Monday, February 4, 2013

Sight-seeing while fright-seeing

I had a ridiculously large number of local business meetings last week, and not everything I saw fell into the fright-seeing category, so I thought I'd share a bit of that for the sake of amusement and reflection.
The taggers have been hard at work lately, but some slogans are more palatable than others.  This anonymous creation apparently raises the ire of few, because internet reports suggest that it has remained unremediated for at least six months. 
View from the other direction.  Ah, the boundless optimism of youth...

Now this is an iconic traffic photo if I've ever taken one. At first I was a bit perplexed at that officer in front of me, who cruised straight through the intersection without paying the dangler any heed. But then he turned around, probably to deal with it.
Almost 20 years ago, a 911 operator ripped me a new one for reporting this kind of thing. It was on a very windy day and the dangling traffic light was whipping around at the end of its electrical cord. Afraid it would smash down at any moment and crush to death a driver or a child in a passenger seat, I dialed 911. The operator chastised me, claiming that this was not a 911-worthy event. We argued the point and exchanged some expletives between the two of us, and then I hung up. With that memory in mind and given that HPD was already in front of me, I didn't report this one the other day.
I mean, think about it. Look at the size of that light fixture relative to this police car in front of me. Do the whole force = mass times acceleration (f=ma) thing in your head. Acceleration due to gravity over approximately fifteen feet of free-fall. Mass of several hundred pounds. Windshield or rear window of car providing no protection to humans. Basically, if a thing like this falls and strikes a car in the wrong place, we've got dead people on our hands.  Do we have to wait for serious injury or death to actually occur before we call 911, or can we anticipate a substantial risk and act accordingly?  Apparently that's a matter of interpretation. 

Along the same theme, I also dialed 911 once because a fence had broken and an entire herd of panicked cattle was running loose on FM 2351.  Cars were flying in every direction trying to avoid them.  The 911 operator was summarily unimpressed by my sense of urgency.  I said, "There are multiple eight-hundred-pound projectiles hurtling down a 50 mph roadway full of traffic, and you don't think this situation demands immediate attention?!"  

Blogger is apparently failing to preserve font sizes again...
Along the same lines:  Should we call 911 for an incipient situation like this, or wait until the resulting "sinkhole" grew large enough to actually swallow a car and then dial 911?

Do you see the water bubbling up through the seam in the concrete?  This most likely indicates that a pressure main has ruptured at depth.  As the water shoots out of that broken pipe, it erodes and liquefies the soil surrounding it.  Eventually, the overlying strata and road will collapse into the resulting hole, which Houstonians tend to refer to somewhat euphemistically as a sinkhole. 

In this case last week, I didn't have to debate whether I should alert authorities.  Under the IH-610 bridge, you can already see that an HFD truck has arrived on scene.

And yes, I know that we have non-emergency contact numbers available to us. Have you ever tried to dial one? You get into the queue with all the other non-emergency people who are calling in to complain because the sidewalk is cracked in front of their house. Good luck with that avenue of inquiry. 

From hemorrhaging water to hemorrhaging money:  why exactly are we, the taxpayers facing insurmountable debt, spending about a gazillion dollars ($86 million, to be more precise) on "beautification" of the Mickey Leland building?  Is all this necessary?  KTRK asked the same question not long ago.  This HAIF thread talks about some possible bona fide structural problems.  This doc suggests its being done via stimulus spending.  But no comprehensive cost justification jumped out at me from the quick internet search that I did. 
Not everything I encountered on the road last week was a disaster waiting to happen or an annoying affront.  Some of it was amusing and/or just plain cool. 
Have you seen these guys on FM 518 just east of IH-45?  What we can't figure out for the life of us is why there always seems to be a costumed guy plus some other guy standing back in the shadows.  Is this other guy just paying a social call, or is he somehow an active part of the overall advertising package?  Because you'd think that holding a banner while dressed as Liberty would really be a one-person job. 
Closer to home, our Centerpointe stormwater ponds resident hawk seems to be doing very well.  Here he is sitting on the "For Sale" sign for that tract on the east side of West Walker, during a stunning sunrise. 
I've been watching that "For Sale" tract like a hawk - get it??  And I got a bit excited last week when I saw two guys with a Mule out there, one of them wearing a cowboy hat, which often signifies "developer".  It wasn't until I got back to my office and looked at my hastily-taken pics that I noticed what appears to be a model airplane beside them. 

Oh well.  I will keep watching like a hawk.  As will the hawk. 
Happy Monday - which, by the way, is one of the new trash days for many of us, as wasteful (pun intended) as they are

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'm forced to moderate comments because the spammers have become too much for me to keep up with. If you have a legitimate comment, I will post it promptly. Sorry for the inconvenience.