2 Jun 2010, 11:13am
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Goin’ round the Bend

big bendFeeling the need to get away from it all, I just returned from a long Memorial Weekend in Big Bend.¬† I had the great good fortune to go with Anton Hajek, a local lawyer of some note but, more importantly, a man who has been visiting the area for many years, since, in fact, he was a teenager.¬† Since then not only has his led many scouts through the vast National Park, the biggest yet least visited in the lower forty-eight, he is a leading member of the ‚ÄúFriends of Big Bend‚ÄĚ plus a Master naturalist to boot. more »

12 Apr 2010, 9:35am
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Where do bad driving habits come from?

I don’t have a good answer for this question but I do wonder where bad driving habits come from.¬† I was compelled to think about this after I was almost impelled over the side of the remarkably high bridge connecting IH10 and Loop 410 on Sunday morning by an oblivious young woman concentrating on texting, who may not even have noticed what happened.¬†

I suspect such insanity creeps up on you.  You try something once in a relatively safe environment and then the foolishness takes on a life of its own.  I dare say I am not a paragon of virtue, either.  Anyhoo, what kind of witless driving are you seeing and what do you think is going through the minds of the perpetrators?

7 Apr 2010, 11:22pm
Automobiles Commuting Uncategorized
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Top-rated cars for working people

The New York International Auto Show has been offering up plenty of glam and muscle to hog the spotlight since last week.

2011 Audi R8

2011 Audi R8

MSN has had fun giving us the show’s¬†10 most notable unveils, and the 10 sexiest rides ‚ÄĒ i.e., to your right is a glimpse of the Audi R8 Spyder (go ahead, click the glitz for a full view).

“Give us sports cars and make them sexy as hell,” MSN’s Matthew de Paula declared. “We want 10-mile-per-gallon Lamborghini Gallardos and 510-horsepower Aston Martins all the way.”

Closer to ground level,¬†Consumer Reports plodded forward to give¬†us the New York standouts. Cars.com¬†patiently poked and prodded¬†the show’s¬†winners and losers.

It’s a lot to digest, sort of like trying to eat your way into a bargain at an¬†all-you-can eat buffet.

I guess that’s why my thoughts keep drifting¬†back to a more meat-and-potatoes Top¬†Picks¬†announced just before the noise revved up in¬†New York. Using affordability, comfort and safety as criteria, AAA¬†selected¬†the best cars to commute¬†to work in.

And topping¬†AAA’s list is the …

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13 Mar 2010, 12:00pm
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Schematics are back!

Snippet of schematic showing I-10 at Loop 410

Snippet of schematic showing I-10 at Loop 410

A few years ago, I had schematics for most of the area’s freeways on my website.¬† They were rather crude, so a couple of years ago, I embarked on a project to upgrade them.¬† I got just one done (I-10 West) when I realized that the process of creating and maintaining them– especially given all the changes brought about by the massive amount of construction the past few years– just made them unwieldy and there was no way I would ever be able to get them all done.¬† So when I updated my site¬†earlier this year, I dropped that lone schematic while I investigated a different¬†method of doing them.¬† Finally, I think I have settled on a¬†design that is substantially easier for me to put together and should be even easier to keep up-to-date, and¬†one that¬†is, frankly,¬†easier to decipher and more informative than the old¬†ones were.¬† Yesterday, I posted the first one, which also happens to be I-10 West.¬† Take a gander and let me know what you think.

The only thing to look forward to is the past

Omnibus soaking its wheels in the SA river

Omnibus soaking its wheels in the SA river

With all the zippidy-doo-dah hoopla over the possibility of a return to streetcars, why not go the whole¬†hog and bring back mule drawn omnibuses?¬† I mean, who else is doing that?¬† Let’s think outside the box and get out of Portland, Oregon’s shadow once and for¬†all.¬† Think¬†of the benefits.¬† No expensive overhead or the need to tear up streets for miles on end and tourists will love it.

Mule drawn streetcars were introduced in San Antonio in 1878¬†but omnibus service has that beat by seven years.¬† It cost 5 cents to go from Main Square to Alamo Plaza.¬† With all the money we’ll save by not installing staggeringly expensive streetcar systems and their unsightly overhead power lines, we could go back and charge the same fare in 2010 that it was in 1871.¬† I guess there is a flaw in my logic somewhere but, you know, I’ll be d****d if I know what it is.

