Friday, December 26, 2008

Fancy News from Springfield, Vermont, Home of the Simpsons - A Warning - flashing lights ahead

"Warning - Flashing Lights Ahead - Begin Accelerating Now"
That is what the sign should read as one approaches the urban core of Springfield, Vermont, City of Lights and Official Home of the Simpsons.

This sign would serve to warn drivers of the danger ahead, that when they get to either of two controlled intersections in town they will find the traffic control lights there - set to flash either red or yellow.
The danger lies in the fact that the local convention seems to be that a flashing yellow light is the signal to increase speed and plow through the intersection (the larger the vehicle the faster it should proceed in this), and that a flashing red light is the signal to park the car and wait for anyone to have the class to take turns.
Driving conditions are what they are in the Winter, especially after ice and snow and despite thawing rains - so that allowing the only controlled intersections in town to devolve into utter chaos is wicked silly.

It seems odd, that on frequent passes through town, no police department presence has been seen on the scene of either of the two malfunctioning traffic lights to monitor driver behavior, not even the uniformed person chalking tires was ever anywhere to be seen during this chaos. There was one portly older gentleman seen walking about Main Street late on Saturday afternoon sporting some kind of reflective crossing guard outfit, but he was just lost or looking for attention, and at least one cruiser was seen ziping through the intersection without hesitation.
On the other hand, this presented a golden opportunity to witness machine chaos at any moment - nothing could be more interesting than sitting with a camera at the ready at a strategic place, watching yet another jacked-up SUV or pickup truck or logging truck neatly barrel-assing it's way through the superfluous flashing yellow light. One might sit there knowing that with this degree of bad driving it is very likely that an opportunity will soon occur to capture on film the material ballet of a Subaru in flight. The failure of any cruiser to show the badge and control the intersection was a guarantee of that possibility.

Update - no luck with any flying vehicles, though there was no lack of trucks barreling through the flashing yellow light, loaded for bear and ready to lend motive force to any driver daring enough to make a break for it. The lights are back on a schedule of sorts since Monday, and finally, the police never did anything about monitoring traffic control during the outage.

Hay que ver, que es raro observar malas costumbres en lo que es conducir un coche, en una region donde se acostumbra hasta parar el coche y ceder el paso si hay algun peaton preparando para cruzar el calzado.
En los ultimos dias, y que son dias de mucho hielo y nieve, se ha observado una forma de conducir increible.
En primer lugar, y sin razon obvio (porque no hemos tenido averias en los servicios), los semaforos ya van dos o tres dias pulsando de rojo o amarillo, sin funcionar de control como de costumbre en las dos cruces mas importantes del pueblo (claro, hay varios lugares que precisan semaforos, pero de momento solamente tenemos el orgullo de ser un pueblo de dos semaforos), con el resultado de que de repente la costumbre de muchos conductores es de ir a tope donde se ve el semaforo en amarillo y pulsando (enlugar de ir con cualquier cautela), igual es la costumbre de muchos conductores el "pasar sin nisiquiera mirar", donde hay semaforo pulsando de rojo (esto en lugar de parar el coche por un momento como un "stop" normal) - y en todo caso, cuanto mas grande el vehiculo mas deprisa ha de llevarlo el conductor.

Seguramente vale la pena plantarse uno con camara, preparandose bien donde no le ha de llegar "schrapnel" o fuego, y estar listo para ver estrellarse un camion lleno de troncos de arbol, con un buen Subaru.
Vaya divertido!
Quien se atreve a decir que no hay manera de divertirse en Vermont?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fancy News - The Big Snow hits Springfield,Vermont - another classic nor'easter

There is a deep low point in the roadway of Rt 91 to the South of the Springfield, Vermont exit, on the way South near the northernmost exit for Bellows Falls. In fair weather it provides an exhilarating if mild rollercoaster thrill of g-forces and a great view, in Winter the unfolding approach of such a long, straight descent and equally long and straight climb, in icy conditions, is enough to chill the blood of the most accomplished Sunday driver. As one approaches this exit, travelling southbound, the roadway reaches the crest of the hill after a long climb, and if the drive uphill has been at full power, it is easy to notice the point at which the car ceases to labor and feels like it is ready to take off in flight. Unfortunately, many vehicles do come close to this - they lose traction at this very poetic point, and, with the extra lubricating effect of freezing weather on Winter road surfaces, more than one vehicle has lost control and tipped over among the fallen boulders in the sloping shoulder blasted from live rock. One was resting there today as a matter of fact, the latest victim of treacherous road conditions, and perhaps of cruise control as well.

Other than that, there were none of the usual upturned personal automobiles with New York plates or anything like that (that could be seen from the road anyway), the roads were kept clear by Mr. Henderson and his crews, and the landscape and urbanscape of this City of Lights - Springfield, Vermont - were like a Currier and Ives print, as befits the Official Home of the Simpsons.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Springfield, Vermont, digging out of our first Nor'easter

Last night, (as I am told by a neighbor who is a night worker and who commutes to the Brattleboro area from Springfield, Vermont), the high voltage electric power line transformers could be observed exploding off to the East near the exit for Westmoreland, Vermont, on Route 91 sometime in the wee hours. He said that it was quite impressive since there wasn't much else to see anyway at that time of night - just the task of driving alone was a challenge in that ice storm and freezing rain, (the usual half-hour trip took nearly three times as long, in low gear, at low speed).
Even though it was necessary to keep focused on the traction issues, it was hard to miss the bright orange and white air bursts of the one nearest explosion. Soon after this display, he drove by the Sunoco gas station near Putney at exit 4, but the only way to be sure of that was by all the auto and truck lights running - the gas station itself was hit by the power outage, and revealed none of the enticing glow that beckons the night traveler from a distance.

This morning I got it into my head to take the 1994 Buick RoadMaster Estate Wagon and have a "nature observation and egg purchase trip" over to Ephraim Mt Farm here in Springfield, Vermont, for eggs and general adventure, trusty Sony Alpha 100 dslr camera in tow.
From what I variously heard, read online or saw on the weather channel, there was much ice-based fun to be had.
I found neighbors hard at work digging out and dealing with the power outages and downed trees, and I found delicious ice baths freezing crystal frenzies from brambles and birches, and where they didn't break clear there were fallen branches stradling power lines like giant wishbones inviting twin pulls, and there were myriad glazed fragments of leafless or dead branches and also many frondy growing tips from pine trees that seemed to have snapped off just like a fresh stick of asparagus, and stone walls, outbuildings and barns were dressed in frost like Mrs. Havershams wedding cake, but nowhere did I see even a single car with NY plates turned upside down on the hillside, this being somewhat off the usual tourist route.
The artist was delighted by the scenery, but the hunger-driven citizen turned back at the biggest fallen tree, and gave in to the need to purchase sad and dubious factory eggs at the market, oh well, it is good to compare eggs now and then in order to keep in mind how great it is to buy locally from one of the farmers! Here are some photos of the morning excursion to see the effects of our first Nor'easter of the Season.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's that time of year again

Time to chop down otherwise perfectly good little trees and drag them behind the Crusader's Chargers along with their respective tourists, all a-bundled up in the wagon. This was the scene today at Homestead Farms, in Walpole, New Hampshire.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Snow showers

This kind of edge of the snow fall in an otherwise clear and sunny sky is a delight to be in.