Monday, September 04, 2006

LABOR DAY WEEKEND NEW YORK TIMES

There was not really anything in Sunday's paper I felt compelled to blog. I was going to just not post anything, but then I awoke to the news that the Crocodile Hunter died last night. Now, I will post to tell you what you missed in your haze of brats on the barbacque and picnics.

As for the Steve Irwin, as the Crocodile Hunter was named in real life, apparently he was filming a documentary and a sting ray stung him through the heart. It sounds like he passed away pretty quickly. The odd thing about this story is that I am surprised he is dead. The guy's career was made wresting crocodiles, grabbing poisonous snakes with his bare hands, and otherwise irritating very dangerous animals. We all watched him and joked with each other that one of those animals was going to be a beat quicker than him, and that would be that. And yet. I am surprised. I guess I just sort of never believed he would get caught wrong-footed by one of these animals. What made me like the Steve Irwin more than anything was this. Check it out.

The Washington Post apparently has a series called Odd Jobs That Keep The Area Humming. Today's was about a regional traffic engineer in Northern Virginia. His name is Nhan Vu and he works at the Virginia Department of Transportation's Smart Traffic Center for Northern Virginia. The article is pretty interesting. The engineering and science that goes behind establishing the appropriate timing for lights at different intersections is amazing to think about, and apparently this guy speaks directly to people bitching about it. I would feel pretty silly if I called I-DOT and said "the light at Wilson and Western is too short, and needs 30 more seconds of green" and an actual traffic engineer started explaining to me the science behind the length. How do you say anything other than "uh, OK" and hang up?

Apparently in a section I missed the Times yesterday had a very interesting article on the subway map. The New York subway map they are describing is very unusual. The El in Chicago, the Tube in London, the Metro in Paris, and a host of other city mass transit systems use a similar schematic map of the system. It is no good as a city map, since it is not drawn to scale. However, it does show the locations and destinations of the mass transit in relation to the system itself. This, they will help you navigate the El, or the Tube, or the Metro, but not the city. New York is different. New York shows the city, as well as Central Park, and the little turns etc. in the lines. It is a much more detailed map, and possibly one that could be used to navigate parts of New York. Of course, look at the map. I have serious doubts that many New Yorkers know more than a few lines of the subway.

Finally, the venerable Pat Stack reported today that Pittsburgh has a new 26-year old mayor. At work we don't even let 26 year olds speak to clients. In Pittsburgh one just became the mayor. This could be really great for Pittsburgh, this could be really terrible.

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