Rest Area 300m: February 2005

Monday, February 28, 2005

Chocolate Dead Critters On A Stick

"Firm hits brakes on ‘road kill' candy"
(pinched from boingboing)

Road worker files lawsuit
"Bryson said he recalled only two cases in which clothing disrupted the workplace. One employee who wore a Hooters shirt to work was asked to turn it inside out for the rest of the day. And in the 1960s, a commission executive was forced to issue a directive stating that female employees must wear shirts on the job."

Bloody spoil sport.

The Good Oil & The Magic Powder

We often have to drive for a couple of hours to our worksite if it is at the far end of our network. Having set up signs and got on with the job, we all flinch if the Fleetlink R/T goes off. Too often the cry is "Diesel Spill, Mt Messenger!" If no one else closer is available, and that is often the case, a couple of us have to head back to put up warning signs and spread mineral sponge on the affected area. We curse the truckies who overfill fuel tanks, which are often paired, so they splash diesel on all corners with a sharp camber. Often though, and especially if it is raining, a very small spill can look quite dramatic for a while till the rain washes it away. The further away you are, the more likely it is that it will be a minor nonevent, but of course you still have to check. Today we had a real one. A light truck suddenly found himself going sideways, so we headed for the mountain with our magic powder, to find a diesel trail which wound up one side for a couple kilometres, and a few white faced drivers around. Motorbike riders take notice of slippery road signs, a lot of car drivers do not, they will speed past your frantic signals while you are gritting the road. The local panelbeaters love them. We smirk when we see the broken taillight lenses, and bits of plastic body panels jammed into the banks. So for the good oil, Ignore slippery road signs at your peril. Especially on steep winding roads. Unless you want to give us a laugh.


Sunday, February 27, 2005

Capper's highway blues

"HE became famous for his tight shorts and flourishing blond locks, and his profile soared as he rubbed shoulders with A-list celebrities.
But Warwick Capper has gone from one-time Sydney Swans sex symbol to non- descript road worker flipping a stop-go sign for $16.50 an hour."

$16.50! ... He doesn't know how lucky he is.... Here you would be lucky to start on $10.
Dodgy looking site too, though a telephoto lens may be foreshortening the perspective.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

You Are What You Toss

On Saturdays I generally do a run up the highway emptying the rubbish bins in the rest areas, which I cart to the landfill. It is generally a cruisy job, but it has it's moments. A hot day and old fish bait stewing in black plastic bags, rats, and disposable nappies do not make for a happy road worker. But the locals who use the bins as their dumping place really get up your nose. They put their household rubbish in the bins leaving no room for the passing public. Rubbish ends up everywhere. So I have become a forensic detective.
If you are a suspected CIA mole,or a mobster, the first thing the FBI will do is grab your rubbish bin. A careful sort can give you all sorts of information.
Today , not only did I find enough identification to bust a "serial dumper" ($500 fine) but I know how much they have in the bank, what they bought last shopping trip, where they parked, that the missus has a vaginal infection, and the car registration is due.
Rest Area 300m


Friday, February 25, 2005

On the road you have to be prepared for anything. One minute it's raining, next it's sweltering. Soon the cab of the work truck looks like an art object.
Rest Area 300m


Thursday, February 24, 2005

John Loudon MacAdam

This Man did his homework: Literally. He experimented with different types of road building at home, and invented modern road construction.
"As a result of his investigations, in which he himself plied pick and shovel like any navvy, McAdam came to the conclusion that roads ought to be made exclusively of broken stone. The model road which he planned was to be raised slightly above the level of the surrounding land, and provided with an adequate drainage system. The road itself was to be built up from thin layers of stone, broken into more or less cube-shaped fragments, each one of which was not to weigh more than six ounces."

An Untidy Kiwi
Rest Area 300m


Come in 77, your time is up.

