Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Accused

I received an interesting piece of mail today. There among the ads and bills and notices about the availability of Verizon FiOS in my neighborhood was an official letter from a Magisterial District Judge. He wanted to let me know that I was a defendant in a case under his jurisdiction.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

What? I don't recall ever doing anything wrong.

Luckily, he also included a copy of the citation that accused me of breaking the law. I looked through it carefully and noticed that a few things were incorrect.

I was being charged with parking my tan Toyota in a restricted parking area on Greenridge Drive. The fine was $15 plus fees, making the total due around $55.

If you know me or have ever read this blog before, you are probably pretty aware that I own a powder blue Chevy Corsica. I do not (and never plan to) own a Toyota of any color. Especially not tan.

Also, on the night in question I was sitting at home with my wife ordering Christmas presents and watching tv. I have an alibi.

Also, I don't know where Greenridge Drive is located.

It was my license plate number that was written on the ticket. I guess they cross referenced it with my address in order to mail it to me. So my mind started to race - did someone steal my custom PA plate so that they could park in a no parking zone?

I went out to the driveway. My license plate was still attached to the Corsica. Either there was another explanation or this parking lawbreaker was good. Very good.

Then I thought there might be another vehicle out there with a license plate so similar to mine that it could be mistaken for my plate. Even by the sharp, conscientious and capable police force in this county. After all, my plate is three letters, and all non-vanity plates in PA start with three letters (followed by four numbers).

But at that point I stopped caring about solving the crime and started thinking about clearing myself of these charges. I would just call them up and let them know it wasn't me. I mean, look at the evidence. Then I had a better idea.

I asked my wife to call.

She would be able to explain all of the facts of the case without making fun of anyone involved or saying something sarcastic. I, on the other hand, would risk a mandatory court appearance out of spite from whoever answered the phone.

It worked. The officer said that there was obviously a mistake and that she would take care of it. But now I'm afraid that I need to change my license plate so that this doesn't happen again.

How about: SINKRBM. It would be hard to get that one confused. Or maybe: TOYOTA. Could you imagine that conversation? Yes, sir, the officer must have written it down in the wrong spot. We have a Corsica...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Posts Update V

Purple Tape
Ms. Coon was found guilty of six of the seven charges filed against her. She is in the Allegheny County Jail awaiting sentencing, which will happen next Thursday. I just hope they don't let her work in the kitchen during her stay. Even inmates don't deserve tainted pastries.

Again With The Chocolate Lasagna?
Of all 56 posts on the sinkerbeam blog, this one has received by far the most public attention. People from all across the nation are upset about the elimination of Chocolate Lasagna from the Olive Garden menu. And rightfully so. If you want to see something interesting, try typing "Olive Garden chocolate lasagna" into a Google search and check out the top ten. Scary, isn't it? The sinkerbeam blog has a global presence.

Crazy Running Lady
I see crazy running lady all over the place now. In fact, she has her own myspace page, and her screen name is - crazy running lady. See? I was right all along. Of course, I'm pretty sure it's a spoof page, but you can go there and see pictures of her running. In slacks.

Two Poles And A Mound Of Dirt
It has been two months and no one has done anything to the additions in the corner of my yard. The two poles are still in exactly the same spot. The mound of dirt is eroding into the street with every rainfall. Maybe they're just waiting for it to get freezing cold outside before they start any work.

Fall Back
Starting in 2007, the Daylight Saving Time rules change. DST will begin on the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November. That's a good three weeks longer than in the past. Now that we will save time for 2/3 of the year, shouldn't we call that period Standard Time? The rest of the year can be Daylight Wasting Time or something.

Deer Crossing
Within a week of my tunnel incident, a deer broke into a bank in the area and broke a bunch of stuff. It left right as animal control was getting there. I'm telling you, there's a gang of daredevil deer running around the city. Maybe that's why some of the graffiti is so illegible.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Deer Crossing

As I pulled out of the parking lot at work, I really thought that the conditions were perfect for a chance to break the record. It was 3:30 in the morning. A majority of the traffic lights on my way home would be blinking, and there would be very few cars on the road. The weather was cool with no precipitation.

The world record for making it from my office to my house has stood at 15 minutes for more than six months. But maybe, just maybe, this trip would drop my journey into the elusive sub-quarter-hour time.

Things started out great, as the first three lights on Liberty Avenue showed a constant green. At the left turn to Crosstown Boulevard I had to hesitate for just a second as a Police car passed me in the opposite direction. Then, at the entrance to the Liberty Tunnels, I hit my first red light. Luckily it was near the end of the cycle for the intersection, so I wasn't going to lose too much time.

The light switched to green and I entered the tunnel. I noticed that the cars in both lanes in front of me had their brake lights on, and as I got closer I could tell that they were almost at a complete stop about an eighth of the way through. Who stops their vehicle in a tunnel at 3:30 am? Did they have simultaneous car trouble? Or were they just trying to sabotage my record attempt?

As it turns out, they were slowing down for a deer. A gangly, semi-coordinated teenage white-tail. Apparently it was looking for a quicker way to the South Hills than a hike over Mount Washington.

So there we went for the next ten minutes or so. Six miles per hour. Traffic stacking up behind us. Watching the hind-quarters of this animal as it clumsily made its way down the center line of the Liberty Tunnel.

It was easy to see that animal hooves are not engineered for concrete. Sometimes this deer would stop and turn around, like it had realized the error of its decision, and I'd have to ease the Corsica over towards the middle a bit. I would shine my headlight right between the cars in front of me as if to say, "keep going you goofy animal. You've already ruined my attempt at a world record and there's no reason for you to run into some car behind me, too."

Meanwhile, some people were honking their horns. Very helpful. Thanks for that.

Anyway, after what felt like forever we finally made it to the end. If you are wondering what a deer does after a lengthy trot through the Liberty Tubes, it takes the first exit ramp and heads toward the West End. He probably won the dare and was going to have to wait for his deer peers who chose to go overland. But to the victor goes the salt lick.

Needless to say, I did not break the record. Even if the conditions are perfect, there are many factors that are out of my control as I attempt to make it home in less than 15 minutes. Red lights. Other drivers. Some crazy deer.

But what can I say? He probably broke his own world record time for getting to the other side of Mount Washington.

At least one of us did.