Jennifer D. Wade Journal

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Blog posts August 2007

I Am Not Making This Up

The following is an actual story, reported Wednesday by the AP:

Wis. police: Legless man steered truck drunk while his buddy worked
the pedals
      ABBOTSFORD, Wis. (AP) - Police in Wisconsin have cited a legless
man and his friend on a drunken driving charge, saying the amputee
was at the wheel while his friend worked the pedals.
      It was the third and second such arrests for the men,
      Police say the amputee was sitting in the driver's seat and told
officers he had too much to drink. But he argued he wasn't really
driving since the other man was on the brake and accelerator.
      Both men also were cited for driving after their licenses had
been revoked.
      Police say a third man in the truck, who was also drunk, walked
himself home after the traffic stop.

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NOW It's a Story

How big is the debate over whether to put tolls on Interstate 80 through Pennsylvania?  Big enough that the New York Times has now taken notice.  THIS article appeared in Sunday's paper.

The article makes two basic points.  One is that the two congressmen from PA who are leading the effort to stop the toll plan increasingly seem to be on their own.  The bill still has to go through a house-sen. conference committee, and the article cites Sens. Casey and Specter as saying the feds should stay out of the state's business.

The second point the article makes is that if the tolls on 80 go ahead in PA, it may be just the beginning of a drive to toll highways around the country.  Some academic type is quoted as saying that tolls are "the wave of the future."  He calls it the "user principle."  I don't doubt that he is right.  Increasingly, I think, states (and maybe even counties) will be left to fund their own road systems because money from the feds just won't be there.  You still won't be able to walk into a grocery store in PA and buy beer, but, dammit, we'll be on the cutting edge of tolling!

Another facet of the article that I found interesting is that the reporter contacted representatives of a major shopping center in western PA to talk about the impact tolls might have.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I was surprised the paper didn't go for reaction from someplace a little closer to New York - like the Poconos.  Maybe since the irate congressmen are generally from western PA, the reporter kept the story centered there.

Anyway, this is a big issue and I'll be interested to see how it all shakes out.

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Change of Seasons

Stick a fork in 'em.  They're done.

Just moments ago, the Philles managed to snatch yet another defeat from the jaws of victory.  The offense couldn't add on to the slim lead they had, and then the bullpen blew it.

Good thing football season starts soon.

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Today's Lesson

Sorry, for the lack of updates but, really, not much has changed in the past week.  OK, the shuttle arrived safely, so that's over.  But, the trapped miners are still trapped, the Cordaro ballot status will be in limbo for at least another few weeks due to yet another legal challenge, and the woman who had the baby behind bars is now being accused (by another inmate) of actually plotting to give birth in a cell so she could sue the prison.  If you ask me, that's not really much of a master plan, but then again, I don't get a lot of the crap people do, so, who am I to say what's crazy and what's not?

However, speaking of things jail-related, the big story today is that Lindsay Lohan is going to jail.  No sooner was she charged with DUI and other misdemeanors for two recent incidents than her lawyer entered a plea of "no contest" on her behalf.  (I feel compelled to add that pleading "no contest" means you don't admit guilt, although you are sentenced as if you are guilty).  Once Lindsay gets out of rehab, she'll eventually have to spend one day in jail and then do 10 days of community service.

Based on what I've been reading, one thing that saved her from perhaps more jail time is that her crimes occurred in a relatively short span of time - one, if I recall, was around Memorial Day, the other in late July(?).  Anyway, because they were so close together, it's apparently being taken as a sign that she really REALLY needs help and, therefore, the court may have been a little on the lenient side.

So, what have we learned?

UPDATE at 2:30 a.m.   I've just learned that in the American legal system, 4 days in jail really means, like, an hour and a half.  Seriously.  Nicole Richie spent 82 minutes in jail today for her DUI-related sentence.  82 minutes!  If my math is correct, Lindsay Lohan may just have to step completely into the lobby of the jail and wave to the desk clerk.  Then, she's free to go.

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Tick Tock

Is it just me, or has this week seemed to go very slowly?  Maybe it's the post-vacation effect, but I don't think so.  I think the problem is a) that there's not much going on; and b) that what is going on, just goes on and on and on.

Example - that mine collapse in Utah.  It happened last week, while I was off.  Now, 11 days later, I'm back at work, and nothing much has changed at the mine - except that now three of the rescue workers have been killed and six others hurt.  At the rate things are going, who knows when - or if - they'll ever find the miners who are trapped.

