time you save by not accidentally running them over. That's time with your friends or time fishing or time making the world a better place...
With that said, there ARE dumb and inconsiderate cyclists on the road - they probably have driver's licenses as well. I personally would rather see them on a bike though... it's much safer for everyone else.


And while I'm not saying we need to get along, I'm saying we should try and understand each other in order to safely co-exist...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

to the lady who pushed me on the T

to the lady who pushed me at Park Street: You achieved what you wanted, you've royally pissed me off. Here's a few things you may not be aware of: I pay for my ride. Because of that, I have just as much of a right to stand anywhere I want on the T as any other paying customer. If it's crowded, I'm going to respect people's personal space and try to stand where there's room... often times, especially on a green line train, that's by the door. When the doors are open, I will squeeze to the side so people can get through the doorway. I'm not blocking the door, there's plenty of room to fit two wide through the middle.
Next time you angrily proclaim "excuse me!", I won't step off the train because you don't feel like walking around me. You CAN go around me. And, if I do step off the train, and you still shove your way into me like you did today, and tell me I can't stand there (like you did today), I might, instead of swearing at you like i did today, drag you back on the train and give you a lesson in etiquette. I pay my fare. I, along with all the other T customers, have the right to stand wherever I want during the train ride I paid for. You DON'T have the right to invade my personal space and shove me. Paying your fare doesn't give you that right. You DON'T have the right to be rude to me. Paying your fare doesn't give you that right either. I'm making an effort to be as out-of-the-way as possible. Maybe you should make an effort to be a little nicer.
They say Karma's a bitch... Well, Karma has never pushed me off a train... so what does that make you?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

i've resorted to bragging about a meaningless softball game...

the train seemed a viable option today since i'm being attacked by back spasms...
it all started last night, one night into what's shaping up to be a typical less-than-exciting week.
i've gotten good at feigning excitement. Take for instance the time I saw Craig T Nelson in front of 15 Beacon while walking home. Honestly, who cares... but my enthusiasm and intensity may be just enough to convince people (including myself) that just maybe, i live an exciting life.
The truth is, I don't really... and I don't mind.

Co-ed, hardly competitive softball has become a highlight of my week. At 5'6", 155lbs, I'm the last person you'd expect to see hitting clean-up... unless you know our league. We go, we drink, we have fun and sometimes we even win. You'd understand if you've ever played on a sloped field with 50-foot trees growing in the outfield. if you hit the tree, the ball's in play, and if you're behind the tree trying to play the ball and you gun it toward third but instead hit a branch, expect the runner to keep going... i found out the hard way last night. There is a fence, but speed still kills... if you're fast, it's not that hard to hit an in-the-park homerun. last night, i had a nice collision with the shortstop (which is why i'm hurting) but i stayed in the game and I hit a walk-off single. In the scheme of life, it doesn't matter for crap. It's not going to change the world, it won't pay my bills, hell, i pay to play. But in the time I'm there, I have fun and the few moments after that hit, I kind of felt like a hero... on a very artificial level. I'm not the guy who thinks he's awesome because he can hit a slowly-tossed sphere over a fence into traffic. I am the guy who goes overboard. So when i brag after the fact, it's not that i think i'm great (trust me, i don't), it's just me offering a glimpse into a part of my life i find most exciting and get the most enjoyment from. You're welcome!

Monday, July 7, 2008

personal space: standing up for what's right

(note: one of these days, i'll address in depth, the lack of capital letters in my postings. but for now, just chalk it up to laziness). by choosing to live in the city, people make the conscious decision to sacrifice a certain amount of personal space for location and convenience... a private backyard is replaced by an apartment complex courtyard or a tiny nearby park (the same park suburbanites have been quoted as saying "that's a park?")... a personal garden replaced by a city-owned resident garden... a 1600 sq ft 4 bedroom house subbed out for a 700 sq ft 1 bedroom apartment... the list goes on... and unless you're very well-off, there's a choice to be made.

i'm of the belief that moving to the city shouldn't mean you sacrifce ALL of your personal space.
I don't like strangers touching me. you have to earn the right to touch me. lately, however, especially with an influx of tourists for the holiday weekend, space has gotten a little too tight... apparently, this city's not big enough for the 2-million of us...

fourth of july - we rode our bikes down to catch the fireworks. our plan to head over cambridge-side was thwarted by the mob of people who left little breathing room on the mass ave bridge. that's what we get for waiting until quarter of ten. basically, there was no getting across. so, after locking up our bikes, my fiancee and i wandered down the charles river bikepath, finding a standing spot that seemed comfortably spaced and good enough for viewing...
that was, until 5 minutes later when we were surrounded by people who seemed to have no concept of personal space.

note: I've always contended, if i can feel you brushing up against me, you can feel yourself brushing up against me, so, if you can, back off! also, as is the case with common law, if you get there first and claim your spot, you have ownership rights.


