Friday, October 30, 2009

Audi Smokes BMW? 2010 Audi S4 vs. 2009 BMW 335i


"Given all the praise heaped on the BMW 3 Series over the years, we can't blame you for thinking there's more to the story. We've heard all the conspiracy theories, most of them involving checks in large denominations from Munich.

This might seem believable to a certain segment of the population, but there's a far less interesting truth behind all those wins: The BMW was the best car. Sure, certain rivals often upped their game in one area or another, but the 3 Series always put it all together in a way that made it better.

So now the 2010 Audi S4 is here to take another shot. It's all-new this year and the old V8 is gone. There's now a supercharged V6 in its place, along with a lower price designed to better align the S4 with the BMW 335i.

The BMW 3 Series received a face-lift of its own last year. It was mostly minor trim changes and the like, but we're told that iDrive thing was tweaked again, too (oh, lovely).

Sounds like a fair fight, no?"

The Weekly Carnage

The Weekly Carnage: "



The Weekly Carnage is a Friday round-up of motor vehicle mayhem
across the metro region. For more on the origins and purpose of this
column, please read About the Weekly Carnage.



carnage_bethea_news.jpgPhoto: Daily News
Fatal Crashes (5 Killed This Week, 232 This Year*, 23 Drivers Charged**)

  • Queens: Crack-Smoking Driver Charged With Manslaughter for Killing 2 Kids (News 1, 2, Post, NY1)

  • Staten Island: Unlicensed 16-Year-Old Kills Self, Injures Friend in One-Car Crash (Advance 1, 2, 3)

  • Spotswood, NJ: 1 Killed, 2 Hurt in Three-Car Collision (S-L)

  • Barnegat, NJ: Collision Between Two SUVs Kills 1, Injures 4 (S-L)



carnage_fire2_news.jpgPhoto: Daily News
Injuries, Arrests and Property Damage

  • Gothamist Newsmap: 5 Pedestrians Struck Since Sunday (Gothamist 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

  • Brooklyn: Two Fire Trucks Collide, Injuring 12 (NYT, News)

  • Brooklyn: Major Crash Reported Near Cadman Plaza (Gothamist, Advance)

  • Serious Staten Island Collision Injures 2 (Advance)

  • Yorktown, NY: 73-Year-Old Charged With DWI, Leaving Scene After Head-On Crash (LoHud)

  • Southampton, LI: Wrong-Way Driver Rams Three Police Cars, Four Others (Newsday)

  • Melville, LI: Ladders Fall Off Truck, Shut LIE for 90 Minutes; 4 Injured; Driver Has No Idea (Newsday)

  • Melville, LI: 3 Injured in SUV Collision (Newsday)

  • Holbrook, LI: 2 Drivers, 1 Child Injured in Two-Car Crash (Newsday)

  • Yaphank, LI: School Bus Rear-Ended; No Injuries Reported (Newsday)

  • Jersey City: Homeless Man Hit, Hospitalized (Jersey Jrnl)

  • Secaucus, NJ: DWI Man Arrested When 12-Year-Old Passenger Calls Cops (S-L)

  • Bayonne, NJ: Man Hits Parked Car, Charged With DWI (Jersey Jrnl)

  • Hamilton, NJ: Turnpike Crash Injures 2 (Times)

  • Mount Olive, NJ: Driver Arrested for DWI After Crashing Truck Into Tree (Warren Rep)

  • Danbury, CT: 6 Hurt in Three-Car Wreck (CT Post

  • Bridgeport, CT: Five Cops Under Investigation Following Crash (CT Post)


Following Up



  • Manhattan: No Charges Filed in Deadly East Village Collision (Post)

  • Manhattan: Carmen Huertas Arraigned in Fatal Hudson Parkway Crash (City Room, Post)

  • Manhattan: Ex-Cop, Reporter Gets Slap on the Wrist for DWI Wreck (Gothamist)

  • Manhattan Times Details Last Week's Washington Heights Motorcyclist Fatality

  • Queens: Cyclist Victim's Mom Continues Quest for Bike Lane on Queens Boulevard (News)

  • Staten Island: "Rule of Two" at Play in Arraignment for Fatal Collision (Advance)

  • Bronx: Bereaved Family Sues Over Hearse Explosion; Post Finds the Funny

  • Yorktown: Man Pleads to Menacing in 2008 Fatal Crash (LoHud)

