Friday, April 29, 2005
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Fear & Loathing in Arizona
"Indicted: Extortion, conspiracy charges brought against Marana mayor, businessman"
Watch Your Rear View Mirrors
After rumours of Suicide bombers disguising themselves as Nuns, Thai Police unveil the latest weapon in the fight against terror.
What! No Encore?
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Walking The Line
There are mundane jobs working on the road. Some are faintly ridiculous. Those plastic marker pegs with the reflectorized tape that keep you on the straight and narrow, are washed, by hand, by us. Machines have been tried, but a bucket of water, laced with concentrated cleaner, and a cloth are our tools of trade. You walk say a kilometre washing as you go, cross over the road and wash your way back to your vehicle. Move 1 K up the road, and repeat. The markers on the shady side are the worst, moss and lichen glue themselves to them. Heavily cambered corners mean that stock trucks spew unmentionable filth on them. All get a grey film of road grime.
Litter Control is another walking job. Black plastic bag and spear this time. The worst areas are a pie eating distance from a town. The fast food giants should be forced to have their C.E.O's do litter control for a week, I'll even shout them the plastic bags. Today in three kilometres, two of us collected 230 kilo's of fast food litter.
When I say you get to know the road, you really get to know the road.
Still only 180 kilometres to go.....
Baggage labels & Babelfish
"For the fortunate travellings, the hostelry personnel, presently to
retire the suitcases or the trunks pasted on the baggage labels illustrated
almost always colored."
"In the baggage room of the place in which was locate the hotel, no
much early of the departure, the servant give back this last service to the
squanderer and demanding visiting, but which was very consideret; this there
were in 1800 at 1960."
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Barista had some nice things to say about this blog yesterday. Well I suppose if I can make asphalt sound exciting, and be caring about traffic lights, I am halfway there. What really interests me though, is the fascinating culture and history surrounding work. The small mysteries most people never think about until maybe they have to attempt it themselves, be it mixing concrete, fixing a leaking toilet cystern, putting out a fire, painting a sign, firing a pot, or driving a grader. I love reading other blogs where people describe what, and how, and why, they do things. The political blogs just piss me off. Once you have read a few you have read the lot. I don't want to know what some truck driver in Florida thinks about Bush, I want to know more about his truck, what he gets paid, what he carts, where he goes. I'm damn sure the regular readers here don't give a toss what I think of the situation in the Middle East, or the American President. This is not to say that I am uninterested in politics. I have, in another past job, been right in amongst it, facing down politicians on TV programs and spending a bit of time in the cells of Auckland Central Police Station.
No, Diamond Geezer has said it all Political blogging is a bit like teaching a pig to whistle. It is usually a waste of time, and just pisses off the pig.
I will stick to caring for traffic lights and asphalt.
Mind, there are people out there that just Luurve them.
Monday, April 25, 2005
The son of former slaves, Garrett A. Morgan was an African-American businessman and inventor, born in Paris, Kentucky on March 4, 1877.
In the early years of the 20th century, it was not uncommon for bicycles, animal-powered wagons and new gasoline-powered motor vehicles to share the same streets and roadways with pedestrians. Accidents were frequent. After witnessing a collision between an automobile and a horse-drawn carriage, Morgan was convinced that something should be done to improve traffic safety.
The Morgan traffic signal was a T-shaped pole unit that featured three positions: Stop, Go and an all-directional stop position. This third position halted traffic in all directions to allow pedestrians to cross streets more safely.
Morgan's traffic management device was used throughout North America until it was replaced by the red, yellow and green-light traffic signals currently used around the world. The inventor sold the rights to his traffic signal to the General Electric Corporation for $40,000. Shortly before his death, in 1963, Morgan was awarded a citation for his traffic signal by the United States Government.
Morgan invented a zig-zag stitching attachment for manually operated sewing machine. On July 25, 1916, Morgan made national news for using a gas mask he had invented to rescue several men trapped during an explosion in an underground tunnel beneath Lake Erie.