Somewhere near us there is an unofficial demolition derby being run. There used to be one near where I lived on the other Coast. One Sunday a month people would turn up in old heaps that had an afternoon of life left in them, and they would race around a paddock, winner or sole survivor would get a box of beers and much glory.
We would dearly love to have a little "chat" with the driver of No 77. He abandons his wrecks on our road. I have to cart them to the tip.


Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The God Squad, Bee Whispering & Mushrooms.

The sight of the "God Squad" fills truckies with dread. The C.B.'s go ballistic. Lights flash. Trucks suddenly stop in odd places. The God Squad (Police Commercial Vehicle Investigation Unit) are doing a blitz.
One of the Guys had to go to Court yesterday, for forgetting to fill in his log book. After a tanker truck and trailer load of flour overturned on a notorious corner, we were out till midnight till the cranes has cleared the road. A large chevron sign was demolished in the accident and he drew the short straw to get a new sign down from Te Kuiti first thing in the morning. He was stopped by the "God Squad" on the way and hadn't filled in his log book. The penalties are rather draconian.
Driver: Maximum fine not exceeding $2,000 and
Disqualification for 1 calendar month or more as the Court sees fit unless special reason exist why not.
Note: Special reason must relate to the offence
Any Other Case: Max fine not exceeding $10,000

We wrote letters to the Court, pleading a special case, but he lost his heavy traffic licence for a month and was fined $380 including costs. This was regarded as being let off lightly. Suddenly I have become a model log book keeper.
On a happier note, I have been formally thanked in front of the assembled company multitudes for my efforts in the killer bee incident. I am now the official company Bee Whisperer. Meanwhile the first mushrooms are starting to appear.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Another Grim Imponderable

We often provide traffic control for the Police serious crash unit. After a fatal crash the road is surveyed, a skid test done, photo's taken, any evidential marks on the road are measured and plotted. The results can then be fed into a computor and simulations done. This can usually discover the "How", something happened, but often the "Why" is inexplicable.
On the road we believe that fatigue and consequent inattention is the biggest killer, but in this case the accident site was only a bit over an hour from New Plymouth. It is not in a cell phone coverage area, so a mobile phone wasn't the culprit. I had passed the site ten minutes before, there was very little traffic, it was a great day for a drive.

"A car crash which took the life of a New Plymouth woman 10 days ago has now claimed the life of her daughter.
Dianne Ruth Morgan (46) was killed instantly in the crash on State Highway 3, just south of the Mangaotaki Gorge near Piopio, about 12.50pm on Saturday, February 12.
Her daughter Kenna Je-oan (7) was taken to Waikato Hospital with major head injuries.
Mrs Morgan had been driving north around a sweeping right-hand bend when her vehicle veered into the opposing lane and into a south-bound Land-Rover towing a horse float with a horse on board, Senior Constable Kevin Hearfield, of Otorohanga, said yesterday.
The male driver in the Land-Rover was not injured.
Mr Hearfield said it would probably remain a mystery as to why Mrs Morgan's car crossed the centre line.
The weather was good and the driving conditions excellent. There was no suggestion of speed, alcohol, drugs or mechanical faults.
The serious crash unit had drawn a blank. "Unfortunately, there are no independent witnesses and no evidence we could find on the road that would indicate what happened."

(Taranaki Daily News)


Monday, February 21, 2005

Zen & Roadkill

A day in the life of a freeway scooper-upper in california.

Surprise, surprise........"Three quarters of road workers face verbal abuse"

Don't stand for road rage, punch them out! Road Rage page.

Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance on line

Sometimes getting up at sparrow fart is worth it. You have to be careful not to run over a hobbit.
Rest Area 300m

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Lollypops and Beamers.

