Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Life Goes On

Well it's been an annoying month here in Deer Park

For one thing, it keeps bloody raining. Understand that as an Englishman I'm used to a bit of rain, even a lot of rain. I've spent time in Wales, after all. It's just that the rain ought to go somewhere after it's dropped from on high, and on Long Island it doesn't.

The reasons for this are many and complex, but basically boil down to stupid bloody Americans not getting their fingers out and doing the job properly. I mean, this country once put a man on the Moon for Azathoth's sake! How in the name of creation is is therefore impossible to get the water to go from the land to the sea, only about 20 miles away at the thickest bit of the island? I'd suggest sequestering it in reservoirs, but that would take monumental planning and a bit of acumen.

Aren't I being just a tad jingoistic and maybe a smidgeon hard on the civic engineers of my adopted country, state, county and town I hear you ask?

Well, traditional hydraulic engineering typically gives a nod of the head to the notion that water generally flows downhill, gravity being what it is, and that therefore one should ensure that drains are placed at the bottom of hills or other inclined areas of ground. The design in general use on Long Island could, in light of this principle, be held to be either startlingly innovative, an attempt to push back the outmoded preconceptions of a field sterile of new thinking, or the work of a bunch of idiots. Irrespective of which viewpoint you cleave to, the net result is the same: the junction outside Wyandanch station is still underwater three days after a rainstorm despite having a brand new drain network installed only two years ago and despite having the roads resurfaced and regraded at the same time.

About that.

Over the 100 or so years roadbuilders have been accommodating themselves to the need for everyone and his dog to own and drive their own automobile on a resilient surface, a number of basic principles have evolved. One of these is that the camber of a newly laid road surface should carry the water to the edges of the roadway, and thence to drains set slightly below the road's datum. It should therefore come as no surprise that on Long Island this thinking is held to be archaic, needless nitpicking by those ignorant of the broader aesthetic ideals of the roadbuilder.

And on the off-chance that someone, somewhere actually got a fbleeping clue and did the job right, all it takes is a couple of passes with Mr Snowplow to tear five gallon chunks of the road up and either throw them at the cars parked in the LIRR carpark or leave them lying on unlit streets as a collision hazard. The holes get repaired around the end of October, which is to say someone shovels low-grade asphalt into them and, if we're lucky, attempts to roll them so the result is a bump only a few inches high, ensuring that next winter the snowplow will tear it right back up again. There's a side road in Wyandanch which resembles the site Messrs Armstrong & Aldrin puttered around in. It happens to be the one that has the only available parking after 7:30 am these days. I can only assume that the suspension parts business a few yards down the main street from the site in question also runs the snowplow concession. I digress.

Surely, you ask, not every drain on Long Island can be so badly placed? Statistics alone mean that some of them should be in the right place to funnel gallons of wet inconvenience to part or parts unknown just by chance. You're right, but you are forgetting the idiot factor again.

For drains to continue working they have to be kept clean. Ours seem to be constantly clogged by leaves in the autumn, sand (from the road grit) in the spring and discarded crap all year round. Considering the buckets of tax money New York collects from us Long Islanders, there seems to be precious little of it spent to clean out the bleeding drains. An occasional roadsweeper would be a nifty idea too, but we only seem to see one or two a year and they mostly serve to collect all the gutter-born crap and dump it over the properly installed drain outside my house1.

Reader of this blog2 will be aware of the natural beauty of Lake Mineola at this time of year. By some miracle they managed to get the new roadway that goes under the tracks to stay dry in the rainy season, but the rest of the place floods just like it always does. This is a feat that would challenge even the Disney Imagineers (who've managed all sorts of neat tricks with water over the years) and I have to wonder how they managed it. Logic would call for the underpass to become a thirty-foot 3 deep sump. I imaging that some fancy footwork involving pumps and massive amounts of electricity are involved, but I don't know for sure. It should be interesting in the rainy part of the summer, around the end of July, when LIPA typically begins not rising to the challenge of getting everyone their electricity in a timely manner 4.

And don't get me started on those pig-useless, waste-of-space idiots in the weather prediction trade. They can't even get the weather right over the next three days. Never mind the satellites and doppler radar, I reckon they could do with a new bit of seaweed, or maybe an office with a window in it.

Oh well.

  1. The original drain had crap jammed in the grill. I spent hours every year cleaning it out with a sidewalk-scraper only to have it jammed up again a month later. I begged the town council to replace it but they ignored me. Then a truck backed over it and broke the grill. Once again I petitioned the town to do its duty, to no avail. Then one day I came home to find a police officer outside my house. She was not happy. A cyclist had ridden over the cracked, buckled drain - another victory for the IQ brigade there - and had been injured. She lectured me for some time about the state of the drain. Once she had wound down it was my turn. I pointed out that the drain was not my responsibility, buut the town's, and that if she felt the drain was dangerous she should tell the town to fix it. I wished her good luck and explained that I had already aprehended the danger to cyclists some years before and had periodically asked the town to behave in a sensible and responsible manner and spend some taxpayer dollars to avoid paying many times more in an inevitable lawsuit. The officer backed away from me as I was delivering my peroration, possibly because of the foam coming out of my mouth. A week later there was a nice new drain installed. Three weeks after that a roadsweeper filled it with crap
  2. I think we're down to one now, including me
  3. five fathoms
  4. People still seem to be fighting the intolerable humidity by running air conditioners despite the fact that LIPA, a body invented to make up excuses why they can't deliver the electricity they are in charge of, tells them not to


Gil said...

>>I think we're down to one [reader] now, including me↑
Not true, unless you don't read it. Come to think of it, the explanation for all the typos and malapropisms is prolly that you don't.


Anonymous said...

Bah, you've intuited a good 50% of my authoring secrets. The part you as yet have not worked out is that I post with my eyes closed and with an opaque cloth bag over my head. Thus, legibility is reduced to a statistical anomaly and theme rendered as gibberish almost without trying.

William Burroughs? A rank amateur, and his recursive cut-fold-paste algorithm never produced such prose as my bag-over-the-head methodology (which also calls for much less heroin use and is therefore both cheaper and less deadly, hence greener).