example one: The 6' 3" guy who planted himself next to me was all about cuddling up with his girlfriend, which was fine... what wasn't fine, was on the other side, he seemed content cuddling with me as well. had he stepped back a half-a-foot, which he could have easily done, there would have been "no touching", as one of my friends so aptly puts it. I was there first, leave me to my space - even if it's just an inch, don't brush up against me. i'm not a hormone driven teenager or
a cat in heat. respect that.

example two: july 5th. riding the train, considerably empty for a holiday weekend. so why then, do the two annoying college-aged girls feel the need to stand right on top of where i'm standing? there's plenty of space on the train, and again, i was here first. what's worse, college-aged girl #1 kept rubbing the back of her torso against me. if i can feel you, you can feel me. i was here first. move!

today, on my way to work, despite the numberous available seats on the green line train, i chose to stand up for what's right. I took an extra step to respect the other train riders' personal spaces. I could have sat down uncomfortably close to the other passengers, but i stood instead. why? - i understand i need to make certain sacrifices to live in the city... and if that means standing in order to avoid even coming close to violating someone's personal space, that's a sacrifice i'm willing to make... i just wish other people would be so considerate.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

police escorts on a budget

I was rather confused last night as I ran home. It was just after 11:30pm and as I ran down beacon hill, i noticed a line of police motorcycles turning the corner from charles street. I had seen this before, in fact, rather recently. The last time it turned out to be a bus full of the LA Lakers.
This time, I immediately thought, ooh, who's famous and in town? Dick Cheney's supposed to be around, but that's not until the fourth, it was only the second of July. The mystery grew as I wondered what I'd see turning the corner. To my surprise, two Budget Rent-A-Truck box trucks rolled up beacon street. Why on earth do two budget trucks need a police escort? Dangerous top secret military weapons? Good idea to go undercover with the trucks.... except, the police escort kind of blows your cover.

For the life of me, i can't figure out what was in those trucks. If it was important government stuff, why not use government or military trucks to transport it? As if the country isn't in enough debt, let's spend money on rent-a-trucks... plus, it was Budget. everyone knows the government is never on budget.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

murphy takes a day off

mother nature strikes again... and this time, i was prepared. Lucky for me, Murphy (the one from murphy's law) appears to have taken a day off. Rumor has it, he's been on a weeklong bender. It started innocently enough - a drink with his friend Darwin, but, as Murphy would have it, things went downhill quickly... he somehow wound up naked in a back alley after stumbling into an illegal gambling parlor and proceeding to bet away all of his worldly posessions. just when things looked to be at their worst, he... well, to make a long story short, let's just say, if anything can go wrong, it will and it did... but, i digress.

After a nice long morning skate through the city (in the sunshine), my legs were a little fatigued and I opted to take the T. As I was leaving, I threw open the curtains in the apartment, as has become customary. I immediately noticed Brookline was in the middle of an intense downpour. My unsuccessful search for an umbrella did land me in front of my rain jacket. So, I suited up and headed out. The rain diminished as I walked to the train, all but stopping by the time I arrived on the platform. But, I wasn't ready to give up hope. upon arriving at government center, i stepped out and : DOWNPOURS! as the front entrance clogged up by people who were afraid the rain would melt them, i reached for my rain jacket, weaved through the exit and sauntered out into the rain, and over to bulfinch place.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

why'd the idiot cross the road?

lately on my rides in (including today), i have become particularly annoyed with the ambicrossing pedestrians. they cross when the light is red, they cross when the light is green, regardless of whether traffic is coming.

now don't get me wrong, i'm a big fan of running red lights on my bike and jaywalking when i'm on foot (or blade), but i do so with regard for others. i acknowledge in those situations, i do NOT have the right of way, and thus, i yield until i can make it across safely without causing an inconvenience to any oncoming traffic.

The point is, if we all played fair, i wouldn't be nearly as angry.

today, it was a family of meatballs that strolled out into the middle of mass ave at boylston. the mom - pushing a baby carriage - left me to wonder where the closest trailer park is located. with no regard for anyone else, they sauntered across as traffic came to a hault. As much as i'd like to see them get run over, with mandatory massachusetts insurance, I end up paying for them to recover.

As I continue my ride down boylston, there are people jaywalking and those pulling my favorite move, deciding to cross in front of traffic the instant the light turns green.
You just had 30 seconds and you hesitated, now wait another 30 seconds!

The previous rant has no conclusion other than "if you aren't going to obey traffic laws, at least proceed with caution and respect the fact that other people do follow the rules."

no funny metaphor, no bad puns, no terrible jokes. i don't have time for any of them since i'm running late today... i was busy stopping every 5 seconds so i didn't run over people who weren't even supposed to be in the roadway in the first place.