  • Freeport, LI: Man Gets Up to 15 Years for 2008 Fatal DWI Crash (Newsday)

  • Mineola, LI: Repeat DWI Offender Sentenced to 7-21 Years for Killing Student (AP)

  • Schuler Taconic Crash, Other "DWI Mom" Stories Profiled on "Oprah" (Newsday)

  • Orange, CT: Police Audio Released From Cop-Involved Crash That Killed 2 (CT Post)




carnage_sparksnv_cnn.jpgPhoto: CNN
Out of Town

  • Sparks, NV: Couple Awakes to Find Themselves Pinned Under Car (CNN)

  • Martinez, CA: Pedestrian Ripped Apart on Interstate After Hit-and-Run (KPIX)

  • Boise, ID: Mentally Ill Man Plows Truck Into Motorcycle Cops (AP)

  • Hill 'N Dale, FL: Ped Fatally Struck By Three Drivers; One Flees Scene (Times)

  • Reed City, MI: 20-Month-Old Run Down, Killed in Driveway (Cadillac News)

  • Philadelphia: Cab Driver Convicted in Hit-and-Run Killing of 5-Year-Old Pedestrian (Philly Inq)

  • Providence, RI: Man Hits 3 Peds, Drives a Mile With One Clinging to Windshield (AP)

  • Canterbury, Australia: Ped Bridge Elevator Fails, Elderly Man Killed Trying to Cross (SMH)

  • London: Cop Gets 6.5 Years for Killing Woman During 107 MPH "Joyride" (Times)

  • Dallas, TX: Bus Crash That Killed 17 Called "Perfect Storm of Gross Negligence" (AP)



carnage_china_nyt.jpgPhoto: NYT
Trends and Other News


  • Halloween Especially Scary for Pedestrians (USA Today, Consumer Reps, Times, Missourian, Reuters)

  • Cy Vance Kicks Off Instructive, Sobering Vehicular Crime Legal Forum (Streetsblog)

  • Child Deaths Prompt News Call for Tougher Drunk Driving Laws

  • NYPD Makes 24-Hour "Extra Effort" to Ticket Cellphone-Using Drivers (City Room)

  • Sustained DWI Crackdown in Brooklyn's 84th Precinct Sees Drop in Other Crimes (Post)

  • Freakonomics: Cab Driver Attrition, Poor Working Conditions Lead to Reckless Driving

  • New York Motorists Don't Give a Damn About Your Kid (WTEN)

  • Florida Dominates "Worst Places to Walk" List (Orlando Sentinel)

  • Las Vegas Ped Fatalities Down Amid Crosswalk Stings (KVBC)

  • New, Weaker Distracted Driving Bill Surfaces in U.S. Senate (Streetsblog Cap Hill)

  • Car-Mounted Cameras Could Help Inattentive Drivers Avoid Hitting People (AP)

  • "Crash-Proof" Cars: Good or Bad? (Streetsblog)

  • Ohio Bike Blogger Kevin Kimmich: When in Doubt, Shout (Monster Pull)

  • Children Made to Salute Cars in Huangping, China; Is It All That Different From This? (NYT) 


* Since the week of June 8
** Drivers charged for deaths since the week of June 8, based on latest available reports


"

Drivers, passengers bemoan MTA taxi surcharge

Drivers, passengers bemoan MTA taxi surcharge: "

TaxiLogo Did you know that taxi fares increase on Sunday? Did you know that the increase goes to the MTA?


As part of the piecemeal MTA bailout package, Albany approved a 50-cent surcharge on all metered taxi rides. That surcharge goes into effect on Sunday, and as amNew York’s Heather Haddon reports, neither cabs drivers nor taxi passengers are looking forward to it.


With the price just to enter a cab heading up to $2.50, New Yorkers are bemoaning the fees. “It was already out of control. Now it’s even worse,” Kim Dae, a so-called “frequent taxi rider” and West Village resident, said. Of course, therein lies the rub. Ms. Dae lives in the West Village, an area serviced by around 11 subway lines depending upon by which stop she lives. She might enjoy taking a cab, but the millions of us who ride the subway every day need the trains to run.