So you have done your course as a Traffic Controller (TC) Have been handed the sacred Stop/Go sign, and wearing your fluoro vest you do your first day on the lollypop. You are in for a few surprises. The number of drivers who will not see you till the last moment is one of the first. Despite warning signs and a strategic position you have to keep your wits about you. This is especially true of holidays, and I can only put it down to the "driving on automatic pilot" syndrome by drivers intent on getting somewhere, and not attuned to what is going on around them, In short Fuckwits. They will kill you are not careful .
   Tourists are ones to watch, I have literally had to whack a car with a stop sign to get it to stop at an accident site, when a car load of asian tourists sped towards firemen working on a car .
   The ones that really piss you off though, are those who are so important, and who's business is so vital, will try and intimidate you into letting them through a worksite immediately. They nearly always drive BMW's. After waiting a good 10 seconds fingers drumming on the steering wheel, the window will slide down and an annoyed " Will there be a long wait?". We are told to be courteous and polite, so my response is often to reply with another question. "Do you think we will have a warm winter?" or somesuch, it seems to baffle them for a while.
   If it is late in the day, your legs and feet are aching from prolonged standing, the novelty has long gone, and the most exciting thing around you is watching the progress of a small beetle across the road, it is especially difficult to be courteous and polite. I have heard of one legend amoungst lollypop operators who after an altercation, and a "What are you going to do about it......" calmly opened the drivers door, pulled him to his feet, whacked him in the mouth, and put him back in the car and closed the door.
   Most drivers though are friendly and understand that you are doing a job. Some will give you toffees, mints, a bag of fruit, at least a smile and wave. Guess who goes first.
   We try and let trucks through as a priority, starting a large truck from rest is a hassle, and if it is a steep hill dangerous, if you know you are coming up on road works you are better off behind a truck rather than in front of it.
   And always remember that we are all communicating by radio, so piss off the lollypopper and maybe the watercart will forget to turn off his nozzles, or a little tar/cement could end up on your car.

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Saturday, February 19, 2005

"My Dad Works Here"

New Zealand has started a campaign on safety at road works, targeting speeding. It will use a number of billboards starring the fluoro vest. Might help a bit too.

In most American States they double speeding fines in road works, and if you kill a worker in some states you get a mandatory 15 year jail term.

The Danes have a campaign I like;
The information part directed towards the road users consisted of three different roadside signs with a picture of a little girl that were erected at the approach to roadworks:

“1 000 meters to my dad”;
“My dad works here”;
“Thank you for looking out for my dad”.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Mum and Dad, Keruru making up while we had lunch one day.
rest area 300m blog


The fluoro jacket, and how to make youself unnoticed fixing potholes with a hairdryer

Burglars are using them to raid houses

Cops are using them to nab speeders

A Hair dryer for fixing potholes ?

And some line markers with a slight problem

"One of the most important elements of manual labour is appropriate rest periods. Research has shown that the amount of steady work a man can perform, even under enthusiastic conditions, can be more than tripled if proper rest periods are integrated into the daily routine."
rest area 300m blog


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Drop Down Polly

   Drop Down Polly is not the name of Wyatt Earp's girlfriend but is actually the secret ingredient that makes the lines on the road reflect light. They consist of small glass spheres and cost an arm and a leg. When a line marker is spraying a line, another nozzle blows them onto the drying paint, there are also drying agents/additives mixed in with them. The paint dries in minutes but still needs the protection of small cones to keep traffic off them. The lifting and stacking of the small cones must require good upper body strength.
A computor can control the hights of both nozzles which increases or decreases the width of the line being painted. The amount /thickness of paint is recorded. The truck has two steering wheels so the driver/operator can sight down either side. He could be painted a solid line marking the edge of the carriageway ...( "The part of the road used by traffic, including the shoulders.") or the dotted centreline, yellow "no passing " lines etc. He/she has to do this while keeping an eye on the mirror and has radio communication with pilot vehicles that warn he is on the road. The concentration required must be immense. The dotted centre line usually has a solid bar, 10 metre gap, solid bar again etc. We often work out our sign spacing/ distances by counting them. I was told it takes a good three years before you are proficient at line marking. I believe it!