Garrett A. Morgan died on August 27, 1963, at the age of 86.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
It's starting to get seriously colder here these days. Of course my thin blood doesn't help. If I ever get a transfusion I'll have to make sure it's from a fat person. I might have to run away to the islands. If you are reading this at work in the city, and it's cold and shitty, don't for God's sake click on this.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
In all the tiny settlements around New Zealand it is the same. There is usually a hall, or memorial dedicated to those who served and died in far off lands, on the other side of our planet. The lists of names are long, unbelievably long for the size of these tiny places. Sometimes you see several names from the same families, sometimes the dates correspond to those of the great battles, Gallipoli, Ypres, The Somme, Passchendale. Later in another war, Crete, el Alamein, Monte Cassino.
They would be off the farms, raw young boys looking for excitement and a way out of the mud and rain and cows and milking. What they got of course, was more mud, and a brutal fight for survival. The politics and reasoning of the time has faded, the why's unanswered. But as far as they were concerned they were fighting for their families and friends, and the new country they were establishing down under the Southern Cross. We are becoming quite a pacifist little nation now, not easily dragged into foreign wars and adventures. I think they would approve. When as a country, we are criticized for being anti-nuclear, or slow to bang the war drum, we can point to those names. So many names. I'm sure they would approve.
This means of course, that, a minor problem is ignored until it becomes major, or we have enough potholes to make it worthwhile to mount an operation. It has also made me a renegade.
I will sneak in somewhere close, carefully study the traffic flow, and then scamper across the road and fill the hole, then make my getaway, feeling smug.
If you ride a motorbike on State Highway 3, it might be nice to know, that there is a phantom figure trying to make sure you are not unhorsed.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
The first macadam surface in the United States was laid on the "Boonsborough Turnpike Road" between Hagerstown and Boonsboro, Maryland. By 1822, this section was the last unimproved gap in the great road leading from Baltimore on the Chesapeake Bay to Wheeling on the Ohio River. Stagecoaches using the road in winter needed 5 to 7 hours of travel to cover 10 miles.
Construction specifications for the turnpike road incorporated those set forth by John Loudon McAdam of Scotland. After side ditches were dug, large rocks were picked and raked, then were broken "so as not to exceed 6 ounces in weight or to pass a two-inch ring." Compacting work for each of the three layers was quickened using a cast-iron roller, instead of allowing for compacting under traffic.
In 1830, after 5 years of work, the 73-mile National Pike (or Cumberland Road) became the second American road to be built on the "McAdam principle."
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Slips & Landslides (progress report)
I am in the process of posting about slips & landslides I have known. But I seem to have got somewhat waylayed while looking for a suitable image. How was I to know that one must wade through a zillion pictures of lingerie. Still, in the interests of quality blogging, I shall plow on.............
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Shcool Plis Spot
Photo's like this are everywhere on the net. These rather embarrassed guys will now have to get out some black paint. My guess is that this would be surprisingly easy to do, if you are shuffling stencils about and chatting a bit too much on the job.
Meanwhile James who blogs about bloggers, sent me a link to a BBC story about a local row over some very drunken yellow lines. I'm quite entranced by line marking, and the mysteries of it all. See "Drop Down Polly" from a couple of months ago....
Monday, April 18, 2005
Overloaded & On The Run
I am currently locked in very delicate negotiations with my employers over a fine for overloading. My loader driving mate, has offered to pay half. Meanwhile I am quietly getting ready to flee to Argentina, should negotiations fail. I have picked Argentina because I rather like the idea of being a Gaucho, (retired) and also I rather like the sound of a recipe for Rasberry Mango Fool I came across. Also my brother assures me that armadillo hunting is all the rage over there. He heard it from someone in the pub. They are also not shy about eating huge hunks of grilled steer and drinking beer, both of which are hobbies of mine. Throw in the fact that, though I have never tried it, I bet I am deadly at the Tango, and you can see that Argentina is probably my best bolt hole.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
"Its A Girl Thing"
We used to have an old crank-the-handle party line phone. Our number was 54D, so our ring was a long and two shorts. There was a small local exchange. You ground the handle and Doris at the exchange would put down her knitting and connect you to George Harris, whoever. She might, though, tell you that; "George is over at Harry's, shall I put you through to there?"
