Wednesday, March 27, 2013

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen...


Today I sold Camy, my 5 year old Toyota Camry.

A side of me is sad to part with her, but I know that financially it made sense. I'll be saving on insurance, gas, tolls. But most of all, I will not be watching her depreciate while sitting in the parking lot enduring the variety of weather.

We just were't using her as much anymore. She had extremely low mileage (only 42k) for a 5 year old car. And so, I got a good price for her.

In the end, after all the math is said and done, it only cost me $190 per month plus insurance, gas, and tolls to own her.

She's served me well...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Theories of Highway Traffic: Philly to NYC

For many years now, on any given weekend, I've made the 1 hour and 30 minute trip from Big Apple to the city of Brotherly Love by car to visit friends, eat, drink, and be merry. I usually leave on Friday evening and return home on Sunday afternoon. The weekends are always something to look forward to since most of the time they are fun-filled and action-packed. My only dread is the drive back.

It was only on my most recent return trip from Philadelphia that I had the opportunity to think about traffic in some kind of detail.

I'm sure that the first thought would be, "why don't you just leave early on Sunday morning?" Believe me, there have been many weekends where I would make the drive home early on Sunday morning, but lately, I've immersed myself more into what the city has to offer. I've been enjoying brunch at Green Eggs or Silk City Diner or even dim sum at Imperial Inn in Chinatown. I digress.

Anyway, if you leave early on Sunday, there's a high chance that you will miss any kind of traffic. And it's probably because people have been up late Saturday night and have slept in Sunday morning. Fantastic! But you do miss out...

On the other hand, leaving early to mid afternoon will guarantee an extra 30-60 minutes commuting time home. And there are a few things I've learned, observed, and analyzed during this drive.

  1. From the Delaware Memorial Bridge (which is the beginning of the NJ Turnpike) to Exit 8A, the lanes start at 2 and eventually broaden to 6. Obviously this accounts for the increase in volume of traffic. 
  2. Traffic notoriously exists between Exits 6 and 8A on the NJ Turnpike / I-95 (northbound). 
  3. Traffic painfully exists because people are stupid. 
  4. Traffic annoyingly exists because the highway was poorly designed in this section, because people are stupid. This is where the highway expands from 3 lanes to 6 lanes to create the Eastern and Western Spurs (which is not actually helpful until Exits 14, 15 and 16, but splits car and truck traffic).
  5. The fastest lane in traffic (based on my experiences) tends to be the... right. 
  6. The slowest lane in traffic seems to be the... left. 
  7. To some extent that may seem counter-intuitive, but here are some reasons why it is not: 
    • Everyone thinks you can speed in the left lane. This is only true when there is enough space in the left lane. If everyone thinks they can speed in the left, then their initial notion is to be in the left. 
    • While everyone is trying to make the shift to the left, there is a lack of exit room, hence causing some slowdowns and backups. 
    • As this is occurring, the middle and right lanes open up. Granted, it opens up a bit slow, but the tortoise did beat the hare, correct? 
    • The beauty of the right lane is that although there is incoming traffic from any on-ramps, those folks are quick to shift to the left, AND the off-ramps / exits are on the right. This makes for a much more wide open right lane. 
    • The middle lane has it's uses too. Like its position, the middle is the median speed lane. I like riding this lane when I see on-ramps. 

I've tried to prove my theory of the right lane to myself a handful of times, and the one test I perform over and over again works like this. Begin your observation in the middle lane. Select a car in your vicinity. Shift to the right lane. Continue to observe the position of the vehicle you've previously identified. More often than not, you will pass this automobile by many car lengths in the long run. 

I was once told by my high school Calculus teacher that mathematicians around the world were looking for a formula to explain traffic. They need to keep postulating. Because, obviously, the idea of traffic is constantly evolving as everyones' driving habits are different and you encounter numerous circumstances along the way. But I think I've SOMEWHAT learned to beat highway traffic. Or maybe I've just found a way to amuse myself along the way...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Into Thin Air

In less than 30 days, my girlfriend and I, along with 4 other friends, will begin our ascent "into thin air" as we embark on our journey on the Everest Base Camp trek.

After a layover in New Delhi, India we will fly to Kathmandu, Nepal and transfer over to Lukla. It should be noted that Tenzing Hillary Airport (LUA) in Lukla is the most dangerous airport in the world (according to The History Channel's Most Extreme Airports). And here our journey begins at 2,800m (9,200 ft) above sea level.