The taxi drivers, though, may have a legitimate gripe with the surcharge. Writes Haddon:


Taxi drivers are livid about the new fee, saying it will be difficult to collect and hurt their business. They are also fuming that new door stickers list the initial fare as $3, making it seem like drivers are getting a raise, said Bhairavi Desai, director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents 12,000 drivers.


“We think it’s deceptive,” Desai said.


The tax will be itemized on ride receipts, and listed on the interior TV screens and rate cards, a Taxi and Limousine Commission spokesman said. “The TLC will continually monitor the proper implementation of the meter change,” the agency said in a statement.


The enforcement and collection issues remain unaddressed. Critics of the taxi surcharge plan have long wondered how much it will cost simply to collect fifty cents per taxi ride from the city’s licensed hacks. It will require more diligent record-keeper than that currently employed by drivers to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.


Drivers, meanwhile, as Desai points out, draw the short straw. If the surcharge is not clearly demarcated as supporting the MTA, riders will think the drivers are drawing in more revenue when, in fact, the opposite is true. Tips may go down, and the already-strained driver/passenger relationship may get worse.


To end Haddon’s piece, Straphangers Campaign head Gene Russianoff issued a platitude as a statement. “No one likes a tax,” he said, “but no one likes a sky-high transit fare or cuts to service either.” The answer, though, is simple, and it is one I have repeated numerous times. Instead of taxing the taxis, toll the bridges. The money would flow directly from the MTA and would represent a more equitable reallocation of resources than the taxi surcharge will.


On Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch told an audience at NYU that bridge tolls will one day happen. When it does, the city and its public transit will be better off for it, and we can attempt to leave this stopgap array of taxes and fees in the dust.


©2009 Second Ave. Sagas | A New York City Subway Blog. All Rights Reserved.

."

Council Raises Unattended Idling Fines. Will NYPD Enforce?

Council Raises Unattended Idling Fines. Will NYPD Enforce?: "

The City Council on Wednesday approved a bill that could prevent future disasters like last January's Chinatown tragedy, which claimed the lives of preschoolers Hayley Ng and Diego Martinez.



chinatown.jpgA revised law attaches a stiff fine to the type of carelessness that caused the deaths of two children in Chinatown, but it's up to NYPD to make it stick.
Queens Council Member Elizabeth Crowley's Intro 947 raises the fine for leaving an idling, unattended vehicle to $250, up from $5. Crowley introduced the bill in response to the deaths of Martinez and Ng, as well as Robert Ogle and Alex Paul, who were run down by a driver who had stolen an unattended car in Middle Village. Having cleared the council's transportation committee with widespread support early this month, the measure also eliminates a three-minute idling "grace period."


The obvious question: What good is it to jack up idling fines, even by a factor of 50, when police can't be counted on to ticket for traffic fatalities? That's where Council Member Dan Garodnick comes in. Last year he introduced legislation that would allow Traffic Enforcement Agents to issue idling tickets using their hand-held computers. The bill stalled some time ago, but a Garodnick spokesperson says it hasn't been forgotten. Since learning that such a change can be handled administratively, Garodnick's office has been waiting for NYPD to carry it out.


Streetsblog has word that the department has completed programming and testing the hand-held units, and now plans to begin training agents, though no timetable was available.


"Obviously it's still something we'd like to see done," Garodnick's spokesperson said, adding that unattended vehicles should be covered under the new protocol. At $250 a pop, it probably wouldn't take many tickets before companies start telling drivers to take two seconds to shut down their trucks.

"

Broken Streets Theory: How to Alter the Psychology of Reckless Driving

Broken Streets Theory: How to Alter the Psychology of Reckless Driving: "

Jessie Singer has a great feature in the latest issue of TA's Reclaim magazine (now available online), examining the NYPD's failure to curb dangerous driving. After pushing down violent crime rates so effectively based on data-driven analysis, she asks, why don't police use the same techniques to tame the life-threatening hazards of New York City traffic?


Much of the answer, says Peter Moskos, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former Baltimore cop, boils down to the way police perceive their work:



traffic_agent.jpgPhoto: Wiley Norvell.
The NYPD fails to enforce traffic crime in part because the NYPD
does not track traffic crime. And part of the reason the NYPD doesn't
track traffic crime is because deterring it doesn't bring the same
clear rewards as more traditional law enforcement.












