Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Road Trip

What’s wrong with this picture?

May, 19 2007
Springerville, Ariz.

This is Albuquerque in the rear view mirror. It’s not the same thing as Lubbock, Texas in the rear view mirror!

It’s spring. School is over. I got an A+ in my Multi Media Journalism course, what used to be known as Advanced Reporting class. Yeah!

It’s time to get out of town for a bit.

There are several stories that I just couldn’t seem to muster much enthusiasm about to post.

I should have commented on the Rio Grande English student and his politically connected parents, but the public outrage has preceded my thoughts. Only a couple points come to mind that have not already been hashed to death: the communication problems that the County Commissioner mother is complaining about seemed to land mud on everyone except the ultimate culprit, her son. He has the obligation to be a good student. It is understandable that he was confronted by a tragic event disrupting his studies. However, it is his responsibility to communicate with his teacher, counselor, principal, if need be, and most importantly with his mother. He also has an obligation to get the work done within the time allotted. His mother comes off in the press as being surprised, she shouldn’t be, her son is right there. He knew he had missed 17 days of school. The communications breakdown is at the family level. So what does she do? She rewards him by going all out for him. She may not have asked for specific preferential treatment, but her political status, and her separated husband’s former political status as an Albuquerque Public Schools board member didn’t go unnoticed.

She further complained that her son’s privacy was violated. When she stepped out of the norm and APS chose to violate its own policies her son was thrust into the public light. She brought him forward.

The commissioner holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkley and teaches at the University of New Mexico. The lesson she taught her son is that the social reward of crossing the stage during graduation ceremonies is more important than receiving a diploma for work accomplished. I think I want to take a class or two with her. With her required standards for completed schoolwork, that ought to be an easy A.

The use of cellular phones while driving is not working. However, the seat belt law seems to be working OK.

I passed up the bridge reopening ceremony for the newly replaced Washington Street at I-40 overpass on Thursday. I had the opportunity to view some public records that I had requested more than a month ago. That’s one request granted, two still outstanding.

I came upon this accident at San Pedro and Phoenix, above, Friday afternoon. The white SUV might be a SWAT vehicle. It seems that one of the people standing on the corner could be an officer. I had some shopping to do at the Walgreen’s. Fourteen minutes later, below, there were two marked police units present, but what surprised me was the arrival of the tow truck so quickly. Talk about efficient response time.

Those gas prices are out of sight. They’ve been up and down. The cost is about 10 to 15 cents higher than it was during last year’s road trip.

What the heck, join me and get some windshield time as I meander westward.

Trying to get out of town around 6:00 p.m., I was confronted by five police motorcycle officers who were engaged in a low speed escort at the I-40 Frontage Road and Fourth Street. One of the current three police academy classes was out for a run. A class nearing the end of courses traditionally makes a long distance run fro the academy at Second Street near Monatno Boulevard to the downtown headquarters and back. The soon to graduate class, should be in peak physical shape and a unified body. Carrying the academy flag they trudged down Fourth Street singing a cadence.

First traffic jamb was from about 12th Street. The cause was a car stopped on the shoulder of the Rio Grande river bridge; an APD officer accompanied the driver. No lanes were blocked, a little rubber-necking and then traffic cleared for about a half mile where at Coors continuing construction reduced the speed.

Blown off the road

On the road west of Albuquerque there is a stretch of reconstruction where the both directions narrow to one lane and share what is normally the eastbound lanes separated by a Jersey bumper. The speed limit reduces to 45 mph and the speeding fines double.

I slowed to about 50 mph and traffic backed up behind me. After about three to four miles the road construction ended and returned to the two-lane divided freeway, 75 mph status. Traffic resumed normal speed and cars passed me at about plus 10 miles an hour.

A semi car hauler, transporting European used cars, pulled up next to me and gave me a couple of second’s blast of its air horn. Near drove me off the road. I took it as a statement of his displeasure at having had to slow down behind me in the construction zone. He then pulled in front of me and accelerated away.

On his bumper he had a number of decals: on the left was a white in blue checkmark indicating, OK to pass. Then, on either side of his license plate, he had the international traffic symbol of a red circle with a white field inside it and black lettering of 100, indicating a maximum speed limit of 100 Km or about 62 mph. On the right side was the international traffic symbol for “Do Not Enter,” a white horizontal bar on a red circular field, indicating “Do Not Pass.” He also had an international country sticker, PL, for Poland.

I soon got off the interstate and took a more leisurely back road through the El Malpais National Monument. On the south side of the park, off towards the plains of San Augustine and Pie Town, was a large thunderstorm.

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