It will take us about 9 days to reach an altitude of 5,364m (17,564 ft) at Everest's South Base Camp in Nepal. At this point there will only be half as much oxygen available in the air as compared to sea-level. The air will certainly be thin and it will be harder to breathe. By then, we'll have traveled 38.5 miles on foot, making the round-trip affair 77 miles over the course of 14 days.

We've each got about a 25 pound pack with only the basics and essentials. There's no room for anything else.

This is going to be the journey of a lifetime...
Next stop, EBC!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Internet-less Underground

NYC's intricate subterranean rail system has been lacking something for a long time. For a city at the forefront of development, our subway lacks what other major cities already have... Wi-Fi and cellphone service.


Is it because the wealthy of NYC don't even make use of this form of transportation? The rich all have the luxury to ride above-ground, and all taxis have live content. Do they not believe in investing in the people "below" them?

Is it because there are too many potential users that the bandwidth would be eaten up and cause slow transmissions?

Is it because the current infrastructure is unable to accommodate new technology?

Do antenna lack the ability to transmit signal below ground? How do they do it in the Lincoln Tunnel?

Or does the cost outweigh the benefit?

I know the MTA is making progress with the help of Google and Transit Wireless by providing Wi-Fi in some of the stations nowadays, but is that really enough for the tech-savy city? Shouldn't it be available on all the subway cars?

They say all 277 underground stations will have Wi-Fi by 2017... but shouldn't we be beyond this by that time? What will be the latest and greatest technology in 2017? Will our subways once again become outdated and trail modern civilization? Shouldn't we be thinking about how to stay leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else?

After-all, isn't this the greatest city in the world? 

Monday, March 4, 2013

My New York City Subway Riding Rules

1. Before boarding any type of public transportation, please ensure that you have properly bathed, brushed your teeth, applied deodorant, and put on a fresh set of clothes. The last thing any of us wants is to smell any foul odors while in close proximity of people in an enclosed, under ventilated subway car.

2. As you approach the turn-style to enter the subway, please prepare your MetroCard. Do not wait until you are directly in front of the turn-style before you dig through your purse. You know you're getting on the subway. Be prepared. Do not be the cause of traffic at the subway entrance.

3. Do not block the subway car doors while waiting to board. The doors will not open quicker if you stand directly in front of them.

4. Please let off all passengers before boarding the subway car. If they are getting off and you are getting on, they are closer to their destination than you are. Let them get there in time; don't hold them up.

5. If the particular car that you are waiting for is full, try to embark on a different car. Otherwise, wait for the next train. It will come shortly after. Conversely, if you are on a car which is already full, and someone tries to push their way onto that car, you have the God-given right to push them off. They can wait for the next train.

6. Make sure to hold on to something or remain seated while the car is in motion. Not only are you a hazard with the chance of stepping on or walking into people, but you also have the chance to accidentally grab something or someone when the car makes abrupt stops.

7. If you are standing and do not have anything to hold onto, the proper standing etiquette is to position your feet shoulder width apart, with one foot slightly forward of the other. This will enable you to balance in case of sudden motions forcing you in any direction.

8. Read your book, smart phone, newspaper, or magazine. If you have nothing to read, do not make eye contact with anyone.

9. If you do make eye contact with anyone by accident, just smile (and try not to be creepy).

10. Do not stare. If she is that attractive, grow your balls, pick up your tongue and say something nice. If you have nothing nice to say, turn around.

11. If you are using headphones to listen to music, please do not allow it to be audible by the entire car. Additionally, please be conscious of those around you who may "excuse" themselves to squeeze by.

12. If you must read the map, and it is behind someone or over their head, please let that passenger know so that it doesn't seem like you are staring directly at them with your head cocked forward.

13. If you have the intention of sleeping for the duration of your journey, please make sure to prop yourself against a bar / wall / seat-end. No one likes a leaner.

14. Do not pass gas. If you must flagellate, please disembark at the closest station, relieve yourself of toxic odors, and resume your journey on the next train.

15. When you are ready to disembark at your chosen station, please give your fellow commuters the courtesy of an "excuse me" if he/she is not coming down at the same station. Do not push or shove, unless their headphones are playing too loud.

Learn these 15 simple rules, and you will be fully prepared and never have fear of riding the NYC Subway.

Thank you for riding MTA's NYC Subway. Have a safe day!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Where has the time gone...

Wow! July 11, 2011 was the last time I posted. Time flies when you're having fun...

I'm making it a point to start blogging again. I've been wanting to evacuate my brain of thoughts, concerns, and questions for a while now. So this is my attempt to begin again...