24 Feb 2010, 2:29pm
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Video added to TexasHighwayMan.com

I-10 videoA couple of days ago, I mentioned an “exciting” new addition that I was working on for my website.¬† Well, “exciting” might have been a bit of an overstatement, but it’s an addition I’ve wanted to make for a while now.¬† That addition is videos of all the area freeways.¬† I recently purchased a suction-cup camera¬†mount for the windshield and, after some test runs,¬†completed the first two videos (I-10 West inbound and outbound) earlier this week.¬† Within the next couple of months, I hope to have all the city’s freeways filmed and posted.¬† These will replace the so-called “driver’s view” pics that I had started to do.¬† Shooting, editing, and posting¬†the videos is a lot easier than a plethora of¬†photos, so hopefully it will be easier for me to get the initial batch completed and also to keep them updated than it was going the photo route.

In addition, I’m going to use the videos to update my exit lists (much easier to do from a video than trying to write them down at 65 mph <g>) and also to build the new lane schematics (see the previous parenthetical note).¬† I hope to get those done in conjunction with each video, although I haven’t done I-10’s yet.

To keep the clips within the YouTube guidelines (and to make them a little more interesting), the playback will be at double-speed (or even 4x for the longest ones.)¬† I opted not to put a soundtrack over them;¬†everyone has their idea of perfect “driving music”, so crank-up whatever you like to listen to¬†when viewing them!

9 Feb 2010, 9:36pm
History Laws and policies Passenger rail Railroads Safety Uncategorized:
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Live steam coming to San Antonio

1925 Baldwin steam locomotive at Pearl Brewery

1925 Baldwin steam locomotive at Pearl Brewery

Question:¬† How do you return a long dormant steam locomotive back to active passenger service in 2010, with all the heightened concerns about safety?¬† Answer:¬† Very, very carefully.¬† This ain‚Äôt 1964.¬† Way back then early Texas Transportation Museum members including one Dave Wallace, acquired the 1925 Baldwin 0-4-0 steam locomotive from New Braunfels where it had sat idled in a shed since being retired around 1928, brought it to San Antonio, placed it on tracks adjacent to Pearl Brewery, simply filled the boiler with water and fired it up.¬† While it didn‚Äôt explode, it sent out enough smuts and soot that those same volunteers ended up cleaning car windshields for several blocks around. more »

100th anniversary of San Antonio’s first traffic laws

Lewis bzirdsong in a 1910 Franklin on College Street, San Antonio

Lewis bzirdsong in a 1910 Franklin on College Street, San Antonio

It is, of course, one of the more minor centennial occasions.¬† You probably won‚Äôt celebrate it but you will, without noticing, except for this little reminder, observe it.¬† February 7, 2010 is the 100th anniversary of San Antonio‚Äôs first traffic ordinance.¬† Nine years after the first gasoline powered horseless carriage, eight years after the city gained its first automobile agency, seven after the creation of the San Antonio Automobile Club, and six years after the city mandated that all vehicles be registered and¬†display ID plates or numbers, the city introduced written rules for all road users. more »

18 Jan 2010, 12:37pm
History Railroads Uncategorized
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2010 prospects for the Texas Transportation Museum

1925 Baldwin 0-4-0 steam locomotive

1925 Baldwin 0-4-0 steam locomotive

I thought I might take a moment to let y‚Äôall know about how things are going at the Texas Transportation Museum here in San Antonio.¬† Founded on January 1, 1964, TTM is gearing up for its 50th Anniversary.¬† There are a number of projects that have the potential to elevate the institution from a relatively small city concern to a statewide attraction. more »

TxDOT’s $1 billion accounting gaffe explained

During last night’s Texas Republican primary debate,¬†Debra Medina and Kay Bailey Hutchison¬†both mentioned TxDOT’s 2008 accounting error, with both saying that¬†TxDOT lost $1 billion.¬† Sadly, these are people who are running for governor and even they just can’t get basic¬†facts right.¬† Now¬†I realize that for folks running for office and/or wanting to besmirch TxDOT,¬†saying they lost $1 billion is¬†a great talking point.¬† But the anticlimactic fact is this: no money was ever¬†lost.

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