Nov 13, 2008

Tough Out There

It's been a week of tough news on many fronts, from personal to national.  

I dropped a lot of money on auto maintenance today.  My truck has almost 66,000 miles on it and by now I needed new tires (I was still running on the ones that came with the vehicle) as well as some hefty scheduled maintenance and wear-and-tear repairs.  Despite the cost, I think it was a good deal; the thing is paid off and I pretty much decided that I am going to drive the Mighty Tundra until the wheels fall. I like it, it's been no trouble at all and I don't feel like I want to take on a new car purchase anytime soon. Also, the new tires are clearly better than the ones I was riding on, so it's a better experience for driver and passenger. The fact of the matter is that compared to when we lived out east or even in ANC, I don't drive it all that much, so this should tide me over for a good while. I also sprung for a transit pass today - I am going to try and take the bus rather than drive when the weather sucks. We'll see how that goes...

It is also disappointingly predictable that today Al Franken initiated a lawsuit over the Coleman-Frankin election recount. It was inevitable - both Frankin and Coleman are ruthless snakes who will do whatever it takes to seize power (please pardon the hyperbole).  After watching about 10 minutes of the last debate between Frankin, Coleman and Barkley, I decided to vote for Barkley simply because he did not appear to be a mean, delusional man.  My prediction is that the spirit of Saint Paul (Wellstone, that is) will be invoked by the Democrats before this over ("Paul Wellstone would have wanted all of our citizen's voices to be heard", or something to that effect).

In other dreary news, the National Transportation Safety Board began hearings into the I-35W bridge collapse today.  Essentially, the findings of the investigation were as follows:
  • The bridge was doomed from the start because some of the gusset plates that were used when it was built were undersized and not up to the job of holding up the bridge.
  • Corrosion, lack of maintenance and the general decline of our society were not the primary cause of the collapse - it was "design error" (nevermind about inspection and repair error, please).
  • Additional lanes and barriers were added to the bridge after its construction and nobody apparently checked whether or not it could hold the increased load, I guess.
  • An engineering company that inspected the bridge before the most recent repairs noted strain in the bridge but that seems to be about it.
  • The resurfacing crews that were working the day the bridge collapsed had put about 280 tons of equipment on the bridge very near the weak gusset plates at about 3:00 (2.5 hours or so before it collapsed).
Lawsuits over this have now been initiated against the engineering company and the construction company that was working when the bridge fell down. More will follow, I am sure.

Finally, the economy is still slowly circling the drain.

So, not much good news out there unless you look for it.  And I did.  I had a good meeting with the Midtown Greenway Coalition staff today about getting a Trail Watch program going, had dinner with a friend last night at Common Roots and took most of today off to get away from work for a bit. Plus, I might learn how to knit in the not-too-distant future.

That's it. Keep your chin up, stay dry and for God's sakes, turn your light on if you are riding at night, dammit!

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