Saturday, October 20, 2012
Random road thoughts
There are some things Texas seems to do really well, and other things are just plain odd. Example of a good idea in Texas: if it's a state maintained road, the Texas Department of Transportation is in charge of providing a mail box post. You bring your U.S. Postal System-approved mailbox to the local DOT and they do the installation. It means all the mailboxes on the busier roads are on posts that won't turn into air-borne weapons if someone goes off the road and hits one, and it also means all the mailbox posts have highly visible reflectors on them. Much as I'm a fan of roadside eccentricity (mailboxes mounted on welded chain, old metal wheels, chunks of twisted wood, etc.), I've got to admit the Texas DOT had a good idea. Not only the mailboxes safer, there are no visual distractions.
As for the just plain odd, why are the breaker boxes for the power mounted on the outside of so many houses in Texas? Why put it right under the meter where the service enters the house? Isn't it going to be a real pain in the behind to have to go looking for a tripped breaker in the middle of the night or in the rain? Whatever happened to the concept of putting the service panel in a utility room or in a closet wall? Or this all just part of the personal freedom Texans enjoy from little constraints like building codes and licensing requirements for electricians and other contractors?
Not content to skin tourists at the casino, the Choctaw of Oklahoma are determined to get them at the gas pumps, too. Gasoline prices were relatively low and dropping all the way from Fairmount, Texas, up into Oklahoma. And then we hit Broken Bow and the Choctaw Nation. The highest prices we saw in that state were all within a few miles of the Choctaw casino. Came as a bit of a shock. Here in the U.P., the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is universally hated by all the private gas station owners and distributors because KBIC always has the lowest prices. If gas is $3.89 in L'Anse, it'll be at least 20 cents lower at the KBIC-owned station over in Baraga.
On the other hand, the drive up US-259 to US-59 to Sallisaw was quite scenic. Not sure if the Ouachita Mountains really make up for getting gouged at the pump, but it was a pretty drive.
Oklahomans really, really hate Texas. Evidence?
Speaking of politics, Claire McCaskill has some great ads running in Missouri. Here's hoping they help her. Other than McCaskill's ads, though, the political advertising in Missouri was bizarre -- there were ads being paid for by Republicans that tried to make it sound like Democrats are planning to do (or have done) all the things the Republicans actually want to do (privatize Social Security, for example) and ads being run by Democrats that you'd swear were written by Karl Rove. The typical voter in that state has to be thoroughly confused; the advertising in general was both dirty and misleading.
The amount of political advertising we saw while watching network television in motel rooms en route made me quite happy to be heading back to television via the Internet only -- it's not as convenient as being able to just turn on a tv and click around with the remote, but it does eliminate most advertising.
And now we're home, back at the ranch and getting ready to deal with whatever weirdness may have occurred during our 3-week absence. One more cup of coffee and I may have the energy to go looking for problems.