To make a toll call was a big deal, it was expensive. We lived 30 miles from the city and a call to there was always interupted by a parental yell in the background, " Not too long, it's a toll call." To this day I cannot speak too long on the phone. I am even the same on the truck R/T.
An incoming toll call, especially at night, was usually a portent of disaster. Someone ill, someone missing, something wrong. I still get a bit of an anxiety rush when the phone rings late at night, now usually to send me off to a slip, or accident.
The females in the Fart Household, however have a totally different conception of phone use. They will happily ring someone in the farthest corner of the planet, at any hour of the day or night, and have a long chat about what colour to paint something, or an in depth conversation about some ailment, or the price of chops. They will trail the phone lead to somewhere "comfortable" to do this, so they can really settle in and chat. Of course it is always a toll call. Deep in the heart of the Telecom building a meter is whizzing, counting up the minutes, till eventually the phone bill arrives with a thump in the mail box, to a howl of protest. Of course any attempt to cut a conversation down to say, an hour, is considered an act of intolerable cruelty and barberism. Apparently it is a "Girl Thing". I just don't understand, etc etc.
It's a shame I don't like using the phone. I think I personally own about 4 exchanges so far.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Bund & Flume.
It is not my mental picture though. "Bund & Flume" should have an office next to Rumpole Of The Bailey, or be into Haberdashery.
Haberdasher, Mmmmm, now there's a word..... Its got a dodgy definition too... " A dealer in men's furnishings." Well I'm damn sure I'm not going to let any haberdasher near my furnishings.
Suddenly I can see why it can take me hours to get a small post together. And if English is not your first language and you have got this far, I salute you.
Meanwhile, Off the Coast of Haberdashery, the Bund & Flume sailed ever closer to Cape Furnishing.....
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Is it a plane? Is it a Bird? It's BEANMAN !
"Beanman is not your average superhero - he's pretty average," said Skellern.
He said Watties had no intention of relaunching baked beans as a youth brand, given that its main buyer was the household shopper. But it was prepared for a "healthy level of discomfort" with the baked beans image change, otherwise there was no point. The brand has been growing at a rate of up to 2 per cent a year, and Skellern expected Beanman would double growth.
Well I say, Stuff the young punks, I've got something to lift your shirt!
Rest Area 300m
Cosy & Cute Beach Exporters Corp.
"The road to Raglan could be blocked to raise awareness among visitors of plans for sand mining off the west coast. The company behind the mining proposal, Best Quality of Life Group Pty, is set to begin exploration off the coast to determine the profitability of the plan.
But even if the claims of the project creating jobs and generating millions of dollars proved true, there would be no benefit for Raglan, resident Stephen Frew said.
"The jobs will be in Taranaki, the money will be in Wellington and the sand will be in China," he said.
"We're not going to gain anything from it."
The meeting also agreed the mining plan would have a negative impact on fishing, the endangered maui dolphins and tourism on the west coast..... (Waikato Times)
Best Quality of Life Group ???? What next? Cuddles & Snuggles Strip Mining Corp?... Feelgood Clearfelling? ..
Photo, Awakino Heads looking North to Kawhia & Raglan. (Rest Area 300m)
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Old And In The Weigh....
With my rather precarious financial affairs not helped by my singular lack of success at picking the right Lotto numbers, and being charged to cart dirt at 59 cents a kilo, It is reassuring to see that at least I can put off retirement a bit.
"Prime Minister Helen Clark has vowed to scrap practical driving tests for over-80-year-olds if Labour is re-elected, despite Insurance Council figures showing "significant increase in accident frequency with age....
"Old soldier Theo Thomas, of Papakura, believes the two-yearly driving test for the over-80s is a waste of time that serves only to embarrass older drivers.......... Mr Thomas, 79, has driven everything in his time, from a Valentine tank to his current Honda motorcar.
"They make us feel as though we are some idiots who get to 80, or thereabouts, and we have had our day.".
Image found on Fark
Weighed & Found Wanting
An unwelcome surprise today. A $350 ticket for rather enthusiastically over burdening my truck a couple of weeks ago. I thought I had got away with it, but the God Squad truly do take no prisoners... It works out to about 59 cents a kilo, because the first 500 kilo's are free. Travellers on State Highway 3 could find a stop & go man holding a hat out this week. It's that or boil the budgie..