"It doesn't draw on the skills police see themselves as having. It is
annoying and time-consuming for officers to do traffic stops," Moskos
says. "Partly because the people you are helping aren't there to
appreciate
how you are helping them. There is not much gratification for traffic
work on a personal or professional level, because the people you are
helping are not there to thank you."



To make the benefits of law-abiding behavior behind the wheel more apparent, perhaps a good first step would be to strengthen the NYPD's working relationships with advocates for street safety. (Case in point: San Francisco's new police chief, George Gascon, said he would consider creating a liaison to cyclists in an interview with Streetsblog San Francisco last month.)


Drawing on the "broken windows" school of policing that NYPD has famously employed for two decades as a core strategy to deter crime, Singer notes that New York's streets will remain hazardous as long as motorists perceive the consequences of reckless driving to be arbitrary and rare:


Applying the rigor of the Broken Windows Theory to traffic enforcement
would change the way the NYPD measures and deters traffic crime. The
new regime would end the practice of consistently ignoring
moving violations spotted through the patrol car window. But more
importantly, as the application of Broken Windows did with street
crime, it would indicate to drivers that they cannot get away with it,
that the lawlessness police ignored in the past will no longer be
tolerated in the present.

"There is no question about it, you would have to do this on a regular
basis, almost consistent basis, to be effective," says Lou Riccio,
Commissioner at the NYC Department of Transportation during the Dinkins
administration. Riccio was one of several traffic experts interviewed
for the "Executive Order" report. "That's the problem with enforcement,
it is random. [Behavioral psychologist B.F.] Skinner
said [you need] random rewards and certain punishments. What we do is
no rewards and random punishments, and they may actually exacerbate the
problem. If [drivers] get caught, they think it's just the bad luck of
the draw. And therefore they don't change their behavior."
"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Google Maps Navigation (Beta)

"a demonstration of Google Maps Navigation (Beta), an internet-connected GPS navigation system that provides turn-by-turn voice guidance as a free feature of Google Maps on
Android 2.0 phones."

Google Maps Navigation Brings Slick Turn-by-Turn GPS to Android

Google Maps Navigation Brings Slick Turn-by-Turn GPS to Android: "



With Android 2.0 just around the corner, Google's pushed out an enticement for those considering making the smartphone switch: a dedicated turn-by-turn GPS application, hooked up to Google Maps, aware of traffic, and powered by plain English voice commands.



Google points out a few unique features of its super-upgraded Google Maps, arriving first on Verizon's Droid (which premieres Nov. 6 at $199 with a two-year Verizon Wireless contract) and then on any phone that gets the 2.0 Android update and has the 'with Google' branding. The big ones are plain English voice and text search ('Navigate to Burger King on Main Street,' or even 'Navigate to the museum with the 'Body Worlds' exhibit in Buffalo'), inclusion of traffic information gleaned from other Maps users, and a Street View image of your destination. It also searches along your route, so asking it to find a Jiffy Lube while you're road tripping won't make you break out the compass or take you far off your itinerary.


Some of those features aren't just unique to a phone GPS app—they're unavailable on a number of dedicated GPS navigation devices. Those of us who've been watching Google slowly add in Maps features, and its competitors do likewise, have been wondering when this shoe would drop, and it's neat to see what it finally looks like. In other words, Adam totally called it.


Check out video demonstrations of each feature at Google Maps Navigation's home page below, and Google's own blog post about it below that. And tell us if a seriously buffed-out Google Maps navigation tool makes you think twice about an Android phone in the comments.


"

AccidentSketch Helps You Create Detailed Accident Reports [Driving]

AccidentSketch Helps You Create Detailed Accident Reports [Driving]: "

Accidents happen to even the most cautious drivers. If you find yourself in one, AccidentSketch is a simple web-based tool that can help you draw up a picture and generate a report to give to your insurance company.

AccidentSketch uses a simple template system. Cars, road segments, signs, pedestrians, and more all snap to the grid and in the case of small objects like signs can be moved from there. You can change the colors of things, zoom in and out to get as close or wide as you need, and even assign information to parties involved like the license plate numbers of the cars in the accident.

Once you create a diagram you can also generate a text-based report to fill in details that can't be easily conveyed by the picture. When you're done you've got a tidy accident sketch and report to submit to the interested parties. The service is free and requires no registration.