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This is a "Juggernaut", or a "hurtling rig." That load was 32 tonnes according to the on board scales. Posted by Hello

Juggernauts, Killer Bees & The Media

   My fellow workmates are somewhat miffed at our local paper.
   We are often early on the scene of some drama or accident on the road, just by the fact that we are on it all day. When a missing motorist is found, usually down a bank and often dead, it will usually be a road worker who will find them, or maybe a truck driver if there is evidence on the road itself of a crash. We found a utility last week, fortunately unoccupied, that had been missing since November. In the last week, apart from the juggernaut/bee incident, there has also been a fatal accident when a car lost it and spun into a landrover towing a horsefloat, and a car rolled 100 metres from where I live. One of the workers once had a woman die in their arms after she slammed into a tree. Vans have gone into rivers, cars have burst into flames and been doused with sand and lemonade, trailer couplings/ smoking wheel bearings have been noticed as traffic goes through a work site and radio messages ahead have averted potential disaster. Suicides prevented when one noticed a parked car had a hose hooked to the exhaust. Things just happen on the road. You read about them rarely.
   Yesterday they were hoping for a bit of glory & maybe thanks. They got fuck all.
I have worked on a paper and in my rather spotty callow youth was a cadet reporter in a city newspaper. I have also worked in areas where I have had a lot to do with the media generally, (but more about that some other time) so I was able to explain how the reporting of the attack of the killer bee incident worked.
   It is cheaper and quicker to interveiw the victim at the hospital down the road from the paper. The Cop has an office and a phone, so if they are quick off the mark they may be able to interveiw the cop & paramedic involved while they are filling forms and having lunch. Better than driving a 100 kilometres. To my eye too, the story looks as if the reporter involved was a trainee, who had enough for a good front page story with a worthy underlying issue that the editorial can jump on. But that doesn't satisfy the "brothers" in the crew. They understand that in the scheme of things they are pretty low down in the food chain, and regarded as creatures that impede the flow of important travellers on the roads of commerce. This perception is so far from the truth that it inspired me to start blogging, though I wondered for a while if I would have much to blog about, but, hey I'm up and away. And even on a road in little N.Z. can contribute a bit to the Bloggers v The Media revolution that is currently under way

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Manly Peep Shows

As a kid I loved construction sites. They usually had a big wall around them made from shuttering to protect curious voyeurs such as myself, and the suits striding down the pavement. They usually had holes in them especially for us, with a bit of reinforcing mesh over them to stop a stray brick dropping an under secretary to something, or with a bit of luck a lawyer.
Inside was a big manly playpit, with cranes, loaders, dirty great compressors, hoses, jack hammers, welders, and mud. There was an air of casual bedlam, and slowly and steadily things were built.
I still happily can watch such a digger working for hours. Having had a go on them, I now know just how much of an art skilled operating is. I have seen some top guns casually pick up boulders and toss them to form a dam around a culvert pipe that would break if hit, others who could level an area to within 3mm as a laser level demanded. Bulldozers cutting tracks on slopes I would be too scared to walk up. Watching work is cool.
I am also one of those annoying buggers that will sidle up and ask questions. What does that do? Why does this happen?
Most are more than happy to talk about their jobs when they pick a genuine interest. A road marking machine is actually an amazing thing, full of computors and steering wheels, but how do they get the lines so straight? Do you get a practice? What was your first line like?? Do crash barriers really work? What makes spray-on grass seed stick and grow to a sheer rock face?
Actually, I'm surprised I have never been told to fuck off. Instead I have often been given a chance to "have a go". It's cool to drive past your work mates in a fire engine, or cut stone with a water jet. No wonder my favourite web site bar none is Google.

Well They Got Some Right ....

But I wonder what happened in the missing half hour.....
Pleased to say he is out of hospital and away, syringe and all.

