Action · Alabama · Autos · commuting · Cycling · Huntsville · Life · Madison · politics

Tilting at City Windmills


I recently sent an email to the Public Works Dept of the little town I commute through to/from work. Actually, I commute through 4 jurisdiction: the county (where I live), the city of Huntsville, AL, the city of Madison, AL, and finally, federal property, Redstone Arsenal. The little town in question is Madison.

I noticed that the induction loop detectors (the sensors in the asphalt that tell if a car is waiting at a red light) weren’t sensitive enough to detect a bicycle. I pointed out two intersections and have subsequently found a third. The email I sent was to ask if something could be done to increase the sensitivity or put in a button. Even though there are no crosswalks there, a button like a pedestrian crossing request would work the same.

The response I got was, “Treat the red light like a stop sign and proceed with caution.” So the Public Works Dept is giving me permission to break the law and piss off all the traffic on Mill Rd. by stopping, then running a red light. I doubt a copy of the email is going to hold much weight with the Police Dept or the drivers I cut between. But Church and Mill is just a small T-intersection on a two-lane road.

This intersection (Hwy 72 and Hughes Rd.) is a completely different animal. Hwy 72 is a four-lane, 45 MPH, divided highway with multiple turning lanes at the intersections. There is no hope of treating this like a stop sign when the cross traffic isn’t going to stop.

But I took that intersection out of my commuting mix and replaced it with this one at Hwy 72 and Nance Rd.

It’s still just as wide with multiple turning lanes, but I hadn’t had any trouble with the lights…until Friday, 28 April 2017. I think my morning commute is blessed because I can’t see any traffic sensors on the north side of the intersection. That tells me the through light is on a timer and will always turn green eventually. The south side, the side I’m on in the afternoon, is a different story. It has a sensor, probably because this side of the road mostly goes to residential streets, so isn’t as heavily traveled. It even has a little bicycle icon painted on the pavement. I don’t know what that’s for. I thought maybe it was a “stop here” symbol to trigger the lights, but after waiting through 2 lights last Friday, I gave up and pulled a tricky maneuver to continue my journey.

I peeled left across the south side of the intersection crossing two lanes, carefully moved against eastbound traffic on the shoulder, repositioned my bike in a parking lot, crossed the two eastbound lanes into the northbound, left turn lanes where I was in the company of several cars and got a green left-turn arrow. It should be noted that none of these intersections have pedestrian crosswalks, either. Apparently, you go by car or you just don’t go.

I replied to the email I received, thanking them for their permission to break the law and pointed out that their advice was moot at the Hwy 72 intersections. I told them I understood that I was the only one complaining about this, so my lone voice probably didn’t count for much. Maybe they will listen when a news crew covers some fatal accident at one of those intersections. It won’t be me. I’ll cross safely if it takes an hour. I also included the city council member of the district the Nance Rd. intersection is in with my reply.

Their attitude is a little puzzling because they just spent the better part of a year redoing a road on the other side of the city with beautiful, segregated, mixed-use cycle/pedestrian paths. They obviously understand the need for cycling safety. Maybe they just ran out of money after redoing County Line Rd.

They say you can’t fight city hall, but damn it, you can have fun trying.

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Alabama · crime · criminals · dumb · funny · Huntsville · idiots · mugging · news · stupid · thief · weird

Huntsville, Alabama: Mugging Results in 3 Arrests


Category: Stupid Criminals.

Huntsville police arrived at a robbery scene early Friday to arrest a suspect but ended up arresting the victim and a witness, too. >> Read Full Story >>

Around 6:40AM on March 15, 2008, 43-year-old Walter McLin flagged down a patrol car and told the cops he had been robbed at gun point.  After speaking to a witness, the police arrested 31-year-old Stepheon White at a near-by motel and charged him with first-degree robbery.

Upon further questioning, McLin was charged second-degree theft for the $900 forged check in his possession.  Police then became suspicious of the witness’ identity and charged him with filing a false statement because he lied about his name.  It turned out the witness had good reason to lie because he had multiple, outstanding warrants.

All three men are currently enjoying the hospitality of the Madison County metro jail.

This story only supports the old adage, “There is no honor among thieves.”  It also highlights the fact that if you are going to be a criminal, try not to hang out with other criminals.  One thief may be stupid, but the power of stupidity rises exponentially with each additional criminal brain.

Alabama · COFRA · crazy · fat · funny · law · legislation · Mississippi · obese · rant · stupid

No Soup for You, Lard Ass


Mississippi House Bill 282, currently before the state legislature, would prevent restaurants with more than five seats from serving obese people as determined by the state’s health department. Repeat offenders would be subject to fines or closure. Even the bills sponsor, W.T. Mayhall, Jr. says he knows the bill has less of a chance at survival than a bucket of KFC at a Weight Watchers meeting. He just wants the large, good people of Mississippi to consider their health and thinks this will get the conversation started. After all, Mississippi was just granted the title “fattest state in the nation,” with 62% of its population defined as obese.

My first thought when hearing this story was, “Why would restaurants want to keep out the fatties? They’re your best customers. This is like banning athletes from gyms.” Then there’s the whole problem of determining who is huge enough to face discrimination. Will Mississippi restaurants have to narrow their doors? Will they install the human-size version of the airport carry-on luggage measuring box? I imagine it will have a sign over it which reads, “If your ass is bigger than this, you are not welcome.” I wonder if signs like, “No shirt. No shoes. No Fatties.” are already being printed in the Magnolia state.