Have a handy tool and tidbit for dealing with insurance companies and life after a fender-bender? Let's hear about it in the comments.








"

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Weekly Carnage

The Weekly Carnage: "



The Weekly Carnage is a Friday round-up of motor vehicle mayhem
across the metro region. For more on the origins and purpose of this
column, please read About the Weekly Carnage.



carnage_yaphank_fatal_nday.JPGPhoto: Newsday
Fatal Crashes (17 Killed This Week, 227 This Year*, 22 Drivers Charged**)

  • Staten Island: Man Crushed to Death By His Own SUV (News, Advance)

  • Manhattan: LES Collision Leaves One Dead (Streetsblog)

  • Manhattan, Queens: 3 Motorcyclists Dead in Separate Crashes (AP

  • Queens: Unidentified Pedestrian Killed in Corona (Gothamist)

  • Shirley, LI: Drunk Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Pedestrian; Not Charged for Death (Newsday 1, 2)

  • Yaphank, LI: Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Ped; Tells Cops He Thought Man Was a Deer (Newsday)

  • Yaphank, LI: 1 Killed in Collision Involving Family of 911 Dispatcher (Newsday 1, 2)

  • Deer Park, LI: Elderly Man Dies After Crash Possibly Precipitated by Health Emergency (Newsday)

  • Ronkokoma, LI: Man Dies in Collision With Tractor-Trailer (Newsday)

  • Danbury, CT: Teen Killed, 3 Injured in One-Vehicle Crash (CT Post)

  • Bethany, CT: 3 Killed When Car Hits Tree (CT Post)

  • New Brunswick, NJ: 15-Year-Old Pedestrian Struck; No Charges (S-L)

  • Millburn, NJ: 19-Year-Old Dead in Single-Car Crash (S-L, The Local 1, 2)

  • Branchburg, NJ: Man Slits Own Throat, Flips Car After Police Stop (Somerset Rep)***



sgp_dirtbikes1.jpgPhoto: The Uptowner
Injuries, Arrests and Property Damage

  • Manhattan: NYPD Van Strikes Pedestrian; Post Blames Anarchic "Pedestrian Culture"

  • Manhattan: TEA Altercation Ends in Driver Arrest, Accusation of Agent Assault (Gothamist)

  • Manhattan: Dirt Bike Riders Tear Through Harlem; Cops at a Loss (Uptowner)

  • Bronx: NYPD Officer Accused of Hitting Pregnant Woman's Car, Leaving Scene (Gothamist)

  • Staten Island: Officer Injured When Hit-and-Run Driver Strikes NYPD Cruiser (Advance)

  • Eastchester: Woman Hits 15-Year-Old Girl, Leaves Her in Street (LoHud)

  • Southhold, NY: Man Picking Up His DWI Girlfriend at Police Station Arrested for DWI (LoHud)

  • Southampton, LI: Passenger Arrested for Traffic Stop Tirade (Newsday)

  • Melville, LI: Multiple-Car Crash Paralyzes LIE (Newsday)

  • Greenwich, CT: Man Hits Pedestrian, Charged With DWI (CT Post)

  • Rahway, NJ: Child Hit, Hospitalized With Head Injuries (NJLN)

  • Cranford, NJ: Unlicensed Driver Nailed for Warrants During Crosswalk Sting (Chron)

  • Paterson, NJ: Fire Truck, Car Collision Injures 2 (S-L)


Following Up



  • Manhattan: NYPD Sgt. Indicted for Critically Injuring UES Pedestrian in June (NYT, Post)

  • Manhattan: Accused DWI Mom Carmen Huertas Indicted for Fatal Crash (AP, Post)

  • Brooklyn: Al Sharpton Keeping an Eye on Andrew Kelly Case (Gothamist)

  • Staten Island: Driver Killed in Backhoe Collision Identified (Advance)

  • Daily News: People Who Block Parking Spots Deserve to Die (Streetsblog

  • Hiram Monserrate: I'm No Worse Than John Sabini (News)

  • "Law & Order" to Dramatize Taconic Wrong-Way Crash; Families Object (Post, Post)

  • Nassau Co.: Guardrail Will Be Installed After Fatal Wantagh Bike Path Crash (Newsday)

  • Bayonne, NJ: School Bus Driver Ticketed for Critically Injuring Pedestrian (Jersey Jrnl)

