Day 28 – The Pothole Hotline

So with the exception of missing New York deep in my bones, I really enjoy living in Lincoln. I love its character, its history. It’s safe, affordable, and a really great place to raise kids. It’s a great little city, a fun college town.

But with all of that greatness comes a dark side, a lurking evil that threatens to destroy every man, woman, and vehicle–the curse of the potholes.

You know they joke in New York about the never-ending road construction, how there are always cones scattered around and lanes closed for repairs. But honestly, in a city like New York it makes sense. Take the amount of people, cars, trucks, busses, overall traffic in a city that large constantly punishing the roads and yeah, you’re going to need steady maintenance and repairs. But somehow, it all makes sense. There is noticeable progress. Things eventually get fixed, and stay fixed for a reasonable amount of time.

In Lincoln, it makes no sense, ever. At any given time, you’ll find numerous main roads closed for repair, often all at once, which means you have to get seriously creative cutting through residential neighborhoods to get where you need to go in a reasonable amount of time.

And don’t even get me started on the roundabouts. Someone who has been given way too much decision-making power in this town has a serious fetish with roundabouts. They’re ridiculous and they’re everywhere and we keep hearing about this double-decker roundabout they’re planning to build in the southwest part of town. I found this little video online to show how it’s intended to work…

And all I want to know is how much traffic do they honestly think we have in this town that warrants an elevated roundabout to keep things under control? Hell, people can’t even figure out how to navigate the “No Right on Red” signs at certain intersections, so they sit there, blaring their horns and cursing out the people in front of them who are simply trying to get to work on time while obeying the clearly posted traffic laws.

But all of that has nothing on the potholes. I don’t know what this city did when it paved the streets, but holy hell, you’ve never seen a pothole until you’ve seen a Lincoln pothole. I don’t know if there’s a Guinness Book of World Records category, or some sort of Extreme Home Makeover-style contest we can enter, but we’re definitely overdue.

And I’ve got a theory. I think it’s the beet juice brine. The city has been touting this magical formula of beet juice and salt (which they believe is so amazing they actually hired a lawyer to pursue a patent). They mix batches of the stuff and spray it to “pre-treat” the roads for snow and ice. I think the brine is directly responsible for the monster potholes that materialize in the wake of every winter storm–seeping down into the cracks in the concrete, freezing and destroying the structural integrity of the roads.

Prove me wrong.

It’s gotten so bad, the city of Lincoln has a Pothole Hotline. You heard me. They actually built an app called UpLNK that lets you report things like potholes, icy roads, parking violations, downed trees, and dead squirrels flung into the street by neighbors.

Check this out. Here are a few screenshots of the app with my favorite feature, the Issues Map.

You can upload a report and alert the city to issues that need to be resolved. But the best part? You can add a photo.

A photo.

A photo of the pothole you want fixed.

Of course I downloaded the app, and started testing the functionality, but I see one major flaw. The city didn’t really give any sort of rating system for the potholes. I mean, how are they supposed to prioritize if they don’t have any idea of the severity of the issue at hand. Stevie and I did a little brainstorming and we would like to suggest the following become standard Pothole Reporting Procedure:

STEP 1 – Take a clear photo of the pothole. Be sure to insert yourself into the photo or include a friend in the shot for scale.

I’m thinking, something along the lines of this image captured in 2015 in South L.A. would be most appropriate:

But if we really want to get serious, we have to implement a clear pothole rating system, which leads us to…

STEP 2 – Rate the pothole and provide a clear description of the size, location, and severity. Here are the proposed categories:

* – The CD Skipper – A small pothole that you don’t even see coming, but if you still happen to be rocking a CD player in your car, you’re going to skip a track and get annoyed.

** – The Tongue Biter – You might have noticed this pothole right before you hit it, and it was big enough for you to bite our tongue and spill a bit of coffee on your pants. Annoying, but no lasting damage.

*** – The Tire Popper – You saw this one coming, and if you were lucky enough to avoid it, you might be able to go about the rest of your day in peace. If not, you might have to pop the trunk and change a tire because yours just got shredded.

**** – The Axle Buster – You spotted this one a mile away, but if you’re boxed in with traffic, you might not be able to avoid it. Hope you’ve got the mechanic on speed dial, because you’re probably going to need a little work to fix that shimmy.

***** – The Transmission Drop (AKA The Fender Bender) – You saw it. You braced for it. And then you realized you were likely going to total your car, so you tried to pull some sweet evasive maneuver at the last minute. There’s no chance you or your car are making it out of this one without some permanent damage and emotional distress.

STEP 3 – Get your friends to download the app, and repeat. 

The only way things are going to get better is if we all work together. Let’s do this people. And go!

Elf on the Shelf 2013 – Day 4

Other than an accident I had just 11 days after my 16th birthday, I’ve racked up a pretty great driving record. Don’t get me wrong, that one accident was a doozy–three car pile-up that made the front page of the local newspaper (though, to be fair, there’s not a whole lot of other news in Holdrege, Nebraska). The story I wrote about it was even published as a full-page article in the Omaha World Herald my senior year of high school, and to this day, my dad still won’t let me live it down.

And yet, ever since, I’ve done pretty well behind the wheel. I obey traffic signals. I rarely drive more than 2-3 mph over the speed limit. I use my turn signals. And I routinely slow down to let other drivers merge or pull into traffic when I notice them waiting patiently for their turn.

I will admit, though, that moving back to Nebraska has done me some good. During the 9 years I spent living in New York, I developed quite a road rage problem. It’s not that the drivers in New York are bad (that title belongs to drivers in New Jersey and Texas). In fact, it’s quite the contrary. Driver’s in New York are actually seriously amazing at navigating the maze of roads and exits and road construction and commuter vehicles, all packed in like sardines doing 70 on the parkways and racing to beat the lights and avoid pedestrian traffic in the heart of Manhattan. It’s actually a freakin’ miracle that more people aren’t killed on New York roads.

The thing about New York that brings out the road rage in even the best of us is the fact that other drivers will call you out (with deafening bravado) for every idiot thing you do in traffic. Forget to signal a lane change? The guy behind you will lay on his horn for the next two exits. Accidentally cut in front of someone because they were lost in your blind spot? You can bet that guy will tailgate you for the next mile or two, gesticulating wildly and pointing out what an asshole you are to all the drivers around you. And should you get distracted and not notice that the light has turned green, you have about .03 seconds before 5 out of 7 cars behind you treat you to an impromptu symphony of blaring car horns.

In New York, the rage comes, not from the fact that there are an overabundance of bad drivers on the road, but from the fact that you are suddenly made aware of what a shitty and oblivious driver you are.

It’s never fun to realize that you’re the problem, and so the embarrassment turns to rage. And while my time in New York ultimately made me a better, and more conscientious driver, it also turned me into one of the loud, horn-abusing drivers for a brief period in my life.

You live, you learn, right?

This morning, we awoke and discovered Cosette taking a few driving lessons of her own, with Woody manning the controls. Cadence wasn’t impressed. She complained about the fact that the batteries in her My Little Pony car were now dead, and that Cosette was too big for the pony car. If that’s not a little of that New York attitude coming out in my child, I don’t know what is.

You better shape up, Cosette.

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Project Life 365 – Day 71 – Roam

I’m a sucker for road trips. There’s nothing that makes me feel quite as connected to the Universe as seeing the open road stretch before me and imagining the possibilities…

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Project Life 365 – Day 70 – Smash

If Cadence’s remote car driving skills are any indication of what her driving will be like when she actually gets behind the wheel as a teenager, we’re going to have a few smash ups in our future.

Lord help us.

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