EDIT... Sorry the link no longer points to the front page story "Stung Driver wrestles with road juggernaut" I will quote a few of the relevant paragraphs so following posts make sense.
"A truck driver battled dizziness and blurred vision to bring his hurtling rig to a halt and avert a tragedy near mokau yesterday.
"Oncoming drivers sped past, unaware they were only centemetres from being crushed by the juggernaut carrying a load of pipes to Auckland.
"Minutes later Mr Sayer (31) was slumped semi-conscious in his cab- and he owes his life to an off duty paramedic who just happened to be passing.
There are a couple of paragraphs quoting the driver about how he went dizzy and stopped the truck then .....
"Constable Jono Erwood, of Mokau, arrived on the scene at 11.15 As he was desperately trying to revive Mr Sayer - and summon an ambulance - Phillip Ardell saw the drama and stopped
"I asked the boy in blue if he wanted my assistance - he obviously did",said Mr Ardell, a New Zealander who works as a paramedic on North Sea Rigs.
"The Police Officer and Mr Ardell were in the cab with Mr Sayer when he stopped breathing
" We dragged him out and put him on the ground. We did CPR for a little bit and he came around again, " Mr Erwood said
"By that stage the helicopter was there. He was in and out of conciousness while the paramedics worked on him.........

Then there comments on the difficulty in getting a local volunteer ambulance crew there and the lack of a 24 hour on call district nurse, more on the insect, and stuff from the Auckland Allergy Clinic's website. ENDS
Not a mention of road workers who first noticed/ revived him, called emergency services via CB, put out signs to protect the people involved,and held traffic so the chopper could get in to the site.......

Deep Kissing Truck Drivers

I had a bit of a smooch with a truck driver today. We were cruising the State Highway for potholes and spotted a truck of the rather large variety, parked up and running but no driver to be seen. It all looked a bit odd, so I opened the door expecting a tirade of abuse for waking him up, but instead found him slumped over the wheel and not at all well. A cold cloth and he came round a bit and said something had stung him. He then collapsed again and quit breathing. Now I am no doctor, but I knew a little about Anaphylactic Shock, enough to know we were in the shit. The nearest doctor/ambulance being 90 k's away. I got him breathing again and we hit the r/t, crossed the fingers, & dialled 111 and called for help. He would look ok for a while then have trouble breathing, and of course panic. One of the crew put signs up to protect the site, and fortunately a paramedic from the north sea oil fields on holiday here turned up and then the local cop. Before the rescue chopper arrived he had another seizure and stopped breathing again. The chopper landed on the road and they got some Epipen into him, administered oxygen and hooked him up to a drip & various beeping machines. In no time he was off and away, so I drove his cool big Volvo back to our depot. It had all the toys, cruise control, airconditioning, great sound system etc. They wouldn't let me deliver his load to Auckland. Spoilsports!

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Sunday, February 13, 2005

Murder and Mayhem

So you drive past a work site, the guys are all leaning on their shovels eyeing you as you drive through, air conditioner on, the latest hits thud thudding from the boom box. "Lazy bastards", you think, never seen them use those shovels........
Well the reason you don't is that we think you are a killer.
So we watch you.
"Speeding and reckless drivers are increasingly wiping out themselves and workers at roadworks, new figures show."

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Designer Clothing

The Flouro vest is mandatory for road workers. Now there is a vest "that can prevent a potential fatality from over exertion in a high temperature work environment." There is one slight problem. Can you spot the flaw?
Apart from the fact that risking death from over exertion is not high on my agenda, I think I would prefer a shady tree rather than dragging around a hulking great compressor.

Bleeding Tar

No, not the name of a pub, nor a wounded old salty sea dog. Bleeding tar happens in the hottest of weather, and even the mention of the word causes panic. The road becomes a liquid sticky mess, trucks pick this up and plough permanent furrows. Potholes breed and multiply before your eyes. The end result is known as "scabbing".
There are frantic r/t calls for a truck to spread a fine chip or sand, before the road begins to look like a scale model of the Somme battlefield. Drivers panic as a monumental Sunday carwash looms. (Kerosine is the best tar remover)
It is usually so hot it is hard to even think. You really, really, want a cold beer, or ten. The frosts and ice of winter are a lightyear away.
If you encounter bleeding tar, treat it as ice, and don't stop. If you do, you may be glued to the road, or ... you will take a goodly piece of the State Highway with you as a souvenir of your trip. We just get the hole.