Rest Area 300m
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
I"ve had this tucked away in my computor for a long time. I found it on a yachting site when one of the round the world races was on in 2001. (Volvo?) The letter was pinned to a notice board in one of the competitors office.
Dear Sailors. Merry Xmas. I Know you are lonely, because my dad is in the navy. I wish my dad was home. I miss him. Also when dad is away mum prays more. All I hear from her room is, Oh God, Oh God, yes, yes, yes. I never learned that prayer. I hope you have a great holiday. Your Friend Shawn
Monday, April 11, 2005
"OLD FART was conceived in celebration of all those Cantankerous Boozers that occupy every Public House in Britain if not the world. It emerged from a small local brewery in Todmorden on the Yorkshire, Lancashire border in 1989 and was sold initially in local hostelries as a Real Ale. To ensure a more successful result from the original Robinwood venture it was decided to Market the beer in bottles and widen the scope of operation. This strategy proved very successful and received a timely boost from comments made about the structure of Rugby union in England by the then England captain Will carling when the famous phrase "57" old farts was coined.From those humble beginnings OLD FART has grown in reputation and is now not only widely distributed across the UK but all over the world."
"Merrimans Brewery also takes a keen interest in local sport and has sponsored local Rugby and football sides as well as investing money in horse racing."
"Investing money in horse racing", ... I hope it's not the accountant........
Rest Area 300m
On Yer Bike .....
Any hope of long-term relief for motorists faded yesterday when international oil cartel OPEC announced it may revise its target price for oil closer to $US50 a barrel.
The previous target band for crude was between $US22 and $US28, but that was abandoned as unrealistic in January.
Speaking on the ABC TV's Inside Business program, OPEC's acting secretary-general Adnan Shihab-Eldin said a shortage of global refining capacity, and not supply, was fuelling the price rise.
Rest Area 300m
Saturday, April 09, 2005
Bridge 1 - Bus - 0
I arrived to find a lone police car and an empty bus at the side of the road. It had just clipped the end of the bridge, blowing out a couple of windows, chewing up the left front corner, and shattering the windscreen. The wheels rode down the kerb, which had rolled the wheel rims down like a tin opener, so all the tires on that side were flat. The driver arrived having gone for help and a tire repair man. Having reassured my boss that it was no big deal, we set about getting it mobile by shuffling wheels and tires around from the good side. We soon had it off the road and mobile. A couple of hours later, a rather glum mechanic who had been taking the bus to the workshops, left to face his boss. I went back to bed.
There was a spectacular series of photo's on the Net a couple of weeks ago, a small fire in the engine compartment of a rear engine bus, ended up a spectacular blaze. Fibreglass bodies burn really well.
Should you ever be in this situation. Before you congratulate yourself on getting your luggage out, I would suggest you make sure you move it upwind!
Rest Area 300m
Friday, April 08, 2005
On The Wireless
When we are madly digging up the road on one of our "Hold Up The Week End Traffic Schemes" we are in radio contact with each other. It is nearly impossible to work without them. Any attempt though at a decent conversation is doomed.
"My Computor has crashed again, bloody virus I Think, Truck and trailer and two lights"
"What Antivirus are you using? Clear here"
"Schoolbus and Camper. AVG"
Two to come back, Tried Antispyware? Roller pulling out"
"Look out for this prick, Jesus did you see that"
"He's on a bloody mobile, hit that cone there, how much, .. is it free?"
"Bloody line up, last ones a hot babe in a ratty toyota, yes it's free.
"Truck and Trailer and followers, last ones a couple of aunties in a grey Mitsi"
"I'm going to back across to the first patch"
"Spybot is good too, holding four."
"Water Cart pulling out, send yours"
"Thats the weather guy from TV"
"In the 4x4, truck and trailer and one light"
"Was too, ..Spybot, I better write it down."
"Coming Through, last ones a camper"
Rest Area 300m
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Doddery Expects ......
Sometimes on our section of Highway other contractors come in to do Tar-Sealing work, or other jobs. We get on well with all of them. It's always good to have a chat with new faces. It is always a bit of a shock though to come around a corner and see strangers working on our road. The imagination runs riot sometimes;
My Lords Of The Admiralty.