Another example - the space shuttle.  The mission began last week and is still going.  For days, we waited and waited for NASA to make a decision - will they fix the damage that happened during lift off or won't they.  Tonight, they finally decided that immediate repairs aren't necessary, but there's still another spacewalk scheduled for Saturday.

A third example - the woman who had the baby at the Lackawanna County Prison.  The birth happened more than a month ago, and this week, the report from the prison board came out.  The conclusion:  Mistakes were made (Really?  Who would have guessed?), and they're the nurse's fault.  The inmate has already filed a lawsuit, so this story ain't over yet.

And, let's not forget the off-again, on-again ballot battle involving Lacka. Co. Commissioner Bob Cordaro.  Tonight he said he'd bow to the wishes of the party leaders and accept the very spot on the ballot that he gave up two weeks ago.  The end?  I doubt it.

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It's back to work tomorrow, after 9 days of doing pretty much nothing.  My big trips were to MUSIKFEST in Bethlehem, and to Harrisburg to see the racquetball gang.

As for Musikfest, I went on Thursday afternoon.  The day was humid and overcast, but there were only a few raindrops while I was there, which was good because I hadn't brought an umbrella. I bought some stuff, ran into a friend from high school, and enjoyed the musical stylings of Seamus Kennedy, billed as "an authentic Celtic performeroriginally from Belfast."

Seamus was quite entertaining.  He sang one traditional song, then sang the praises of beer with about three straight sing-along drinking songs.  Cheers!

Then, yesterday, I headed south to the Harrisburg area to meet up with my racquetball friends.  The first stop was L.A. Fitness, where they now do their playing.  I played a couple games of doubles, then managed to win two games of cut-throat.  Not to bad, considering that the last time I played was the last time I was down there, which was January.

Afterwards, we went to the home of one of the ladies for a little picnic.  My contribution was some fudge that I bought at Musikfest.  Here's the 2007 version of the gang:

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Who are You?

You're Siddhartha!
by Hermann Hesse

You simply don't know what to believe, but you're willing to try anything once. Western values, Eastern values, hedonism and minimalism, you've spent some time in every camp. But you still don't have any idea what camp you belong in. This makes you an individualist of the highest order, but also really lonely. It's time to chill out under a tree. And realize that at least you believe in ferries.

Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

Thanks to Another Monkey for the link.  (And yes, I do believe in ferries.  I've seen them.  They're very useful for moving people and vehicles across the water.)

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We're Number One!

But, it's not exactly something to be proud of.  In the wake of the bridge collapse in Minnesota, Gov. Rendell announced that Pennsylvania has the highest number of bridges considered "structually deficient" in the U.S. - somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,000.  Our bridges are also older, on average, than bridges around the country.  50.5 years here; about 39 years is the national average. 

In the land of bridges, "structurally deficient" means that there is some level of deterioration.  But, it does not mean that the bridge is unsafe.  Still, the term does not exactly inspire confidence, especially when PennDOT seems to be making "emergency repairs" on some bridge or other every few days or so.  Also kind of frightening is getting a look from above at all the patchwork on many bridge decks around here.  Some have been patched so often that there's hardly any original concrete left!

What to do?  Well, raising revenue by turning Interstate 80 into a toll road is one idea, but quite a lot of people seem to feel that it's certainly not the best idea.  In fact, one of the congressmen fighting the tolls is quoted in THIS newspaper article as saying that, in terms of getting highway funding from Washington, Pennsylvania is "winning" and, basically, he can't see where there's a shortfall in Pennsylvania's highway fund or why state officials say they need more money.  I would refer him to the paragraph above.

For a while, I wasn't even sure that this plan to put tolls on 80 was actually intended to be taken seriously - considering that it's never gone anywhere in the past.  I thought maybe it was just a bargaining chip to get the budget passed and that leasing the turnpike was the ultimate end game.  But now, I think it is a serious plan; there's too much angst and bluster out there to believe otherwise.

Will there be tolls on I-80?  Will the turnpike be leased?  Will we end up with both?  Or neither?  I don't know.  I have no idea where all this is going.  I just hope it goes somewhere before what happened in Minnesota happens here.

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You Are Bert

Extremely serious and a little eccentric, people find you loveable - even if you don't love them!

You are usually feeling: Logical - you rarely let your emotions rule you

You are famous for: Being smart, a total neat freak, and maybe just a little evil

How you life your life: With passion, even if your odd passions (like bottle caps and pigeons) are baffling to others

Thanks to "A Big Fat Slob" for the link!

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