  • Summit, NJ: Driver Found at Fault for Ped Death; No Criminal Charges (Indy Press)

  • Elizabeth, NJ: Man Pleads Guilty in Crash That Injured Officer; Could Get 30 Years (S-L)



500x_Flipped_SUV.jpgPhoto: Jalopnik
Out of Town

  • Milo, NY: Worker Killed When Truck Driver Crashes Into Boathouse (AP)

  • Flagstaff, AZ: Hit-and-Run Road Rager Intentionally Runs Down Pedestrian (Daily Sun)

  • Skippack, PA: Pedestrian Hit, Hospitalized, Ticketed for Jaywalking (Reporter)

  • Baltimore, MD: Man Hit and Killed; Police Cite "Pedestrian Error" (Sun)

  • Portland, OR: Driver Said to Be Chasing Skater Flips SUV in Park (Jalopnik)

  • Caldwell, ID: Woman Crushed to Death By Garage Door at Paramedics Station (AP)

  • Santa Ana, CA: 75-Year-Old Gets 9 Months for Killing 89-Year-Old Ped in Grisly Parking Lot Crash (AP)

  • Los Angeles: Trial of "Dr. Road Rage" Underway (Streetsblog LA)

  • Los Angeles: "Sarah Connor Chronicles" Actor Thomas Dekker Hits Cyclist, Charged With DUI (S-L)

  • Cleveland: Browns CB Eric Wright Uninjured After Flipping Car (AP)


Trends and Other News



  • TA, TSTC to Host Vehicular Homicide Symposium, Featuring Cy Vance (Streetsblog 1, 2)

  • Daily News: Distracted Cab Drivers Are Only a Problem for Their Passengers (Streetsblog)

  • Brooklyn CB 10 Wants DOT Study of Crash-Plagued Bay Ridge Intersection (Post)

  • Will No-Nonsense Nassau DA Kathleen Rice Run for Attorney General? (Daily Politics)

  • Jon Stewart Rips CNN for Driver-Distracting Cellphone App (Zimbio)

  • Cellphone Users Too Dazed to Notice Clown Riding Unicycle (Well)

  • Hummer Drivers Get Five Times as Many Tickets as Nat'l Average (Consumer Reports)

  • Ford Recalls 4.5M Vehicles Due to Fire Risk; Crown Vics Not on the List (Consumerist)

  • Westfield, NJ, Mayoral Candidates Campaign on Safer Streets (S-L)

  • Boston Globe Continues Anti-"Jaywalking" Media Blitz 

  • San Francisco Embarks on New Ped Safety Initiative (Streetsblog SF)

  • Deaf and Blind Pedestrians Get Attention From Minnesota Transpo Officials (Star Trib)

  • In Columbia, MO, It Will Soon Be Illegal to Throw Things at People in Wheelchairs (KBIA)

  • Instead of Criminalizing Walking, Cities Should Make It Safer (Car-Free in Big D)



* Since the week of June 8
** Drivers charged for deaths since the week of June 8, based on latest available reports

*** This incident is not reflected in the "Fatal Crashes" tally


"

TomTom iPhone car kit shows up in Apple Store

TomTom iPhone car kit shows up in Apple Store: "



(Credit:
TomTom)



TomTom's iPhone cradle for iPhone has quietly made its way into the Apple Store. So, if you're an iPhone user with an extra $120 bucks burning a hole in your pocket for a navigation accessory (or $220, if you don't already own TomTom's navigation ...

"

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How to deal with an insane commute

How to deal with an insane commute: "

I usually leave work at 2:30 to pick up my kids. But on days when I ditch the kids and work to go to the farm, I allay my guilt by staying at work well after 2:30 so everyone will think I stayed late. I call the farmer when I’m on the road because I always leave a little later than I say I will and he never believes I’m on my way until I am.


I have written before about how insane it is to have a long commute.  In case you're wondering, the average commute in the US is 25 minutes each way. Newsweek describes the population of people who travel at least 90 minutes each way as "extreme commuters". That is me, twice a week, on farm days.


Before I leave work, I line up five calls at twenty minute intervals because if I don’t get a lot done on the drive then I question whether it is responsible for a woman who struggles to find time for her kids and career to also have a boyfriend ninety minutes from civilization.