As bizarre as all that sounds, the really funny thing I learned while investigating this story is there is a real organization called The Coalition of Fat Rights Activists (COFRA). A group actually proud of their flab…er…glandular problem, who feel fat people face enough discrimination, they need an activist group. I’m no spring chicken, but I’ll stick with, “I could stand to lose a few pounds,” before I swing over the fence to “Fat is beautiful. RascalTM scooters for everyone!”

Here in Alabama, we have an expression for when people make fun of our state, “Thank God there’s Mississippi.” Having Mississippi as our neighbor really lowers the bar and takes all the pressure off.

More information from a more sane source.

Alabama · Blogroll · customer service · drugs · indigent · Madison · pharmacist · pharmacy · protest · Publix · rant · Walgreens · Walmart

Pissing and Moaning About Phamacists, Again


One of my first articles submitted to Associated Content was a rant about the treatment my wife and I receive at pharmacies (Pharmacist’s Opinions Now Out Weigh Doctor’s Orders, July 2006). As far as the writing goes, I could have done a better job getting my point across. As far as the topic goes, it persist to this day and is getting worse.

My wife called our local Walgreens three days ago to get a refill of her Xanax prescription. She was told that it wouldn’t be refillable until Saturday, 1/26. That was cool. No problem. It’s always good to call ahead and have things waiting.

She called Saturday morning to make sure it was ready. The pharmacist on duty told her it couldn’t be refilled until Sunday, 1/27. Grrrrr! Who died and made you God, Ms. Pharmacist? Why would your people tell us the 26th when you are going to make a personal decision to not fill it until the 27th?

That is my main complaint with the chain pharmacies…no consistent policies. Everything is left up to the whim of the pharmacist on duty. Getting a refill is like playing Russian Roulette. I’ve even had one pharmacist refuse to fill a written prescription at 7AM because he knew he was going off duty at 8AM. The shift change made all the difference and the 8 o’clock guy had no problem counting out the pills.

Knowing the system means you can game the system, though. My wife simply made a phone call to the next Walgreens down the road and they had no problem filling the script on Saturday.

I’m not bashing Walgreens as a whole. Just the inconsistent policies. I regularly go to a particular Walgreens every month for a reoccurring prescription and John, the PharmD, is the nicest guy in the world. The people at the Walgreens where I picked up the Xanax today were very polite, friendly, and quick. But the Walgreens at 7813 Highway 72 W Madison, AL apparently only hires cold, hard bitches who have their own policies about what scripts are valid and when they will fill them.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been treated with complete and utter disdain by the staff at that particular store. So don’t give me any bullshit about “pharmacist are professionals who are trained to look out for your well-being.” This crew at this particular Walgreens is just a customer dis-service nightmare. I vow before the internet gods, I will not set foot in that store again. I’ll drive the extra 6 miles or go across the street to Publix.

Personally, my view on drugs is very Libertarian. Make it all legal and available over the counter. Let Darwin deal with the rest. If you’re so ill informed and stupid to take a fist full of sleeping aids and wake up dead, then the world is free of 23 chromosomes that won’t dumb down the herd. Sure it would put the pharmacist out of a job, but they’re always hiring check-out clerks at Walmart.

Alabama · lawn · Lowes · mowing · North · snow · south · Troy-Bilt · yard · yardwork

Yardwork? In January?


Do I feel sorry for all the poor saps shoveling snow right now? No. You chose to live there and that’s just crazy.

It was 50°F here yesterday. With no snow to shovel, but lots of leaves to rake, I decided to take my new Xmas/B’Day mower for a spin. I finally broke down and bought a decent machine with a bagger. The hope is to keep the pine-straw thatch from building up. So in reality, I wasn’t cutting grass so much as vacuuming the lawn. I primed my new Troy-Bilt with rear bagger and off I went. It performed beautifully. Neither leaf nor pine stood a chance.

But the best part about the whole affair was it’s January in Alabama and I’m out mowing the yard. I’ll gladly take that over snow anytime. To all my friends up North, struggling with snow in the drive, on the road, and in your mudroom, I say, “Go South, young man.” If it snows two inches here, the schools close and life takes a holiday. Thankfully, snow in Bama is like locusts; it only comes once every seven to ten years.

If you don’t feel like moving, I’m pretty sure Troy-Bilt makes a snow blower.  I know I’ll never need one.  I think I’ll head back to Lowes today and find some more projects to work on…outside.

Alabama · ASMS · Jimmy Wales · software · South Park · Tweak · Virgil Griffith · Wiki · Wiki scanner · wikipedia

Where is Virgil Griffith from and What’s a Wiki Scanner?


You’ve probably read about Wiki Scanner, the new software that exposes just who is editing Wiki. Beyond the fact that it is the coolest software to come out this month, Wiki Scanner is a real eye-opener. It reveals the fact that many corporate entries are edited by corporate employees. The scanner is the brain child of CalTech grad student Virgil (David) Griffith.

Yeah, I know his real name. See, Virg was a high school undergrad of my daughter’s at the very prestigious Alabama School of Math and Science. ASMS nurtures some of the brightest minds in the country. Virg is yet one more in a growing line of super-nerds being birthed in Alabama. Y’all think we’re all ‘possum-eaten rednecks, but we got game, Bubba.

Her memories of him are “twitchy and nervous.” Apparently, he was the South Park Tweak of his high school class.

Raise a glass to Virgil, Wiki, Alabama, and South Park. Dear God, that was a strange toast to make. But any excuse for a drink is better than none.

I almost forgot to mention that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is from Alabama, too. Boo Yea! In your face Massachusetts.