I Have The Pleasure To Report..
At 6 bells in the forenoon, while patrolling off Mt Messenger in a SW breeze, Sighted an enemy squadron, viz; A Grader, Broom Tractor, Tar Tanker and attendant Trucks. Apon closing to windward, we beat to quarters and commenced to fire on the Grader, "Le Indomitable" with heated shot. After two broadsides she turned into the wind ablaze. Our trucks were handled magnificently, harrying the enemy 6 wheelers till one went ashore, and the others struck their colours. The Tar Tanker & Broom tractor attempted to flee to the South, but were run down and taken as prizes by one of our 4 wheelers. A full action report will follow.
Admiral Salty Dodderyoldfart K.B.E.
Rest Area 300m
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Imagine your computor workstation is in the middle of the road. You are allowed to have a metre of space between you and the traffic, which you can mark with cones. You would feel pretty bloody vulnerable. If you are sitting in one place you are probably pretty safe.
How about cleaning the car? Dont step back to admire your handiwork, Don't chase the polishing cloth if the wind gets it. There are generators and maybe a compressor roaring away, you can't rely on hearing traffic passing. The trucks aren't so bad, the drivers are professionals. It's you we worry about......
Rest Area 300m
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
"Every road is a sort of ecosystem that ecologists are only just now starting to study. Non-porous pavement causes rainfall to collect at its edges, if only momentarily. So along most roads across much of the western United States, say west of the 98th meridian of longitude, the edge of the pavement is bordered by a ribbon of plants that need slightly more annual rainfall than do the plants only three or four feet away. Quite often the ribbon plants are taller and greener than ones growing a few feet distant,
and the plants shelter wild animals waiting to cross what they sense, correctly, is a barrier. For reptiles, especially at night in cool weather, the blacktop is a warm place to rest, and often a fatal one. For many mammals, it is a zone to be crossed at speed, but not only because vehicles present a threat: the road offers nowhere to hide from hawks and other raptors. But predatory birds, and carrion feeders too, risk annihilation, for they are easily struck by vehicles, especially at dusk when headlights blind and disorient them. Yet for all that the road is a barrier, its edges are also animal highways. This last is incredibly important, but still very little understood.
Consider the typical interstate highway interchange. What lives at the center of the circular zones wholly surrounded by highways and on- and off-ramps? Sometimes essentially grass, routinely mowed. But sometimes all sorts of vegetation and the animals that hide in the wetlands and woods so close to roads pedestrians never cross."
Roads, Highways, and Ecosystems -John Stilgoe, Harvard University
Not long ago we had an incident that caused a bit of mirth. A local Highway Inspector stopped to Have a pee. At the most inconvenient moment a very pissed off wild pig charged him. He sprinted up the road, tackle waggling, and made it to his car. The pig, it later transpired, had a broken leg, which made him a bit grumpy. It was dispatched by the local policeman with a rifle and ended up starring at the Xmas barbecue .
Monday, April 04, 2005
Meanwhile, on U.K. TV
The Magic Bus
The Camper van is a favourite way for overseas tourists to N.Z. to get around. As the weather cools, they are starting to thin out a bit, but all year a steady stream of visitors chug around the country side, The Kiwi's, especially the older ones, tend to buy a Japanese used import bus, convert it to a camper, paint something like "Idling Along" on the front and also hit the road. There are bloody hordes of them. I'm glad I got in early. In 1971 I brought my first bus for $139 NZ. It was a 1939 Leyland. It had retired exhausted from hauling Wellingtonians around the Capital's steep, San Francisco like hills. It was temperamental. It exploded once and put me into hospital with burns for three months. It was also a sensation. The Traffic Police would stop me, but only out of curiosity. Officialdom couldn't cope and it was defined as "any other vehicle" so I paid little tax, and was it treated like a car at Warrant Of Fitness Inspection time. I could park on bus stops. Diesel was practically given away. It was great. It eventually expired in a tiny railway settlement in the Hawkes Bay, never to go again. Not a worry, though, I got a job in the Railway's for a couple of years and brought a better one, a 1948 Leyland Tiger. The tiger I had for 13 years. It was reliable, funky, and we had a multitude of adventures together. I could not imagine not having a bus. You could go somewhere and party all the way. You could pick up zillions of hitchhikers. 19 of us travelled round the South Island once. But the time came when I was building a house (and that is another story) and had to find some money for road metal for the drive, and a wood stove. So I sold it. I was always going to get another one. Now, though, I see all the oldies out there, lace curtains and soft toys, and "Dunrovin", and I'm glad I got my retirement in first.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
Saturday, April 02, 2005
"We are going to have to ditch chaps...."