I wonder a lot if the guys at work know how often I go to the farm.


When I lived in Los Angeles, I had a 50 minute commute each way, and I had a panic attack on the 405. So I know a bit about long commutes. Mostly, that they are impossible. So I try to pretend I'm not actually doing a commute. I make a list of stuff to think about and tell myself it's thinking time. I do Kegel exercises and tell myself it's Pilates time. (Because most of Pilates is Kegel-based anyway. Really.)


At the one-hour point there’s a gas station. It used to be, when my company was out of funding, I wouldn’t buy gas until the last minute. And I worried that I’d run out of money before I got myself home.


That actually happened once, I took the farmer’s credit card to get home. And he didn’t blink. Because we both know that I take home 25 times his salary but he always has more money than I do.


I used to stop at the gas station to put on makeup, when I was nervous and trying to win him over and showering extra, because farmers are nuts about being clean. (Way more than city people because, let’s face it, city people never get dirty if the standard for dirty is working knee-deep in pig manure for a day.) At the beginning I was clean and fresh-faced and stopped at the hour point to put on makeup.


After a while, I just touched up makeup from earlier in the day. And now we're close enough that he takes me to the free dinner from the seed manufacturer on farmer appreciation night.  So now I just stop at the gas station to buy staples, like Power Bars, which I need to eat for breakfast when I need comfort food. The farmer says I’m addicted to carbs, but I noticed that when he has to deal with anything beyond the farm—like my kids, or me having a crisis —then he eats carbs, too.


So I pick up three Power Bars, in case he wants one, and the woman at the counter asks me again, “Where is your farm?” I know she knows. She’s already asked once. So I give her more information, which I know she’s looking for because the farmer has told me that people in the country don’t ask directly for what they want.


“I have my own company in Madison,” I say. “I come here to see my boyfriend.”


“Oh. What kind of company?”


“Internet.”


“Oooohhh.”


I check myself out in the bathroom. I want to look hot. I just don’t want to do a lot to get there. And I pee. Because what if the farmer wants to have sex right away when I get there?


He rarely does. But peeing at the gas station is my expression of my hope.


I get back in the car and listen to music. The transition is important. If you have a bad commute, your bad mood permeates your whole mood after the commute. I am determined to not let that happen. So the gas station stop is a separator. I have to rest there so the last 30 minutes is all that counts toward the post-commute mood.


The last 30 minutes to his house is through rolling hills hiding large corn fields and small vegetable gardens, and every driver who passes by me waves like I'm a neighbor.


I have been talking all day. The farmer has been quiet all day. So when I pull up the dirt road, I go straight to the porch, lay my head on his lap, and I listen. I listen to his voice above the wrestling wind through the tall corn stalks. He reports chicken and cows and hay for thirty minutes while I rest.


And then Moby Dick. He’s reading that. He tells me about Ahab’s antics from the three nights since I have been there. I am stuck on the fact that Ahab got crazier and crazier chasing his whale and he spent his whole life in transit, looking for it.


I tell him my commute is insane.


We go running in the hay field. He serves steaks as finger food. We sleep on his bed on the porch, sort of under the stars.


In the morning I tell him again that the commute will never work.


He tells me he sees we're at a big decision point in the relationship and he needs time to think. Alone.


Alone?


Yes.


How long?


Just a week.


Silence.


How about six days?


We make a plan. And I set off for the commute to work, wondering what will happen next.


He leaves me with two dozen eggs, some just-ripe squash, and a bite mark on the inside of my thigh.




"

Cell Phone Ticket Blitz Snaring Texting Drivers

Cell Phone Ticket Blitz Snaring Texting Drivers: "

102109senior.jpg Since 12:01 a.m., the NYPD has been doing this crazy thing whereby they enforce the law, issuing tickets to drivers using portable electronic devices in one of their regular 24-hour sting operations. And one driver we know has already gotten nailed. The scofflaw, who asked to remain anonymous, was shocked to find that he was being ticketed for what the cop perceived as sending a text message. But he wasn't texting, ociffer!