The Office is very open plan...
Including the boss, there are 8 of us. We have 200 kilometers of provincial State Highway to play with. Some of the scenery is stunning. On a fine day its a great job. Beats Baghdad.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Sometimes they do .......

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Sometimes you can feel rather vulnerable as trucks go through the work site.

The Road builders

My Parents were musicians of the long haired variety. The House was always full of amazing people. New Zealand was a very grey place in the '50's. Divorce Court proceedings in the tabloid weekly "Truth" were gossiped over, though no one admitted to reading it. Girls suddenly disappeared " to stay with relatives upcountry" after "I I told you so..." dalliances with louts who rode motorbikes. Curtains were peered through, partyline telephones listened in on, Communists were everywhere, the yellow horde might pour up the beaches any day.
But in our house there were legendary parties, discussions, arguments, and life was tempestuous. There were composers, poets, artists, and eccentrics. Many of them were refugees from Europe. Pianists, fiddle players, opera singers, and they were exotic. One of my favourites as a kid, was a kiwi poet, Denis Glover. I remember him insisting on carting our pet lamb around under his arm and getting it pissed on whisky and milk, and proclaiming that this was the lamb of God and trying to sing the Agnus Dei. I remember the frantic efforts to hide the booze when Denis came up the drive. He could drink a town dry when he was "in his cups". His nose went red and his hair was slicked over, he fascinated me. He was, and is, my favourite poet.
The other day we were digging post holes for new road signs on Mt Messenger and hit a layer of red baked papa clay. The oldtimers used as it as road metal. The nearest shingle rivers were miles away. They fell trees and fired clay in huge layered bonfires. I thought of Denis.

Rolling along far roads on holiday wheels
now wonder at their construction, the infinite skill
that balanced the road to the gradient of the hill,
the precision, the planning, the labour it all reveals.

An unremembered legion of labourers did this,
scarring the stubborn clay, fighting the tangled bush,
blasting the adamant, stemming the unbridled rush
of torrent in flood, bridging each dark abyss.

Their tools were pitiful beside the obdurate strength
of the land:
crosswire of the theodolite, pick-point, curved
small tremor of a touched-off charge; but above all
the skill and strength, admirable in patience,
of the hand.

These men we should honour above the managers of
They pitted their flesh and their cunning against
unimagined by those who turn wordily the first sods.
And on the payroll their labour stands unadorned by

Who they are,or where, we do not know.
Anonymous they die
or drift away; some start the job again; some
in a country pub
recount old deeds amid that unheeding hubbub,
telling of pitiless hills, wet mountain roads where
rusting barrows lie.

On a shitty day, even the mind goes numb, feet swell, legs ache, wet weather gear goes clammy. It pays to keep an eye out for Stock Trucks that can litterally shower you with shit.

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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Wading into the Interweb

Oh the Horror! A Blank Page! A First Post!

Still if you believe the hype there are zillions of blogger virgins out there dipping their toes in the blogosphere at this very moment, so why shouldn't a doddery old fart of advanced years and unsober habits help clutter up the net with mindless ramblings and unsober observations?

Now obviously I have to learn to drive this thing....
So far I've got it started and idling,
I'm going to leave the links, photo's,
comments, and all that stuff until I have got this thing rolling.
When I do I want to ramble on about trucks, roads,
New Zealand, Hitchhiking, Fishing, & Stuff. Especially Stuff.

Male. Lives in New Zealand/North Island/The Road, speaks English. Eye color is blue.
This is my blogchalk:
New Zealand, North Island, The Road, English, Male.

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