“Bouncing Off the Walls”
Welcome to my WebLog. (I won’t call it a “b--g”;
I don’t like the word.) Way too much information about my
life, my thoughts, my fears, and my ever-evolving politics. For
those of you who care (or for those who just accidentally found this page
due to a web search).
12:55 pm/ Monday, May 9, 2005
There’s a new report out from the Texas Transportation Institute today getting airplay about horrific increases in traffic congestion, 79 million more hours lost in 2003 than in 2002. Read the CNN story here.
Heavily played in the story is this quote:
Honolulu became the 51st city in which rush-hour traffic delayed the average motorist at least 20 hours a year. The Hawaiian capital joins such congested areas as Washington, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago – and Virginia Beach, Virginia, Omaha, Nebraska, and Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Pardon me if I’m not shocked and appalled by this. Twenty hours a year? Let’s do some math.
First, this delay is specified as rush-hour. That means twice a day, five days a week. 365 days a year includes weekends, so we're really looking at 261 days a year. (Which doesn’t include holidays. Make that 250 days.) Divide that into 1200 (the number of minutes in 20 hours), and then divide that in half (due to two commutes per day). And we get a grand total of 2 minutes and 24 seconds per commute.
Less than two and a half minutes of delay per commute. In other words, if your commute would take you 20 minutes in freely flowing, speed-limit traffic, it would take you, on average, a bit over 22 minutes. You’d have to slow down from 55 mph all the way down to 49! Horrors! (Of course, that’s at the bottom of the top 50. At the top is Atlanta, with an 8 minute, 2 second delay per commute.)
Of course, it is worth noting that this is an “on average” value, so for any days you’re lucky and hit almost no slow down, there are also ones where your delay is twice as long (or worse).
And the real thrust is that time equals money. Some vehicles carry multiple people. Sitting in traffic wastes gas. Commercial vehicles are more costly to run. And there are thousands and millions of vehicles wasting this time every year, every day, every commute.
But still, sound bites which decompose into less time than it takes to use the bathroom aren’t of much value.
11:17 am / Wednesday, April 27, 2005
On April 15-17, I competed for the American Leatherman title during American Brotherhood Weekend (ABW). This contest selects a set of four leather titleholders (American Leatherman, Leatherwoman, Leatherboy, and Leathergirl) focused on “leather family.” The following are the Status Report updates I sent back to folks in Seattle during the weekend, edited to include a little more detail and otherwise clean them up.
Seven candidates for Leatherman: 2 from California, 1 from Washington, one from Missouri, 2 from New York state,and one from Boston. (Specifically: Richard from Los Angeles, Cory from Stockton, Jim from Washington, Dale from Kansas City, Furby fro New Hampshire, Blackkat from Brooklyn, and James from Long Island.) 3 for Leatherboy, 3 for Leathergirl, and 1 for Leatherwoman. (Darren from Wichita, Ryan from Tulsa, and Tim from Washington DC; Jen from Kansas City, Kim from Atlanta, and Mary from Fresno; Pup from New Jersey [don’t recall what city].)
I’m estimating that I scored about 52 points out of 60. Hardest questions were from American Leatherboy Terry, about the role of the leatherboy in the ABW family and how to make sure he fills that role properly. I was apparently quite vibrant and animated during the interview, based on comments the judges made.
This evening is the official opening ceremonies with the intro of candidates and our Intro speeches (90 seconds). I’ve changed my intro some from what I gave on Tuesday in Seattle, thanks to some of the feedback.
Tonight’s outfit is “Bar Wear.” I’m going to be debuting the club colors as part of that.
Rusty will be doing the National Anthem at least twice during the weekend, at the contest on Saturday and Sunday.
Friday Night (Late):
Whew, that’s over.
I probably talked a bit too fast – don’t I often? – but I didn’t run over on the time and I presented well. Several of the contestants rambled and/or went over, although this was only 20 points of the 160 total.
Rusty and I are heading for the Eagle for a beer, then back here to sleep. (Indeed, one beer is all we managed.)
Saturday is the fantasy portion for the Leatherman contestants. Hopefully the dance content from the application and my intro will play into the fantasy well. We shall see.
Saturday part of the contest is over: Men’s fantasies, Women, Girls, and Boys Hot Wear/Fun Question and Formal Wear/Speech. We reverse sets on Sunday.
Rusty and I nailed the fantasy. As soon as I stepped out on stage dressed as Elvis, the crowd was cheering, and the entire dance number went right on cue. There was a lighting problem at the end and Frank Nowicki started talking over the “Teddy Bear” part, but that part was gravy anyway, mostly exit music. Big, big applause. People tell us it was one of the two best fantasies of the day (Cory’s vampire fantasy being the other one). So things are going well. I’m on a high right now.
The “pop question” has so far been “fun” bits, like “Of these First Ladies, who would make the most servile leathergirl?” (Eleanor, Hillary, Jackie O, or the Bush women.) Assuming the guys get such questions, too, I’ll be doing great, since I can be wittier and faster to respond with those than with some I’ve had at contests in the past.
Tonight is the ABW Dinner, Salute to the the Outgoing Leather Family, and the Basket Auction. And the Parade of Colors. Timm will be walking for SBoL and Kelley will use my vest for SML, since Rusty and I have already had ample stage time.
(Dale Rush of Kansas City was first runner-up for Leatherman and I was second runner-up. This is the third national-level contest I’ve been in where I’ve come in third. Man, I should compete for IML, huh? <grin>)
No word at this time about how close the scoring was or what I may have done less well on that others did. (There was probably no specific penalty given for speeches running longer than the 3 minute limit, even going as much as 50% over that limit. That has me grumbling a little bit if it’s true.)
I’ll end up writing a full analysis of the weekend (nit-picking my performance to death), in the next couple weeks. Some of that, I can write now, but I’ll be getting score sheets which will tell me how well I really did, hopefully with respect to everyone else. Many people have said that they thought it was very close between me and Dale from Kansas City (and that Blackkat surprised them by winning), so it may have been very close with the top three for Leatherman.
11:17 am / Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Click here for the previous entry.
I rented my latest out-of-town car from Dollar. The ring of keys they gave me has a tag identifying the car, two keys to the car, and two electronic keyfobs. All five items are fastened together by a metal cable, intended to be unbreakable. Only the identifying tag can be removed from the cable.
It used to be that rental car companies might give you two sets of keys to the car, in case you locked one set inside or you had two drivers. But this? The whole set of five has to stay locked together. Lock the keys in the car, and they are all locked in. Only one driver can have the keys at a time. And the value of having two fobs at the same time is what?
So the result here is a big old handful of keys, too big to stuff in your pocket (or purse, or clip to your belt), with two items in the mass completely useless. Waste of their resources and a waste of my space.
Update / added on April 26, 2005:
When I made mention of this multiplicity of keys upon returning the car, the counter agent told me that the cost of each lost key when the fleet turns over at year’s end is $200. (My guess is that’s for the electronic fob more than the key.) And thus they lock all the keys together.
Which of course puts the onus on the renter: if you somehow lose the keys, you don’t just lose one, you lose them both, and thus you’re out $400 (plus whatever add-on amount the rental company wants to tack on as a service fee, of course, which includes additional rental days while the car is “out of service” pending new keys being sent). Odds are that you won’t lose the keys, of course, but the car rental company plays the odds: they minimize the risk of them losing the keys, and they maximize their income if you lose them.
Click here for the next entry.