Friday, September 28, 2012

Screwy Stoplights

Well, it happened. The stoplight at George Bush Drive and Harvey Mitchell Parkway is now the flashing yellow arrow type, replacing the "Doghouse Dallas" one that all the lights use normally. And that's a terrible idea: here's why.

The "Yellow Trap" just makes it worse.

Under the old system, there were five "balls" (and yes, that is an official terms, apparently) on the left hand turn light: Red, Green, Yellow, Green Left Arrow, Yellow Left Arrow. Obviously, a solid red meant "no go". Red + Green Left Arrow meant traffic was normally stopped in the lane you were in, but you could go left (almost always in conjunction with the traffic directly ahead of you also turning left), Green + Green Left Arrow meant you were with the lanes next to you, with the Yellow Left Arrow meaning time was running out on either one. A solid green, as the driver's handbook told us, meant you could go, but you didn't have the right of way, so you could turn left if no one was coming, which depending on the road, was easy or nearly impossible. For the most part, it works. For less confusion sometimes, the red light didn't turn on at all when there was a Green Left Arrow (Villa Maria and Texas is the only one I could think of)

In other systems, there was an independent left hand turn light with red, yellow, and green, or arrows thereof, and basically accomplished the same thing without yielding.

But the flashing yellow arrow makes it more confusing. In the left hand turn lane, there are four balls: the yellow arrow, the yellow flashing arrow, the green arrow, and the red arrow. The green arrow and red arrow are, naturally, stop and go, but the yellow one is different. The yellow one appears after the green one (protected) goes away but the flashing one is different: it means "no right of way", which is the solid green.

We as drivers are trained to think of yellow as "speed up or slow down", so there's entirely a problem of someone seeing a blinking yellow, speeding up because they believe they still have the right of way, smashing into another car who actually does. Additionally, unlike the "solid yellow" meaning the "your time of turning left at all is ending" has no equivalent.

Have fun!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Where is, the glowing beacon of rare articles (especially of us who don't have database access, or access to certain databases) has been AWOL for nearly a month.

It now holds a robots.txt and redirects to This is likely because was acquired by CNET in 2007, with CNET being acquired by CBS in 2008. No changes happened until recently, with also being a part of CBS Interactive. However, this was unannounced, and just took over it without a trace. The real question is, am I the only one who cares?

In other news, Blogger recently changed its interface for good. At least it functionally resembles the old Blogger, more or less at least.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Infused waters

Since I've been going to school, my university has rolled out compostable cups and utensils, and science has succeeded in creating some sort of fake plastic that is somehow both compostable AND sturdy. The water cups were the pinnacle of this, a "plastic" cup that was compostable, sturdy, and large (12 ounces, I think).

This semester, they rolled out "infused water", which basically consisted of various fruits (orange, watermelon, honeydew, strawberries, etc.) in cold water (and rosemary, too), and charging it for $1.85 a glass. I had tried some at the all-you-can-eat dining center on campus the previous week and wasn't impressed. Sure, it smelled like honeydew, or rosemary, or whatever, but the taste was just water. In any case, when I was getting the "ala carte" options, which is more common on campus and cheaper anyway, I avoided them.

So I was eating at the Memorial Student Center, which I have written about in great length before, and I had just gotten two slices of pizza and was looking to get water, there were no water cups by the soda fountain as normally are, so I walked over and grabbed one near the infused water.

When I was "checking out", the woman working at it (who was rude to me anyway, I could tell by the way she handled my credit card) informed me that those cups were for infused waters only and if I used one again, I'd be charged for an infused water, which of course got me kind of upset. Here all this time I never used the Pepsi cups (which were now some sort of white-and-green wax paper-based thing, even cheaper and flimsier than paper Pepsi cups usually are), and now they're telling me I can't even use the water cups anymore, forcing me to use the Pepsi cups for water. And here I thought they had just forgotten to restock them.

"Listen, lady," I snarled. "If this were an infused water, you would be able to smell it. It's just water. If I used a Pepsi cup, the ONLY other alternative out there, I could fill it up with Sierra Mist and pass off it as water. It's a water cup, it's meant to be filled with tap water. The people who get infused water should get a Pepsi cup and have it be charged as a fountain drink."

But I didn't actually say any of that, even if I had cut out the rude parts.
Instead, I just sighed, and started to look for a table.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tutoring rehab

I haven't posted on this blog in a month, probably because I'm busy with other things (even my other blog hasn't seen a real update in half a month--and that's unusual). Like I said before, I am now regretting that I wanted to go to Organic Chemistry II, because I'm holed up with all sorts of dreadful homework that I can't understand very well.

It's also difficult because last semester I sucked at my class until I went to a local tutoring company to improve my grade. It worked, but now I'm no longer going to it, primarily because of two reasons, the first of which because I used to just be able to bike across University Drive to it, and have dinner options close by (Taco Bell, McDonald's, Fat Burger, and a Cajun food place), but now it's a good several blocks outside of campus in an area generally antagonistic to cyclists like me (narrow sidewalks, hills) with no reasonably priced options around. My professor in Organic Chemistry II (who somehow is not crazy, evil, incompetent or incomprehensible) says that the tutoring places don't teach you how to learn, just how to pass tests, which is somewhat true, and sooner or later, you'll have to learn on your own. I guess I can take comfort in the fact that most of my contemporaries are pre-med, and they'll have to face no longer going sooner or later.