Monday, August 16, 2010

News from the interstate

Ohio's new license plates are...unfortunate.

New York, on the other hand, has returned to the bold gold and blue plates of my childhood. I approve!

Unfortunately, in order to get to New York, it is necessary to drive through Pennsylvania. I know I've ranted about Pennsylvania before, but I have a lot more to say, so indulge me. (And may the people of PA forgive me. I'm sure many of you are very nice, but your state is infuriating to drive through.) What is it about Pennsylvania that makes me crazy? The ceaseless barrage of inane road signs?







MY DADDY IS A ROAD WORKER (with the 'S' placed backwards for cuteness.)

SPEED LIMIT 55 MPH FOR NEXT 35 MILES (For no discernable reason)


My current non-favorite is the ramp leading into a construction zone. (Most areas of PA's highways are under construction, at all times. I think there is a law about it.) At the end of the ramp there will be a stop sign the size of Australia. Above it, equally large, is a sign saying RAMP, no doubt for the illumination of drivers who are thinking "What am I doing in a casino in my car? Oh wait, that's right, I'm on a RAMP."

Another source of unhappiness is the sign that says ALL TRUCKS AND BUSES USE LEFT LANE. This means you are about to drive through long, unhappy miles squeezed on both sides between concrete barriers with no shoulder and mere inches between the side of your car and instant death. Why it is safer for trucks and buses to be in the left lane in this situation is unclear to me, but there is always bumper-to-bumper traffic, with a single white solid line dividing the lanes (no passing, and I suspect the lane is literally not wide enough for an extra stripe of paint) and everybody is always going about 100mph while tailgating.

In addition to the signs, are satellite powered signs giving pointless updates about road conditions and a multiplicity of billboards: Bedford, Pennsylvania! Washington slept here! No doubt, Alexander Hamilton bedded many a lusty Bedford wench when he and Mr. Washington arrived to stamp out the Whiskey Rebellion, but history seems to have forgotten the colorful Mr. Hamilton. More's the pity.

Pennsylvania must have the busiest state legislature in the union. There are so many prissy laws, many of which pertain to alcohol. You can't buy alcohol on a Sunday, you can't buy more than two cases of beer at a time, it's unlawful to perform a marriage ceremony on someone who is drunk, police can do roadside blood alcohol testing without your consent. It is also unlawful to use milk crates for any purpose other than transporting milk. We stopped at a rest stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and my toilet stall had a brand new roll of toilet paper and it took me a few seconds to find the end of it and the toilet flushed on me because apparently I had been sitting on the toilet for as long as Pennsylvania Law allows.

Pennsylvania is, on a small scale, what the United States would be like if Sarah Palin were president: unlimited freedom for business, particularly ugly big box stores, coal mines and fast food chains, but personal liberty is so curtailed that you can't pick your own nose without applying for a permit.

Pennsylvania dispensed with, we are now at home and getting ready to send the kids back to farking school. I got a letter from the Charlottesville Public Schools central office demanding proof of academic progress and a new Intent to Homeschool form for Mad Scientist. I sent them a letter politely telling them to fuck off. I didn't exactly say "fuck off" but I did title the document "Bite me, CHS" when I saved it to my hard drive. I couldn't resist pointing out that Mad Scientist, the kid they labeled as a discipline problem, is a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist and has earned 59 college credits, a scholarship to a respected college in New York, and that he will finish his bachelor's degree in two years, (he'll be 19 when he graduates) no thanks to their backwards, shit-ass public school system and that they can take their demand for "academic progress" and shove it straight up their arses. (I wasn't that crude, of course, but I think they can read between the lines.)


  1. I drove through Pennsylvania twice last month and I hope it's the last time for a long while.

    I'm so not ready for school to start next week. I'm also starting to get whiplash from all the parents who are pulling their kids out and putting them in other schools -- mostly to avoid Buford at all costs.

  2. Yes, Buford is scary, mainly because over the summer after 6th grade, some of the kids morph into terrifying semi-criminals. And the administration is peopled with your typical preening, ignorant, edu-speak spouting idiots. If it weren't for Mr. B and the Buford orchestra, I'd have homeschooled all four of my kids for 7th & 8th grades. Still, three of them survived it there intact. This is why I don't want us to move to a traditional 6-7-8 middle school. We need to keep the 6th graders separated from the older kids.

  3. I've had two kids graduate from Buford intact and I have to say that, as far as I know, none of their classmates were "semi-criminals." Now they were in class at CHS with students who broke the law by skipping school and smoking pot in the woods behind the school. So, I guess that makes those kids full fledged criminals?

  4. CCS Parent, my daughter was assaulted on the school bus while at Buford and the principal did nothing. My daughter also endured frequent harassment and threats of being beaten up in the bathroom at Buford. My son witnessed a student slam a classroom door on a teacher's hand. He also experienced bullying at Buford. If CHS kids want to smoke pot in the woods or skip school, that's fine with me as long as they aren't bullying other kids.

  5. The interstate highway construction dealio of all trucks/buses in the left lane is probably due to something about the shoulder not being able to take the extra weight/load. Or maybe it's not good to have them on the uneven lane that is half shoulder. I can ask my dad.

    I avoid driving on PA highways if at all possible. When we lived in DC, we visited my family in IN a few times a year. We drove through WV on I-68 rather than take the PA Turnpike and I-70 in PA. It was not only faster, it was prettier and less nervewracking.

    (The manbeast is from Bucks Co. I think he secretly hoped I'd shut up about PA highways when his folks moved to NJ. No. I apparently have some major baggage from those years.)

  6. Awesome, congratulations to Mad Scientist and his mom. That ol' non-traditional road sometimes turns out to be the road to success.

  7. Jocelyn, Thanks. That explanation about the trucks makes sense. Another mystery solved.

    Also, more about Buford: kids used to rifle my son's backpack and steal from him during gym class. The principal acted like this was his own fault, somehow. It's not like he was carrying valuables, but the kids would steal his papers, our of sheer meanness, and his small changes. Once, his entire backpack was stolen. My other daughter was hit in the head by a full milk carton that was deliberately thrown at her from across the cafeteria. I think my dislike of Buford is justified. At any rate, I said "some" of the kids become semi-criminals, not all of them.

  8. The highway description is scary and utterly believable! I laughed out loud at the toilet stall event. The toilet paper roll was probably also regulated, making it more difficult and time consuming to unroll.

    Word verification: gutweene - the kind of person who sent you the letter!