"Ditches help roads to drain, even when roads are not elevated much, if at all, above abutting land, but even in pre-Civil War turnpike days, ditches presented serious problems. In heavy rains, ditches fill, then flood, and sometimes turn into miniature rivers whose currents erode roads. Always they represent a danger to anyone, teamster or motorist, veering away from the center of the road. In the early years of automobiling, motorists whose brakes failed sometimes deliberately steered into ditches rather than collide with livestock or other vehicles. To ditch meant the deliberate wrecking of a car in order to stop it, and eventually the word carried over into airplane slang: today pilots still ditch planes, especially in the ocean. To be ditched, however, meant being run into a ditch by another motorist, and the phrase carried over into much early twentieth-century slang, especially that involving love affairs.
Either way, by intent or by accident, to be ditched meant finding oneself and one’s vehicle in a foot or so of mud and stagnant water. Bruises and broken axles usually accompanied ditching or being ditched, and prudent motorists tried to remain in the center of ordinary roads rather than risk swerves caused by blowouts."
Roads, Highways, and Ecosystems; John Stilgoe, Harvard University
"Would You Like Fries With That Sir?"
One of my workmates was a prison warder for a while. He tells me that one of the effects of increased immigration, as it became reflected in the prison population, was that inmates couldn't keep budgies anymore. They kept getting eaten! There was also an inmate who was a little unhinged who scoffed the Jail's goldfish, brought in as a soothing influence on the inmates......
Rest Area 300m
Friday, April 01, 2005
The "God Squad" struck this morning. I was merrily chugging down the road, carting the final load from a slip site a mere 4 kilometres from the depot when a green 4x4 loomed in the mirror, red & blue lights flashing from behind the grill. Realizing that this was no April Fool's prank, but the real thing, I pulled over. "Good Morning, Sir, We would like to put you on the scales." I have written about the God Squad before. They are worse to see in your rear vision mirror than the Four Horseman Of The Apocalypse. I also realized with horror that I had become such a meticulous log book filler in, that after making sure it was squeaky clean before I left the depot, I had driven off leaving it in the office. To make things worse, as I was carting the last load before Smoko, the loader driver had enthusiastically stuffed every last bit of slipped muddy hillside onto my truck. Things were not looking good. "We will just find a bit of level ground off the road Sir". I saw a tiny glimmer of hope."There is a pull off area at the boat ramp up the road," I volunteered. Away we went in convoy, truckies passing the other way muttering urgent warnings to each other into their CB's. They duly pulled portable scales out of their 4x4 and set about weighing the truck. It was difficult. The pull off area is very gently sloped in two directions. Twice the truck rolled off the scales. "How about we go up to the depot" I offered helpfully, "Its got a flat sealed yard and is just up there".... hallelujah, they took the bait, and once again we convoyed off, getting closer and closer to the log book. We rolled into the yard, and once again they set about weighing the truck and checking stickers, certificates, etc. "I better tell the boss whats happening" I said, dived into the office and grabbed the log book. They were bending over the scales calculators going, I flipped it in the window.
"You are a tonne overweight on the back axle Sir. I am going to issue you with an off loading demand." This means you must "rearrange your load immediately to legal limits", of course having a dump truck, all I had to do was tip my load off in a corner of the yard. They sportingly waived an infringement notice which would have seen me fined,($150 to $10,000) after seeing my impeccable paperwork and clean drivers licence. Not producing a log book is a mandatory 1 month loss of licence, and a fine up to $2000.
I am a lucky, lucky, Old fart.