The driver says he was stopped at a red light near the Holland Tunnel around 8:30 a.m. today when he reached down to check the time remaining on a podcast playing on his iPhone. That's when the trouble started:

My iPhone was connected to the car speakers via the tapedeck. (I know, "tapedeck?!" But it's awesome for listening to the iPod—except when you get tickets.) The light changed to green, the traffic inched forward and I put down the phone on the seat next to me. Next thing I know, there's a cop rapping on the window motioning for me to pull over. I pulled over, rolled down the window and asked him what the problem was. He said, "It looked like you were texting back there." I replied that the phone was connected to the speakers, showing him the cord and that i was checking the time remaining.



Why are we not surprised the 'podcast defense' didn't carry much weight with the traffic cop? Our source got a ticket for $130, but the officer said he was free to contest the ticket. 'He then went up to another car knocked on the window and pulled that one over.'



In August, Governor Paterson signed a bill that bans texting and using other electronic devices while driving, but according to this website, the law (read it here!) does not go into effect until November. Nevertheless, for the rest of the day you'll want to avoid touching any portable electronic device while driving, and concentrate on the totally boring road.





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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cabs Paid Their Way to the Front at JFK

Cabs Paid Their Way to the Front at JFK: "

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Photo via pazzia's flickr
If you hate waiting for a cab at the airport, then imagine how the cab drivers feel, waiting hours at a time in a holding pen before being allowed to pick up passengers at a terminal.



Surely there is some way to match up the waiting passenger with the waiting taxi. No? Anyway, the Daily News reports that some drivers were paying their way to the front of the line. All whilst passengers just stood there like suckers, not bribing a soul in their own line.



All in all, 'six JFK Airport dispatchers were nabbed Monday for taking bribes from cabbies who wanted to avoid long waits to pick up fares. Queens prosecutors said the dispatchers accepted payouts of $5 and $10 to let taxi drivers avoid waits of as long as three hours.' The side business netted them hundreds of extra dollars on a busy day, but created an unfair 'playing field for all cab drivers,' according to the Port Authority's inspector general.





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Cell Phone Crackdown Starts Tonight At Midnight

Cell Phone Crackdown Starts Tonight At Midnight: "

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Photo of 1969 car phone user courtesy Ericsson.



It's time for the city to come back to the well and conduct another cell phone ticket blitz. Why, it seems like only yesterday that the NYPD last cracked down on drivers using cell phones, but it was actually mid-August. New York State just wrapped a lucrative four-day cell phone crackdown on the Thruway, issuing 903 tickets to drivers in a mission called, no joke, 'Operation Hang Up II.'' Not to be outdone, the city's sting will start at 12:01 a.m. Thursday and last 24 hours.



The NYPD announced the operation earlier this week so scofflaws have had plenty of time to prepare. But will New Yorkers be able to go 24 hours without gabbing with one hand on the wheel? The fine for using a hand-held cellphone while driving in NYC is $130 ($200 for cab drivers). In the August blitz, the NYPD issued 7,432 tickets and even ensared a Daily News reporter assigned to cover the operation.





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Parking Space Stand-Off Ends with Broken Foot, Lawsuit

Parking Space Stand-Off Ends with Broken Foot, Lawsuit: "

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New Yorkers' age-old battle for parking was parodied in the classic Seinfeld episode 'The Parking Space.'
A sushi chef who tried to 'hold' a parking space for his manager by standing in the street ended up with a broken foot and other injuries after an irate driver tried to claim the space. Ke Hai Du says it all started around 5 p.m. on October 9th, when he noticed the space become available in front of the Peck Slip restaurant Suteishi. He dashed outside to save the space while his manager got her car, but before she arrived driver Paul Todd pulled up with plans of his own.



Du's lawyer Lawrence Glynn tells the Post that after Du informed Todd that he was saving the spot, Todd 'inched forward and hit him in the knees. Du then threw up his arms like, 'I can't believe you just hit me.' Then the guy decided he really wanted the spot and hit the gas and [Du] couldn't get out of the way.' As Du writhed on the ground in agony with a broken foot, his manager yelled at Todd, who allegedly retorted, 'I would do it again.' That's hardball!



Police were called but treated the assault as a traffic incident and didn't arrest Todd, who drove off as Du was being loaded into an ambulance. The incident left him with a broken foot, torn ligaments, and head, neck and back injuries. He's now hobbling around on a black cane, and tells the Daily News, 'That car is a weapon. You could kill someone with it, you know?' According to court papers filed yesterday, he's suing Todd for $5 million.





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